SPRING CELEBRATION DINNER
Homes and Garden
We are well into May and here in the North, Spring has finally arrived. The days are longer and the snow has left us...well maybe. My yard is full of buds revealing a bit more each day, as I anxiously anticipate the display of blooms and greenery that will delight in my garden. The vernal equinox, and the gift of extra daylight, has revived this gal with a new sense of vigor. This new boost of energy is just in time to tackle all the weeds that have sprouted up.
For many of us, May is also a month of celebrations. I recently hosted a special occasion dinner and needed to do a quick clean up of the garden. As I yanked handfuls of greens from the earth, I marveled at the elegance and beauty of these weeds. I decided they would make splendid centerpieces for my table. I just needed the appropriate container to display them.
In the corner of my patio I found some glass lanterns I neglected and left out all winter. After a quick cleanup, I decided they now have what I will call an aged patina. The perfect showcase for my lovely weeds.
Some emerald moss taking hold between my stepping stones caught my eye. How magical that will look under a glass cloche! Since I love collecting things from nature- a colorful feather, some small bird nests and a precious, blue robins egg added the finishing touch on the moss.
For the menu I chose fresh, bright, flavors to compliment the arrival of Spring. The beauty of this meal is that almost all of it could be made ahead.
Upon arrival, guests nibbled on a simple charcuterie board and sipped on ice cold Dark n' Stormy's.
We started with a vibrant pea and basil soup. I prepared the soup the night before and served it chilled. The main entree combined a citrus infused salad with a salty-sweet glazed salmon . The salmon was marinated earlier in the day, then grilled before the guests arrived. The warm grilled salmon was placed on a bed of mixed greens drizzled with a grapefruit vinaigrette.
No meal is complete until your palate has something to balance the savory. Keeping with the flavor profile, I served Key Lime Pie. This had just the right amount of citrus to balance the fish, and the right amount of sugar to satisfy a sweet tooth.
SPRING CELEBRATION DINNER RECIPES
PEA and BASIL SOUP
32 oz. frozen peas (still frozen)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon vegetable flavor
3 Tbsp good quality olive oil, divided
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
20- 30 basil leaves, chopped
1 green onion, trimmed and chopped
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
4 Parmesan crisps
½ lemon, cut into 4 wedges
In a stockpot over medium high heat place the peas, broth, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, Dijon mustard, 2-3 teaspoons of the chopped basil leaves and the green onion.
Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Use an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree in batches until soup is smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If serving chilled place in refrigerator over night or at least 4 hours. When ready to serve ladle into bowls or small shot glasses and top each serving with the remaining basil leaves, 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a parmesan crisp.
Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze into soup .
MISO GRILLED SALMON with MIXED GREENS, GRAPEFRUIT and PARMESAN
4-6 Salmon Filets (apron 4 ounces each)
3 Tablespoons white miso paste
1/4 cup sake
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 Teaspoons soy sauce
I Teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Whisk together the miso paste, sake, dark brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil in a casserole dish large enough to hold the salmon filets. Place salmon filets face down in marinade. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or more.
Pre heat grill and cook until salmon is opaque and flakey, about 10 minutes. Salmon can also be broiled in oven. Discard marinade.
About 4 cups or 6-8 ounces of Mixed greens ( a few bitter greens like arugula should be included)
1 Grapefruit, peeled and sliced into 1” chunks
1 thinly sliced or shaved fennel bulb
Parmesan curls (parmesan cut with vegetable peeler)
Place mixed greens topped with several grapefruit pieces and some fennel on plates. Lay grilled salmon partially on salad and partially on plate. Drizzle with Grapefruit Vinaigrette ( recipe below) and top salad with a couple parmesan curls.
1 minced garlic clove
3 Tablespoons grapefruit juice
3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 Teaspoons dijon mustard
1/3 cup parsley leaves
1/2 olive oil
Pulse first five ingredients in food processor reserving olive oil. When throughly blended, keep processor on and slowly add olive oil in a steady stream until it is emulsified with all the ingredients. Store in refrigerator up to two weeks, but best served at room temperature.
KEY LIME PIE
1-1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs, from about 12 whole graham crackers
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 (14-oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (2% or whole milk)
Grated zest from 2-3 limes
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
8 to 10 thin lime slices, slit halfway and twisted
CRUST:Preheat oven to 375 °F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and melted butter; mix until well combined. Using your fingers, press the crumbs firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 x 1.5-inch pie pan. The crust should be about ¼-inch thick.
Bake for 10 minutes, until just slightly browned. Let the crust cool on a wire rack.
FILLING:Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, yogurt, lime zest, and lime juice. Pour the mixture into the warm graham cracker crust. Bake for 15 minutes, until the filling is almost set; it should wobble a bit. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then place in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly, about 3 hours.
TOPPING: Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until medium peaks form. Using a pastry bag with a star tip, decorate the pie with dollops of whipped cream. Add lime slices on top of whip cream.
Store the pie in the refrigerator until ready to serve.