|A Fabulous Flavor-Popping Salad from Chef Kathi|
Monday, June 25, 2012
|Strawberry Chess Squares, A Sweet Southern Confection|
Strawberry Chess Squares
1 box strawberry cake mix
1 stick unsalted butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Part 1: Mix cake mix, melted butter and 1 egg to a soft dough. Press into the bottom of the pan.
Part 2: Mix cream cheese, 2 remaining eggs, vanilla extract and powdered sugar until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Pour on top of crust. Bake at 300 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until the top is lightly golden brown. The center under the crust will be just a bit loose and jiggly.
Allow to cool before serving. Dust lightly with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh strawberries.
With the Fourth of July next week, I'm thinking this could easily be turned into a Red, White and Blue Dessert with the addition of blueberries and a mini scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yes, I really did intend to say mini scoop. Just on it's own, this is one decadently rich and sinfully delicious dessert.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Southwestern Steak with Salsa Stuffing has been slow cooking all day and it smells amazing!
The simple recipe was adapted from one I found through Pinterest before church this morning.
I'm almost embarrassed to share how easy it is.
Take one Round Steak, spray the crock with a squirt of Pam Nonstick Cooking Spray and add beef.
Mix together one bag or box stuffing mix, 1 jar mild salsa, 1 stick of melted butter and 2 fresh chopped tomatoes. Cover top of beef with stuffing mixture and cover crockpot.
Plug in, cook at low for approximately 7 hours.
You could add lots of other things, but the idea here is Summer Simplicity! I'm not sure if this is or isn't something I'd prepare for my catering clients, but I know it is something that my Southwestern Salsa Loving' Spouse will just love! ~ Chef Kathi
Everyone needs some yummy quick fix recipes, even a chef. It was 5:30 on a Friday afternoon, my feet were propped up and I was reveling in the sweet success of another beautifully executed catering event when all of a sudden I remembered that the dear hubs needed a covered dish for a concert reception on Friday evening.
Oops! I had totally forgotten to put something together for him.
Not only was I pooped from all the cooking I'd been doing in the catering kitchen, my window of opportunity to prepare something wonderful was very small.
I had to think fast and get creative in short order.
That's when I came up with this idea after taking stock of the situation.
I had Angel Food Cake stashed away in the freezer, maple syrup and fresh strawberries in the refrigerator, pumpkin seed granola in the pantry and a bit of Raspberry Chai in the freezer. Perfect. I was about to create a new recipe, and one that anyone could make, regardless of their level of culinary expertise.
Since it was a fairly big potluck, I opted for a disposable plate that I wouldn't need to worry about getting back at the end of the evening.
Maple Caramel Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Chai, Strawberries and Pumpkin Seed Granola
by Chef Kathi
Simply place Angel Food Cake on Plate. Drizzle with Maple Glaze. ( I used small amounts of pure maple syrup, milk and powdered sugar and mixed well.) Fill center hole with fluffy Raspberry Chai. Top Chai and surround cake with fresh Florida strawberries. Sprinkle top of cake with Pumpkin granola. Then drizzle with caramel sauce. Wrap and refrigerate until it's time to take it to the event.
All-in-all I don't think this took more than 10 minutes to assemble. ~ Chef Kathi
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
So when I found myself dreaming about a salad that I had enjoyed at the lake on Father's Day, I just knew I had to recreate something similar at home.
|Summer Mediterranean Spiced Shrimp Salad by Chef Kathi|
If you want the recipe, post me a note on here and ask!
Let me say, this is truly a one dish meal. You will NOT need anything else. Well, except a little bubbly, perhaps.
|Summer Mediterranean Spiced Shrimp Salad by Chef Kathi|
Monday, June 18, 2012
Originally cooked up for a small dinner party, I opted to double the recipe so that I could freeze a second casserole for another meal. I like to do that sometimes. It just makes good sense to have tasty things on hand for times when we are either too busy or just too tired to cook.
