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A Super Easy App Board

We are of the mindset that entertaining does not, actually in our case ‘should not’ be stressful or complicated. I think that is what stops folks from creating a gathering or hosting a dinner. Our Sunday suppers out on the island are case in point. They come at the end of a busy, long week. Yet, we love, no make that capital LOVE, having friends and family out. So we try super hard not to overdue and stress ourselves out. Hence, a super easy appetizer board for when guest first arrive. They have had a ferry ride as well as it being in the middle of the day, so we know they are hungry. Start time is always 2. It is not really a lunch, but it is plenty before supper. We like to sit and chat with a cocktail when everyone first arrives. The app board makes it easy to nosh as stories are told. The above what I whipped up on Sunday. Radishes cut to lots of sizes along with Irish butter and French sea salt. A triple-creme cheese next to crackers and sliced seeded baguette. Then a personal favorite I learned from the chef at Prune in NYC, Gabrielle Hamilton. I have enjoyed this there so many times. Crack open a tin of sardines, nestle a mound of Triscuits next to it, as well as a jar of Dijon and a dish of cornichons. The combo is incredibly satisfying. This board was enjoyed and pretty darn near empty by the time a little beach walk was on the agenda. Bowls of cherries or small tomatoes or olives is also easy to add. As well as a piece of smoked salmon or slices of salami. It really is much more about “composing” rather than cooking. I guarantee, no one will care. Cheers to relaxing entertaining!



 

 

Once Again—Potato, Tomato & Zucchini Tian with Gruyère and Thyme

For the 4th of July I made the above Potato, Tomato & Zucchini Tian with Gruyère and Thyme. Mister Sive was cooking away on the grill. I posted the above on social media and was asked to give out the recipe. I had written about it for the blog several years ago. This time I also added minced garlic to the onions as they initially cooked away. The Vashon Island Thriftway had gorgeous looking garlic bulbs so I just had to give one a try. Aside from that, it was just like I wrote about in 2014. This is a great thing to make for a crowd or for a table of 2. You can assemble it hours in advance and pop it into the fridge to sit until ready to bake. As guests chat away, it can bubble away in the oven–the juices it creates a welcome little sauce to the meat or fish it saddles up next to.

Heat oven to 375 degrees while you get things chopping. Cut up one sweet onion. On the stove top in a skillet, brown the onion with extra virgin olive oil. (Add the minced garlic a tad before the onions are done and cook for just a few minutes. Always careful not to overcook the garlic as it becomes bitter fast. You want sweet.) Once done, line the bottom of a baking dish with the sautéed onions and garlic. Add thyme that you pull off the buds and just sprinkle around and on top of your onions. This is the base. Fine that this cools a bit while you start chopping away.

Next, you want to choose Roma tomatoes, small Yukon gold potatoes and zucchini that are very similar in circumference. Cut each into quarter inch sizes. On top of the onions, start stacking the slices, alternating the 3 as you go. Once done, add a liberal sprinkling of salt over the top of things. A bit of pepper too. Add more thyme leaves over the lot as well. The herb is so mellow and really adds to the lusciousness of this dish. Finally add a few whole springs of the thyme to the dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake in your now hot oven for 45 minutes. 

Once the 45 minutes has passed, take out of oven, remove the foil and the whole thyme stems and discard. Add a generous, make that a super generous about of grated Gruyère cheese to the entire top of the dish. I take extra care to make sure the cheese has also fallen down the sides of the mixture. You really want all of this cheesy goodness spread everywhere once it is done. Put back into the oven uncovered, for another half hour so the cheese melts and the mixture finishes cooking. Trust me, you will be quite pleased with yourself. It is so darn good! The cooked and melted mixture of the onions/garlic with the potatoes and the tomatoes and the zucchini mixed with the herbaceous goodness of the thyme is really all quite something.



 

 

Olive Oil Oven Roasted Asparagus

Asparagus season is a treat I look forward to all year. We eat asparagus pretty much year round, but most often than not, they are quite thin spears. When the fresh chunky spears start arriving, then I get excited! This Wine & Dine Wednesday post is how to prepare it super simply in the oven.

Oven to 375 while you prepare the asparagus. For thin I never peel them. For the thick, pretty much always, as the lower portion can be quite woody. Plus, that is how the French do it, so that is always reason enough for me. Insert big grateful smile. With a vegetable peeler take off a layer starting at the half way point to the bottom. I then like to cut the bottom at an angle because I like the way it looks. Thanks Ina! Then a lovely layer of the best extra virgin olive oil you can get you hands on. Finally a dusting of sea salt. Then into the hot oven for 10 minutes. Start poking with your finger. You want give but not soft. Could take up to 15 to 20 minutes depending of thickness and to your liking. Then eat, eat, eat and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.



 

 

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

When you have leftover baby new potatoes and you want to do something to make them a little extra special the next go round, smash them. Then load them up with Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese. First, take a fork, gently push down on the spud until it flattens out a bit. Then sprinkle Parm all about. Either microwave to reheat or put in oven at 350 to warm and crisp up. Super easy, super yummy. You will never know they were leftovers.



