"chee-na la-tee-na"

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Veggie Salad

Friday night, I met my friends for a girls night out painting party.  We decided to bring something to share since the painting party was held during supper time.  It's been a busy week with keeping my boys entertained during the summer AND I just finished a calligraphy project addressing wedding invitations for a dear friend.  I had to be creative with the ingredients I had on hand and a friend just gave me some farm fresh summer veggies so I decided to make a salad.

Summer Veggie Salad

1/4 c. orzo, cooked al dente
2 small yellow squash, sliced & parboiled, drained
1 small zucchini, sliced & parboiled, drained
small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained, sliced in half
small can black olives, drained
1/3 c. Meyer lemon olive oil
3 T. raspberry balsamic olive oil
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. rosemary sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
can of tuna, drained (optional)

In a large bowl, add the orzo, yellow squash, zucchini, artichoke hearts and black olives; mix gently.  In a small bowl, add the Meyer lemon olive oil, raspberry balsamic olive oil, garlic powder and black pepper; whisk until thoroughly combined.  Pour over the veggies and mix well.  Add tuna, if desired.

Have fun with flavor infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Love our local place in Roswell, called Oli & Ve!

Here's my attempt at a "little house on the prairie" ... LOL!

Bridal Shower

I'm hosting a linen shower for a sweet Roswell bride on Saturday and decided on a "Bed in Breakfast" theme utilizing pink and green, the bride's favorite colors. A brunch menu is in order: eggs strata cups, chicken sausage breakfast balls, fruit, strawberry croissant french toast, miniature cinnamon rolls, coffee, tea, oj and champagne (Mimosas easily prepared with ingredients on hand).

I recently went to a bridal shower held at Atlanta's famous Swan Coach House. It's the girliest place and perfect for bridal and baby showers. I enjoyed their chicken salad in timbales, cheese straws and amazing frozen fruit salad. With fresh fruit in abundance during summer, I decided to make some frozen fruit salad cups for my linen shower. I found the recipe here at I substituted one 8 oz. bar of Neufchatel cream cheese for the 6 oz. of cream cheese and used diced peaches, mandarin oranges, grapes and strawberries.

Here are a few of my tips for preparing individual portions of the frozen fruit salad.

Line your muffin pan with aluminum foil muffin liners. Using a 1-1/2 T. ice cream/cookie dough scoop, add a dollop of the cream cheese-whipped cream mixture to each muffin cup.

Add 2 cubes of peaches, half a mandarin orange, half a sliced grape, and a slice of strawberry.

Add another dollop of the cream cheese-whipped cream mixture.

Smooth the tops with the back of a teaspoon.

The finished product ... freeze well until firm (several hours).

Note: Let the frozen fruit cups stand at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving.

Frozen Fruit Cups, plated with a fresh raspberry on top!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cooking Dinner with Victoria

My friend, Victoria, moved to London last fall and I got to see her this summer. We both love to cook so one night we picked up duck breasts for our supper. She had picked up beets and zucchini flowers at her local farmers market for our sides. I had not seen zucchini flowers in America but I love them! There's a young, tender zucchini with the flower attached to it (so tasty).

We were shopping in Fortnum & Mason when we saw the Damson Plum jam; use whatever is fresh and local to your area. Jams are a great start to a flavorful sauce for duck (and pork too).

We both "wing" it when we're in the kitchen but here are some "recipes" for you to try out at home.

Pan Seared Duck Breasts with Damson Plum Glaze

2 duck breasts
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
1 T. olive oil (Spanish olive oil is my favorite)
1/4 c. Damson Plum jam or other favorite jam
2 T. water

Sprinkle the duck breasts with a bit of salt and pepper, set aside. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat, add the duck breasts, skin side down, and pan seared them until golden brown about 3-4 minutes on each side. Place the duck breasts in a baking dish to roast for about 5-7 minutes in a 375F oven. Combine the Damson Plum jam and water in a microwave proof bowl and heat about a minute or so until a slightly thickened sauce forms; mix well. Brush the jam on the duck breasts after they're done cooking and have been pulled out of the oven. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Pan Sauteed Zucchini Flowers

