Today was a beautiful day, not because of the weather (though the weather was phenomenal; sunny and fairly warm for Atlanta in January). Today was beautiful because I had the opportunity to volunteer with my daughter, wonderful friends and the good folks over at Hop, Skip and Serve for Martin Luther King Day. The order of the day was sandwiches and LOTS of them (over 4,400 ) for those in need. School supplies and clothing were collected as well. Hop, Skip and Serve made volunteering a party with a DJ and impromptu dance breaks. Kids as young as 4 are able to serve their community in a meaningful way, making this a perfect family service opportunity. It did my heart good to see so many young people there; Girl Scout troops, high school students and students from Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta University.
Thanks to Drew Charter School for giving a home to the many groups that came together to serve.
Volunteers brought in wheat bread and sandwich fixins and we got to work at about 9am. The college kids counted and organized the sandwiches and got them ready for transport. Hop, Skip and Serve volunteers got the food where it needed to go and many hungry folks in Atlanta will be fed. All in all, a great way to spend the day and bond with my daughter.
Also, shout out to Yumbii and Nana G’s food trucks for coming out to support and for bringing tasty treats for the volunteers,
You already know how much I love a crab boil (you do know that, right?). I prefer to have a crab boil with blue crabs but they can be hard to come by, so I’ll pick up a few pounds of frozen snow crab legs in a pinch. We boiled some up this weekend but this time I saved the crabby, corny, sausagey broth to make crab bisque later in the week.
1/4 cup dry sherry (for grown folks…it’s optional)
Bring the broth to a boil. Add the rice and sweet potato, simmer for 45 minutes. Puree the soup and strain. (Be very careful if you use a blender to puree hot soup, it can explode. Puree in small batches for safety)
Pour into serving bowls or cups. Swirl half and half onto the top of the soup drizzle with sherry if you’re using that. Add 2 tablespoons of crab meat to each bowl and serve.
If someone brought a panettone to your Christmas party, here’s the BEST thing you can do with it.
French Toast Recipe serves 8 people
1 Panettone cake about 26 ounces or 16 slices of bread
2 cups half and half
6 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of one orange about 1 Tablespoon
4 ounces of butter
Equipment: Griddle or wide shallow pan, 2 sheet pans, 2 wire racks, 1 pie plate
Slice the pannetone serving sizes about a 1/2 inch thick
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Beat half and half, eggs, sugar, vanilla and orange zest in a bowl. Pour batter into a pie plate.
Dip panettone slices (or bread) into the batter for about 15 seconds per side. Cook the French toast in about one tablespoon of butter on griddle set to medium heat (325 degrees on an electric griddle). Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove cooked French toast to a wire rack placed over a pan. When all of the French toast is finished on the griddle, place the French toast (still on the pan on the wire rack) into the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
Dip your cookie cutter in flour and cut out your shapes. Use a thin metal spatula ( dusted with flour) to lift the cookies off the counter and place them onto the parchment lined cookie sheet. If you are not decorating your cookies with frosting you can sprinkle them with white or colored sugar before you bake them
Bake the cookies for 10-12 (depending on the size of your cookies) until they are just very slightly brown around the edges. Let them cool to room temperature before you frost them.
You can re-roll the scraps of the cookie dough that are left over after cutting out your cookies. Just gather the scraps, form them into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a half hour before rolling)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 ½ tablespoons pasteurized egg whites
You can find pasteurized egg whites in the dairy section of your grocery store
Mix Powdered sugar and egg whites together. Add more egg white to make a runnier consistency, add powdered sugar to make a thicker consistency. Add food coloring one drop at a time until you reach the desired color.
Using a disposable pastry bag (cut a tiny bit off of the tip to make a small hole) pipe an outline with royal icing. Thin the icing slightly with a drop or two of egg white. Use this to fill in the outlined area.
I’m usually on the other side of the chef’s jacket, but not this night. This time instead of teaching a cooking class I got to take one from fantastic chef and food stylist Nancy Waldeck (TasteandSavor.com )at COOKSWAREHOUSEMerchants WalkNancy had great ideas about using unusual items to present your food. She told us a story about how once she and her assistant bought tons on mushrooms from the grocery store just for the cute boxes they were in ( I’m sure she did something wonderful with all those mushrooms). Her recipes were lovely, light and healthy appetizers great for any party.
Mini Potato Cakes with Kale, Broccoli and Bacon ( makes about 15 potato cakes)
1 and 1/4 cups diced Yukon gold potatoes boiled and mashed
1/4 cup finely chopped kale
1/4 cup finely chopped broccoli
1/4 cup diced cooked bacon ( save a few pieces of bacon for garnish if you like)
2 garlic cloves grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise (or light mayonnaise)
2 tablespoons butter or canola oil
2 tablespoons sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
Mix mashed potato, kale, broccoli, bacon, garlic mayonnaise and salt together in a bowl. Scoop about a tablespoon of the mixture and form into a small scallop shaped disk.
Heat a skillet on medium with butter or canola oil. Brown the potato cakes on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Serve on spoons (Chinese soup spoonsor regular tablespoons)
Garnish with a dollop or sour cream or Greek yogurt and top with a piece of bacon
It’s time to restock my prop closet, so I headed to Goodwill on Monday to pick up some inexpensive items. Everything on the table (except for the tablecloth and the food) is from Goodwill. These items will be great for styling my blog and great for parties.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year again. It’s the time of year when we prepare our homes to receive friends and family in the spirit of the season. It’s the time of year when we heat up our ovens and start making those favorite dishes that will become favorites of those that taste them. It’s also the time when we need to stock out pantries to be prepared for unexpected visitors.
I was invited to BJ’s Wholesale Club a few days ago to get some a peek at some of their holiday products and get some tips on entertaining.
Bj’s does require you to purchase a membership to receive the benefits of their club, but their low prices and coupon policy more than makes up for that fee.
One important difference between BJs and other membership clubs is that BJs sells many of it’s products in sizes more appropriate for families while other membership clubs have items packaged in large quantities for small businesses. This is especially important when purchasing perishable items (like produce) that can spoil before you have a chance to use them.
My oven is HOT! I’ve been baking up a storm lately developing cake and pie recipes for my clients’ holiday tables.
Here’s a link to the Brown Sugar Pound Cake recipe just in case you’re in the mood for a little baking. If you’re in the Atlanta area you can order one of these delicious cakes from me. Here’s the rest of the menu:
Mmmm, Wouldn’t this BROWN SUGAR POUND CAKE be GORGEOUS on your holiday table! The perfect Thanksgiving dessert or Christmas Dessert but really it’s great any time of year. This cake is incredibly moist, lightly sweet, has a hint of lemon and a whole lot of DELICIOUS! (more…)