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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Garnish

Pickled Mustard Seed

You say, what am I to do with these pickled mustard seeds?

Don’t you love mustard? I do. At this moment I have nine different kinds of mustard in my refrigerator.

I love it on burgers, on bologna sandwiches with pile of chips on top and then crushed by the top slice of bread. I love mustard on French Fries (I’ve never eaten catsup on a fry.) and get this, I like a little dab of yellow mustard beside my white beans. A little chow chow, a little mustard and the beans are fantastic. And, you can’t forget about hot dogs and pretzels when it comes to a good smear of mustard. How about on top of some fried green tomatoes or a good grilled cheese sandwich with some bacon and pickled mustard seed on the inside. Let me know if you make them and if you do something really different with them.

This post is making my cheeks pucker just thinking about all the things I like mustard on. When my sister and I were kids we loved making mustard sandwiches with white bread and mustard; no meat, just mustard and bread. These mustard seeds can be used in salads, dressings or dips. These little orbs explode in your mouth.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Garnish

Smoked Cured Egg Yolk

A new culinary adventure!

Ok, so this isn’t much of an adventure but more of a “what else do I have to do with my time anyway” now that Thanksgiving is over and you are sick of looking at food.

My son, Scott, is always sending me some interesting food recipes to try; like his 24 hour No Knead Breadb or gravlax and now these cured egg yolks.

Like Scott, I didn’t want to waste a bunch of eggs the first time I tried making this yellow ball that looks like a dried apricot when you are done with it at the end of a long week. So at the end of this week, I had only one yolk to show for my 168 hours of watching and waiting and I grated it carefully not wanting to waste one speck of this yolk over some smoked salmon and sour cream that I put on top of my Herbed pizzelle. I can’t say that I thought it tasted any different than an egg but it was so pretty grated; like a big puffy pile of yellow.

Salt curing is the oldest method of food preservation that simply involves covering food with mixture of sugar and salt to draw out the moisture of the food. This method changes the egg yolk to a firm little flatten yolk that has the consistency of parmesan cheese; put it on your veggies (I tried some roasted asparagus), salads or spaghetti carbonara. Maybe put the grated yolk in your compound butter or wouldn’t it be wonderful on top of some avocado toast.

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Garnish/ Salads/ Side dish/ Vegetables

Pickled Yellow Squash

Take advantage of your summer harvest.

I’ve been doing a lot of pickling lately; first my roasted yellow pickled beets and now this pickled yellow squash.

Even if you don’t have a garden you can take advantage of finding great deals on produce and then canning some to enjoy in the winter. I didn’t find a great deal at the farmer’s market; their yellow squash was $3.00/lb. I bought one pound of their squash and then went to my HEB and bought 6 lbs. at $.99/lb. Now that’s a deal.

My mother and dad both use to can things. It seemed like it was more my mother canning tomatoes and pickles from my dad’s garden and then after my dad retired they both tried their hand(s) at pickled okra, beets. When they moved over to Reelfoot Lake he even canned some fish he had caught then they would make fish cakes out of the canned fish. Now, I wasn’t too keen on trying that recipe but I’m sure if he made it, it was good.

I’ve canned some marmalade before and some fig jam and even some cognac raisins to serve with cheese. Oh, I forgot, one of my sister’s (Terry) best canned items is her chow chow. It is better than any chow chow you will ever find in a grocery store and when I can get tomatoes for 50 cents a lb. I make some. I have to go to Missouri to get tomatoes at that price.

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Fish/Seafood/ Garnish/ Side dish

Preserved Lemons

These make me pucker just thinking about them.

I had a jar of preserved lemons that I bought several years ago in a mark down basket at a gourmet kitchen store. By the time I got around to cleaning my pantry out last week (I do this at least once a month) the jar of lemons looked like a jar of something not even resembling a lemon, they were dark gray and those definitely got thrown out.

We have a Meyer Lemon tree that was potted but then put in the ground. This is the third year for it to take up residence in our yard. Last year, some critter pulled all the lemons off and we ended up with 2 in the late Fall. Something happened this year, maybe the predators went to someone else’s yard because I had 16-18 beautiful, almost baseball size, Meyer lemons. So, since one can only drink so many lemon drop martinis, I decided to try to make preserved lemons and believe me, they were the easiest things I have ever made.

You say, “what am I going to do with preserved lemons since I don’t own a tagine and I don’t make Mediterranean food”. Well, you can make my Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Preserved Lemons that I will be posting in two days (can’t give you lemons and then make you wait 6 days to post another recipe.

After a bit of research, I found quite a few things to do with preserved lemons — use them in salad dressings and sauces, in salsas and dips, pasta dishes, risotto, Tagines (there’s that word again), hummus, and just about anything that would benefit from a tart bite of a piece of lemon.

Of course when you take these out to use them you want to rinse off all the salt and tear out the inside of the lemon and throw this away as you are only using the rind.