I wish I could tell you exactly how I made this, but you know, I've slept since then. Basically it is a moussaka with beef and bechemel sauce, but instead of having the traditional eggplant, it has sliced potatoes. When I prepared it I used the potato, because I was trying to use up half of a bushel of potatoes and I didn't have any eggplant. Bill loved it, but then he would rather have potatoes any day over eggplant. Give me the aubergine and just blame it all on my insatiable desire for all things Mediterranean.
So this was lunch today, a fabulous frozen blessing, with or without the eggplant. ~ Chef Kathi
Sometimes a good burger is the best supper of all, especially when the day has been a busy one.
Ordinarily, I would insist on fresh-ground meat, but you know it's pretty smart household management to have a few quick fixes in the freezer and a big bag of Black Angus Frozen Burgers qualifies as a perfect quick fix staple in my kitchen.
So what do I do to get these amazing burgers?
|Cooking with Chef Kathi|
Yep, Bill and I will be celebrating our 3rd Wedding Anniversary on June 27! Since we will be up to our eye balls with VBS at our church that week, any sort of anniversary trip will just have to wait.
We've tossed around lots of ideas... Key West, Charleston, St. Simon Island, and Captiva Island, just to mention a few.
The hardest part we're discovering is scheduling. Between church, catering and assorted social invitations, the challenge of getting away, even for a couple of days, is becoming a bit of an issue.
But for me, and for Bill, the bottom-line reality is that every day is a celebration. Mornings begin with fresh brewed coffee on the front porch. Eventually, we get around to a bit of sustenance. When I remember or when the spirit strikes, I like to snap pictures. Yes, yes I know... it's the food writer in me that can not resist the urge to capture food, table settings and all things, entertaining on camera.
So for your enjoyment and mine :) I am going to post pictures I snapped last week on my camera of brunch with my sweetie.
|Cooking with Chef Kathi|
The star of this meal, was a wonderful sausage breakfast casserole, that I assembled over a 2-day period of time.
Now, I want to share something very important with you. You do not have to bake your casseroles, frittattas and quiches in large, family-size serving containers!
If you are like me and have a small family at home, then you should consider divvying up the mixture into small, individual baking containers. This casserole was baked in two different pans. The first pan was a small loaf pan, the type that you might use for a loaf of bread or a meatloaf. The second pan was a sweet set of six medium muffin hearts.
|Cooking with Chef Kathi|
Notice what I'm doing. Right after brunch, I carefully wrapped, zip locked, labeled and freezer-cached 8 individual portions of Sausage Breakfast Casserole. Now, on a moment's notice a scrumptious breakfast casserole is only a nuke away. Brilliant! It works for us. I hope it will for you! ~ Chef Kathi
I know it seems like forever since I've written my column, and even longer since I posted any of my columns on this blog.
After five wonderful, spirit-filled years of writing the "Entertaining with Kathi" newspaper column, the "five year mark" just felt like a good stopping point.
It's been almost a year since you've seen my column in the paper.
When I jaunt to town, I often run into readers who inquire as to why they have not seen my columns and share how much they enjoyed reading my writing.
Writing is a mysterious thing you know. There is almost a sacredness, and certainly a fine art to spinning sentences. Some days, most especially these last 9 months, the ease of prose has been elusive.
A question begs to be asked.
Is this elusiveness simply a consequence of failing to show up with pen and paper in hand, ready and willing to capture the message that a divine force would joyfully channel through my pen?
Discipline! It all boils down to the discipline of showing up.
Showing up, ready and willing to write is the discipline of any successful writer.
Well, HALLELUJAH, I kept the discipline for five years, churning out my quirky food and entertaining columns every other week.
Deep, deep within I secretly yearned for so much more. I really did.
Was I foolish to think that my articles were so good that they could be turned into a bestselling book, a movie, a sit-com, and much more?
Is there unfinished business? Good question!
At this moment, I don't know where the whole "Entertaining with Kathi" show is headed.
What I do know is that I need a place for sharing my passion for entertaining, beyond my company website.
