Monthly Archives: June 2014

Tapas Night for June


It was our monthly Tapas Night, last night.
There was standing room only again.  I know cause I didn’t get to sit down once.

But, I had great time chatting with people, a lot of people.    A few newbies, and a lot of regular attendees.

However, I know you came here to find out what food was brought, go ahead, admit it.    I took a lot of pictures last night, and I probably missed a dish or two, but hey, I like to visit and eat as well.

I thought I would add a couple of pictures of some of the prep work.   I like to figure out what goes where, or rather what foods go in which dishes beforehand and put them out, ready to go.

I knew I wanted to put the cold cuts on these two plates, aren’t they pretty, I got them last month from a local shop, Shop by the Sea (shameless plug here) has the most fun stuff. All kinds of collectibles and artwork.

I also wanted to put out some fun potato chips for which I made a fun dip, which I will tell you about later, in a whole new post even.

I wanted to put out some Chips and Salsa as well.  That long green platter is one I got at Shop by the Sea as well.    I love it.

And I made some of my No-Knead Bread to go with the cold cuts.

And now to the offerings, well, the wonderful dishes that were brought and shared.   And all I can say is this, if you go home hungry, that’s your problem.  Cause there was something there for everyone.
Also I love to see the serving dishes that people bring, I’m a sucker for a pretty dish.

One of our guests brought this incredible carrot salad and was gracious enough to email me the recipe this morning.  I’ll be making it and sharing the how-to on it a little later on.

Deviled eggs, gee, gotta have those and they usually get gobbled up, fast.

I love these little rollups, always a popular item, and so easy to just pop one into the mouth and eat.

Leon brought this ‘Sous-vide‘ cooked Beef Salad.
Sous-vide is a method of cooking under vacuum and you can do some incredible dishes using this process.  And this salad was wonderful, the meat was as tender as you could wish and evenly cooked. 

Here’s another shot of the salad in the foreground, with a wonderful fruit plate at the back.

I should say that sometimes, it’s hard to get to the table to take pictures, but I manage to get pictures of most of the dishes.

Fish with an incredible sauce, I think I could have eaten the sauce just by itself, or just the fish by themselves.  But together, wow.

Foreground,  a lovely fresh black bean salad and just behind it, some wings I made.

To the left another lovely fresh salad, with corn and peas, dressed very simply with some fresh lime juice.

To the right some pickles.

An overview of the table, before it got too crowded.

Front, an assortment of pickles, to the left going clockwise.  Fresh corn salad, chips, deviled eggs, fish, carrot salad, fruit plate, sous-vide salad and rollups.

From the front, going clockwise, the fish plate, the assorted potato chips,  Cantonese style pork riblets I made, the carrot salad, fruit plate, sous-vide salad, beand salad, chips and salsa, deviled eggs.

From the front, going clockwise again,
Rollups, pickle plate, corn salad, chips, deviled eggs, potato chips and dip, pork riblets, carrot salad, fruit plate, sous-vide.

And after a few more people came, we had more additions to the table.  At the right front, some puff pastry nibbles, (and I snagged one right off the bat, cause I love puff pastry, and it was good).  Continuing clockwise, the black bean salad, deviled eggs, chips, egg dip, carrot salad, fruit plate, sous-vide beef salad, pickles, wings..

You think we have enough food here?

I’m getting tired of typing, well not really.  But I do have more pictures.

There was also this wonderful hot bean dip, which was way too moreish.   I got a picture of it before it got decimated.

And then there was this wonderful dip/spread.  Look at those cute little spreaders.  I just love stuff like this.

And then there was an egg dip, and in the back there, some deviled eggs with avocado and cilantro and jalapenos.  Yum

We can’t have a gathering without pineapple and the Santa toothpick holder.  It’s just not right without them.

The island (Freedom by name), was full as well, I had put out some cold cuts, along with my bread and in the back ground the bean dip.

I have to say I love this island, not only do I have a dedicated prep area, it also adds some needed counter space for some of the food people bring.

I made some Cantonese style Pork Riblets and they were also consumed.  I’ll share the recipe later.

