Light Summer Fare

It happened again. The gourmet girls met for another amazing meal. We met last night, Tuesday, June 22nd at Bridget's (my) house. We started off the evening with yummy Marinated Feta and Olive Skewers by Lynley. The salad was Jodi's contribution - the Basil Green Goddess Dressing was awesome (Barefoot Contessa at Home)! I skewered up Grilled Herb Shrimp with Mango Salsa (Barefoot Contessa Parties!) and Lara's Black-Eyed Pea Salad was the perfect side (Paula Deen - The Lady and Sons Cookbook), especially with all of the fresh herbs from her garden! LS hit a home-run with her Summer Solstice Bread and just when we thought the night couldn't get any better, Andrea treated us to Liege Waffles with whipped cream. It was the pearl sugar that made it! Apparently the only two stores who carry it are Ikea ($3.95 for a 20 oz bag) and The Old Dutch Store in Sugarhouse (20 oz box for $5.95). As always, we had a great meal and a great time. Coincidentally, three of our dishes had fresh chopped basil! Unfortunately Raquel couldn't join us this time. We're all excited to meet at Miss Jodi's next month for some Indian Cuisine!
Marinated Feta and Olive Skewers
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp orange zest
3 TBS orange juice
1 tsp cracked black pepper
4 oz feta cheese, cut into 24 (1/2 inch) cubes
24 mint leaves
1/4 large English cucumber, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
12 pitted green olives, halved
24 (6 inch) skewers
In a medium bowl combine the fennel seeds, orange zest, orange juice, and pepper. Gently stir in feta and marinate for 1 hour or more. To make the skewers, place a mint leaf about 2/4 inch up the skewer, then add an olive half, then a chunk of cucumber. Gently place a cube of the marinated feta on the end.
Bibb Salad with Basil Green Goddess Dressing
1 cup good mayonnaise
1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (6 to 7 scallions)
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tsp chopped garlic (2 cloves)
2 tsp anchovy paste
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
3 heads Bibb lettuce

Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and process just until smooth. Add the sour cream and process just until blended. (If not using immediately, refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve.) Cut each head of lettuce into quarters, remove some of the cores, and arrange on 6 salad plates. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and add to the plates. Pour on the dressing and serve.
NOTE: According to Mr Produce Man at Harmons, "Bibb" lettuce and "Butter" lettuce are the same thing.

In Barefoot Contessa Parties!, she lists the grilled shrimp and mango salsa together. The link above to the mango salsa is the same recipe, just served with seared tuna.
Black Eyed Pea Salad

3/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped green onions, with tops
1 large tomato, diced
1 TBS fresh minced thyme
1 TBS fresh minced rosemary
4 TBS fresh minced parsley
2 TBS fresh minced oregano
Mix olive oil, vinegar, and sugar together and pour over the rest of ingredients. Mix well and chill. Use a slotted spoon to serve.
Mid-meal shot

And another mid-meal shot . .
Update: Andrea asked me to add this insider's tip . . .

This recipe suggests using a Belgian waffle iron with an adjustable temperature gague but my Krups Belgian waffle iron has only two settings...on and off so if your iron is like mine then here is a tip we found for cooking the waffles without burning the sugar. Scoop the dough onto your iron, close the top and unplug the iron. The iron will be hot enough to cook the waffle in about about 3 minutes without burning the sugar outside. Also, I have made these with and without the cinnamon and we think they are better WITH the cinnamon added. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche and fresh fruit for a yummy dessert!
Laura, Lara, Jodi, Lynley, Andrea & Bridget

Mid-Month Gourmet Update

I guess this isn't exactly a "mid-month" gourmet update since June "Gourmet Night" is at my house tomorrow night, but I feel like I have so many gourmet "updates" that I would like to share!

First off, I made Jodi's "Blueberry Bread Pudding" (from April Gourmet Night at Lara's) on Mother's Day and it was awesome! I cooked mine for about an hour and 15 minutes, so it was very set. I dished up a bowl for my sister-in-law and she said, "this needs vanilla ice-cream". And so it did. Warm bread pudding with vanilla ice-cream. YUM!