Some of this passion has found a home on Pinterest, something that I coincidentally joined around the same time I stopped writing the newspaper column.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I know it has been a long time since I reprinted one of the columns here. Sorry. Hope you've been able to follow it in the newspaper.
What can I say? Well, I've been busy! I moved both business and home to a neighboring town, lived the old European way, "above the shop" for a few seasons, and then as if that wasn't enough, a wonderful miracle of miracles happened! I fell in love with the widower preacher down the street, got married, moved once again and built a new catering kitchen a few steps from our home. Life is certainly full of surprises!
Now I tap out the keyboard letters for my columns from a second story home office I share with my wonderful, and slightly eccentric husband, Bill.
Now without further ado, I present my most recent column that published in today's newspaper.
month with sunny French
By Kathi Bess • Entertaining with Kathi •
February 10, 2010
In the memory banks of my imagination, I return to
an old stone cottage surrounded by fields of
sunflowers and lavender. A beautiful, sunny feast is
spread out on a rustic old picnic table.
Herein lies my inspiration for today's column.
I'm spinning the globe to the sunny Provencal
region of France and to the marvelous spirit of joie
Why? Because I can!
As I write this column, the sky outside is about as
inspiring as the collective lint on a dryer screen.
Without even a sliver of sunshine in the forecast, I
know one thing. I know that if I'm to have any
sunshine today at all, I better bring it with me.
If ever there was a "cabin-fever" month in the
Sunshine State, the month of February qualifies.
By this time of the year, regardless of where I've
been in the months preceding February, I'm
impatient for sun-washed skies and wild blooming
bursts. And while we can't control what happens in
the skies and plants outside, we always have the
option to set the stage within to suit whatever whim
or fancy we may entertain.
So why not throw a Cabin Fever House Party with a
French Flavor! Now, I'm not talking about a great big
gala, but rather something small and intimate,
something that can be enjoyed at a lovely leisurely
pace, with a wonderful wave of abandon to the more
expected social conventions.
Curling up with a great book, cheering on your
favorite sports team on TV, knitting an afghan,
playing board games, yada, yada, yada. You get the
idea; just fill in the blank with your favorite Saturday
or Sunday afternoon past time.
Whether yours is a solo activity, a partner pursuit or
a bigger get-together of family or visiting friends,
the party platter I am about to propose will serve as
perfect fare for indulging in those leisurely
The key here is one big fabulous platter that can be
prepped early in the day for the ultimate lingering
lunch / brunch / dinner spread. No need to
interrupt the day's serendipitous flow, to cook
dinner, if you plan ahead and make provisions for a
balanced blend of succulent bites.
In Provence, exquisitely poached fish or seafood,
artichokes, potatoes, chickpeas, hard boiled eggs,
and lots and lots of garden fresh goodies are
arranged in dainty quantities and elegantly
displayed on a large tray surrounding a rich
traditional sauce of crushed garlic, egg yolks, olive
oil and lemon.
This dipping sauce is known simply as Aioli. One
whiff, one bite, one glimpse and see for yourself if
you are not transported to the sunny fields of
Aioli Dipping Sauce
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
Salt, pepper, favorite seasoning blend to taste
1 fresh squeezed lemon
Advertisement 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
11/2 cups Olive Oil
(It's also delightful to add fresh herbs, capers, a
little splash of champagne.)
Whisk egg until light and smooth. Combine garlic,
egg, seasonings, lemon juice and Dijon mustard in
a food processor. Process to a smooth paste.
With machine running add olive oil in a small,
steady stream. Keep blending until you have a thick,
shiny sauce. Refrigerate until ready to use.
