This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock rock concert. More of a generational milestone than a show, the event was marked by the hundreds of thousands of people that attended and the peace and love demonstrated during a time of national unrest. Sounds a bit familiar, yes?
To recreate that feeling now, we got all groovy and welcomed Chef James, who embraced everything 1969 by recreating dishes that brought back the taste of the day.
We started with a co-ed (my “old-man” was in tow) cocktail party that featured passed hors d’oeuvres right out of the glossy mags of the day. Stuffed celery, bacon wrapped shrimp, pigs in a blanket and pineapple and ham topped pizza. Here’s a few snack images to start your California dreamin’….
The highlight was the chips and dip placed on each of the tables. I just couldn’t get enough of those homemade crispy chips with globs and globs of oniony dip! Pretty groovy, man……..
Continental breakfast included home baked “Pop Tarts” and granola bars, avocado toasts and peanut butter and banana toasts with a drizzle of maple syrup. I was ready for the dawning of the age of Aquarius….♬ and the golf that followed.
Lunch included plated cheese balls coated in nuts with Saltine crackers and buffets filled with fresh green salads, quiches, ambrosia salad and tomato aspic. The meals just kept taking me higher and higher!
But the real mouth-watering fun was at the “pot” luck supper. Chef served all the foods of the day that one would bring to a communal dinner. We started with a huge pot of cheese fondue and all the dippers you can imagine. As the ladies sat for the meal, everyone broke off a piece of beau monde seasoned Swiss cheese bread (a recipe right off the pages of every 70’s era Junior League cookbook). The dinner buffet offered other memorable favorites including chicken a la king, Salisbury steak, deliciously soggy green beans, mashed potatoes with carrots and peas, and of course a liberal interpretation of the famed Hamburger Helper, pasta with tomato seasoned beef.
Dessert featured banana cream pie with a shortbread crust and grasshopper pie. And then there were the brownies!!?!! With a little help from my friends, supper was digested by dancing to songs from Janice to Richie.
It was quite an event, one that will be remembered for the food, the fun and especially the camaraderie. You don’t have to wait for an anniversary to remember the good ol’ days. Just kick back, invite your pals, encourage them to bring a dish from their childhood and break some communal bread. As Sly would sing, You Can Make It If You Try!
And that’s the why behind this Far Out recipe for homemade chips and onion dip. Instead of tearing open an envelope of onion soup mix, why not take a few minutes and give the real thing a try? Season the warm potatoes with your favorite combination of dry spices and fresh herbs to create the utmost gourmet chip treat.
Oven Baked Seasoned Potato Chips
with Caramelized Onion Dip
Yield about 2 cups dip
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 4 ½ cups) Salt and freshly ground pepper 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar 1 package (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 cup mayonnaise 2 large baking potatoes Vegetable oil spray 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon hot paprika 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the Balsamic vinegar and cook until the onions are syrupy. Place the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and chives into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until creamy.
Add the caramelized onions to the processor. Pulse to combine. Transfer your finished chip dip to a serving bowl.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Use a mandoline to cut the potatoes into paper-thin slices. Place the slices onto 2 baking sheets. Coat both sides of the potato slices with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the chips begin to turn golden, about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of each chip. Mix 1 teaspoon coarse salt with ½ teaspoon hot paprika. Sprinkle the chips with this mixture.
A mandoline is a hand-operated machine that uses an adjustable blade to slice and julienne firm vegetables and fruit; it has legs, allowing it to sit safely on your countertop. The best part of the mandoline is the carriage, preventing the vegetable slicer from touching your fingertips! The food processor’s slicing blade attachment is a good substitution for the mandoline.
I wish every day was Mother’s Day. We don’t need an excuse to honor the most special women in our lives, or bask in love ourselves. Moms come in all shapes and sizes… whether they are your Mom, someone else’s mom, a best friend who acts like your mom, a neighbor who’s mom to the whole block……Whatever the case, here is my suggestion for a better Mother’s Day:
Get mom (or persuade your loved ones to get you) an experience rather than a thing. There are so many ways to spend time together. To my mind, doing it over good food and art is the best way to go about it.