I made another attempt at Sweet and Sticky wings as well.  I’ve almost got it.  But I’ll keep trying.   I used a new ingredient this time and of course I’ll share the recipe here, but not right now.

And finally, last, but not least, never least, we have desserts.

Angel food cake made with Pineapple.  I managed to snag a slice.

And chocolate cake slices, gotta have some chocolate, somewhere.

Key Lime tarts, and again, look at the cool platter.  I think I need a couple platters like this, what do you think?

 Here’s a long shot of the desserts, in the foreground, what looked to be really good bars,  I say looked to be good, cause I didn’t get a chance to taste them, they were gone when I finally made my way over to the dessert table.   They’re the fun layered ones made with saltines as a base and chocolate on top.
Back of them are the tarts, chocolate cake and angel food cake.

Key Lime pie, and it’s a good thing I got this picture, cause when I looked again, there was none left.

And there you have it.  Another Tapas Night of fun, food and feasting.  (I just had to do the alliteration).

Stay tuned, there’s more to come.

Italiensk Salat med Skinke


Ever since I managed to make such a great loaf of Rye Bread last month, I’ve been having fun creating or rather making Smørrebrød.

I’ve used some lovely leftover Tri-Tip along with the Asier I made last year

I’ve had some with Liver Pate and some lovely homemade pickled beets, which were a gift from a friend.

The leftover pork chop went great with the Agurk Salat last week as well. 

And of course, you gotta have Sild (Pickled Herring)

OK, so this was some of the Rye Bread I made awhile ago, but a girl’s gotta dream.

I’ve made some with Tilsit and Havarti Cheese, as well as some lovely brie.   And even more Leverpostej. (Liverpaste).

Actually I’m showing off here.  I didn’t have any rye bread but did have some Rye Crisp crackers so I made do.

The sacrifices we make…

I found some Lurkak butter on sale awhile back, and I had to buy it. Look at that lovely stuff.  Honestly, I could eat it all by itself.  But I didn’t.

I managed to find some Tilsit cheese in the ‘big city’ and also some Liver Pate and had a lovely lunch that particular day.

But I was craving some Italiensk Salat med Skinke the other day.   And since I was at the Deli anyway, to get ham for a Chef’s Salad, I had the deli person slice me a couple of pieces of ham.    I was going to make some Italiensk Salat to top the ham.

This is the way we made it growing up, and for very special occasions, Mom would add some canned Asparagus to the salat as well.
Side note here:  Growing up I wasn’t all that fond of vegetables, which considering we lived on a farm and had a market garden, was really kind of funny.  I loved raw veggies, but couldn’t stand them  cooked.  Well, except for this dish.  Then it was all right to eat cooked veggies.

Now back to the recipe.

To start with, take a couple of carrots out of the fridge, peel and slice or dice them.   Small pieces though.  I like mine to be about the size of the peas, or make them into teeny coins.  Have fun with the shapes.

Cook in a little salted water until tender, then add an equal amount of frozen peas.  Fresh peas would be great here as well, but I don’t have any.  My peas come frozen in a little bag.

Cook them together for just a couple of minutes.  Drain and let cool.

As soon as they are cool, add just enough mayonnaise to coat them.  Not too much, you don’t want them all gloppy.  Place in the refrigerator and let them get acquainted, privately.

Let them sit in there for an hour or so if you can.
Take a slice or two of nice rye bread, put a thin layer of butter on top, then place a slice of ham, arranged artistically, on top of the bread.

Top with a little of the Italiensk Salat.   Garnish.

I like a little parsley or some fresh sprouts on top as well, gotta make it pretty looking.   I used a little dill on here today. You do eat with your eyes as well.
Now you will have to excuse me, I have to go and eat.

And if you’re so inclined, go ahead and make some Smørrebrød and join me.
Actually, I’m in training.   I get to hang out with my sibs in a couple of weeks, and I know full well that there is more Smørrebrød in my near future.  I’m excited.

Tomato Gratin


I actually made this quite awhile ago, but never got around to posting about it.   Even though I made this with canned tomatoes, I think it could be adapted to use fresh tomatoes. And now with it being almost tomato season, I think it’s time to make this again, plus I think it’s a great take along for any summer potlucks.