6-8 zucchini flowers, washed and dried with paper towel
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. water
1 t. baking powder
1 egg
1 green onion, chopped
2 T. parmesan cheese
1/4 c. vegetable oil
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Make a batter by whisking the flour, water, baking powder, egg, and green onion. Fold in parmesan cheese. Dip the zucchini flowers in the batter. Heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat until hot but not smoking, add the zucchini flowers without overcrowding and fry until all sides are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Beets

6-8 beets, cleaned and ends sliced off
olive oil
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Wrap the beets in foil. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender in 375F oven. Peel the skin off and slice. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fish Supper

Like other consumers, I shop for our weekly groceries by scouring various grocers' weekly ads. I saw turbot flounder filets on sale at The Fresh Market recently. Growing up in Miami, I love fish and it's so good for you too! We had friends over for dinner and a play date one evening and decided to pan sear the turbot flounder in some heart healthy seasoned olive oil for a tasty yet healthy supper.

Pan Seared Turbot Flounder
Approx. 9 servings

2 lbs. turbot flounder or other white fish
5 T. regular olive oil
seasoned salt to taste
Penzeys Sunny Paris
1 T. Kerrygold butter
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 t. truffle oil

Slice the turbot flounder into hand size pieces, set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 3 T. of the olive oil and seasoned salt and heat for a minute or two. Working in batches, add the fish to the skillet and sprinkle generously with Penzeys Sunny Paris seasoning, and brown for 30 seconds on each side. Remove to a oven proof platter. Add the remaining 2 T. of olive oil and the butter, mix until the butter is melted. Finally, add the lemon juice and truffle oil. Stir well and pour over the fish. Bake in a 350F oven until the fish is done; fish cooks quickly so it will only take another 10-15 minutes to bake thoroughly.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Baby Shower Tea

One of my beloved friends had her 7th baby recently and we showered her and her new son with a Tea. My contributions to the food table were Chicken Salad Croissants and Olive and Asiago Cheese Bruschetta. I find that poaching the chicken breasts in a broth infused with herbs produces a delicious and moist chicken.

Chicken Salad Croissants

To poach the chicken breasts:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups water
1 t. onion powder
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt

Place the water, onion and garlic powders and salt in a medium sized pot; bring to a boil and simmer. Arrange the chicken breasts in a single layer in the hot, seasoned water. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until done. Remove the chicken and place in a shallow bowl to cool. When the chicken has cooled about 20 minutes and are warm to the touch, slice the chicken into small cubes and place in a large bowl.

To make the chicken salad mixture:
1 T. Penzeys Sunny Paris seasoning (available online)
1/2 t. sugar
1/3 c. dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds
1 c. lowfat Greek yogurt
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. chopped, toasted pecans, optional

In a small bowl, add the Sunny Paris seasoning, sugar and dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds to the Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. Stir until well blended. Add this mixture to the diced chicken. Mix and fold until the yogurt-mayonnaise is fully incorporated into the chicken. As a rule of thumb, I use a 2-to-1 ratio of the Greek yogurt to mayonnaise. If the chicken salad is a bit stiff and dry, add enough Greek yogurt and mayonnaise until the chicken salad is moist but not wet. If desired, add the toasted pecans and mix well.

Slice the croissant in half, lengthwise. Toast in a 350F oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely. Fill each croissant with 1-2 T. of chicken salad and assemble on your party tray!

Olive and Asiago Cheese Bruschetta
1 loaf Italian bread or French baguette, sliced
1 large bar (8 oz.) Neufchatel cheese (low fat cream cheese)
1/4 sundried tomatoes, diced
1/3 c. grated Asiago cheese
1 small can black olives, sliced

Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange the bread slices on a cookie sheet and toast both sides until light, golden brown; approximately 5-7 minutes each side.

In a medium bowl, mix the Neufchatel cheese, diced sundried tomato, and Asiago cheese until well blended. Spread each toasted slice of bread with the cheese mixture and top with olives.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Dinner Party

Our family has been celebrating St. Patrick's Day with our neighbors for the last few years. Judith of The Ulster Kitchen is one of my favorite chefs and she runs a catering and Irish products company. She and her husband are the consummate hosts. Despite her protests that I didn't need to bring anything, I decided to prepare an appetizer using Kerrygold cheeses that I'd bought at our local Sam's Club. I've had the Dubliner variety but not the Ballyshannon (cream hue) and Red Leicester (orange hue) that were now in my fridge. I know that Kerrygold makes excellent cheeses so I didn't think I would be disappointed with these new varieties.