This global database of food and wine festivals is worth taking a look at. If you surprise mom with tickets for an event that’s further down the road in 2019, it’ll give you something to look forward to. You’d be amazed at how many foodie fests are happening in your own backyard. My food blog editor just went to a Mixology event in an art museum, where food and alcohol vendors had their best wares laid out around the Picassos.
As for me….I found a really cool event out in Phoenix this spring. Check out the slide show below! I will definitely go to the Nirvana Food and Wine Festival again – and I’d be over the moon (hint, hint, my children) if someone arranged to take me next year as an ahem…Mother’s Day gift???
Food Nirvana happened the last week of April, so for me, it was kindof a belated birthday treat. Attending was a happy accident. I happened to be staying in the hotel where Food Nirvana was taking place. As part of our reservation, I received complimentary tickets to one of the events. I chose the Rosé Parté, an event housed in the famed Wriggly Mansion overlooking the city of Phoenix on one side and Camelback Mountain on the other. The views were breathtaking, even in 100° plus heat!
The festival featured all types of vendors with tastings of rosé wines and champagne. Local restaurants offered delicacies that included foie gras mousse wrapped in cigarette shaped tortillas, displayed in what appeared to be a garden of grass with edible flowers on the end of each roll.
There were individual deconstructed blood orange cakes, pastries of all shapes and sizes, and a Bloody Mary bar that rivals any I’ve ever seen. The Nirvana version of a charcuterie board was assembled on a gigantic dining table (which had to seat 20 or more) and laden with cheeses, meats and the most gorgeous loaves of bread I’ve ever seen. I tasted the Pâte à Choux, filled with salmon and topped with caviar and the tri-colored beet terrine. Oh, so special!
Yes, I saw celebrity chefs! Robert Irvine is cute, and as well-muscled in person as he is on TV! His dish consisted of a corn husk laid onto a plate, topped with beef short rib, splashed with the sauce and topped with what looked like an avocado cream and crunched tortilla chips.
Foie Gras Mousse with Edible Flowers
Pâte à Choux served on beet, carpaccio style
Blood orange cake with a sweet glaze & lavender ice cream
Nirvana version of a charcuterie board
The most epic Bloody Mar Bar you have ever seen
The pictures say it all. I had a blast and encourage you (with or without your Mom) to attend a food and wine festival if you get a chance. It is a HAPPENING! But, seriously… Mom is really the most special person on Earth, and if you need any food or entertaining advice helping her realize that, I am here. Email me at Jorj@Jorj.com and I will reply before May 12th!
Sue and I are excited to introduce our new book, Canvas and Cuisine: The Art of the Fresh Market. We will be holding a series of open houses, showcasing yummy food from our labor of love. We are calling these soirees, “A Taste of the Fresh Market”. We’ll have books to read and Sue’s original art work to take your breath away, plus a sip or two of a late afternoon libation. Most importantly, we will have samples (recipes from the book!) on offer in mini bite-size portions.
I learned a lot converting some of the bigger dishes in Canvas & Cuisine to party appetizers! In redesigning some of my recipes, I ended up producing classic standbys that I – a self-described EXTREME party planner – haven’t tasted in a while. What FUN!
One of the most popular dishes in the book (according to my recipe testers) is Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pancetta and Toasted Breadcrumbs. This dish proved to be a great example of what you can do with a recipe. You can make it your own.
I created the dish as a mostly veggie entrée, featuring meaty grilled mushrooms with a buttery wine sauce over the top. Through my recipe testers, it evolved into a spicy stuffed mushroom, with a crunchy topping of crisp ham and breadcrumbs.
This is one of those dishes a dinner host can easily convert from a first course or veggie main to a simple, satisfying appetizer. By stuffing smaller mushrooms with just a bit of the sun-dried sauce, and sprinkling the toasted topping over the top, they become bite sized delicious versions of the original dish.