A couple of weeks ago I got the bug to make granola. I haven't made it in several years (some of you may have been the recipients of my granola Christmas gifts a few years back) but decided to whip up a batch on a Saturday afternoon. I got the recipe from a former "piano mom", Kaye Dunn. Kaye is a fabulous cook and was actually the first person to introduce me to
Barefoot Contessa. Here is the recipe and a picture. I've just about eaten my way through the enormous batch. Next time I'm going to try it with Almond Butter, just to try something different. I love it on top of vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries or strawberries) in the morning. I also like it with my new favorite find "'Almond Milk". Although it does have some brown sugar, it's nice to know you're not eating a ton of preservatives.
8 cups extra thick oats
1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 1/2 cups wheat or oat bran
8 oz almonds, coarsely chopped
8 oz cashews
8 oz unsweetened ribbon coconut
3 oz sunflower seeds

Mix all together in a very large bowl.

In a saucepan, bring to a boil:

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup honey
Remove from heat, mix in 2 tsp vanilla. Pour over oats, mix thoroughly. Spread over 3 cookie sheets. Bake at 200 degrees for about 2 hours. Store in air tight container. It really does make quite a lot. I put two cookie sheets on top of one another in my oven and rotated them after an hour, then did the 3rd tray in my neighbor's oven. Someday I have to have double ovens!

"Cafe Rio" Pork
A couple of weeks ago I hosted a dinner at my house where we made "Cafe Rio Pork Salads". I volunteered to be in charge of the pork, even though I'd never made it. Boy did I stumble onto something great! My friend Jody Marsden printed off the recipe for me from a blog she had discovered, (which I happen to think is darling). It's super easy and super yummy! Jody made the Tomatillo Dressing; I just did the pork. Here is a picture after 18 hours, just after taking off the lid to the crockpot.

I pretty much followed the recipe exactly as posted on, but I left out the cayenne pepper.

  • Rob and I are trying a month of "no spending". So, in a desperate moment when I needed a "treat", instead of running out for a shake, I decided to try Lynley's "Lemon Pineapple Sherbet" from last month and it was delicious! The recipe definitely makes a lot, so if you have a small ice-cream maker, you'll have to divide it into two batches.

Salmon, Shrimp & Cheesecake
On Sunday, June 13 my family had a BBQ for my mom's and my birthdays. I brought the main dish and the desert. I did the "Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon with a Maple Glaze" which Andrea made in June of 2008 (see previous post). It's always a hit! I did however, have my first plank catch on fire. I think it's important to soak the planks in water for plenty of time (like longer than 10 minutes)! I also made a marinade which Lara Dixon gave me the recipe for a few years ago. I brought it over to my brother's the day before. They marinated shrimp and halibut in it overnight. Both were delicious!

Marinated Shrimp
2 lbs shrimp, de-shelled
3 cloves crushed garlic
garlic slat to taste (I didn't add this)
1 onion finely chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
juice from one lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Marinate overnight. Remove shrimp from marinade and grill until pink.

The cheesecake I made is the Barefoot Contessa Cheesecake I made for gourmet night at Andrea's in March of this year. It was good all over again. My favorite comments of the night were, "You MADE this?" and "This is better than Cheesecake Factory"! What cook doesn't feel happy with comments like that!? I'm telling you; it's a great recipe! Pictured are my mom and I holding our "Birthday Cake".

Roasted Corn and Avocado Salsa
The ladies threw me a fabulous birthday party last week with tons of yummy food (including Bleu Cheese Burgers by LS)! One of the new recipes everyone went crazy over was Lara's "Roasted Corn and Avocado Salsa", so I thought I'd better post the recipe!

2 ears of corn, kernels cut off the ear
2 garlic cloves
6 T red onions
2 t cumin
1 T oil
1 avocado, chopped
juice of one lime

2 T apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Mix corn, garlic, onions, cumin and oil. Broil until toasted for about 5 min. Add and mix the avocado, lime juice, and vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.

You might be able to see a little salsa on one of our plates, but more importantly you can see we're all having a fabulous time!

Well, now that the malware is cleaned off of my computer (thanks to my brilliantly technical husband) I can finally put this post up and get to my marinade for tonight!

Oooh one more thing . . . I made the "Go To Chocolate Cake" from Keeping Up for Father's Day desert with Rob's family and it was amazing! So moist and flavorful. I've been searching for a good chocolate cake recipe and I do believe I have found what I was looking for!

Favorite "Go-to" Chocolate Cake
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups boiling water
2 eggs
Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Mix in boiling water, then add eggs and mix well. Gradually add dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Frost cake while slightly warm (this made it awesome) with vanilla or chocolate buttercream frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
Cream butter in a mixer, then beat in 3 cups powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk and vanilla. Continue adding powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.