Saturday, September 29, 2018

September Cookbook Book Club Luncheon

Each and every month I look forward to our cookbook book club monthly gathering. Our hostess for the month chooses the cookbook from which we cook and we have enjoyed cooking from some of the newer books available to us as well some really tried and true cookbooks. This month was no exception, our hostess chose to cook from a new book on the market but one I was not familiar with. Written by blogger, Jennifer Segal, "Once Upon a Chef". We also had the option to choose a recipe from her blog. This was an excellent choice by our hostess, I bought the book and it is one I will often cook from. I have many recipes book marked to try at another time as well as making copies from Jennifer's blog that are not in her book. It's always great fun to get a taste of some of the recipes that are brought to our luncheon. I knew that this was a book I would use again and again and I also highly recommend her blog, Once Upon a Chef. You can click on to the name of her book and blog to access her blog.
Every month each hostess goes to great lengths to set the stage for a lovely luncheon and this was certainly the case this month.
Seasonal decorations and flower arrangement set the stage as we entered her home.

And an exquisitely set dining table.
As well as the lovely buffet table. And here are the recipes brought to our luncheon.

Our hostess prepared an outstanding Andouille Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo served over rice, of course. Not your typical Louisiana Creole Gumbo but as Jennifer says in her book, everyone has a different take on gumbo. The most important flavor component is of course, the Roux and this particular gumbo had lots and lots of flavor. I was offered to take some home to my husband for his dinner and he was delighted. I was as well, especially on cookbook book club luncheon day, I am stuffed when I leave and never feel like preparing dinner that evening.

Another entrée' served was Chicken Tikka Masala. I don't usually prepare or even order out Indian dishes but this was particularly good and a recipe I would be inclined to prepare at home. Another interesting thing about this dish was that it used a typical Indian spice, Garam Masala that I have never used before. It is a blend of peppercorns, mace, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg. This was a dish with complex flavors but not overly spicy and also served over Basmati Rice.
Creamy Grilled Lemon Chicken Salad, an excellent chicken salad. The chicken is first marinated for six hours and then grilled creating layers of flavor. This is on my list to prepare at home and probably the best chicken salad I have ever eaten.
Corn, Zucchini and Tomatoes with Goat Cheese, what an outstanding blend of flavors. I was so anxious to try this side dish and it did not disappoint. A perfect side to any meat you may be serving and can be prepared ahead of time. I dearly love make ahead dishes especially when company is coming. It is served warm but this was served at room temperature and was just as good.
Cauliflower Fried Rice, an amazingly delicious dish. These days you can find grated cauliflower in the produce section and will often be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores but yet you can also grind your own cauliflower in a food processor for this recipe. I can honestly say that it did not taste like cauliflower to me and that's important since my husband won't touch cauliflower. The general consensus was that I try it out on him to see if he could tell what it was. With all the other ingredients added in and the seasonings, I am betting he would love this and I'll wait for him to go on and on about it and then tell him what he was eating. Oh I do have a little bit of bad in me. This was a dish that could in fact be served as a main dish or pared with maybe some salmon, an outstanding dish.
This was a very different take on a Baked Artichoke and Spinach Dip. It was an updated version eliminating the use of mayonnaise and sour cream. Instead the recipe called for preparing a Béchamel sauce, a French twist and using instead of jarred or canned artichokes, using frozen artichokes. It was delicious and I will make this again and again. I loved the way she changed up an old and tired recipe.
My contribution to this lovely soiree was Golden Orange Gazpacho with Basil. A very different take on gazpacho using yellow cherry tomatoes, yellow bell pepper and freshly squeezed orange juice. I thought the changes were excellent and I said while there that I could make this early in the week and eat on it every day, a healthy lunch.

Golden Orange Gazpacho with Basil

3/4 cup roughly chopped red onion
2 pounds golden cherry tomatoes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 English cucumber, seeded and diced (do not peel)
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Juice of 3 large oranges (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup water
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce, to taste

Place the onions in a small bowl and cover with water. Let soak for 10 minutes, then drain.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine half of the tomatoes, half of the bell pepper, half of the cucumber, and half of the drained onion. Pulse until finely chopped but not puréed, 25 to 30 one-second pulses. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the remaining tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, and onion, along with all of the basil, to the food processor (no need to wipe the bowl clean beforehand). Process until the vegetables are finely chopped, 25 to 30 one-second pulses, then add to the bowl with the other vegetables.

Add the remaining ingredients to the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours. Before serving, taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Ladle into bowls and serve cold. This soup is best served fresh, but will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Serving this in a glass vessel was important, so you could see all the healthy deliciousness.
An unusual take on Gazpacho and it was outstanding.
Is it any wonder why I look forward to this luncheon each and every month. It makes for a delightful afternoon, great food and good friends as we walk our way through our chosen cookbook. There was a dessert brought, Blobbs but unfortunately I failed to get a picture of them. It was chocolaty deliciousness, yummy.

Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope this will be inspiration for others to start their own Cookbook Book Club. Enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

A Delicious Macaroni Salad

I have tried so many macaroni salads over the years but have never quite found one that I really really liked. Now most people don't make much of a fuss about a simple macaroni salad, why most people just throw in everything but the kitchen sink. Wellllllllllll, I came upon a really good one that I would like to share.
It is so very simple and that's probably what my problem has been. In an effort to make that amazing out of this world macaroni salad I was probably adding in way more than I should. I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to a macaroni salad, simple is better.

My Favorite Macaroni Salad

 7 ounces uncooked large pasta shells (2 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
6 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Stir in the canola oil until coated. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until blended and smooth. Add pasta, stirring until pasta is creamy and coated. Stir in onion and remaining 2 ingredients. Serve immediately or cover and chill.
I added in some ham to the mixture to make it a one dish meal. You could also add in some leftover rotisserie chicken or even some tuna fish, would be fantastic.
 Some freshly sliced tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a chiffonade of fresh basil from the garden it made for an excellent dinner. I won't say a lighter dinner in terms of calories but a not so heavy dinner on a very hot and muggy night.
It's a slightly tart main dish salad or side salad that makes an ideal dish to go with any barbecue or just to have on hand for a weekend. This is quite simply delicious.
 I have learned, simple is most often better. I hope you'll try this. You won't be disappointed and I love having an excellent macaroni salad in my repertoire.

Thank you for visiting and please do come again. I always enjoy your comments if you should decide to do so.