So simple to make, and really, really tasty.    Basically three ingredients and you’re good to go.  I used Stewed Tomatoes with Celery and Onion, the No Salt Added kind,  a loaf of stale french bread, and some nice sharp Cheddar.

Pour about a tablespoon of EVOO in the bottom of a baking dish, or maybe a little more, whoops.

Add two cans of Stewed Tomatoes with Celery and Onion, don’t drain them.

The olive oil kinda pooled in the corner there, but don’t worry, it gets used.

Next add your cubed bread.   I used some French Bread, but I think this would be even better with some crusty artisan bread (which I don’t have access to here, unless I want to drive about 60 miles to the good grocery store or I could just use my own No-Knead bread).   Toss it together, and then don’t do like I did, and forget the nice chopped herbs, in my case some parsley and chives, on the counter. 

Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top of the tomato bread mixture and then sprinkle it all with some Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese.   Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or so or until the cheese melts

Serve immediately or do as I did, put a piece of foil over top and then wrap it up and take it to a party.

It was very well received.   And I had a few requests for the recipe as well.   I think the next time I make this I will actually use a mixture of cheddar and monterey jack cheese, as I think the Monterey Jack cheese will melt into the tomato mixture a little better.
Here’s where I got the recipe.

Crispy (sorta) Edamame


I get together with a group of ladies most Friday nights and like to make something fun for them, because I just like to make something fun to eat.

I found this recipe on  Join us, pull up a chair and Heather had lots of great sounding recipes that sounded so good.

Recipes that would fit perfectly for an NPA get together or one of my Tapas Nights or gee, just ones I wanted to try.

I decided to try  Crispy Edamame  because I’m trying to eat a little cleaner, and I love Edamames and since I had some in the freezer, well, it was a natural choice.

I actually made this over a week ago, but it took me til now to tell you about it, cause I just got caught up in life.
Crispy Edamame

12 oz bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, I used the powdered stuff in the jar.  I actually added more freshly grated cheese after spreading the peas out on the baking sheet, but it didn’t coat as well.
salt & fresh ground pepper
Opt. Sliced garlic

Preheat oven to 400 deg.   Take Edamame out of freezer and either rinse it to thaw it or let thaw in a colander.

Once the Edamame is thawed, lay them on a paper towel to dry and remove the excess moisture. Once dry, place in a gallon sized Ziploc bag, add in the tablespoon of olive oil.  Shake to coat.
Then add the 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shake it again.

On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, pour the coated Edamame. Spread out in a single layer.

 

Sprinkle with a little more Parmesan Cheese. Bake for 15 minutes.
Add the thinly sliced clove of garlic at this point, stir and bake for another 5 minutes.*
Allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

 

You can see the little bits of garlic on here.   And don’t put the garlic in until the last few minutes of baking, otherwise it will get bitter.  As it was there was a slight hint of garlic, nothing over powering.

*I found that I needed to bake them longer. And the next time, I will do the initial bake for about 20 minutes, then add the thinly sliced garlic and bake for an extra 10 minutes or so.  These weren’t crispy, but were tasty.

These were so good scooped up in a Lentil chip and eaten out of hand.   Someone else had brought the Lentil chips, so we tried them together, and I would do that again.   And best of all, this is a healthy recipe.

Fresh Blackberry and Goat Cheese Dip.


My inner hunter/gatherer has come out the past couple of weeks.   The wild Blackberries are ripe and I’ve picked them wherever I find them.

I picked the first batch on the little lot beside my house, and managed to pick enough to make a blackberry pie, which I, umm, inhaled, over the course of a weekend.   It wasn’t one of my better efforts, but it tasted so good, especially since I’d picked the berries.
I kept my eye out for more on my walks and gee, guess what, there were lots and lots and lots more.  So I picked them every couple of days and started freezing them.  I wasn’t able to get a lot at a time, maybe a cup or so, but they add up.  I’m planning on making some blackberry jelly soon.
And yesterday, I picked even more.  It also happened to be Friday and the night I get together with some ladies.  I wanted to make something with the blackberries that didn’t include heating an oven.
So I looked in the fridge, and found goat cheese.  Just one of those items I stock up on when I get to the big city.   And since I had some lemons out, I wondered how it would taste if I put some blackberries, lemon juice and goat cheese together. The reason for the lemon juice?  It brings out the essential blackberry flavour of the juice.

