Outdoor Entertaining Feature – May/June Issue Southbay Magazine

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Sometimes your new and old worlds collide in a beautiful way…

Planning a magazine shoot and producing an event both draw on the same skills – organization, visualization, project management, creativity, attention to detail.  Add in delicious farm fresh food, a gorgeous location, some vintage table decor, lovely flowers and you have a sophisticated picture perfect spring dining setting captured on the pages.

When I embarked on my culinary journey seven years ago, I never really left my event background far behind. The skills I learned as a corporate event, meeting and incentive planner/producer have been the foundation for my boutique culinary focused business. The approach and process is the same, however, now I add in delicious food.  I always find a way to make things complicated. : )

Being able to bring my passions together and see it come to life on a magazine page is a true miracle and blessing. The work is not always easy, but is inspiring and gratifying in so many ways.  My corporate job often felt like a gilded cage.  I never felt free and oddly the fear was about leaving the security that the “secure” environment provided.  Those feelings were often strangely juxtaposed against losing my job to downsizing, shifts in corporate structure, and managing the rise to mediocracy.  Sometimes you had to go along to get along and the quality of the work was overshadowed by politics, maneuvering and massaging needed to satisfy the person higher on the food chain. And in turn, the person above you was pretty much doing the same thing.

This spring photo shoot is more than lovely pages in a magazine. The pretty bird cages on the table and hanging above, bursting with flowers have a surprising symbolism that I can’t ignore. Spring is a time for change, a time for rebirth and a time to journey into the unknown.

My work on this project, is the culmination of the daily task of learning to be uncomfortable outside the safety net. And, while the beautiful shots don’t capture the challenges, disappointments and teary eyes that eventually morphed into this picture perfect scene, I remain grateful for the opportunity to spread my wings and understand what it means to be free.

For some inspiration, grab a copy of one of my favorite books, Watership Down. Curl up under a tree while reading the classic adventure novel.  Pay attention to the rabbits that leave the safety of the warren. : )

 

 

IMG_9972 Salmon & Veggies Farmbox

 

Slow Cooked Salmon on the Grill

Spring Onion, Ginger, Sesame, Citrus Glaze

With Chili Sesame Salt

Prep Time: 35 Minutes

 

2 ¼ lbs or 6 six ounce pieces, of wild caught salmon, skin on

2 Tablespoons Olive or Grapeseed Oil

4 Whole Limes , Juiced

2 Whole Limes, Cut in Wedges

5 Tablespoons of Sesame Oil

1 1/2 Tablespoon of Ginger, Finely Chopped or paste

4 Stalks Scallion, Diagonally Cut

2 to 3 Tablespoons of Apple cider or White Vinegar

3 to 4 Tablespoons of Fish Sauce Nam Pla or Nuoc Nam, (Adjust if needed after cooking)

2 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar

¼ Teaspoon Black & White Pepper

¼ Teaspoon of Kosher Salt

Cedar Planks, Optional

Garnish, Fresh Mint or Micro Greens (wasabi, cilantro, spring mix)

 

Chili Sesame Salt

3 Teaspoons of Salt, preferably Flake Maldon or Kosher

3 Teaspoons of Roasted Sesame Seeds

1 Teaspoon of Red Chili Flake

1 Teaspoon, Lime Zest, Optional (Add before serving)

 

Technique

Chili Sesame Salt

Mix Chili Sesame Salt Ingredients except lime and reserve.

 

Glaze

Mix glaze ingredients except for garlic and scallions.   Cook over medium heat until sauce thickens. Add garlic and scallions and cook till aromatic. Do not let garlic brown. Remove from heat and cool to room temp.

Salmon

Dry salmon skin with a paper cloth and season the skin. Let fish sit for 20 minutes at room temp. Brush the flesh side with the glaze and lightly season with salt and pepper.

