Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Culinary Paradise - Heidi and Chandler - February 2016

These two, always such fun creative ideas! Heidi and Chandler spoiled us with these darling invite tickets to….

set sail on a Gourmet Cruise to Culinary Paradise.
Upon boarding we went right to a little photo booth Polaroid shoot and it was so cute and fun. Loved the backdrop and props!

The appetizers table was fun with a fish net draped across the clean red table cloth.

To start the journey we enjoyed Shrimp Cocktail,
yummy Pina Colada's,
Ricotta and Prosciutto Crackers
and Crisp Vegetable Medley with Buttermilk Ranch.
All delicious and the drink was so refreshing.
The dining room looked beautiful! Elegant and clean with great accents.
Candles floating in fun glass vases all placed on a foil gold runner.

Place settings were beautiful with gold chargers, awesome china with gold accents, gold rimmed goblets, gold ware and white napkins with a gold ring.
The place cards were a favorite for sure. Small glass vases with a beautiful white flower, green accents and the vases has little glass hooks for a name card!

Our menu was lined out and we were ready to indulge.
Cucumber Bites, Crab Stuffed Avocado with Chili Lime Sauce and Mini Caprese for Salad course. Loved the presentation!
Tomato and White Bean Soup with Crostini.
Cranberry Pork with sautéed Shallots, Red Potatoes and Creamed Spinach for the main. All of it was really good.
And in true cruise fashion, Chandler came out to light the Cherries Jubilee a-flame for us all to watch. 
Dessert was a trio of: Cherries Jubilee, Chocolate Cake Souffle and a Fruit Tart. Devine!
Our captains did themselves proud and put on a fabulous evening!
Plenty of laughter and fun had by all!

Some are nuttier than others...
Take homes were so cute to!
Spoiled for sure with a fun cosmetic bag, a handmade personalized luggage tag, chocolate covered cherries, an island candle, ingredients for the meat dish, recipes and the cutest anchor cover for our travel hand sanitizer! 
Well done ladies!

Ricotta and Prosciutto Cracker

7 oz. Ricotta Cheese
1 Clove minced Garlic
1 ½ tsp olive oil
3 oz. prosciutto
Salt and pepper to taste

1              In a small bowl, mix ricotta, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper together. Set aside.
2              Cut prosciutto into triangles. The triangles should be small enough to top your crackers.
3              Smear just enough of the ricotta mixture onto each cracker, until each cracker is thinly covered.
4              Roll each prosciutto triangle into a small cone-like shape and place each on a ricotta coated cracker.
5              Once all crackers are coated and topped with prosciutto, drizzle a small amount of honey over each. Serve immediately.

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
1/2-3/4 cup Buttermilk
3/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp. Parsley
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp. Onion Powder
1 tsp. Pepper
2 tsp. Pickle juice (the “secret” ingredient that might possibly make this the best ranch dressing you’ve ever had)!

While you can stir all your ingredients for the Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing by hand,  I prefer putting everything in the bowl of my stand mixer and beating it on medium for 1 minute to really incorporate everything together. This is fast and easy!
If you prefer a thinner dressing, simply add a bit of milk. If you prefer a thicker Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, then add some yogurt.
Place in an airtight container.  Mason Jars are ideal! Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Ophelia’s Pina Coladas
       1 Can Crushed Pineapple in juice
       1 Can Coconut Creme
       4-5 Cups Ice (until blender is full)

Add all ingredients to blender and blend on high until smooth.
Pour into cups. Garnish with fresh pineapple if you want and enjoy! Serves 6.

Avocado Crab Salad with Chili Lime Sauce
3 medium avocados, halved, pit and skin removed
8 oz crab meat
1 tbsp red bell pepper, small dice
1 tbsp red onion, small dice
1 tbsp celery, small dice
½ tbsp parsley, small dice
1 ½ tbsp mayo
Fresh black pepper

¼ cup lite mayo
1 tsp siracha sauce (optional, but i love the extra kick and flavor it gives)
2 tbsp Chili Lime Cholula (or more to taste)
Stir together well. I like to add it to a squirt bottle, so it is easier to use.
1. Combine all ingredients together and mix well.
2. Scoop the crab mixture onto the avocado.
3. Squirt the sauce over the avocado and sprinkle with parsley.

Mini Caprese Bites - Servings 30
1 pound Cherry Tomatoes
½ pound mozzarella cheese
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Fresh basil leaves
1.    Cut cherry tomatoes in half
2.    Layer tomatoes, basil and mozzarella
3.    Whisk together oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
4.    Drizzle oil mixture over the tomatoes. 
Cucumber Bites

·      4 Ounces (1 Brick) Cream Cheese, Softened to room temperature
      1/4 Cup Ranch Dressing (Yes, good old Hidden Valley)
      2 TBS Dill (can use other spices... Thyme is excellent also)
      3-4 Long Cucumbers. skinned and Slice into thirty 1 inch slices
      Additional Sprinkle of Salt (to Taste, Careful, little goes a long way)
      Additional Sprinkle of Spice (same as used in Cream Cheese) for Garnish
      Additional Sprinkle of Paprika OR a Cajun Spice Mix (optional) for Garnish (and an extra kick if you use the Cajun Mix)
1.    First, Make up the HERB CREAM CHEESE, in a stand mixer, mix the softened Cream Cheese with the Ranch dressing and herbs. Mix until well combined. Spoon into a piping bag with a star tip.
2.    Prepare the Cucumber, remove peel, Using a fork, score the sides. Slice into 1 inch pieces. Using a melon Baller, remove a portion of the center of one side of the piece of cucumber, leaving a half moon crater.
3.    Pipe the Herb Cream Cheese into the crater. Enough to stick out of the top about 1/2 inch.
4.    Add a black olive partially buried into the Herb Cream Cheese
5.    Sprinkle additional salt, herbs and spice mix for additional color. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve Chilled and ENJOY!