•Kathi Bess is a caterer, food writer and
teacher of cooking classes. Visit her online at
Sunday, February 7, 2010
For information on the current cooking classes being offered in the Tallahassee/Havana Florida area by Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company contact:
Kathi Bess 850-539-7750 or firstname.lastname@example.org or pop in to http://www.canopyrose.com/ for the latest feed.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Class: Cooking For One with Canopy Rose
Class Style: A unique blend of cooking instruction, socializing and snacking
Cooking Instructor: Kathi Dameron, Chef/ Owner (Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio & Catering Company) and Food Writer & Newspaper Columnist ( Entertaining with Kathi)
Location: Tallahassee / Havana Florida
Dates: Ongoing Series
Cooking Class Contact Info: 850-539-7750 or email us at email@example.com
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Event PlanningTakes Skill
By Kathi Dameron
"Six bucks for a loaf of bread? You've got to be kidding!" My inner voice scolded as I doled out the bills from my slim pocketbook and handed them to the cashier.
"Ouch! Why am I doing this?" I agonized. But I knew this was the only halfway decent loaf of bread for 12 miles.
"Well, it does have chunks of roasted garlic in it," the cashier offered in response to my quiet, but apparently very visible, non-verbal sticker shock.
I knew I could bake my own loaf for a fraction of the cost. But it was already past the dinner hour and my tummy was rumbling for a quick bite — just a simple sandwich would do, except I had no bread in the kitchen to make this simple sandwich.
With today's economy, everyone seems to be feeling the pinch in the pocketbook. Our weekly grocery store receipts are often double, if not triple what they were a few years ago.
The need to become smarter and savvier at stretching a rapidly shrinking food dollar without forfeiting quality is essential.
I have always been a fan of semi-catered parties. Semi-catered parties are cost efficient, empowering and to those who are fairly proficient in the kitchen, they offer the best of all worlds.
Just between you and me, even as a caterer, when I host my own parties I use these strategies, too.
How To Do A Semi-Catered Party
1. Spend some time thinking about how you want your party to unfold from beginning to end. A party is like a theatrical production of sorts.
2. Make a list of the type of foods that you would like to serve at your party. Determine which of these foods you would be comfortable preparing yourself. Ask yourself this question: "Can some of these foods be prepared in advance and frozen?" Then set up a baking or cooking schedule that you can do in your free time.
3. Select some specialty dishes that you would like for a favorite caterer to prepare. When you contact your caterer be very specific about what you need. Keep in mind that the fewer services you need from the caterer, the more money you'll save. For example, can the sodas. Do you really need a caterer to bring in sodas when you can buy the soda at a significant savings yourself? Figure out what things you absolutely want help with and splurge on those things.
4. Ask a family member, friend or neighbor to help you. It is amazing what can be accomplished with a couple sets of willing hands. Be willing to reciprocate. The idea of semi-catered parties extends far beyond the holidays.
If you work this semi-catered strategy right- you'll never have to shell out six bucks for a mediocre loaf of bread. You'll have your very own sliced or un-sliced loaves of delicious home-baked bread in your very own home freezer, ready to be thawed on a moment's notice.
Kathi Dameron is a professional caterer and event planner. She owns Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company. Please visit her on the web at www.canopyrose.com she can be reached at 539-7750 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, October 13, 2008
By Kathi Dameron (From the October 8, 2008 Entertaining with Kathi newspaper column
“Oh, what I wouldn't give for a plate of fried green tomatoes like we used to have at the café,” Ninny Threadgoode said in the 1991 block buster movie, Fried Green Tomatoes.
A spotlight of national hoopla shined bright on this fabulous Southern delicacy.
Beyond the Fried Green Tomato Girdle of the Deep South, from coast to coast, the fame of green tomatoes skyrocketed following the release of the movie.
In sophisticated and cosmopolitan cities like Manhattan, Chicago and LA the humble Fried Green Tomato became a hip, hot and honorable hors d’ oeuvre.
Just about everyone fell in love with these smile-poppers.
Mention ”a plate of fried green matos” to someone and you can almost guarantee that the corner of their mouth will raise heaven ward in anticipation.
But then “a plate of em’ is sort of a misnomer isn’t it? In many homes, Fried Green Tomatoes never seem to get to the table.
How many of you remember hovering around your momma and the old cast iron frying pan while ‘matoes sizzled away in bacon grease? Did you eat ‘em just about as fast as your momma could fry ‘em?
