Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oh Baby! (Part 2)

If I'm going to have a career in catering, I'm going to have to be better about the amount of food I make. We were expecting about 20 ladies at the shower, and of course, I was panicking beforehand that I wouldn't have enough food. (It's my nature.) As I starting piling it on the serving platters, not only did I realize my fears were unfounded, but that I had cooked for about 50 people instead of 20. Either I'm going to have to refigure serving sizes or limit my catering to sumo wrestling conventions. Here are the main dishes I made for the baby shower: 

Quinoa Salad
This represents about half of the leftovers. Oops...
Recipe found here.  This has been a go-to recipe for me for about the last 8 months.  I made it often this past summer when I had copious amounts of fresh corn.  If you're not familiar with quinoa, its amino acid profile makes it a complete protein.  It's high in lots of nutrients and gluten-free. It's similar to couscous, but much more filling.  Are you sold yet?  All aboard the quinoa wagon!
Here are some changes I make to the recipe: 

  • Add peeled chopped cucumbers for another texture. 
  • Add other fresh herbs like basil and parsley.
  • If you can get fresh corn on the cob, fry it before you add it to the quinoa.  My technique: 
    • Cut the corn off the cob, and then turn the knife around and run it against the cob, getting out the "corn milk".  Heat equal parts olive oil and butter in an iron skillet.  When it gets hot, hot, hot, add the corn.  Cook for a couple minutes, stirring frequently.  Add in a healthy amount of salt and sugar, and turn down the heat a bit. Cook it until it's tender, continuing to stir.  Remove from skillet.  You can enjoy it now in salads, quesadillas, salsas, etc.  But if you're looking for another punch of flavor, don't walk away yet.  To the hot skillet, add a good amount of fresh lime juice to deglaze.  Keeping the heat on, gently scrape the fried corn bits from the bottom of the skillet with a heat-resistant spatula.  Cook the liquid down until you get a light syrup.  Pour over the corn, and mix well. Yum! 
    • As it's January, no fresh corn is available.  Luckily, I froze some in August, so I just added two cups of that for this batch.  You could also use frozen corn from the grocery store.  Or maybe a can of hominy? I'll have to try that next. 
  • The mama-to-be is a vegetarian, so I substituted vegetable broth for chicken broth.  Personally I prefer the flavor of chicken broth, but if you want to go vegetarian, know that vegetable broth works just fine.
Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Recipe found here.  The only change I made was to add jarred pickled jalapenos instead of fresh.  I've been make that substitution a lot recently, and I quite enjoy it.  I served it on mini croissants. 

Curried Chicken Salad


Adapted from this recipe.  It calls for poaching chicken thighs with cilantro and lemon.  I've made it a few times like this, and it's been fine.  The dressing and other yummies more than make up for the lack of flavor that you get from poaching.  I've been roasting a lot of chicken for other recipes lately, so I decided to try it for this recipe.  I roasted a whole chicken and three split breasts, then followed the rest of the recipe.  I added chopped toasted pecans to the salad for more crunch. Also served on mini croissants.  Here's my recipe for roasted chicken: 
  1. Preheat oven to 425. 
  2. Rinse and dry the chicken or chicken pieces. If using a whole chicken, stuff the cavity with flavors of your choosing. I used halved lemons, a halved head of garlic, and a bunch of cilantro. 
  3. Let a couple tablespoons of butter soften in a small bowl resting on the stove. (My stove is on top of the oven. If that's not the case, microwave the butter until it's soft.) Add in a couple tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. 
  4. Separate the skin from the meat by sliding your fingers under the skin. Slide in bits of the soften butter mixture. 
  5. Top the bird with olive oil and any leftover butter bits. Salt and pepper generously. 
  6. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes (for breasts) or 1 hour and 20 minutes (for 5 lb bird). 
  7. Let rest for about 20 minutes before carving and enjoying, or let it rest for an hour before picking all the meat off the bones for chicken salad, soup, or any other dish that calls for leftover chicken.
  8. Be sure to save all the bones for stock. I freeze any chicken bones or vegetable scraps I have. When I have a large amount, I make a big batch of chicken stock. Then I'll freeze that in plastic bags. 
Chilled Asparagus

This is an Alex Guarnaschelli recipe found here on Food Network.  I followed the asparagus preparation to a tee, and it was worth it.  It is definitely labor intensive, but the asparagus came out perfectly.  The dressing recipe was light and allowed the asparagus flavor to come through.  

Citrus Salad

I adapted this Mark Bittman recipe. Here's what I did: 
  1. Peel and section 4 ruby red grapefruit, 6 navel oranges, and 6 pink oranges. Be careful to get rid of as much pith and as many membranes as you can.
  2. Top with 1/4 cup of very thinly sliced red onion pieces and 1/4 c feta cheese. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 T olive oil, 1 T rice vinegar, 1/2 T honey, and 1 T lime juice. Stir in 2 T chopped fresh mint.  Pour over the grapefruit and toss to coat. 

This recipe will definitely become part of my rotation in the wintertime when I have fresh Florida grapefruit and oranges. 


Deviled Eggs
Thanks, Paula Deen. You never disappoint. 



Baby shower desserts and decor coming soon.