Month: July 2012

Back to the Beach – Eggplant Parmesan

The Rehearsal Dinner The basic etiquette for invitations to the rehearsal dinner are: The Bride and Groom – easy… Check! Their respective Parents – okay… Check! Bridesmaids and spouses (slash) dates – Check and check! ditto for the Groomsmen – Big ol’ Check! and all  of the out-of-town guests – Ch * * … umm…   hmm… that’s everyone….. The original plan was to swanky up the covered area at the beach house with tivoli lights, checkered tablecloths, and chainti bottles and turn it into an Italian restaurant for the night – Serving up trays of Chicken Parm, Eggplant Parm, Heaping bowls of Pasta, Romaine Salad,  and a kind of Spumoni Trifle… when we were talking about 20 to 30 people. When the numbers for the wedding started growing, it became a scramble to figure out what to do with all those people, because – I could go ahead and cook for them, but it would have been a push, with my one helper, to have pulled it off without a hiccup. (You remember what the weather did …

Party with a Pretty Dress – A Balmy 38 Degrees

Welcome back! Some of you attended the event, so you know all this next stuff. but… for those of you that are just following along out of curiosity, Here… was the venue. Sa – weet!!, huh? and… that was the imagined response when we started planning the whole thing at the beach. 30 to 40 guests, me cooking everything on grills… … a beautiful evening complete with gentle breezes, lapping waves, and those slightly cooler temperatures that the Panhandle in Fall is known for. We didn’t get that. By late August, the numbers had confirmed at 82 guests (slightly larger than I anticipated) and beginning on the Wednesday before the wedding on Saturday, the wind picked up. By noon on Friday, we were at 20 mph winds (with gusts to 35) which made setting up the tent, essentially a large rectangle windsock, rather tricky. As the big bald head of the sun set across the torrent waves, the temperatures dipped to a balmy 38 degrees. I was getting kind of concerned. You see, I was the one that pushed …

Party with a Pretty Dress – Appetizers

We’re back for round 2 of the wedding menu. this time, it’s the appetizers. I generally consider appetizers and hors d’oeuvres that food that no one really eats because they all amped up from the ceremony and sun – and they really just want to dig into dinner…. but: a), It has to look nice in case there’s any photos taken and b), It has to taste good in case someone needs a little somthin-somethin to cut the voluminous amounts of wine they’ve consumed. and c), I still had dietary concerns to keep in mind – so additional friendly food just flushes out the menu. The recipes you see below will be slightly different that those at the reception… and I’ll explain why: I’ll be honest, I wasn’t happy at all with the original wrappers for the tuna or any of the gluten free crackers. It’s not their fault, but gluten free crispy things end up being a little odd texture-wise once they get moist. And, in general, they just aren’t all that exciting. The original idea for the …

1 From Column “B” – Sesame Chicken

When I lived in the city, my house was within spitting distance of 4 different Chinese restaurants… none of them, really, very good. Be that the case, my fridge was awash in half-eaten Chinese take-out boxes trying to find that one thing they cooked really well. I had gotten to the point where I’d only order Salt and Pepper Shrimp from one guy.. and nothing else. Another would get my Mu Shu Pork order.. And the other guy?  Well, he got the Lemon Chicken / No Sauce. “That’s just fried chicken…! “Yes, Mr. Woo… that’s right…. I’ve always loved the idea of Sesame Chicken. Sesame oil, Toasty, Toasty sesame seeds and a rich aromatic sauce surrounding crispy bits of marinated and fried chicken….. At least that’s how I imagine it would be. But what I THINK – and what I GET rarely match up. Doing the take-out route, I’ll rarely order anything that’s fried and comes in sauce. Invariably, whatever they have battered just becomes a grease haven, and the sauces, for my tastes, are usually way too sweet and …

Back to the Beach – Menu Set #1

I’ve tried to come up with a way to dole out the recipes for the Party with a Pretty Dress without it being just one long, never-ending disgorging of information. Since it was a buffet, to do everything justice, I’ve decided to break the dinner apart into three separate menus that can be reproduced as individual meals, or mixed and matched to suit your particular dietary needs. As some of you know, this party was unique in the sense that the majority of the party guests had some sort of dietary restriction. Whether it was lactose intolerance, casein allergies, Celiac (gluten allergies), pescatarian, vegetarian, or vegan. Developing a menu that would ensure that everyone would be able to enjoy a delicious celebratory dinner was paramount, and it took a great deal of trial and error to create a menu where no one felt they were being slighted. I think we did our job. I also want to thank Tracy and Ken for entrusting this event to me, and  having the faith (even with the hitches) that we would deliver. Dry Cured …