For today’s column, I’m sharing the Fried Green Tomato recipe that I’ve been using in my tallahassee catering business since the mid 1990’s.
One of the novel things that we get to do from time to time at Canopy Rose is to set up a Fried Green Tomato Station at a wedding, tailgate party or other special event.
If you have never experienced a Fried Green Tomato themed station at a party - you really should have this experience at least once.
Guests go wild!
Now granted, setting up a LIVE Fried Green Tomato Station for a couple hundred friends will create a lot of wow…keep in mind it will also create a whole lot of hands-on work, but then that is why there are caterers.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Firm green tomatoes
All Purpose Flour
Breadcrumbs, panko or cornmeal (I like to season my crumbs for extra flavor)
Wash & Dry Green Tomatoes
Slice tomatoes in one half inch or less slices.
Sprinkle tomato slices with salt, pepper and seasoning salt. Allow to stand for 15 minutes.
Line up 4 pie pans on the counter in a row. Put milk, flour, eggs and breadcrumbs into their own pie pan.
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat.
Dip green tomatoes in milk, then flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.
Fry about 5 minutes per side or until nice and golden brown.
Kathi Dameron is a caterer, special event designer and creator of innovative food stations for weddings, parties and other soirees. She owns Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company. Visit her on the web at http://www.canopyrose.com/ She can also be reached at email@example.com or at 850-539-7750.
By Kathi Dameron
The aromas of autumn swirl through the old Havana Bank building as I write today’s column. So enticing are these fragrant old-fashioned scents, I wonder how I will be able to stick to my diet.
I try to tell myself that nothing tastes as good as thin feels…but all too often the desire for immediate gratification prevails. After all someone needs to be the taste tester and make certain that the flavoring is simply perfect before a hundred or more batches are stirred up.
This week, I’m going totally against my grain by baking a cornucopia of pumpkin-filled confections that are not yet sold. For a sugar addict, such as myself, this is very dangerous.
My inspiration for this pumpkin-palooza baking frenzy is the Annual Havana Pumpkin Festival on Saturday, October 18, when masses of festivalgoers descend on the quaint, historic old tobacco town, a pumpkin seed toss away from Tallahassee.
Several years ago, long before my days as a Tallahassee caterer, I discovered a delicious recipe for chocolate chip pumpkin bread in Southern Living magazine. The recipe became one of my all time favorite autumn breads. I would often devote leisurely Sunday afternoons during the season of harvest to baking dozens and dozens of loaves that I would share with neighbors, friends and colleagues.
Back in those days, I found great joy in cooking up these surprise food gifts for old friends and new. And believe me…when one comes bearing the gift of food, they can make a lot of friends pretty quick. Another great advantage of giving away home baked sweets is that sugary temptations are removed from your own kitchen, which is a very good thing especially for all us fluffy, kindred souls who love to bake, but are constantly challenged by the act of moderation when it comes to sweet indulgences.
If you are looking for a delicious and old-fashioned way to connect with people this season… there is not a sweeter gesture than sharing the delicious bounty from one’s kitchen.
Simply bake, cool, then wrap for freezing and/ or gifting. Pumpkin breads are a perfect treat for October and November noshing. Tuck a festively wrapped and beribboned loaf in a rustic basket with a jar of homemade preserves, perhaps some spiced cider mix and you will have the makings of a great autumn flavored food gift.
Easy As Pie –Pumpkin Bread (The Canopy Rose version of a tried and true favorite)
One batch of your favorite pumpkin bread batter
8 oz. chocolate chips
8 oz. chopped pecans
Mix pumpkin batter, chocolate chips and pecans together. Spoon mixture into greased and floured loaf pans. Top with streusel. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour.
Drizzle with a glaze, if desired. Glazes are the easiest thing in the world to whip up and are best when you express your own creativity in the concocting of them! Right now I’m thinking of doing a spirited glaze with a shot of Kahlua and Cream, a bit of butter, powdered sugar and a dusting of autumn spices.
