Have you ever noticed that Independence Day is the only day we refer to by date? Yes, think about it...
"So, whaddaya doing for the 4th?" we casually infer, as though this very important holiday has actually trademarked the number four, stealing it from the other 9 digits. I mean no one says, "Are you staying home for the 25th?" or, "Did you buy a new dress for the 31st or are you going to wear that tight sequined one?" I mean really! If my husband gave me a card that said, "Happy 14th..." I think I'd spit.
Sure, sure. Hooray for the red white and blue, for amber waves of grain, for Betsy Ross, and the Statue of Liberty. Woo-hoo for the iconic gingham tablecloth, and finally a nod to the American way of abbreviating ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.
I'm just saying I think this, of all days, deserve a title that takes longer than two seconds to say. And being the rebel I am, I have decided to combat this reticence with a menu that takes boring up a notch...and a half...and maybe a smidgen more, because a nod to taking a little extra time is long overdue. This post and the recipes are my way of saying that freedom is a precious thing, and it deserves more than a single syllable word or a familiar menu.
So, partying again with our friends the Neer's (can I just say I love giving Vicky a food assignment? 'Cause the bruschetta was off the charts yummy!), we spent our nation's birthday doing some of the familiar things: eating, laughing, and watching a little baseball. But in our heart of hearts, as our forks touched the plate, "The Fourth of July" was elevated to a place it deserved. Memorable. See our menu and decide for yourself:
Shitake Mushroom and Shallot Grilled Hamburgers with a Pimiento Cream Sauce, Sweet Potato, Apple and Radish Salad, then Bacon, Kale and Broccoli Salad, and for Dessert, a Kiwi and Blueberry Cream Cheese Tart.
I can credit my mother for several things that have come in very handy throughout my life: I know how to assert myself graciously but effectively, I know how to chew gum in public, and I know how to tie a fabulous bow. The latter came in very handy two weeks ago when I helped "assemble" my daughter's dress for her fancy bridal shower. Accompanying the silk sash was a huge, rhinestone broach whose filagreed petals turned a plain bodice into a fabulously sparkly canvas for celebration and reflection. And even with all this glitter around us, what did the party planners worry about the most? Yes, the meal.
We spent a week meeting the family, eating amazing meals, and visiting old friends. And each of those events took place around a table. With that said, I thought the trip was worthy of a blog post, and a few photos. Why?
Well, let's face it. You can only be poetic about how flour and eggs go into a bowl for so long and then you need a little variety. Is our plate not the horizontal sphere that showcases our love for others? Do we not anticipate each holiday or celebration with musings over who makes the best potato salad or the lightest, fluffiest rolls? Over the last month, we have been eating out more than in. Paying a bill after the meal, as opposed to cleaning up the kitchen. But there are still a few pictures that have marked the moments. Here is a sampling of some of those feasts, snacks, and desserts from our week in Detroit!
While watching Chopped earlier this week, (Yes, I am a Food TV junkie,) one of the competitors went on and on about the food he meant to cook that didn't get on the plate. He had a plan and a picture in his head of what he thought the judges needed to see from him in order to win and it didn't work out.
"Don't tell us about what we can't taste." One judge reprimanded...and then added with a grin, "There's no need to talk about what didn't make it because what did make it is superb."
Take that and shove it into your convention oven! Whoa!
And so the basic rule of cooking is reinforced: Go with the flow, embrace whatever happens, then take credit for the mistake...I mean final result. I can't tell you how many times I have jumped up and down because of a happy accident. Case in point, the deep pinkish-fuchsia color my quick pickled radishes turned into. YOU may have already discovered this, but it was a first for me. And boy did it end up becoming the crowning glory of a meal that flat out rocked.
I'm getting into this "presentation" phase with my food. Experimenting with how things look plated in an elegant way, and learning about scale and white space with food. It is a kick. Stacking, smearing, teetering...It is just FUN. And it teaches you a lot about texture and which food doesn't go on the bottom. (Oh my!)
The other kind of accident (but not as much for me these days and I'm really getting the feel of how to take a series of flavors and spices and create a completely new taste,) is when the flavors from one dish are so perfectly paired with the whole meal you wish you could just jump on the plate and roll the food all over you it is that good.
That's exactly what happened when I created this fan-worthy meal. See the photos below for my GRILLED PORK LOIN WITH PEAR CRANBERRY CHUTNEY, INDIAN SPICED LENTILS, POTATO/ARTICHOKE/GOAT CHEESE PANCAKES. Even the dessert caused us to swoon. I let fresh raspberries sit in a little sugar, port wine, and lemon zest then tucked them into dough and create these FRESH RASPBERRY HAND PIES. But it was the BRANDY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING that knocked us out!!!
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.