Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pioneer Day Punch - For Adults

All across the world, well in Utah and some parts of Idaho, July 24 is celebrated as "Pioneer Day" - to commemorate the day that the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley and Brigham Young declared: "This is the place" - and they settled the new Zion - now known as Salt Lake City.

And for some reason OTHER than Pioneer Day, Brian and I often find ourselves in Salt Lake that weekend, and we try to have a "Summer Party" with our SLC friends, sadly many of whom are traveling out of town for the holiday weekend.

Whatever, this year we had our Summer Party, hosted by the ever-wonderful and gracious Kyle and Greg.  Our Summer Party often features a punch to be enjoyed by the adult guests (not that there are any children who attend).  This year, I'm sharing the secret Pioneer Day Punch recipe with you!

Here's what to mix in a 3 gallon punch bowl, give or take:

1 can Lime Ade frozen concentrate
1 can Cranberry-Rasberry Cocktail frozen concentrate
(use the concentrate can as your measuring "cup" for the next 3 ingredients:)
4 cans Water
1 and 3/4 cans Gin
3/4 can Rum
1 2-Litre Bottle Fresca (or grocery generic Diet Grapefruit Soda)
1 Lemon - sliced.

Mix the first six ingredients together in a punch bowl.  Cut the lemon into thin slices, removing the seeds, then float the lemon slices in the punch!  Voila!

Of course you can't just serve punch, even to the adults.  So here are some suggested side items:

Assorted Cheese and Crackers - I found a wonderful Wasabi-Horseradish-Cheddar at Costco - it was a love-it or hate-it cheese.  I was on the "Love it" side, as was Denise.

Mozzarella-prociutto pinwheels with crackers.
(as well as a blueberry wrapped goat cheese).


Beer-Boiled and Broiled Brats.

Red-Cabbage Slaw.

Sugar Peas, Sliced Baby Bell Peppers and Jicama, with Hummus dip.
Mike's Famous Salsa and Hal's Artichoke Dip.

And don't forget to include several of your favorite friends.

Since it IS Pioneer Day weekend - of course you can expect fireworks!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Zucchini Breakfast Bake

Joerg offered to bring some "squash" to our weekly Saturday breakfast gathering, so I was looking forward to a couple of squash from his garden.  Imagine my surprise when he handed us two huge bags of zucchini and yellow squash.  Apparently the Baker Ranch had company who brought an entire farm's worth of produce.  Of course I want to make some zucchini bread, but I also wanted to discover other ways to utilize this crop.    My "Where's Mom Now That I Need Her" cookbook - a silly collection of Mormon recipes published in Sandy, Utah in 1983 -
offered a Zucchini Bake recipe.
I decided THAT'S what I would have for breakfast this morning.

Here's the list of ingredients (as modified a bit by Gourmet Gibbs):

2 Zucchini Squash - peeled and cubed.
3 Eggs
1/4 cup Half and Half
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup Shredded Cheese
1 small Onion - diced
1 half Orange Bell Pepper - diced
(you really could use any color of pepper - Orange is just what I had in the fridge.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the diced zucchini until almost tender.  I find the best way to do this is put the zucchini in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle a little water over it and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave for 2 minutes or so; then pour out on a paper towel to drain excess water.

Dice the onion and bell pepper - set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the Half and Half, Egg, Baking Powder, Salt, Pepper and Flour.  Then stir in the cheese.

Next fold in the zucchini, onion and bell pepper.

Bake in a greased casserole dish (I recommend PAM cooking spray) for 30 minutes covered, and another 10 minutes uncovered.

Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

2 Zucchinis down - 20 to go!  I think we're going to be sick of zucchini after this weekend.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Rice Paper Wrapped Summer Rolls

Max just celebrated his 83rd birthday last week.  Daughter Terry had planned to "cater" the birthday dinner by bringing all the food to eat and champagne and wine to drink up to Max' in Oceanside.  Terry assigned me the simple task of preparing the appetizer to enjoy with champagne while we waited for the salmon to cook.  I wanted to do something different, tasty, and light - lucky for me, we had recently received our "Sunset" magazine that featured a "Roll your own Summer Rolls" article.  Summer rolls are more commonly known as Vietnamese Spring Rolls - they consist of various fresh ingredients rolled up inside a rice paper wrapper sheet.  Unlike Chinese-Style or Thai-Style spring rolls, these are not cooked or fried, giving them a very light and fresh taste.  Often the traditional summer roll will include cooked shrimp - but I didn't want to serve anything too heavy so we could save room for Terry's anticipated delicious meal.  So I used simple, light, fresh ingredients as follows:

