Sunday, August 30, 2009

Boyd's Creek Salad

It's August, people don't even want to think about turning on their stoves or ovens, except me.

Close your eyes and picture it...well open them and read this, then close them and picture it.
It's a beautiful and somewhat cool summer evening, the children are at a soccer game scouting an upcoming opponent. Your spouse isn't home, you're home alone for a couple of hours and you don't have to cook dinner.

What do you do? Watch a movie, read a book, take a walk or a run? Want to know what I did?

I created the most labor intensive and best tasting salad I have ever made in my life. Yes, I am Katherine and I have a problem. One taste of this salad and you won't care what kind of problem you have.

But let's just overlook my OCD and check out this salad that serves two.

Boyd's Creek Salad -
First, let's make some spicy and sweet walnuts as a salad topping. Pecans would be excellent prepared this way too.

Spicy and Sweet Walnuts

1 cup of walnuts
3 tablespoons of Lea & Perrins
3 teaspoon hot sauce
Emeril's Essence or Creole Seasoning

Toss the walnuts in the Lea & Perrins and the hot sauce.

Spread the walnuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with Essence or Creole seasoning. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes.

Set the walnuts aside to cool slightly.

In a medium sized pot, add 1/2 cup of sugar.

Add just enough water to wet the sugar. Don't stir.

Bring the sugar and water to a rolling boil over high heat for 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add walnuts. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar turns white and crystallizes.

Spread walnuts on a parchment paper lined pan to cool.

Wash, drain and tear 2 cups of romaine lettuce. Peel, core and thinly slice one Gala apple. Soak the apple slices in freshly squeezed lemon juice and set aside.
Spring Onion Vinaigrette -
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup of canola oil
2 tablespoons of clover leaf honey
4 spring onions or scallions, green tops only, blanched
Salt and black pepper to taste
Place all of the ingredients in a blender to emulsify and you have a dreamy, velvety and tasty vinaigrette.
Now let's assemble our masterpiece!

Place the lettuce, apple slices, some shredded sharp cheddar cheese (goat or feta cheese would be really good and for you bleu cheese lovers, I bet that would work too) and the pecans in a chilled bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the top and toss.
This is a salad that is meant to be enjoyed slowly. Then I thought, who is Boyd and why is a creek and a highway and now a salad named after him or her?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chicken Satay

Whoever "They" are, "They" say you shouldn't try out a recipe for the first time on guests.

Normally, I am a very rules oriented person, but when it comes to the creating in the kitchen and entertaining, I lean more towards coloring outside of the lines quite a bit, ok a lot.

Since everything that was being served to our guests was going to be homemade and I was being held to a criteria that I had committed to, when I came across this recipe at Eating Well dot com and I thought it would be perfect for our little get together last Saturday. Yes, sometimes at the Cafe, we get a little health conscious. This came together quickly and I knew the peanut/coconut flavor combined with the the grilled chicken would be marvelous.

The morning after A.J. opened the fridge looking for leftover Chicken Satay for breakfast, (yes he colors outside of the lines too) and was disappointed to find none. He settled for the real breakfast of champions, salsa and chips.

That's just how good this turned out!

Chicken Satay (adapted from

6 tablespoons lime juice
6 tablespoons canola oil
4 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
4 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 lbs. chicken tenders
Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)

To marinate chicken: Whisk lime juice, oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and crushed red pepper in a shallow baking dish until combined.

Add chicken and turn to coat. Let marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to high.

Thread each chicken tender onto a wooden skewer. Grill the chicken skewers until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle. Serve warm or chilled with Spicy Peanut Sauce for dipping.

Spicy Peanut Sauce:

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons coconut coconut cream
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste

Whisk together peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar and crushed red pepper in a small bowl until smooth.

Don't wait to have a party to try this because then you'd have to share!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Grilled Corn and Lime Crostini

Many of you seemed to really be interested in the Grilled Corn and Lime Crostini. Your wish is my command. I was lucky to snap off these two pictures. I was running a little late getting all of the food ready and a couple of my neighbors were really interested in what I was doing at the stove.

This recipe is courtesy of Fine Living with a couple of my tweaks.

2 ears corn, shucked
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
Coarse Sea Salt
4 strips bacon, julienned
1 Jalapeno, de-seeded, cut in half and thinly sliced
3 to 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
1 lime juiced
1 baguette sliced thin on a diagonal
2 cloves garlic

Preheat a grill to medium. Lightly brush the corn with olive oil and season with salt. Grill, turning occasionally, until the corn is charred on all sides. Remove and set aside until cool, then cut the kernels off the cobs.

Drizzle a saute pan with olive oil; add the bacon and bring to medium heat. When the bacon is browned and crispy, add the jalapenos and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the corn kernels and toss to combine. Season with salt and stir in the lime juice and vinegar. Toss in the scallions and remove from the heat.

Toast the baguette slices on the grill until lightly charred. Remove the toasts and rub with the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and top with the corn-bacon mixture.