Clean and prep the grill. Rub grates with grapeseed or high smoke point oil using a clean cloth. Heat the BBQ to 250 F and prepare for indirect grilling. Place salmon skin side down directly on un-heated side of the grill. If using cooking planks, be sure to soak them for at least 20 minutes before placing on grill. The planks will prevent the salmon from sticking on the grill, yet will add an additional Cedar flavor.

Cook for 12 to 20 minutes. Check the salmon halfway through the cooking time to make sure it doesn’t over cook. The salmon will be firm to the touch, warm, opaque in color, yet still look similar to the un-cooked version only less shiny. The slow cooking temperature creates a smooth moist silky texture.

If par cooking the salmon, cook only till almost done. Allow for carrier over cooking. Bring fish to room temp. Place in the refrigerator. Bring back to room temp before re-heating. Finish cooking on the grill at 250 F or in the oven just before serving for till heated throughout.

Before serving, brush or drizzle extra glaze over the top, sprinkle with the chili lime mixture and serve with lime wedges.

IMG_0117 1:2 Potato & 1:2 Thai Salad Farmboxla

1/2 and 1/2 – Platter of Thai Vegetable Slaw and Grilled Lemon and Chive Smashed Potato Salad

 

Thai Vegetable Slaw

Snap Pea, Radish, Cabbage, Cucumber, Carrot

Fresh Herb Lime Vinaigrette

 

½ Napa Cabbage Shredded

1 Medium Red Cabbage, Shredded

2 Shallots Fine Diced or Sliced

2 Cups or 10 Ounces of Snap Peas, Trimmed and Whole, or Sliced on a Bias

1 Whole Cucumber Sliced or Medium Dice

1 ½ Cups Fresh Basil Leaves and extra whole stems for garnish, preferably Thai if available

1 to 2 Medium Carrots Grated or cut Fine Julienne

5 Spring Onions, Diagonally Sliced

1 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves, and extra whole stems for garnish

1 Bunch Fresh Chives, Minced (1/4 cup)

1 bunch or 6 Radish Thinly Sliced on a Mandoline slicer

3 Whole Lime Wedges, Sliced for Garnish

Assemble all ingredients except herbs up till the night before. Add dressing up to 20 minutes before serving. Toss in herbs and garnish with lime wedges and larger pretty pieces of herbs just before serving.

Dressing

1 Minced Garlic Clove

3 Whole Limes, Juiced

1 to 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce, Fish Sauce Nam Pla or Nuoc Nam

1 Teaspoon Water

2 to 3 Teaspoons of Blended Oil

Sweet Chili Sauce or 2 Tablespoons of Mild Honey Mixed with ½ Teaspoon of Red Chili Flake

½ Thai Green Chili or Serrano, Minced Wear Gloves when cutting

½ Teaspoon White Pepper

 

Grilled Lemon & Chive Smashed Potato Salad

24 Baby Dutch Potatoes (approximately 4 per person)

3 Lemons Sliced ¼ Thick & grilled on both sides

Good Quality Mayo (Just Mayo or Best Foods)

3 to 4 Tablespoons of Chives, Finely Chopped

1 to 2 Teaspoons of Juice from Grilled Lemons

Salt & White Pepper to Taste

Lightly scrub potatoes under running water. Leave skin on, or peel is desired. Place in cool water to cover and bring to a simmer. Cook till fork tender yet still firm. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Let cool to room temp and then reserve and chill.

Grilled Lemons

Slice Lemons ¼ inch thick, grill on a clean oiled stove top grill or outdoor grill till grill marks are caramel in color.   Remove seeds and squeeze juice from 2 teaspoons of liquid. Reserve the remaining lemons for garnish.

Add mayo starting with 3/4 cup to cold potatoes. Mix in lemon juice and any broken lemon segments. Add additional mayo to reach desired texture and taste. I prefer it on the dry side. Smash potatoes with the back of a spoon or split with a fork into bite size pieces. Fold in ½ the chives. Check seasoning. Place in serving container and add grilled lemon garnish and sprinkle with chives just before serving. Can be made a day in advance. Omit chives and add them before serving. Check seasoning after removing from fridge.