 

And it was good.  I made a little test bowl first.  I squished up some of the blackberries, and put them through a sieve to get the juice and then added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a scant teaspoon of sugar to it.  Cut a little piece of goat cheese off, added a little of the blackberry juice to it, and mixed it up.
When I tasted it, I decided that it was pretty darn good.

So I added the juice to the goat cheese and mixed it together.

Forks work so well with this.   I didn’t bother softening the cheese first, but you can if you want.  Goat cheese is pretty crumbly anyway.

When I was done, I folded some whole blackberries into it, and sprinkled more on top.  I served it with some graham crackers, but at NPA I tried it with some pretzel chips and it was really good with them as well.
I have some more ideas on what I can do with this idea next.  Maybe pipe it into some phyllo cups and decorate it with a big ol’ berry on top or maybe as a filling in a layer cake, or…

So many possibilities.

Recipe:
3 oz. Goat Cheese
2-4 tablespoons Fresh Blackberry Juice (to taste)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons sugar (to taste)
1/2 cup whole Blackberries

Mix the first four ingredients together til smooth.  You want this to be dip consistency.
Fold in the most of the blackberries reserving a few for garnish.
Serve with some graham crackers or pretzel crackers.

And because I’m freaky scared of snakes and some of the blackberries sat tantalizing me, just out of reach, I finally broke down and bought some Panacea Nikes, cause I had to push my way into the bush a little and I wanted my toes protected, from the snakes.

I’m set to go now.  Anyone know where there are more blackberry bushes?  Just so long as there aren’t any yellow flies around, I’m ready when you are.

Burger Bar Planning Tips, part two.


I was re-reading my Burger Bar Bash post and realized, that while I gave you a good overview of how to do it, that a timeline might also be in order.

I think I’ve said, OK, I know I’ve said that I do it all, I’m by way of being a one man band or something like that in the kitchen.

Not a complete control freak, but close.

So, when I do one of these Burger Bars, I make lists.
Guest list, gotta know how many you’re feeding, it really sucks to run out of burgers.  At least I think it would, I’ve never done it yet.

I check what I have in the fridge and pantry first.  I usually have more than enough ketchup, yellow mustard and mayonnaise on hand anyway, but don’t always have brown mustard or BBQ sauce.   And then there are the people who prefer Miracle Whip on their burgers, and I usually have that on hand as well.   I like it on various things as well so…

If I don’t have dill pickles in the fridge, I will have them in the pantry.  I buy them when they go on sale, cause I like to save money.  And I do like to give a choice to people, so I’ll put out some Bread and Butter Pickles as well.    I’ve even put out some pickled beets for those who have a taste for it. (Aussies and Kiwi’s take note).

A grocery list, now that you know how many people are coming and just what you need to buy.  And if you can do this far enough ahead, you can take advantage of sales on a lot of it, and just stock up.  In other words, spread out the spending over a couple of weeks or even months.  Let’s face it, condiments can last a long time in the pantry.

The day before, or even that day, buy your meat and make the patties.  Fresh is best on this.

For the meat, 15 lbs. of hamburger meat will get you 40 hamburger patties.  12 pounds of meat, 32 patties.   6 lbs gets you 16 patties.

See, I did the math for you.

I like to do a 50/50 ratio of ground chuck and ground round.  Ground Chuck can get real greasy all by itself and ground round can be too dry, I like them mixed together.  And, please, please, please don’t smoosh it all together.  You can break up the meat, gently, and layer it together in a large bowl and then form the patties, with a light hand.   I don’t season the meat, but that’s your call.  If I have the time and fridge space, I like making the patties early on the day, and then I place them on cookie sheets in single layers.   If I’m working with a lot of meat, I divide it up into 3 or 4 batches, keeping the rest of the ground meat in the fridge.  Don’t let ground meat get warm, it likes the colder temperatures.  And you’re less like to give someone food poisoning.

