Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beach Party

I was going through some of my blog posts yesterday.
I noticed that I had several posts written from when we lived at the lake that I had never published.
So the next few days is a blog dump of old posts.

We are not going to the beach for this fun dinner party.  
We are going to the dining room.  
So, let's set the table!  
I am skipping a table cloth today.  
We'll start with some place mats, cream chargers and some cute plates that match the place mats. 

I added silverware and my favorite wine glasses. 

Remember these napkins? 
They're homemade.  
I used them here. 
Anyway, instead of a napkin ring, I tied them very simply with raffia.  
This tablescape is going to be about texture and the raffia is going to add to that.  
And it's the color of sand.  
I love it.   

I filled a fish bowl with a bunch of seashells that we have collected over the years.  
These are mostly from North Carolina and Florida.  
I love the dark blue/grey scallops shells.

This is a hunk of driftwood that floated up on our shore one summer day.  
What a treasure! 
I LOVE driftwood.  
I love the color and the character of it. 

What is a dinner party without a little candle light? 

A little sand, a candle and a few tiny seashells are so beautiful in sparkling clean glass.

I put them on the table in pairs.
Two by the large piece of driftwood and two by a smaller piece of driftwood.

I randomly added a few larger seashells.
I also added the more rustic pieces of sea shell for a more natural and organic feel.   

Finally a sprinkle of tiny little seashells finish the whole thing off. 

The tiny seashells bring the whole table together.
The messy scatter of shells is so beautiful.
The scatter of the shells sort of reminds me of sand.


White Wine
Shrimp Cocktail with Lemon Aioli
Butter Lettuce Salade with Avocado and Orange Dressing
Scallops and Ginger Lime Sauce over Rice
   White Cupcakes with Butter Cream frosting and Sugar Pearls
Bon Apetite!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fried Green Tomato Salade

Farmer's Market Day 
We hauled in a lovely basket of goodies.
I am going to make zucchini fritters with the squash,
Bruschetta with the lovely tomatoes and baby onions,
and a Cesare salade with that Gorgeous Romain lettuce.
I'm most excited about fried green tomatoes.
Fried green tomatoes in a salade is a match made in heaven.  

We love our veggies.
In the summer time, that translates into salades
Lots of salades.
We get very creative with them.
Today I making Fried Green Tomato Salade with goat cheese and a reduced Balsamic Dressing.
 That's a delicious mouthful.

Board of ingredients:
  • Lettuce
  • Bread crumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Vegetable or Canola Oil for Frying
  • Green Tomatoes
  • Flour
  • Goat Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Shallot
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
{I cannot eat gluten...and these were the only bread crumbs I had on hand.}
{Use regular bread crumbs for your recipe.}

To begin, we need to start the balsamic so it can reduce.
Reduced balsamic is thick, sweet and one of my favorite things ever.
{Try it on strawberries with a bit of whipped cream.}
{Trust me!}
I am making four salads so I need about a cup of balsamic.
I am going to reduce the vinegar by about half.
Put the vinegar over medium low heat and let it simmer very gently until it is reduced.

Next, start the oil.
I just use a pot on the stove.
You can get as fancy as you want.
Put the oil over a medium/medium high heat.
You want the oil to shimmer and move in the pan, but you don't want it to smoke.

Now we prepare to bread.
Flour, salt and pepper in one bowl.
Beaten eggs in the next bowl.
Bread crumbs, salt, pepper and a couple tablespoons of parm.
Mix 'em up and we are good to go.

Now, green tomatoes do not have a good texture.
They are very firm and we don't want crunchy tomatoes in our salade.
So, in order to get them fully cooked in the oil, we need to slice the tomatoes very thin.
{That's the most important tip to making good fried green tomatoes!}

Time to get messy.
First they go in the flour.

Tap the excess flour off.

Next, send them for a swim in the egg.

They go right from the egg into the crumbs.

That is beautiful.
Keep going.

Once our tomaters are breaded and ready to go, let's check the oil.
You can use a thermometer if you want.
{I don't.}
Toss a bit of the breading into the oil and see what it does.
If it doesn't bubble up, the oil is not hot enough.
I needed to turn my oil up.
If you are using a thermometer, bring your oil up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is what you want to see when you drop something in oil to deep fry it.
My daughter says the oil is cheering.
I think that's adorable.

I use this thing, called a spider, when I am deep frying.
It's a Japanese cooking tool, but you can find them everywhere.
I highly recommend one for scooping stuff out of hot oil and letting it drain a bit.

Look at that!
If it was not so hot and if I did not need to take it's picture, I would have eaten it already.
But don't expect that one to make it to the salades.
Part of cooking is quality control and I am fully prepared to sample so that I can be sure to serve nothing but the best to my family.

Okay, vinegar.
This is a horrible picture.
But, you can see the vinegar coating the edge of the pan.
You want your vinegar to be the consistency of agave nectar.
If you get it too thick, add a bit of vinegar to even it out.
If it is too thin, keep cooking it.

Add the reduced balsamic to a small bowl.

Add a bit of olive oil.

Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Then whisk like crazy.
You want the vinegar and oil to emulsify.
At first it will look terrible, but keep going.
It will come together and it will be so worth it.

Now we have everything ready to make our salade.
The lettuce is cut up and washed, the goat cheese is crumbled and the shallot is chopped.

Layer one, lettuce.

Layer two, onion.

Layer three, goat cheese.

Layer four, fried green tomatoes.

Layer five, parm.

Layer six, dressing.
Use plenty of dressing.

Eat immediately.