Matter of Opinion

One of my dearest friends gave me a memo pad the other day with a funny little “kitchen humor ” on it.  It reads, “I’m sorry, I don’t remember this recipe calling for your opinion!”  It reminds me how much I love cocktail napkins, or just short one liners that are so funny, and often so very true.  Hopefully you are thinking of some of your favorites and chuckling right now.  If not, I’m sure you have a drawer or basket tucked away somewhere, of those plastic wrapped packages you have received as a thank you, or plan to give as a thank you, or both!  But no matter how you perceive them, I don’t think they can ever go out of style, I guess that’s just my opinion.

Enjoy…a little kitchen humor is sometimes what we all need!  Here are just a few, (credits to Google Images)…

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Figgy Fun!

Fig Tree

Along with blueberries, dry grass, and hot days, figs are here!  If you’re lucky to have a fig tree, you are trying to figure out ways to use them.  If not, they are available at Farmers’ markets, or just look in a neighbors yard, as they are everywhere in Winston-Salem and across the South.  As much as I love slicing them and enjoying them plain, I have a lot of figs ripening and wanted to share a couple of ideas you might enjoy, too. It’s always a race to see who gets the fig first- me, the ants, squirrels, or my chocolate lab who loves all things green- including my green peaches and tomatoes!

This first recipe is from the newest Lee Brothers Charleston Kitchen cookbook, (my cookbook of the week), and I love how they make use of local ingredients.  This recipe for pickled figs sounds like the perfect summer side dish.

Butter Lettuce with Toasted Pecans and Pickled Figs

1/4 cup plus 1 tbls white vinegar        freshly ground black pepper

kosher salt                                              2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey                                   6 tbls mild olive oil

6 ounces fresh figs, quartered            2 heads butter, romaine or mixed lettuces

1/2 cup pecans                                       4 ounces blue cheese or goat cheese (optional)

1.  Pour 3/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt into a bowl.  Add honey and whisk until all is dissolved.  Add figs to the bowl, let stand for 30 minutes.

2.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees

3.  Spread pecans on a rimmed baking pan and toast for 15 minutes, until fragrant.  Set aside to cool.

4.  Strain the figs, reserving the figs and 2 tbls of the brine.  Season figs with salt and pepper.  Add the remaining tablespoon vinegar and Dijon mustard to the reserved brine, whisk together.  Add the oil, pouring in a thin stream and whisking until dressing is emulsified.

5.  Divide lettuces among six bowls or plates.  Scatter some figs, pecan and cheese (if desired) over each portion, and drizzle with vinaigrette.  Enjoy!

Warm Figs with Honey…a simple, perfect bite as an appetizer.  Cut figs in half, place on baking sheet and warm in a 350 oven for about 5 minutes.  Remove, drizzle with honey, and enjoy warm.  Another option is to place a piece of blue cheese on figs before placing in oven.

More “figgy” ideas can be found on these sites listed below- have fun with your figs!

Southern Living, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light

Before and after…

Marsh

In this time off during the summer, I cook all the time, only out of my home kitchen more and for smaller crowds.  Gathering fun ideas for the upcoming year, enjoying farm fresh produce, playing, swimming and more fills our days.  This week we will be picking fresh blueberries at Sprinkle’s Blueberry Farm in Winston-Salem, a July tradition in our family.  The honey from Sprinkle’s is wonderful, too, a mix of pollen from the blueberry bushes and other flowers, and their tomatoes are almost as much a reason I go there as the blueberries. Or, if you’re in the mood for a great day trip, try Bev’s Blueberries in Virginia, just an hour from Winston and tucked into the gorgeous hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Not much can beat a fresh picked berry, warm from the sun and so sweet as it pops on your teeth.  Making memories that last a lifetime…

As I type, I find it hard to believe it is time to go blueberry picking and, according to my calendar, we are already into the middle of July.  Isn’t it amazing how time has such a way of sneaking past us?  I have not spent much time in the kitchen, or blogging for that matter.  While I miss it tremendously, the slow days with my family have been beckoning like a lighthouse looking for the sea.  Last week we spent a week at the beach, and enjoyed a lot of time on the water.  We spent many late afternoons at low tide on the marsh going crabbing, one of my favorite things to do.  There is something about the excitement at the slight tug on the line as a crab walks away with the bait, or pulling up a crab pot to hear the chatter and bubbles of a bunch of crabs interrupted from their snacking.  Maybe part of it is something about saltwater, and being outdoors in general, that seems to refresh the soul.

While I typically practice catch and release, those yummy crabs I simply can’t resist sometimes.  I keep the larger males, throw back the females, and head inside to a big stock pot of water, pour a glass of wine, and wait to enjoy!  Below are pictures of “before and after”.  Just another reason why I like to enjoy the best of food and life, sometimes in the most simple of ways.

Before...

Before…

...and after!

…and after!

Summer Lunch Pails

Summer Lunch Pail, 2

In case you haven’t heard, retro is trendy.  I’m bringing the retro back with Lunch Pails!  Inspired by the upcoming Fourth of July holiday along with a recent trip to Home Depot, this is an easy do it yourself idea, but even easier to call Julia’s Take Away Gourmet & Catering.  Ideal for picnics, birthday parties, bridge lunches and more…even a great twist on a business meeting that makes a statement.  It’s easy to customize tissue colors or place personalized stickers on the front, and plenty more ways to get creative and serve a yummy bite.  Contact me today for more creative, and affordable, ideas that will make you look great when you entertain!

Summer Lunch Pail