Archive for the ‘Misc. cooking party ideas’ Category

Keri made seafood towers - as good as they look!

California Cuisine: First developed in the 70’s by Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley; Wolfgang Puck is probably the best known chef of this genre of cooking. At its core California cuisine is a combination of multiple cultural influences, combined to encourage a healthy, on-the-go lifestyle. With a flair for beautiful presentation and freshness, this style of cooking pleasingly touches all the senses!

California Cuisine 1) emphasizes fresh locally grown food of the region like avocado, artichokes, citrus, kiwi, and seafood, 2) focuses on creating dishes quickly…little to no cooking, 3) focuses on healthy eating, and 4) draws from many cultures including Mexican, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese.

Pamm hosted us for March’s gathering, based on this great theme. (How do we keep coming up with these themes? Sheer sparkling creativity.)

Not bad for a first attempt?

For starters, Wendy tried her hand at basic California Rolls (sushi recipes abound online — not for the faint of heart, I can tell you. Rice is never sticky enough, and if it is, it will stick to your hands like crazy. But it’s certainly worth trying once, and way cheaper to make it at home than buy at the deli.).

Then it was some dangerously tall Seafood Towers from Keri (gorgeous food!)

Pamm prepared a beautiful Mahi-mahi with Pineapple Chutney (Big picture, below.)

Mary added Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries, and also Fresh Arugula dressed with a tangy dressing (use any preferred oil/vinegar-type dressing, and Mary also suggests adding slivered parmesan and walnuts).

Buffy's soup and Amy's bread

Amy made beautiful whole grain rolls in a variety of shapes and sizes and toppings, from a basic Sourdough Bread recipe.

And Cindi outdid herself by combining several recipes for a Meyer Lemon Souffle Cheesecake with Ginersnap Crust, for which she made an Alice Waters recipe of homemade ginger snaps!

Mahi-mahi and veggies


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Even beef can be good for you, if it’s a lean cut like flat iron or skirt steak.  Selenium!

Now, surround that with nutrient rich side dishes (most of which, we realized, were dangerously high in fiber… hee hee) — and you’re eating what it takes to go out and conquer the world.  Or at least the laundry.

For February‘s meal, Buffy instructed the Chix to bring dishes featuring an ingredient with near super-powers for its nutritional content, and educate us all on the nutritional punch of her dish.  Research, like vegetables, is good for you.

I’m missing some recipes, but here’s what’s in my inbox:

Buffy made skirt steak (or was it flat iron, Buff?)

Wendy made her first Miso soup (it’s EASY!  and reduces breast cancer!)

Pamm roasted up some Root Vegetables with Green Onions (recipe Epicurious.com)

Cindi brought Brown Rice Pilaf (lots and lots of good fiber)

Miso Soup

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Metro Bistro got moved to Pamm’s back in November, who tweaked Mary’s theme and did a Bistro brunch.  This time (January 2010), Mary’s Bistro was serving DINNER, and it was fabulous.  So I’m wondering… why do I only have a couple of the recipes on file from this one?  Chix, browse the album (click on the big photo below) – and send the recipes if you still have them!

Here’s the link to the Citrus Pumpkin Pie with Grand Marnier Cream – that I made (it’s from Epicurious.com.)

The rice dish pictured is Jeweled Rice with Dried Fruit, also on Epicurious.

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Mary was scheduled to host us, but ended up being sick that week.  Pamm stepped in and hosted us for a brunch inspired by upscale New York bistros.  Here was our menu:

Crab Tartlets – Susie

Grilled Pineapple Slices – Amy

Broiled Salmon over Parmesan Grits – Pamm, from myrecipes.com

Sweet and Sour Bacon – Pamm, from Epicurious.com

Pumpkin Pancakes – Buffy

Roasted Hash Browns – Keri

Creme Brulee – Wendy

I remember being STUFFED.

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05-09 barbecue at susan'sSusan started the season with a Backyard Barbecue (ribs) on her back patio in May, and we brought picnic foods:  fruit salad, marinated vegetable salad, potato salad, deviled eggs, cookies and ice cream.  A sampling of recipes:

Zesty Marinated Vegetables – Pamm

Deviled Eggs (as Bruce makes them) – Amy

Corn & Veggie Salad with Lime-Cilantro Dressing – Keri actually brought this to a different gathering (not chicks), but it’s a great salad recipe so we’ll share it here! 

Edisto 2009

Edisto 2009

Late May found us once again in Edisto, eating eating eating!  (A little talking too.)  Click on the group photo (right) to see a mini-album of the Edisto trip, including pictures from the beautiful Steamboat Landing nature preserve.

In July we went out to eat at Global Restaurant, which we highly recommend!  (No pictures, because all we had was a cellphone camera! 

And in August, Keri hosted us for a “Sizzlin’ Summer Super Secret Ingredient Supper” — complete with surPRIZES for everyone to take home, thanks to the most generous chick we got.  Keri challenged us to prepare dishes that contain an ingredient that might be a challenge to identify (yes, they were hard to identify).  Especially if you wouldn’t know the name of it even if you saw the item in the produce section, Wendy.  Surprise ingredient recipes:

Click here for Amy’s dish:  Black-Eyed-Pea Fritters with Hot Pepper Relish, from Epicurious.com.  (The ground black-eyed peas as the secret ingredient.)

Click here for Susan’s dish:  Oxtail Soup with Red Wine and Root Vegetables, from Epicurious.com.  (The oxtail as the secret ingredient.)