Tomato and White Bean Soup
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 15-ounce can white beans, drained
1 cup vegetable broth

1.    Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
2.    Add the garlic and gently cook until just soft, about 2 minutes.
3.    Add the basil, oregano, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer for 18 to 20 minutes.
4.    Move tomato sauce to blender
5.    Add white beans and vegetable broth
6.    Blend until smooth, about 3 minutes.
7.    Transfer back to pot and simmer for 5 minutes
Cranberry Pork with Sautéed Shallots

1 jar Red Currant Jelly
1 can whole Cranberries
1 shallot
3 cups water
3 heaping tablespoons of Better than Bullion Roasted Beef Base
Pork tenderloin

1.    Rub tenderloin with oil, salt and pepper
2.    Brown tenderloin in skillet, place in roasting pan
3.    Combine jelly, cranberries, Better than Bullion and water in bowl and set aside.
4.     Brown shallots in a small amount of oil in medium sauce pan.
5.    Add jelly mixture to shallots and bring to a boil.
6.    Pour half of the sauce on the pork and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 
7.    With other half of sauce simmer and reduce until it thickens.  Serve over pork. 

Roasted New Potatoes

       1 1/2 pounds of smallish new potatoes (red or yellow skinned), cleaned, cut in half or quarters
       2 Tbsp olive oil
       2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
       1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
       1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
       Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Place potatoes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, olive oil, rosemary, and garlic. Toss until potatoes are well coated with everything.
2 Spread the potatoes out on a single layer of a roasting pan (a sturdy pan that can take high oven heat, a standard cookie sheet may warp). Roast for 40 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and browned. Serve immediately.

Creamed Spinach

6 Tablespoons butter, divided
¼ cup flour
¼ cup chopped onion
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
2 cups whole milk
2 (10 ounce) bags ready-to-use fresh spinach

1.    Melt 4 tablespoons butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat
2.    Add flour and stir until light golden, about 7 minutes
3.    Stir in onion, bay leaf and clove
4.    Gradually whisk in milk
5.    Whisk until mixture boils and thickens, about 10 minutes
6.    Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minute longer, whisking frequently
7.    Remove bay leaf and clove
8.    Cook spinach in large pot of boiling water just until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes
9.    Drain
10.         Transfer spinach to bowl filled with ice water to cool.
11.         Drain well.
12.         Roll up spinach in kitchen towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 
13.         Transfer spinach to processor and finely chop
14.         Add Spinach to warm sauce, simmer over low heat until spinach is heated through, stirring often, about  5 minutes
15.         Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
16.         Season to taste with salt and pepper

Mini Fruit Tarts
      200g plain flour
      100g unsalted butter, cubed
      3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
Filling (crème patissiere)
      300ml low fat milk
      1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
      3 egg yolks
      2 tablespoons plain flour
      100g caster sugar
      Seasonal fruits of your choice
1.    In the bowl of a food processor, blend the butter and flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Slowly add the water and mix again. Chill this in the fridge for at least half an hour and then roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap until it is a quarter of centimetre in thickness.
2.    Cut your pastry to size and line a mini tart tin. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and blind bake for 12 minutes. Remove the baking paper and baking beans or rice and bake for another 12 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly golden. Leave aside to cool completely.
3.    In a saucepan, warm the milk (but do not boil).
4.    In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. When the mixture is smooth, sift in the flour and stir to combine.
5.    Slowly add the warm milk to the mixture, continuously whisking.
6.    Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and gently bring to a boil while continuing to whisk. When the mixture is thick and creamy, remove from the heat and leave aside to cool.
7.    Fill your cooled tart bases with the crème patissiere and arrange your chosen fruits on top to serve.

Cherries Jubilee

1 can pitted dark sweet cherries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup sugar
½ stick of butter
¼ tsp almond extract
¼ cup kirsch (cherry flavored brandy)
Vanilla Ice Cream

1.    Drain cherries and reserve all juice
2.    Melt butter in sauté pan
3.    Stir in cornstarch and sugar until smooth
4.    Gradually stir in the reserved cherry juice and almond extract.  The mixture will thicken.
5.    When it boils, pour in the brandy and turn off the heat.
6.    Light the brandy in the pan with the lighter or long match.
7.    When the flame dies down, stir in the cherries and serve over ice cream. 

Texas Sheet Cake

2 C. flour
1 C. water
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
2 sticks salted butter
2 C. sugar
1/4 C. buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 C. cocoa

Mix flour and sugar (set aside).  Bring Butter, cocoa, and water to a boil.  Pour in flour and sugar over that.  Mix with a spoon until well blended.  Add buttermilk, baking soda, eggs, and vanilla.  Beat until well mixed.  Pour into greased jelly roll pan (or into ramekins).  Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes.  (usually cooks quickly- don’t over cook).

While cake is baking, make frosting:
1 stick salted butter
1/4 C. cocoa
5 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 box of powdered sugar (more or less depending on desired consistency)

Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.  Mix powdered sugar in well until no clumps.  Pour over cake while cake is still hot.
Dust with powdered sugar.