It was my college friend, Kim, who introduced me to apple and cheddar slices. I didn't grow up eating a lot of cheese. Most of it was consumed on Cuban sandwiches. Well, it's one of my favorite sweet and savory morsels now. I prepared 2 types of cheese appetizers for the St. Patrick's Day dinner party. One was topped with 3 Agrume Preserves and a grape half (pictured); the other was topped with an apple slice, dab of Fig and Roasted Shallot Tapenade, and drizzled with local honey (not pictured). I found the 3 Agrume Preserves by Twin Oaks Farm (Bonifay, FL) at the Seaside Farmers Market. Their 3 Agrume Preserves includes Satzuma Mandarins, Florida Oranges and Meyer Lemons...truly delicious!

Kerrygold Cheese Appetizer

Kerrygold Ballyshannon, sliced thickly (approx. 1/4")
Kerrygold Red Leicester Cheese, sliced thickly (approx. 1/4")
green grapes, halved
3 Agrume Preserves or other Citrus Preserves

apple slices
Napa Valley Fig & Roasted Shallot with Sherry Tapenade
local honey

Arrange cheese slices on a platter. Top each slice with 1/8 tsp. 3 Agrume Preserves and a green grape half. As an alternative, top with an apple slice, a small dab of Fig and Roasted Shallot Tapenade, and drizzle with honey.

Chinese New Year's Eve Supper

It's been a while since my last post. Let's just say I took a busy Mom hiatus this fall driving my kids to orchestra rehearsals, soccer practices, after school clubs (Math, Music), karate lessons (culminating in 2 jr. black belts) ... HI-YAH!!! It's a new year, both on the Gregorian and Chinese Lunar calendars, and it's high time for a foodie blog post to breathe some life back into this baby! I find taking the food shots time consuming and a disruption to my cooking chi but made it a priority over the last few weeks.

For Chinese New Year (a belated Gung Hay Fat Choy!), we enjoyed a plate of Foo Pey Quon (Bean Curd Rolls), roast duck, barbecue roast pork, salt and pepper shrimp, steamed gai lan (Chinese broccoli) drizzled with oyster sauce and sesame oil, and of course the ubiquitous steamed white rice. We usually purchase the roast meats from a local Chinese barbecue place; it's a bit challenging to roast the duck properly in a residential kitchen. Our friends loved the bean curd rolls and they were different from any spring rolls that they've ever had. Hope you'll love them as much as we do!

Foo Pey Quon (Bean Curd Rolls)
Makes approx. 3 dozen

1/2 lbs. ground pork
1/2 lbs. small to medium size shrimp, shelled, deveined, coarsely chopped
1 small can of bamboo shoots, julienned
3 stalks of green onion/scallion or Chinese chives, sliced thinly
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil
a few dashes of white pepper
1 package of bean curd sheets
1 egg, beaten in a small bowl
vegetable oil for frying

Remove the bean curd sheets from the package and unfold. Slice each sheet into triangular shapes approximately 5"x8"x8" (you may find it easiest to slice the large sheet lengthwise into 3 or 4 long secions). Keep moist by laying a damp towel or paper towel over the sheets.

In a large bowl, mix and blend well the ground pork, shrimp, bamboo shoots, green onion or Chinese chives, soy sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper.

Take one triangular piece of bean curd sheet and wipe with a damp cloth to insure that each piece is softened and pliable. Place a heaping tablespoon of the pork and shrimp filling onto the wide end. Roll twice, fold in the sides, and seal the tip by applying a bit of beaten egg. Set aside, seam down in a large baking pan or cookie sheet.

In a deep frying pan (I use a dutch oven to reduce the amount of splattering oil), add enough vegetable oil for deep frying. Heat until hot but not smoking...I stick a clean chopstick in the oil and if it starts to bubble, it's ready! Wipe each of the bean curd rolls with a dampened paper towels (this process helps the bean curd rolls puff up) and fry in the hot oil for about a minute until light, golden brown. Place on paper towel to drain and then transfer to a platter for serving.

Serve immediately. These are delicious as is or served with a sweet chili sauce or Chinese plum sauce.