I am board obsessed. More and more ideas for food you can beautifully display on wood cutting boards are showcased every day. I just saw a pancake board that looks delicious! For this week’s board idea, I deconstructed my favorite salad into what I call hand salad. Yes, this is salad you can eat with your hands. Think lettuce cups and endive spears filled with salad ingredients.
I merged my classic Caesar salad with street corn filling. Grilled corn is combined with shredded Parmesan cheese and butter cracker crumbs that add the texture of croutons. Truth here; I found a packet of cornbread crisps and crushed those for crumbs in another version of this dish, and it was also delish! Actual cornbread crumbs, toasted in butter, would be yummy too!
I’ve served this dish as a salad first course, and as a hand salad on an appy board. Both were well received. Hand salads open the doors to your creativity. Check out your fridge and pantry to see what you can stuff into a leaf of Romaine lettuce. Let me know what you come up with!
Street Corn Caesar Salad
30 minute cuisine
For Caesar dressing:
5 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 medium lemon, about 3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (2-ounce) tin anchovies, packed in oil, drained
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
For corn filling:
4 ears corn
20 butter crackers, smashed, about ½ cup crumbs
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded, about 1 cup
2 heads Romaine lettuce
Place the garlic, vinegars, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and anchovies into the bowl of a food processor (or blender). Pulse to emulsify. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Taste and season with some of the salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing into a re-sealable container. You will have more than you need. The dressing will keep in the fridge for two weeks (or more).
Place the corn onto a grill and cook, turning until the kernels are golden brown. Depending on the grill type, this will take several minutes. Remove the corn and cool until you can cut the kernels from the cobs into a bowl. Add the cracker crumbs and half of the cheese. Drizzle two tablespoons of the dressing over the corn filling and toss.
Cut each head of lettuce in half. Lay the lettuce onto a platter. Spoon the corn dressing over the cut side of the lettuce, stuffing it into the leaves. Drizzle with additional dressing, just moistening the leaves (you don’t want to drown the salad in dressing). Top with the remaining cheese and additional black pepper.
Turn this salad into a finger food by separating some of the inner leaves from the romaine head of lettuce. Place these leaves onto your board. Spoon some of the corn filling into the center of the leaves. The Romaine leaves act as cups to hold the filling. Perfect finger food! Can you find it on the board depicted above? I gotta tell ya, my guests sure located it and ate it gone in no time flat!
Extravagant cheese boards are all the rage right now. I love the pics from The Miami Larder Cheese Shop posted all over my Facebook feed. It’s inspiring. Rather than stack cheese and crackers alongside slices of apple and pear (like we’ve done forevah…) these pics show boards with every inch covered with some edible yummy.
I also use my wooden cutting boards to create board sauces for grilled goodies. My board is sprinkled with herbs, spices, garlic, and olive oil. The grilled meat or poultry is taken off the grill and immediately placed onto the board, rolled around in all those yummy herbs, and tented to rest and absorb the flavors. The board functions as the main serving dish.
I use my boards to entertain. Recently, I created a bruschetta board with three different toppings, roasted garlic bulbs, whole olives, chunks of cheese, roasted shrimp and so much more!
I admit my brain automatically goes to utilizing my boards for appys, allowing guests to dig in while we sip wine in advance of a seated supper. My bruschetta board is an extension of a cheese board, but still limited to the first course.
But things have changed! My super talented and creative daughter-in-law, Kimber has taken board entertaining to the next level. She uses her boards not only to creatively display food, but also to serve her casually elegant meals family-style.
It all started with the board. For Christmas a couple of years ago, Kimber added a wooden board to her wish list. Ever the over-achiever, I took the opportunity to purchase the largest board, I could find.
It’s over three feet long! Here’s my gift in use, and I see that Kimber’s hubby, my son Trey, couldn’t look happier!
I think I may have overwhelmed her, because it hid in the garage for some time. But things have changed. Her creative dinner parties now feature the board as the centerpiece for everything from a steakhouse supper to a baked fish and roasted veggie extravaganza.
There is a real advantage to entertaining in this manner.
First, it’s attractive. The food is displayed directly on the board, or in small dishes that fit onto the board and then are surrounded by placed items.
Second, it supports your picky eater pals. Often, people talk to me about their resistance to entertaining, because of our peculiarities. Are we allergic to seafood, in carb denial, gluten free, sugar resistant? It goes on and on. By putting all the food onto one board in the center of the table, your guests can pick and choose, as much or as little as they want from your offerings.
