Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dear Old Dad

Sunday is Father's Day (better go and get that card in the mail!) If your dad lives nearby you are probably going to have a barbecue because we all know dads love to grill

 but if your dad isn't nearby you'll talk on the phone, send a card, and skip the rest of the celebrations.  Celebrating those we love takes time, care and thought, so if you are celebrating with dad this weekend here are a few recipes to get you going on the right foot.....but a few rules avoid anything like this

no booze until after you've cooked everything, and no booze until the knives are put away.
Since it will just be Dr. C. and me, I'm planning to do some king crab claws with a big salad and maybe a few grilled veggies.  Crab claws are a great dinner ( you get to eat with your hands and imagine guys on "Deadliest Catch" getting your dinner)  and anything leftover can go into a crab mac and cheese, or a huge chopped salad.
If steak is your forte, make sure to buy quality (at least USDA choice grade) .... like I said, make it special.  Sides for steak are simple to make ahead and if you want baked potatoes, but don't want to heat up the house by turning on the oven, do them in your slow cooker.

This is a beautiful chopped salad, and it goes with just about anything; you can see chunks of Italian salami, cheese, lettuce, artichoke hearts, and a light dressing over it all.  This is my version of this chopped salad, and the dressing makes a dynamite marinade for meat or poultry, so if you have any leftover, drench that flank steak in it for about 4 hours, and then grill.

Hollywood Chopped Salad
Serves 8 to 10

For the Dressing

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced

1.      In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until thickened.
2.      Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

For the Salad

Four 10-ounce bags American salad blend(iceberg, carrots, red cabbage) or your choice of lettuces
1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami or pepperoni, cut into matchsticks
2 cups diced cooked chicken (1/2-inch dice)
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup sliced black olives, drained
1 European cucumber, cut in half and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons
2 cups cherry tomatoes
6 scallions (white and tender green parts), chopped

When ready to serve, assemble the salad. Combine the ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss with some of the dressing to coat. Add additional dressing as desired, toss again, and serve immediately.

To top burgers or steaks, these onions are a must!
Marinated Red Onions
Makes about 4 cups

2 large red onions, cut in half and thinly sliced into half-moons (about 3 cups)
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.      Place the onions in a glass bowl.
2.      In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, oil, pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Pour over the onions.
3.      Do-Ahead: At this point, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
4.      Drain the onions.
5.      Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days.

and of course dessert---I'm not sure who is saying that cupcakes are dead, but I think they will always be with us...they are easier to make than pies, or layer cakes, and you don't feel so guilty scarfing down a cupcake, where a piece of cake or pie requires ice cream! 
These cupcakes are awesome, and everyone will want the recipe, so please share!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream
Makes 24 to 30
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup boiling water
1.      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 24 standard cupcake pans with liners, or coat with non-stick cooking spray.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the sugar, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, until blended. 
2.      Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, and gradually add to the sugar mixture, until the mixture begins to come together. 
3.      Very slowly, add the boiling water, and blend until the mixture is smooth.  
4.      Ladle or scoop the batter into the cupcake tins, filling ¾ full.  Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center of each one comes out clean. 
5.      Cool the cupcakes in their pans on wire racks until cooled. 
6.      Do-Ahead:  At this point the cupcakes can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, or frozen for 6 weeks.  Defrost and ice with the cinnamon buttercream frosting.

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

4 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
Chocolate curls for garnishing cupcakes
1.      In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir the sugar, to aerate it. 
3.      If the frosting is stiff, add a few more drops of milk, beating after each addition.  Frost the cooled cupcakes and garnish with chocolate curls.
4.      Do-Ahead:  Cover the frosting, and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 6 weeks.

I'm still recovering from jet lag (on my 8th day) and haven't gotten much done here since we've been back, but will be teaching tomorrow .... another Farmer's Market Bag Class at Great News.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and that if your dad is around you will celebrate him and all the dads you know. Enjoy your day!

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