I thought I’d share this one with you in advance of the event…. Just in case you are in the neighborhood. If you wanna get a book shipped ASAP, click here and order your copy today!
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
with Sun Dried Tomato Breadcrumbs
30 Minute Cuisine
1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted plus 2 more for sauce
½ cup julienned sun dried tomatoes in oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced, about 2 tablespoons
¼ cup Marsala wine
Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
8 Portobello mushrooms, stem and gills removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix the bread crumbs with the melted butter in a small bowl. Pour onto a baking sheet. Bake the buttered crumbs until they begin to crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Heat the sun dried tomatoes and the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and simmer until most of the wine has disappeared, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the lemon juice. Season with salt and crushed red pepper. Turn off the heat and swirl in 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the parsley.
Heat a grill pan on high heat. Brush the mushrooms with olive oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the mushrooms, turning once, until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the mushrooms to a platter, cap side down. Divide the breadcrumbs into the mushrooms. Drizzle the sundried tomato sauce over the crumbs.
This year, New Orleans is striking up the Mardi Gras band on March 5th, and you know what that means: Lent is starting and Easter is just 40 days away. I love the colors, flavor, parades and pageantry surrounding this time of year – but I can’t get to Louisiana for Fat Tuesday this go around. That’s why I’m devoting this week’s post and next Monday’s to the signature dish on Mardi Gras Day: KING CAKE!!!!
Instead of that classic cake, I took its yummy ingredients and turned it into something perfect for sharing with family and friends. Today it’s bread and next Monday, get ready for some King Cake Cookies, Jorj style!
The Fancy Sprinkles Company was my muse.
A while back I ordered some Fancy Sprinkles made just for Mardi Gras. I put on my thinking cap on what to do with them, and came up with my own Mardi Gras Bread recipe. It’s a sweet treat you can serve at breakfast with cinnamon honey butter, for lunch with peanut butter and jam, or after dinner for a late night snack. Anytime is the perfect time for this bread.
This recipe makes two loaves – one for you and one to wrap up and give to a lucky friend. Give them a big hug and wish them a happy Mardi Gras! Spring is on the way!
Mardis Gras Bread
Yield 2 loaves
2 ½ hour cuisine
2 envelopes active dry yeast (about 4 ½ teaspoons)
5 ½ cups bread flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon dried grated lemon peel
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Yellow, purple and green sprinkles
Stir the yeast in a bowl with ½ cup warm water. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Place the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir to combine. With the motor running on slow, add the yeast and 1 ½ cups more warm water. Once the flour is moistened, increase the speed and mix until the dough forms around the hook, about 5 to 8 minutes. Increase the speed again and continue to mix adding in the butter just a bit at a time. Mix until the dough is tight and shiny, about another 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and knead for about 2 to 3 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and place it into a bowl sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Cover with plastic and set in a warm, dry place to rise.
Place the cream cheese, ½ cup granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, egg and lemon peel into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix to combine.
Spray two 9x5x5” loaf pans with vegetable oil spray. Check the dough after 45 minutes. The dough should spring back slowly when you poke your finger into it. Divide the dough in half and form into two balls. Take one ball of dough and use your hands to spread into a 10×6” rectangle. Spread half of the filling onto the dough. Roll the dough (jelly-roll style) over the filling. Place the rolled dough into the loaf pan. Repeat with the second ball of dough. Again, cover the loaf pans with plastic wrap and set aside to rise.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Check the dough after 30 to 45 minutes. The dough should rise to about ½-inch from the top of the loaf pan. Place the pans into the oven and bake until the tops are deeply golden, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven and transfer from the pan to a wire rack. Cool completely.
Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and buttermilk. Stir in vanilla extract. The glaze should be thick yet pourable. Drizzle the glaze over the loaves. Shake sprinkles over the glaze.