The good thing about this recipe is you can make just one jar or whatever amount you want.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Garnish

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Garnish

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose……

What is Christmas in July anyway. I never really understood celebrating Christmas in July but I decided to show you this cute little garnish I use to make for all the Christmas parties I catered.

This is such a great tray garnish for your holidays.  No instructions really needed but here’s how I would always make them.

Choose a perfectly “reindeer head” shaped pear. I always used the brown pears. Now for the ginger root, I would sort though the bin of ginger root pieces and find two that looked like reindeer antlers and then break off what I needed; why buy what you don’t need, right.

Decide how you want to situate the antler pieces and cut the bottom off in a slant to fit the shape of the pear where it will be sitting.

Cut the bottom of the pear off at a slant so it will sit with the nose end up. Put two toothpicks into each piece of ginger (that way they don’t swivel around) and insert into the back of the pear.

Cut radishes slices for the eyes. Attach them by using half a toothpick for each and insert that almost all the way into the pear leaving just enough sticking out of the radish to attach the raisin to.

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Garnish/ Salads

Zucchini Bowl for Salad

Give any salad a new look.

Ok, I’m sitting around with nothing better to do than think of a way to use a leftover zucchini and then I happened upon a recipe; not really a recipe but more of a presentation idea I saw in Catering Source magazine. (Seems like there is a theme going here of me sitting around with nothing to do — after doing water aerobics a couple of times a week, gym a couple of times a week, craft circle working on doll houses, laundry, shopping etc. etc. I still do have a lot of time left over to ponder unimportant things like a vessel for a salad.)

I would really like a do-over with the last 20 years. Not that I would change one thing about raising my kids or any other thing I have done but I would like to have more time to travel and take cooking classes. What I always loved about catering was, of course cooking the food, but most of all I loved watching others enjoy what I prepared. Maybe I would be a food-truck owner. I love that idea and if I haven’t said it before, one weekend I want to go to Austin and check out at least 4-5 food trucks and sample their foods until I can’t hold another bite. So far, I have only been to the Flip Happy Crepe Truck and had a delicious Nutella and banana crepe which I may try to make sometime soon.

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Appetizers/ Bread/ Cocktails/ ColdApp/ Garnish

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta & Aviation Cocktail for “SNS”

Sunday night supper and a cocktail.

There are two couples we usually go out with on Friday nights and on occasion we do dinner together on Sunday night. This has come to be called “Sunday Night Supper” and we all love to be invited to Sunday Night Supper because that means another night we do not have to cook. It’s fun to go to each other’s houses and see what’s cooking and how the table is going to be decorated.

I usually have confidence in what I’m cooking but never been that great at setting a great looking table. This past Sunday night we hosted SNS and even though there was just a little chill in the air and not a cold wintery night I decided to do a chowder for the main course.

Our evening started with cocktails out on the deck. I had spread one of my French square table toppers (that I had picked up in France) out on my teak table. Cocktail of the night was a once obscure drink, Aviation cocktail, made with Bombay gin, marachino cherry liquier (clear) and creme de violet (purple) and lemon juice and that was shook into a fantastic before dinner cocktail to go with the Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta and my White Bean Hummus. For my salad dressing I used Ina Garten’s Champagne Vinaigrette and the salad consisted of baby arugula, baby spinach, some mixed greens and a whole carton of pea shoots. I also added avocado, some toasted walnuts and some paper thin julienned slices of jicama. I was able to buy all the greens in bulk so I could get a handful of this and that.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Garnish/ Jams & Marmalades/ Morning Foods

Tangerine Kumquat Marmalade

Beautiful color marmalade.

Delicious scones and great marmalade.

I decided to do the duck appetizer over the holidays and wanted  to try Thomas Keller’s marmalade recipe. You’re have to wait until Christmas for the duck appetizer but for now, here’s the Tangerine Kumquat Marmalade recipe.

Recently I found some fantastic little (or big) Weck brand jars at one of our local gourmet grocery shops. I love them, they have rubber rings and instead of the normal screw tops, they have clips that hold down the lids; so retro looking.  You can find these online at Amazon, Crate and Barrel, or to to to order them.

I have never been a toast and jelly kind of person. Strawberry jam, even though it isn’t a favorite of mine, is a must for freshly baked Cream Scones. All kids and adults probably love peanut butter and jelly. Not me. I’m strictly a peanut butter and bread type of person.

A couple of years ago I did make some wonderful peach preserves. Aren’t preserves so much better than jelly anyway; you get those bits of fruit and rind that give it so much more intense flavor. Some habanero peppers even got slipped into a few jars of the peach preserves for some extra kick and was fantastic on top of different types of cheeses.

I just had to try some scones with this jam but you can try it on any type of bread, put it on a cheese or even incorporate it into some recipe. A beautiful marmalade that can have so many uses.