Watch them disappear from your serving tray. Can you see how many are missing from the time i placed the platter until I grabbed my camera? This one is a keeper!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Smirnoff Summer Entertaining Extravaganza

I am very excited to report that the wonderful people over at Foodbuzz chose me to host a party to introduce two new Smirnoff cocktails to my friends and neighbors. After a hectic first week of school we were all ready to let our hair down and relax with some tasty Smirnoff cocktails.

I received this package from Foodbuzz. What a perfect way to get a party off on the right foot. Thanks Foodbuzz!

I was very inspired with these two new cocktail flavors from Smirnoff. Tuscan Lemonade and Mojito. All of our guests enjoyed them both. It was hard for me to pick a favorite. The inspirational flavor or key ingredient was lime. I carried these citrus flavors into the food served. Watch!

We started off with Charred Corn Salsa with Blue Chips flavored with lots of lime!

The chips and salsa went down really smooth with this!

We marinated shrimp in lime juice, garlic, a touch of olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne and grilled them on medium-high heat.

Jennifer and Joyce, our neighbors loved the shrimp.

The guys were loving watching the Sharpie 500.

How about some Roasted Corn with Lime Crostini? I'll have the recipe for you this week. This was a party favorite. Anyway, who said not to try new recipes when you're entertaining?

Here's our host and grill master, A.J. He really liked the Mojito.

We got Angie to switch from beer to Mojitos! She was blown away.

Even a rainbow showed up for a Tuscan Lemonade! Yes, they are just that good!

Doesn't this Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce look fantastic? The secret ingredient in the marinade and in the sauce is lime. I'll post the recipe this week!

We had a split vote here. A.J. liked the Mojito and Kent likes the Tuscan Lemonade. Actually Kent and A.J. liked them both.

Grilled Salmon with Mango, Key Lime Salsa was gone in a flash.

I couldn't have a party with lime as my key ingredient with out serving my favorite Nellie and Sal's Key Lime Pie.

How do you celebrate the end of summer?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

I don't have a whole lot of cookie recipes n my repertoire, but the one I do have are pretty darn good recipes. The smell of cookies baking brings a smile to almost anyone's face. C'mon admit it, who can be angry when there's fresh homemade cookies around!

They were on top of the world when I held out a plate of these babies! these cookies made returning to school just a little bit easier.

Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies -

1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp. white vinegar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 - 1/4 cup plain brownie mix from the box
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, sugars, vanilla, salt, and vinegar.
Beat in the eggs, then the baking soda and flour. Stir in the brownie mix and then fold in the chocolate chips.
Drop the cookie dough by a small tablespoonful onto a baking sheet lined with a siplat or parchment paper. Bake for 8 to 10. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool for 3 minutes before plating.

How can you look at these and not feel blissful?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Steak Fajitas with Chimichurri

These were some of the best fajitas I've made. They were a bit more labor intensive and were worth the wait. This was my first attempt at a chimichurri sauce and it was so fresh tasting and smelling; I will definitely begin to incorporate this into more meals.

Steak Fajitas with Chimichurri Sauce -
In the bowl of a food processor combine one bunch of fresh parsley.
One bunch of cilantro, just throw the whole thing in there.
2 cloves of garlic. It's really two cloves, I just got a little, umm overzealous when I smashed the second clove.
One-half of a red onion sliced.
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt.
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper.
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.
2 tablespoons lemon juice.
And finally, 1/2 cup olive oil.
Pulse in the food processor until you get a nice thick and smooth chimichurri sauce. You will get weak at the wonderful aroma you have produced!
I really don't know how large this London Broil is, I would guess about 2 lbs. Pierce both sides of the beef with a fork over the surface of the beef on both sides. Place in a resealable plastic bag.
Pour half of the chimichurri sauce into the bag. Seal the bag and massage the sauce into the London Broil to thoroughly coat the beef. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cover and place the remaining sauce in the fridge for later.

Preheat the grill and remove the steak from the bag, sear the meat on high heat for about 5 minutes per side then move to indirect heat until desired doneness. Move London Broil to a platter and tent with foil.

Ok, we're almost done! Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 1 de-seeded, thinly sliced jalapeno pepper, the other half of the red onion, sliced, and one large red bell pepper thinly sliced. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are softened and caramelized around the edges.

Ok now for the fun part! Add 1/4 cup of a lager beer and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. I felt the lager beer would add a little more flavor than a regular beer or a light beer.

Warm the tortillas on the grill. Our gas grill ran out of propane at this point so I heated the tortillas in a 425 degree oven for about 3 minutes per side. I wouldn't use the boiler!

Thinly slice the steak on the bias; divide among the tortillas along with the peppers and onions. Thin the reserved chimichurri sauce with a tablespoon lemon juice; drizzle over the fajitas. Sprinkle a little grated manchego cheese and you've just made an over the top steak fajita!