If I can, I like to buy my buns fresh, the day of the party.  Mainly cause I just hate stale buns. But the day before is OK.   I used to order them from a local grocery store, when I lived closer to one that carried the kind of buns I like.
Now…
Do a timeline list, personally I need one, because I can then gauge what needs to be done next and how long it takes.   I apportion a certain amount of time for each action.   Give myself an hour to form the meat patties for example, figure out how long does it takes to cut the tomatoes for the burgers.

I’m planning on starting the BBQ at 5 pm and I don’t want to be running around trying to figure out what to do next.  So I write it down.

8 am.  Cook Bacon for Burgers put in an oven safe container and refrigerate
9 am  Prep and Saute Mushrooms
9:30  Cut the cheese and arrange on platter.
10 am Prep and Saute Onions
11 am Make meat patties
12 noon  cut fresh onions, refrigerate
1 pm shred lettuce/ cut tomatoes
2 pm set up tables, get chairs together  Figure out what serving dishes you’re using, set them out.
3 pm Shower and Nap  This is very important, give yourself time to take a breath, lay down for a minute, meditate, shower, dress and get your makeup on.
4 pm  Set up plates, cutlery and napkins
4:30 set out the ice, if you have an ice chest, I like to give my guests a place to stash the drinks they brought.  I also like to put out lots of bottled water and some soda.  But that is up to you.
4:45  Set out condiments
5:00  Greet guests
if you are grilling right at 5 pm bring out the burger toppings as your guests are arriving.  Enlist their help if you like.  If you have a spot on the BBQ grill for the bacon, onions and mushrooms to warm up, get them out and set that up.  Or just warm them in the oven.

Clockwise from the pretzel bun, lettuce, tomato, pastrami, grilled onions, mushrooms, dill pickle and sliced Vidalia onion.

Then relax, enjoy your guests, grill the burgers and most important of all, have fun.

Cucumber Salsa


You ever find food that you love so much you look for recipes that you can use it in?  Or that you can use as a substitute for other things?

That’s Creme Fraiche for me.   I can eat it by the spoonful, straight out of the container, but I usually restrain myself.

It’s so good on baked potatoes, used in Deviled Eggs, I’ve pretty much substituted it for sour cream and greek yoghurt in almost everything I cook.

And it’s not that bad for you either.  It’s got protein and calcium and doesn’t really have a lot of fat, cause the flavour packs a punch.  So a little goes a long way.

Usually.

I saw a recipe for Cucumber Salsa awhile back and the dressing called for Sour Cream.

Yeah right, I thought.   I’ll see your Sour Cream, and raise you some Creme Fraiche.

And I was right.    WOW!  I’m even more in love than before.

I brought this to my weekly Friday gathering.  And those people who could eat cucumber and cilantro liked it, as did I.  Well, actually I think I loved it.  And I will make it again.  Just one warning though, if you dress it too early, you will end up with a fair amount of liquid, but you can just drain that off if you like.  I served this with pita chips, but I think it would go well with just about anything.

Recipe- adjust to your own tastes

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced very fine
1-2 Roma Tomatoes, diced very fine
1/2 red onion, diced/minced
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
1- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1-2 Jalapeno’s  seeded and diced finely

Dressing
1/2 cup Creme Fraiche
1-2 tsp. Lemon Juice
1-2 tsp Lime Juice
1/4-1/2 tsp. Cumin

Mix the fresh veggies together and give them a quick grind of sea salt, let them sit for awhile and get acquainted.

I had to take this shot, after chopping, mincing and peeling.  They just looked so purty.

Fresh Parsley, straight out of my garden, how cool is this?

And when you go to chop it up, roll it up into a tight bundle and then cut across it, making a chiffonade, then just cross-cut it.  Makes it a lot easier to chop.

Everyone into the bowl now.

Toss the veggies together.

Mix dressing ingredients together and let that sit in the fridge for a little.

Just before serving, pour dressing over the cucumbers and mix together, serve with crackers or pita bread or tortilla chips.

I think I would make this again, but next time, just wouldn’t add quite so much dressing, and I would definitely add more jalapeno’s and cumin.

I wonder how this would taste on a sub?  hmmm, I think I’m getting ideas.