New Zealand held so many special times during our recent trip. If you’ve been there, you know how special it is. The locals keep the towns pristine and welcoming. They love to show off their love of their lands. We visited Christchurch, a small coastal town on the South Island. Our tour guides arranged a visit to a small sheep farm in Canterbury. We were greeted by the farmer, his gorgeous wife and their adult daughters, and given a sheep shearing demonstration! What a show!!
After a brief tour of their 1840ish farmhouse, we were escorted outdoors, where we were met with a Martha Stewart inspired luncheon table, seating fifty guests! The table was set with linen clothes and napkins, vintage flatware and freshly clipped flowers in mason jars.
The table sat under the canopy of a recently erected, tent shading us from the warm New Zealand sun. Lunch was served buffet style, and featured a garden fresh salad, whole roasted salmon filets, boiled potatoes and a main course of baked chicken pieces with a sauce of wine, olives, dates and capers.
We all passed around bottles of chilled rose wine and dived into lunch. It took only a couple of bites of that chicken dish to bring back memories of my early catering days. I could swear the dish was Chicken Mirabella from the Silver Palate cookbook. What a lovely coincidence! I travel fourteen hours across the globe, only to have the same meal I’ve made over and over again for my clients. I confirmed this with the generous Lady of the Manor. Her smile was ginormous when she realized that we had cooking and entertaining in common. She grabbed my hand, and took me back into her kitchen to show me her cookbook collection. What a treat.
When my pals came to Florida for a recent visit, we put together a girl’s night supper that featured none other than that Chicken Mirabel dish. I served it with Poached Asparagus and a Green Goddess Avocado Dressing, along with a recipe from my new book: Farmer’s Market Orzo Salad.
As a further retro treat, I added yummy rolls from an old Junior League cookbook, another one of my reliable tomes from my old catering days.
The meal was a true treat. When I think of where I’ve been and where I am now, and all the places I still have to visit, I can’t help but be reminded that good food never really changes. It is one of the things that bind us all together.
Here’s a slide show of my scrumptious trip down good ol’ memory lane.
Charcuterie boards are trending! Traditionally, this platter is filled with aged cheeses and cured meats. Much like an antipasti platter, you arrange bite size treats, and your guests choose morsels to place on their plates.
My board, is a mixture of both charcuterie and antipasti. It’s not shy on cheese or meats, and has a special stuffed fig recipe you’ll find at the bottom of this post. I had a lot of fun arranging this platter. What would be the first thing you’d reach for? Marinated olives, crunchy bread sticks, radishes rubbed in sea salt, chunks of fresh shaved Parmesan, prosciutto or Italian salami?
For all offerings on my buffet table, I keep portion size at 2 to 3 ounces of meat per person, and 5 to 6 ounces on all the other appys.
What Do You Drink with Charcuterie?
Wines that taste best with charcuterie boards are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bordeaux style wines – any vino that is low alcohol, fruity and higher acid. For whites, I recommend champagne or sparkling wines. There should be one bottle for every pair of guests.
For the cheese – arguably the best part of any charcuterie board – sheep’s milk cheeses tend to go best with red wine. A good rule of thumb is that the older the wine, the firmer the cheese should be. Unless it’s truffle infused, I don’t think brie is necessarily the right choice. Gouda and aged cloth-bound cheddar are what go into my shopping cart when I’m planning a romantic evening.
As you go to assemble the board, little bowls of marinated olives, the little pickles known as cornichons, nuts and dips are always welcome – as are the occasional edible flower: think roses, deep purple sage flowers, pansies and violets. Hibiscus flowers are also as pretty to look at as they are to nosh on.
So many excuses to have a cozy little dinner party this winter season – happy entertaining!
Fresh Figs Appetizer
8 ripe figs
4 ounces Blue cheese, crumbled, room temperature, about 1 cup
2 tablespoons sour cream
Honey for drizzling
Cut each fig in half, horizontally. Use a spoon or fork to mix softened (room temperature) blue cheese with sour cream. Use the sour cream to make the blue cheese spreadable. Spoon the blue cheese onto the figs. Drizzle with a bit of honey.