One from Column A – Chicken Chow Mein

Okay, don’t shoot me… I grew up eating La Choy Chicken Chow Mein and somewhere deep in the back of my rather large head, I really believe that’s what Chinese food should taste like. I’ve been to Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and rolled around in veritable vats of authentic local food, so it’s not like I don’t know better. …. But when it’s quiet out… and no one is around… it’s that can of silky, bean sprout laden, very non- Chinese cuisine  – that I want. Granted, even real Chow Mein is just about the mildest of anything Asian you can eat… next to congee. It’s simple flavors, mild to no spice, and just a sea of corn starched sauce en-robing an over abundance of bean sprouts…. with a little chicken. I decided it was time to try my hand at it. Plate Fodder Chicken Chow Mein Serves 4 to 6 For the meat – you’ll need: 3 Chicken Thighs – boned and skinless 8 Large Shrimp – Shell off – tails removed 2 …

The Sandwich Diaries – The Southern Vegetable Sandwich

It’s true, if you can slap it between two slices of white bread… Southerners will call it a sandwich. I’ve eaten my fill of table scrap sammies, chicken leg (with the conspicuous protruding bone) sandwiches. Meatloaf, banana, potato chip, all play in the mayo-white bread pool. My dad used to tell of splitting a biscuit and wedging in a big slice of onion before wrapping the parcel up for a long day of working in the field as a kid. He looked absolutely euphoric when he told that story. He may have been only remembering a childhood long past – but I think he was remembering the sandwich. But, to make a really good Southern sandwich, you just have to ask yourself one question… What kind of vegetables do I have lying around? To begin with, you need some really – and I mean really good, soft and squitchy white bread. Colonial was the best – but that doesn’t exist anymore. That means I needed to make my own. Everyone already knows I’m a royal horror making bread, so …

Back to the Beach – Apologies

Consider this an open apology to a lot of you out there… Tracy & Ken, in particular.  Back in November I promised to give out the recipes from The Party with a Pretty Dress (Ken & Tracy’s Glorious Beach Wedding) … and well…I didn’t. And, some of you have followed Plate Fodder specifically for that reason.  I am sorry for the neglect. Things happened, pictures were ruined.. there were wars and rumors of wars… .. .. . and well – generally, life got in the way. But I thank the ones of you that have stayed around since then – following along with everything else we were doing – You shall be handsomely (kinda.. sorta.. sideways) rewarded. Beginning the week of July 22, we’re going to run through the week with all the recipes from the event: The GF / LF Eggplant Parmesan , the GF Noodle /Zucchini medly and the Marinara from the Rehearsal Dinner The Tuna Tartare, Deviled Eggs and Cheese Plate From the Pre Dinner The Proteins: Dry Aged and Rubbed Chuck ~ Grilled …

Simple Dinner Sunday – Mushroom & Eggplant Lasagna

I’ll readily admit it – I’m a carnivore. Meat, meat, meat makes my world go round. And, if this were only all about me, I’d probably only write about meaty food. But it’s not. I’ve got friends that are vegetarian, some that are vegan. There are the lactose, tree nut, gluten, casein, fungi, dairy, GMO, HFCS intolerant… so it takes more than a pile of hamburger meat to make a banquet. And, since the garden is kicking out the goods in high output these days – I’ve got a lot of produce to find ways to use. My thinking was – to finely chop eggplant and porcini mushrooms together, season them with fennel and seasonings (like Italian sausage and add it to a pasta sauce…. Taste-wise, it works. But, eh – textural wise, not the greatest mouth feel. So the next option was use it as the “meat” filling in a lasagna. Dinq! This recipe is Lactose Free, but not Dairy Free – I still haven’t been able to find a suitable substitution for Parmesan or sharper cheeses….yet. The Gluten Free …

Curb Market Crawl – Dahlonega Farmers Market

I’m a bad, bad, man… Several years ago, just after I started the Curb Market Crawl, I received an email asking me to plug the Dahlonega Farmers Market. That alone presented a couple of issues: I don’t do requested gratuitous plugs for any business… for any reason.  And, I’m not guaranteed to talk nice about you just because you asked me. For me to talk nice about something, you have to: ONE – have a product I like and regularly buy –                                 or  TWO –  have wowed me in some way with your witty patter and amazing charm –                                or  THREE – have something of an outstanding quality, and people should know about it. (and preferably, all three) On my first trip, there was a woman selling used clothes and someone selling wooden knick-knacks. Okay… possibly an off week… maybe too early in the season. So I marked the calendar to give them another run-through in …