 

 

Basil Green Goddess Dip

For a cocktail party we hosted the other week in town, I whipped up one of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes. Ina makes it as a salad dressing. I change it up ever so slightly making it a tad firmer, which makes it a great dip for roasted vegetables and potatoes. Both hearty, which we really quite like when serving drinks. Most guests come right from work so something substantial to curve the hunger crave before they head out to dinner after the cocktail party. The basil in the dip just makes the whole thing sing.

For the dip: 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup chopped scallions, 2 cup chopped basil leaves, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons anchovy paste, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 cup sour cream

Add to a food processor, pulse until all is incorporated being careful to not overdue as that is what makes it more dip than dressing. Refrigerate for at least an hour which will also help to firm things up. SO good!

While that is in the fridge roast big sheet pans full of florets of cauliflower & broccoli and small whole new potatoes. Liberally coat with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Put into a 400 degree oven. Shake pan and move things around often until they start to become a bit browned, then pull out. The potatoes will generally stay in longer. Sometimes the really little potatoes will cook just as fast. Enjoy!



 

 

Roasted Tomatoes with Crumbled Feta

We were invited early Monday eve to sit on the beach while watching the sun go down with a glass of wine by new friends out on the island, Don & Betty. They also walked us around their abundant gardens and filled up bags of vegetables for us to take home. The above tomatoes part of the bounty of goodness and extreme generosity. We came back to WW and roasted them up super simply by dousing with extra virgin olive oil and a generous amount of sea salt in the oven at 400 just until they started releasing their juices, which becomes the sauce when combined with the oil. When done, toss with your favorite just cooked pasta and crumble feta over the top of it all. Truly could not be easier but it is just so darn good when tomatoes are falling off the vine fresh and plentiful. You could certainly add minced garlic to the tomatoes before they go into the oven. Chopped basil too. Fresh corn would be amazing, as well. But this supper we wanted the freshness of the tomatoes to be the star so they took center stage.



 

 

Cherry & Slivered Almond Upside Down Cake

Mister Sive is sharing this awesome recipe this morning–take it away Ted!

One of the pure food joys of living in Washington State is the abundance of cherries this time of year. We Teds consume an inordinate amount of them come early Summer, with breakfast yogurt and granola, by the handful for a snack, or, as below, for dessert. Last weekend our beloved Vashon Thriftway had these perfect Rainier cherries, and I was determined to build dessert around them. It was also an opportunity to use one of my favorite kitchen gadgets, a cherry pitter that’s a lot of fun (and a bit of a workout) to use. The following recipe is inspired by one in the NY Times Cooking app, and blends the moist, rich and deep scent of pound cake with a touch of cornmeal, that cherry zing, some almond crunch, that classic upside-down cake topping of butter and sugar, and the (optional) hint of sweet and fruity tequila.

Preheat oven to 350. Melt on the stovetop: 4 tablespoons butter

Stir in: ¾ cup light brown sugar

Stir in, let bubble and then calm down: 3 tablespoons tequila

Pour this mixture into the bottom of a large springform cake pan, and spread evenly. 

Place so that they fill the bottom: 2-3 cups cherries (preferably Rainier)

Spread between and amongst the cherries: ½ cup slivered almonds

Mix in a bowl and set aside: 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, 3 tablespoons cornmeal, ¼ teaspoon salt

Cream: 8 tablespoons butter, add gradually and beat until fluffy: 1 cup of sugar

Add, one at a time: 4 egg yolks

Add, in thirds, beating lightly until blended, the dry mixture above alternately with: 2/3 cup yoghurt and 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

Add, until just mixed: ½ cup slivered almonds

Beat until just stiff peaks: 4 egg whites

Mix in 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter. Fold in the remaining 1/3 of the egg whites.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted into the dough (only) comes out clean. Let the cake sit for a few minutes, then snap off the side of the pan, place your serving plat upside down on top of the cake, and turn over, revealing those wonderful cherries! Serve.

Relish Summer. And, then….

Save the leftover cake in the fridge. The moist dough will get a bit dense, but fear not! This turns into a terrific “twice-baked” treat. 

Slice the cake into 1 ½ inch slices. Lay each slice with a big side face down on a baking sheet, and heat in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes. Flip onto the other side for another 5 minutes. This warms the cake and gives a nice super thin crustiness to each piece. Serve with piping hot coffee for a mid-morning treat!



 

 

Julia Reed’s South

20160428-063317.jpg Just arrived the other day at the shops, Julia Reed’s South. Part cookery book, part entertaining book, it is filled with family recipes and tips on being a gracious host/hostess. We have been a fan of her writing over the years, as her take on things and wit are such fun to read. Walking to dinner last eve, I told TPS what I connect most with is her view on life and relishing the small moments. This quote by Julia sums it up. “What I love about the South is that there is nothing too insignificant to celebrate, and if you’re really lucky you learn about grace and small joys, which are, after all, what make up big lives.”