If you are interested in the difference between a marmalade, preserves, jelly, jam, look here.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: If you haven’t already tried this Sugar Plum Cake  you need to make it for the Christmas holidays. It’s the best and I’m sure your family will love it. If you make it and like it, please leave a comment at the bottom of that page.

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ColdApp/ Garnish

Turnip Rose

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?


Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

[Aside] Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy:
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand nor foot,
Nor arm nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose   (turnip)
By any other word would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
and for thy name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Thank you William.  I always think of this when I do a turnip rose. Why? I don’t know. I just always think “a rose by any other name” and then realized where that line comes.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Dessert/ Garnish

Dried Pineapple Flowers

I love Martha! and this recipe is from her Cupcake cookbook.

I think Martha is one of those names that you just have to say the first name and everyone just knows who you are talking about.

I taught a technique class on cakes and cupcakes the other day at Williams Sonoma. It was a fun class to teach and I love sharing recipes and ideas with everyone that comes to our classes. Even though I didn’t do any cake decorating, we made a Whipped Cream Frosting that my mother use to make way back in the 50’s. I like playing with food and making garnishes and platter decorations and everything but have never had the patience to learn to decorate cakes. So, these little pineapple flowers really did the trick to finish off a cake I had made for the class.

I plan on making these little flowers to put on top of Hummingbird cupcakes for a party I’m catering before a Jimmy Buffet concert. I think these will look so tropical and will fit well with the theme of the party.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Garnish/ Side dish

Herbed Potato Window Panes

You will want to do more than window shop these windows! You get to eat these.

I have done a “One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato” blog entry where I posted three of my favorite baked potato recipes. This has to be “four”.

It was really nice here in our part of Texas today and I should have been out surveying all of our dead plants that we lost during the winter this year. But, my husband has already cut back and pulled up every dead thing in our yard and right now it is looking like a pretty naked yard. You get him going with a chain saw or pruners and watch out. No such thing as “take a little” off with him.  I can put off taking a look until tomorrow. Today, I decided to just practice bridge and play around with making these little potato delicacies

I saw this recipe years ago in a cookbook and recently I was searching for how to make them and and came across this site. A couple of weeks ago I did a little cooking demonstration for our garden club on herbs. We had one member talking about the herbs and then I showed them how to make somethings using that particular herb. I did a cucumber soup, my Rosemary and the Goat appetizer, Lavender scones, a lemon basil/mint sorbet and these Potato Window Panes.

I love potatoes. Even though we don’t eat them often, I’m always looking for new recipes. Last summer I found this recipe using potatoes and arugula  and after tweaking it I came up with my Potato and Arugula Salad using purple and white new potatoes. I think potatoes are one of the most versatile vegetables. They can be part of a meal or the meal itself. You can grate them and use for a potato bread sour dough starter. I remember as a kid we cut them and made designs and used ink pads to stamp out designs with the potatoes. I also remember playing a shower game where you put the potato in a panty hose leg, tied it around your waist and tried to knock a ball across the room (some game huh).

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ColdApp/ Garnish

Citrus flower garnish

Don’t Play with your food…

I’m sure all of us have memories of our mothers saying “don’t play with your food”. I know my twin sister and I did when we were small — we got into everything. I told my own children not to play with their food. Seems like if they didn’t like something, they would move it all over the plate to make it look like they had eaten it. They were picky eaters, but have all grown into wonderful cooks, ready to try anything unusual.

So, playing with food. When I was in a Hospitality Management program yearssssssssss ago I had a semester of Garde Manger. In this class we did plate painting, ice sculptures (my first and last, boy was that cold), we did sushi, all kinds of organ meats, cheeses, everything including my favorite, garnishes. I would go home and PLAY with anything I had in the refrigerator. I love making these citrus flowers. I have used lemons, limes, oranges, lemon and limes together. I use these as garnishes on seafood trays or dessert trays. Sure hope you will try these. I can make one in less than 10 minutes tops.

First you are going to take your lemon (lime, or orange). Using a very sharp knife and being very careful, cut the ends off, cut it in half (lengthwise) and proceed to cut in very thin slices. You want the slices thin because you are going to roll the slices up.

Keep the slices as thin as possible. You will be glad later.

Have your toothpicks ready, you will need quite a few.

Pick out one of the thinner slices and roll it up. Then take another slices and overlap it. Keep doing this. You may find it hard to hold on to but after a few slices and wrapping…

Turn it upside down and proceed to overlap slices, building your flower from the bottom up. When you have used all your slices or have the flower as big as you want…

Start inserting toothpicks in the flower. You can clip the ends but I usually cover up with herbs.
Turn over, and there you have it — a beautiful citrus flower. This one is garnished with basil, parsley, a sprig of rosemary and some salad burnett. Mint is really pretty also as a garnish. Hope you will try these. I have never tried a grapefruit but will one day. I will have to show you how to do a turnip rose. They are beautiful too. — Sherry