by Chef Jenn Farmer
I love feeding people, but it is getting more and more challenging for me.
There was a time when my son would eat, (or at least try) everything and anything put in front of him. I swelled with pride at the thought that my child was going to have no problems eating healthy, since he was not a fussy eater. His father who is also a chef and several family members being chefs or work in the food industry, all were excited and joked he would be expecting foie gras at his 3 year birthday party. Then when he got a little older, peer pressure, and the cool factor became more important. “Momma, my friend Harold has the banana split yogurts with super heroes on them- I won’t eat the plain kind anymore”. I have tried to be diligent, “child, that stuff is candy disguised as yogurt, it has little nutritional value. I will let you put some honey in the plain kind if that helps . I got an eye roll, and a “NOoooo”. He is stubborn (wonder where he gets that from?). Today was the last straw for me. He announced that he will only eat chicken fingers, French fries, pancakes and pepperoni pizza. I am appalled, and disappointed. I love a good pizza or stack of pancakes as much as the next person, but they don’t really count as “food” to me. There is just so much wonderful cuisine out there to enjoy, how could anyone limit themselves? I have my work cut out for me.
So to soothe my unhappy soul over this matter, I decided to feed some adults who would appreciate real food, and had a little cocktail party. It has been a very busy season, so I decided to keep it simple, but sometimes the simpler dinners can be the most elegant, and that is exactly how I felt about this little get together. Bacon is one of my weaknesses. One of my favorite salads is a hot bacon and spinach, but I felt like trying something different. I saw some lovely radicchio and remembered how tasty it is grilled. That inspired the following salad.
GRILLED RADICCHIO SALAD WITH SAUSAGE
- 1-2 Sausages (I prefer spicy, like chorizo, but sweet varieties work well too, even turkey sausage is good)
- 2 heads radicchio, quartered
- One third cup olive oil
- One quarter cup Balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced and sautéed
- One squeeze fresh lemon juice
- One teaspoon whole grain mustard
- Salt and pepper
- Aged Gouda, Asiago, Pecorino, or other hard grating cheese (optional)
Make a dressing for the salad by whisking or processing together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sautéed garlic, lemon juice, and mustard. Set the dressing aside. Heat up your grill to medium high heat. Carefully grill the sausages until they are cooked through, but not burnt, and set them aside. Drizzle or brush the radicchio quarters with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill over medium
high to high heat, uncovered until they have nice grill marks and begin to wilt. Be aware they can burn quickly: a little black is ok, but radicchio is bitter so too much char can overpower this salad. Chop the radicchio into bite sized pieces, and slice the now rested sausage into bite size pieces too. Toss with the vinaigrette, then garnish with finely grated cheese. Eat hot or at room temperature. Serves 4.
Crab is very nice any time, but I especially enjoy it in the summer months. I got the following recipe from a family friend. My only advice is not to change anything in this recipe—it is great as is, and just does not turn out quite right when changes are made. Serve on lettuce leaves or crackers as a very simple and elegant appetizer. My friend says this is an old family recipe; she has been making it
for over 40 years, but is sure it is at least 100 years old. It certainly is a classic, and I always get asked for the recipe.
WEST INDIES CRAB SALAD
- 6 green onions (scallions) sliced
- 1 pound fresh lump cooked crabmeat
- 4 ounces vegetable oil (she uses Wesson brand)
- 3 ounces cider vinegar
- 4 ounces ice water
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Follow the directions exactly, or it does not come out quite right. Spread half of the onions over the bottom of a large bowl. Cover with separated crab lumps, add the remaining onions. Salt and grind a little pepper over it. Pour over the crab, DO Not Mix, 1. Oil, 2. Vinegar 3. Ice water. Cover and marinate refrigerated for 3-48 hours (if you can make it 48 hours, it is worth the wait). Toss very lightly, Do not stir. Serve with crackers or as a salad on lettuce, and with a bottle of hot sauce for those who like it spicy. Serves 4-6
Another simple dip I enjoy is hummus. It is good as a spread on sandwiches, as well as a dip for surprise guests. Typically I don’t mess with a favorite, but the following beet hummus is really interesting, and earthy. Plus it looks very pretty on the table. You may add a cup of garbanzo beans to the recipe before blending for added protein. A little lemon and orange zest looks pretty dusted over the dip as a simple healthy garnish. Crumbled goat cheese is a nice, less healthy garnish.
BEET HUMMUS DIP
- One half pound cooked , peeled beets
- 2 Tablespoons Tahini, or Almond butter
- 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse, and then blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Serve with fresh bread, pita chips, or fresh vegetable sticks. Makes about 2 cups. Serves 2-4
- 1-1/2 half cups Chocolate soy milk (or use chocolate almond milk!)
- 1/2 cup Hazelnut and chocolate spread (like Nutella)
- 1 tablespoon Frangelico (optional)
Whisk together the ingredient s until very smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until set (2-3 hours) enjoy. Makes 6-8 pops.
I am sure one could make the fudgesicles recipe with traditional chocolate milk, but I simply have not tried it yet, I find the creamy texture of the almond milk (or even soy) is irresistible. I have also found that the smaller the popsicle mold the more elegant they look. The last time I made them I used lollipop sticks, and a lollipop mold instead of the popsicle one. They were very pretty, and the portion was perfect for a party. Of course they do melt faster, so be aware if serving them at a party or outdoors. Enjoy. Happy cooking and more importantly happy eating.