 

Grilled Seasonal Vegetables

Blanching vegetables with a longer cooking time such as carrots, potatoes, and broccoli with prevent over charring on the grill. More delicate vegetables can be cooked on a stove-top grill pan or on the grill. Brush vegetable with enough oil to lightly coat. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill both sides. Resist the temptation to turn the vegetables until you see noticeable char on the side closet to the grill. Warm just before serving or serve room temp as is and drizzle with seasoned butter or olive oil.

IMG_0088 SB Strawberry Tart Cradenza OH

 

Farm Fresh Fruit Tarts

Tart base

2 1/2 cups unbleached pastry flour

4 Tablespoons Sugar, (granulated, or brown)

8 Ounces Chilled Diced Unsalted Butter. (2 Sticks)

2 Large Egg Yolks

½ Teaspoon of Kosher Salt

¼ cup Ice Water

½ Teaspoon Citrus Zest

Place dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse till combined. Add in butter and pulse till mixture resembles a course grain. Add water and egg mixture a little at a time and pulse. When mixture comes together into a ball, remove and place on parchment paper. Smooth and form into a disk. Add more flour if needed to prevent sticking. Begin rolling between two pieces of parchment paper, but just enough to flatten the disk. Cover and place in the fridge or freezer for an hour.

Remove dough and let soften till firm, yet pliable.  Form into shell and trim off excess with a paring knife. Prick shell with a fork to allow steam to escape while cooking. Place in freezer or fridge to firm the butter before cooking.

Line tart shell with parchment paper to cover. Fill with pie weights and cook at 375 F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and continue to cook till dough turns pale in color. Reduce heat to 325 F if the edges are cooking too fast. Cover with foil or crust guards and continue cooking till the edges turn opaque. Carefully remove pie weights and parchment and continue to cook till the edges are golden and the center is fully cooked. Remove and cool completely.

Filling

8 ounces Mascarpone Cream

½ Cup Goat or Cream Cheese (Goat Cheese will provide a Tangy/Tart Flavor)

1/8 Cup of brown sugar, or more to taste

1 Teaspoon of Citrus Zest

In a Medium bowl or food processor, mix all ingredients. Spread evenly in a baked tart shell and chill to set. Top with berries and drizzle with honey. Chill till ready to serve.

Fruit Topping

2 pints of Strawberries, Hauled and Sliced or any Mixed Berries

Mild Flavored Honey

Whole Lemon or Citrus Zest & Juice

Brown Sugar

Mix berries with sugar and lemon zest and juice. Artfully arrange on tart. Drizzle with honey. Chill till firm before slicing. Will hold overnight as long as berries are covered with honey.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Coolers

4 cups fresh strawberries, rough chopped and some strawberries for garnish

1 cup of rhubarb, diced and whole trimmed stems for garnish

3 cups water

1 cup sugar – depends on the flavor and sweetness of the strawberries, adjust as needed.

2 whole limes, zest

4 whole limes, juiced

1.25 L or 1 qt of sparking, soda, Champagne or wine

Edible flowers

Cook rhubarb in water and ¼ cup of sugar till they start to get tender. Add strawberries and cook till the strawberries begin to juice and change color.   Reserve from heat and cool to room temp.   Add remaining ingredients, checking sweetness and serve chilled or over crushed ice. Garnish with a rhubarb stem and rim the glass with sugar for a sweeter version. strawberry slices, and edible flowers.

Note – remove all leaves from the rhubarb as they are toxic

 

Check out the on-line feature, my three entertaining tips and find vendor resources at www.oursouthbay.com. Feature – Open Air Affair. Or pick up the May/June issue of Southbay Magazine.

Photos by Alan De Herrera

 

 

 

 

 

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