Here's what you'll need from the store:

Rice Paper Wrappers (8 inch diameter)
(found in the Asian section of many grocery stores, or
in an Asian super market).
5 large Shiitake mushrooms - sliced and lightly sauteed
3 medium sized carrots  - julienned
Jicama - julienned
several dozen sprigs of Chives picked fresh from Max' garden

While you're making your breakfast omelet, use the pan to lightly sautee the sliced Shiitake mushrooms.  Set them aside on a paper towel to cool.

In keeping with the recent CHOPPING theme - get out your good chopping knife and start chopping.

First, peel the carrots, trim the edges, and then julien the carrots into strips that are about 4 to 5 inches in length.  The best way I have found to julien a carrot is to cut the carrot in half lengthwise, then start to slice thin strips from the carrot, and then turn the larger slices on the side and slice into uniform cuts.  See photo to get an idea of what the heck I'm talking about.

Next julienne the Jicama.  Jicama is like a turnip - only milder in taste, and very juicy.  I call it a water fruit, because it's so refreshing and light to eat.  Jicama can be found in most major supermarkets in the produce department - and it will either be already partially peeled, or in a total round, the way I found it at Ralphs.  Peel the Jicama (I found the knife worked much better than a potato peeler), then chop it into wedges, and then julienne the wedges.  Again, I think the photo will better explain this process.

Once your ingredients are prepared its pretty easy to assemble.

Fill a large bowl with warm water.  Take one sheet of rice wrapping paper out of the package and soak it in the water for just a few seconds - just until its pliable.  Lay it on a plate and let sit 10 - 15 seconds to absorb the water.   WARNING - do not skimp on the size of your bowl.  I couldn't find a decent sized bowl at Max' so I used a small bowl - but I had to dip one edge of the wrapper in the bowl, then swirl it around till all the edges had been dipped in, and had to repeat 3 to 4 times to get the paper pliable.  After a few rolls, I gave up and used the jumbo soup pot that Brian found for me.  It was a bit overkill, but much better for efficiency.

Layer the fillings on the bottom third of the wrapper.  I layered in this order:  spinach, carrots, jicama, chives, mushrooms, basil.

To roll, lift the filled edge up and over the fillings and keep rolling it away from you, tucking fillings in firmly but gently and folding in the sides (Stretching the wrapper as you roll helps.)

Set the roll aside and on to the next.  When the rolls are prepared, use a sharp knife to cut the roll in half, at an angle.  Arrange on a plate, and serve with your desired dipping sauces.

I cheated and bought two lovely pre-packaged dipping sauces from the Ralphs Asian food section.  One was a sweet chili dipping sauce, the other a spicy mango dipping sauce.  Both were excellent.  I also whipped together a Citrus Soy Dipping Sauce that was featured in my Sunset magazine with the summer rolls.

Whisk together the following:

2 Tablespoons soy sauce (reduced sodium if you must)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (I just squoze a fresh small lime in)
1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce (also available in the Asian section)

Everyone enjoyed this dipping sauce, even though it was a bit thin texturally.  We enjoyed dipping the first bite of the roll in one of the two store-bought sauces, and then spooning the Citrus Soy dip into the roll for the second bite.  That's because the Hogan's are not "double dippers." - Well, Max is.

A few postscripts:  You may notice a piece of bacon in the top shot.  That's because we had extra bacon from breakfast, and Brian thought it would be good in the wrap.  The idea came from the Sunset article that suggested a "Club" wrap, with lettuce, turkey, bacon, avocado and onion.  This theme wrap sounds quite tasty, but the bacon in the wrap that I did overwhelmed the subtle flavors of the other ingredients - so I would not recommend it.

Also, these wraps are best served right after making - but if you need to make them ahead of time, I've been told that you can place a moist paper towel over the wraps, cover with plastic wrap, and keep in the fridge for up to one day.

We enjoyed a lovely birthday feast for Max, and made him light his own candles - he chose the heavy duty butane torch!