It's been hard rounding up the group this summer for our culinary themed Concerts in the Park, with travel and kids' activities, but we were able to get it together this week for The Pacific Northwest.
I immediately thought of salmon, crab, oysters, trout, halibut, cherries, berries and Pinot Noir and have a couple of awesome cookbooks I go to first when I want something fabulous and unique. Cindy Pawleyn's Big Small Plates is one that never disappoints. It is packed full of small plates/appetizer recipes perfect for parties and grazing. "An enticing alternative to conventional main-course cooking, Big Small Plates delivers the inspiration and insight that make this new way of eating - and entertaining - practical at home."
When I turned the page and saw the photo of Salmon, Halibut and Scallop Ceviche, I knew I had a winner for this week's themed picnic. This ceviche's uniqueness comes from the combination of fish used, the addition of coconut milk, and its presentation -- served in chunks of fresh coconut. The fish is marinated in lime juice for the first 2 hours. It is then drained, transferred to a clean bowl, and a small amount of lime juice and the coconut milk is added, along with the red onion, serrano chile, sea salt and freshly ground white pepper. This marinates for another hour, but not longer than 6 hours or the fish will become overdone and mushy. Using a slotted spoon to drain off some of the lime-coconut liquid, the ceviche is spooned onto coconut chunks and then garnished. This was gone in a matter of minutes, with rave reviews.
|Salmon, Halibut, and Scallop Ceviche with Coconut|
You can find a printable, PDF of the recipe, here. Obviously, you want to use only fresh seafood. I adapted the recipe only slightly. I used a small red onion, an entire serrano chile (seeds removed), about 8 ounces of coconut milk, and parsley. The original recipe garnishes with fried plantains, but I went with fried won tons (John was frying won tons for his dish and offered to make some in different shapes for me). Tortilla chips would also work well. If coconut shells are too much trouble, serve the ceviche in small bowls or in sea scallop shells.
|Garnished with avocado slices, parsley or cilantro, a drizzle of olive oil and fried won tons|
|Men in hats - love it!|
John was back at it with a Pacific Northwest version of deviled eggs -- a deconstructed smoked salmon deviled egg on a fried won ton. The inspiration for these "eggs" came from a great party dish we've made several times -- Emeril Lagasse's savory Smoked Salmon Cheesecake. Emeril's original recipe can be found here. John halved the recipe, baked a smaller cheesecake, and used a small scoop of the baked cheesecake filling on each fried won ton. He sliced and fanned out the egg white and then garnished with crumbled egg yolk, micro basil, and drizzled on the Green Onion Coulis that accompanies the original recipe.
|Deconstructed Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs with Green Onion Coulis, on Fried Won Tons|
Kai prepared Mini Crab Cakes, and Hillari -- yes, Hillari, made a Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Ball rolled in pistachios.
|Kai's Crab Cakes|
|Hillari's Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Ball|
Carmen and John were in sync this week and we were able to enjoy Carmen's Smoked Salmon Cheesecake in its original glory. Carmen added a few more Pacific Northwest garnishes to her version - chopped cherries and sliced apples.
|Carmen's Smoked Salmon Cheesecake|
For dessert, the beautiful fresh blackberries and blueberries had been calling to me all week, so I decided to adapt Saveur's recipe for Huckleberry Crisps, double it, and make bunch of mini crisps topped with Grand Mariner whipped cream (recipe below).
Mary and Geoff surprised us, and added chocolate dipped strawberries and cookies to the dessert line up. Great to see you two a least a few times during the summer ;-)
|Mary & Geoff|
|Mary's Chocolate Dipped Strawberries and Oatmeal, White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies|
|Blackberry and blueberry filling for the crisps|
Adapted from Saveur's Huckleberry Crisps
Makes 4 servings
6 tablespoons plus 1⁄2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1⁄4 cup rolled oats
1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
3⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
4 cups huckleberries or blueberries (I used 2 cups blackberries and 2 cups blueberries)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoon brandy (I used Grand Mariner)
Crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream, for serving (I used Grand Mariner-spiked whipped cream)
1. Heat oven to 350°. Place four 6-ounce fluted ceramic ramekins on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, combine 6 tablespoons sugar, flour, oats, brown sugar, walnuts, lemon zest, 1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla, 1⁄4 teaspoon salt, and cinnamon. Using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly; transfer topping to freezer to let chill for 30 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the remaining sugar and salt, lemon juice, and remaining vanilla, along with the berries, cornstarch, and brandy; divide berry mixture between the ramekins. Mound some of the topping over each ramekin. Bake until the berries are bubbly and the topping is browned, 35–40 minutes. Top each crisp with a dollop of crème fraîche or whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
|Baked and ready to go to the park|
So, that was our Pacific Northwest themed picnic in the park! We'll be traveling next week and will miss Rockola, one of the most popular concerts of the summer season. However, the rest of the group has threatened to take photos and hijack the blog with a guest post. It could be interesting...
|Don't forget the wine traveler!|