Third, serving your meal on a board in the center of the table is a conversation-starter. What’s on the board, how was it prepared, where did ya get that recipe. Did you pick this up at Trader Joes? Entertaining in this way is less formal, but even more attractive than a traditional, sit down, plated dinner.
And, finally using a board to serve your meal is easy! Instead of serving several courses and carrying dishes back and forth, all you carry is the board! Plates are pre-set and guests serve themselves. The dinner is what it is meant to be, relaxed and unhurried.
A pic from 2019 and Yet…So Not Bored with My Board
There are lots of ways to use boards to entertain for large groups and small. For my large parties I use several boards. You can be as creative as you want, because there are no restrictions. And you know what? I find that I’m not bored when I entertain with my board. (How da like that one?)
Visitors come and go in the summer – and maybe they’re too hot and bothered for a full-on meal. For those instances, where just a pit stop is needed (not a pit BBQ!), this southern style charcuterie board comes to the rescue. I’ve arranged mine with deviled eggs, spiced crackers, pimento spread, pickled okra, millionaire’s bacon, my special cilantro shrimp recipe, and assortment of turkey and ham roll-ups. To wash it down, I toast ya’ll with a prickly pear inspired tequila drink I dreamed up, strolling through last week’s farmer’s market.
But first, here’s how to put together Jorj’s Southern Style Charcuterie Board
Turkey Roll Ups:
1 pound deli roasted turkey breast medium sliced
8 ounces goat cheese
¼ cup red pepper jelly
Ham Roll Ups:
1 pound deli ham medium sliced
8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup spicy dill pickles, drained and finely chopped
6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoon Dijon-Style mustard
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 pound center cut bacon
1 cup brown sugar
1 sleeve soda crackers
½ cup butter, 1 stick melted
½ packet ranch dressing
3 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese, about 1 cup
4 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese, about 1 cup
½ cup homemade or prepared mayonnaise
1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos, drained
2 to 3 green onions, sliced, about 2 tablespoons
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 pound cooked shrimp
⅓ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
For Turkey Roll Ups: Combine the goat cheese and jelly. Spread about 1 tablespoon over a slice of turkey. Roll up and cut into ¼-inch slices.
For Ham Roll Ups: Combine the cream cheese and chopped pickles. Spread about 1 tablespoon over a slice of ham. Roll up and cut into ¼-inch slices.
For Deviled Eggs: Place the yolks of the eggs into a bowl. Use a fork to mash. Add the mayonnaise, mustard and dill. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Place a spoonful of the filling into each of the egg whites.
For Millionaire’s Bacon: Preheat the oven to 350°. Dredge one slice of bacon through the brown sugar coating both sides. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the bacon is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet.
For Seasoned Crackers: Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the ranch dressing and butter. Place the crackers onto a baking sheet. Brush the top side of the crackers with butter. Bake until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.
For Pimento Cheese: Combine the cream cheese, cheeses, and mayonnaise in a bowl. Stir until the mixture is creamy. Add the pimentos, onions and spices and season with some of the salt and pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly.
Cilantro Shrimp: Stir together the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, onion powder, garlic powder and chili powder in a large bowl. Add the shrimp. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Stir to coat.
And now to drink!!!
Here’s The Prickled Pink Cocktail – everything you need to mix one up for a friend. Isn’t it gorgeous? I honestly can’t believe that bright fuchsia color. The flavor is more subtle than you might think, and may need a bit of sweetening up. I suggest a teaspoon of honey. For garnish and extra flavor, whole cinnamon sticks make for a nice stirrer and look good in the glass.
Just do a yourself a favor and mind the outside of this cocktail fruit as you cut into it. They don’t call it a prickly pear for nothin’! Oh, and if at all possible, ask the guys at the farmer’s market to strip the cactus fruit of its serious spears before you buy it. I did and I still got pricked, but I’m glad I added it to my Saturday haul.
Cheers, everybody! It’s gonna be a long summer….
THE PRICKLED PINK
1 shot tequila
2 tablespoons grenadine
Juice of 4 prickly pears (blended to get rid of seeds)
Twist of lime
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
Top off with pineapple juice and mix with a cinnamon stick stirrer. Sugar around the rim optional
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!