Baked Ham with Wine Poached Plums – Keri (star anise as the secret ingredient)

Radicchio Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette – Pamm (fresh marjoram leaves as the secret ingredient)

Saute’d Choyote – Wendy (the choyote as the secret ingredient).  This was a new vegetable for all of us, and very unusual.  Choyote is in the squash family, but has a texture and flavor all its own.  It tends to take on the flavor of whatever you cook it in or with, in this case onion, garlic, and vinegar.  This is not so much a recipe as a method:

4 choyotes, peeled & sliced thin (include the edible pit in the slicing)Choyote (squash) - a new ingredient for us
3 T. butter or olive oil, or combination
2 T. minced garlic
3 shallots or green onions, minced
1 t. fine herbs or T. fresh parsley (or any favorite herb blend)
good vinegar (cider or rice wine are good)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute’ the choyote, garlic and onion in butter/oil for 5 minutes over med-high heat.  Add the vinegar and herbs, salt & pepper; cover and simmer to reduce liquid and soften the choyote to desired consistency.  Choyote has a crunch like water chestnuts or apples when lightly cooked, or softer consistency like regular squash when cooked longer.  Most cooks prefer a slight crunch after cooking (not soft).

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Mediterranean Cruise at Amys

Mediterranean Cruise at Amy's

APRIL took us on a Mediterranean Cruise–at Amy’s house.  The fare was first class, and the chicks were dressed for the occasion!  Amy asked us to bring dishes inspired by cuisine of the Mediterranean, with a beautiful Moussaka as the main dish.  Be sure to click on the group photo to see the rest of the pix for this event (click on the first one and scroll through)…’cause we got dressed up, and everything!

Three of the recipes are featured or linked below.

Cindis missing... but what a nice group shot!

Cindi's missing... but what a nice group shot!

Moussaka – from Amy (click for picture and recipe pdf)

A traditional Greek (mediterranean) dish with eggplants and lamb (or beef, if you prefer) in a tomato sauce, with a creamy sauce on top.  Hearty and delicious!

Silky Brie Soup

Silky Brie Soup

Silky Brie Soup

An elegant, subtle, and yes SILKY soup – from Keri

6 T. butter
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1 wheel brie cheese, cut up
5 medium red bliss potatoes, cut in chunks
2 cups light cream
1 cup good dry white wine
Fresh chives

  • Saute onion and celery in butter.  Add broth and cheese (including white outside skin).
  • Boil potatoes in water until soft; add potatoes to cheese mixture.
  • Remove from stove and puree in food processor until very smooth.
  • Return to stove, add cream and mix until heated through.
  • Add wine; mix and heat throughly.
  • Serve with fresh chives.
  • Tunisian couscous with meat and vegetables– from Mary (click for recipe pdf)

    A side dish or easily a main dish, with chicken, beef, or lamb (may omit if using for a side dish) and vegetables (including pumpkin or squash).  Mary adds, “I think it was good, but a lot of work.  It would be worth doing it again if it was the only thing you served for the meal.  It’s pretty labor intensive with all the chopping of the vegetables.”

    Party shoes!

    Party shoes!

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    Mary's new art medium: pizza toppings!

    Sorry to be so far behind in posting, but the dinnerchicks blog editor has been one busy girl this spring and summer!  The next few entries will be a fairly quick retrospect, just to keep the archives complete:

    In March, Buffy had all of us bring pizza toppings (the more gourmet, the better), and Amy mixed us up a big batch of homemade pizza crust dough (recipe below).  While munching on Keri’s “Sweet Chix Bacon Wraps” (recipe link below), we had fun combining toppings and cheeses for custom pizza creations, and ended up with about six different versions of home-made pizza!

    A side of salad with Cindi’s homemade dressing (recipe link below) and Mary’s very special ice cream sandwiches…I remember leaving this one particularly stuffed, and now I see why.

    Simple appetizers – just four ingredients, broiled on a skewer in your oven.  You probably have the ingredients on hand.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
    Italian Bread (or pizza) Dough (from Amy)
    This is taken from a recipe book that is a collection of recipes from a sister of a friend of mine who is a missionary.  Her name is Debbie Peck.  She’s collected recipes from her family and missionary friends.  They’re all great, and most are fairly simple.   I use this one for focaccia, as well, which I love more than pizza!

    2 ½ c. warm water (usually around 105-110 degrees)
    1 T. sugar
    1 T. active dry yeast
    2 tsp. salt
    6 ½ – 7 cups unbleached flour (I usually use half bread flour)

    I mix the sugar in with the warm water, then sprinkle the yeast on top.  Wait about 5 minutes until it gets bubbly, then add salt and add about 2-3 cups of flour.  When well incorporated, then add 1 cup of flour at a time until mixed together.  I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and when the dough forms a ball, should not be too sticky to touch.  I continue to mix for a few more minutes – may need to add a bit of flour more.

    Grease a bowl and put the dough ball into it, turning to coat all sides with the oil.  Cover with a towel and set in a barely warm oven, or over a warm bowl of water to rise for 1 ½  to 2 hours, until double in size.

    Punch down – if using for bread, divide in half and place in greased loaf pans and let rise again for about an hour, until doubled.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

    If using for pizza dough, can make 2-3.  Shape and let rest for about 10 minutes.  Heat oven to about 425, bake pizza dough for 10 minutes, then apply toppings and return to oven.  When outer crust is browned, remove from oven (could be 10-20 minutes).

    A tangy dressing you can whip up in your food processor any time from ingredients on hand.  This would also make a great dip for breads or for meat appetizers.

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