Kathi Dameron is a Tallahassee area caterer and food writer. She owns Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company. Visit her online at www.canopyrose.com.
She can be reached at 850-539-7750 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Monday, September 29, 2008
I just want to thank all of you who nudged me back into the kitchen.
Catering is a very demanding profession, especially in a city like Tallahassee with the capitol, three colleges and a thriving business community, that keep a caterer running from breakfast to dinner with van loads of fragrant foods down Tallahassee's beautiful canopy roads.
The demands placed on a caterer can become all-encompassing. At least that was my experience as the owner of my own Tallahassee Florida catering company.
Many of you know that I took a sabbatical of sorts for a brief period of time.
This break from the hectic pace that had been my life as a caterer was perhaps one of the smartest moves I've ever made.
Last year I returned to the profession that I love and the extraordinary thing that I have discovered is that my love affair with catering continues to grow daily, like a beautiful and healthy plant that has been rooted in rich soil.
I've always said that when I cease loving what I'm doing, I will stop and find a new passion.
My passion today for catering far surpasses the passion that once fueled this catering career.
Life is certainly full of mysteries. But one thing I know... we must trust that inner whisper, that whisper that is yours alone. For when we follow the call of the heart and trust in its authenticity, we can be assured that we are indeed living out the life that we were created to live.
For me that life, at least for the present season is to once again be a caterer, to once again pour my heart and soul into Tallahassee area catered functions.
I thank you for your love and support and I ask you to support me in this exciting new catering journey by visiting my catering website where I've poured my creative energy into posting menus, prices and lots of cool information.
Canopy Rose Catering New Website
If you've followed the Entertaining With Kathi newspaper column... THANK YOU!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Kathi Dameron, owns Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
To reserve a copy, please send an email to email@example.com with your contact information and a request to be notified when the books are in.
Kathi's new book will be available in 2009. We anticipate that this book will be a popular Christmas gift item for Christmas 2009 among our many faithful readers.
The "Entertaining with Kathi" column runs every other week in the Northeast Chronicle, a community publication of the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.
The column is also being made available for newspapers and magazines to purchase. To discuss running "Entertaining with Kathi" in your publication, contact Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio & Catering Company at 850-539-7750.
Thanks for reading "Entertaining with Kathi!"
(For obvious reasons, the articles are no longer being posted on this site. However, you can still read them every other week in the newspaper.)
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Enjoy Old-World Flavor With This Delicious Fidget Pie
By Kathi Dameron ~ ENTERTAINING WITH KATHI
"Kathi, when you get to England, make sure and find some Fidget Pie," a family friend suggested. For weeks, family friends had been offering up a queue of must-do tips and suggestions for my overseas student-teaching assignment. Ah, now here was a tip that I could sink my teeth into, I mused.
"Fidget Pie? What is Fidget Pie?" I asked the high-school English Lit teacher who offered the suggestion.
As visions of something plump, sweet and fudgy danced on my taste buds, the lit teacher reveled in the teachable moment.
I would soon learn that Fidget Pie wasn't the sweet confection I had imagined at all, but rather it was a lovely old-fashioned savory pie eaten as a main course. Being true to her profession, the teacher wove an amusing lesson into our conversation and left me hungering not only to taste Fidget Pie but also to brush up on my English literature, as well.
This merry Old English dish was so popular and beloved, that Charles Dickens was said to have written this when he received one as a gift: "It was no sooner brought into my room than I fainted away It prevents me from writing at any length, as my faculties are absorbed in crust."
"Ok, I'll make it my mission to find the best tasting Fidget Pie in London!" I assured her.
Arriving in London in January, during an especially cold and damp winter, my hunt for the best tasting Fidget Pie proved to be a smart, cold-weather sustainer. I don't know that I ever actually judged one to be the best. The different versions that I had the great opportunity to partake of all proved to be mighty fine tasting! Looking back I would venture so far as to say that Fidget Pie is indeed one of Great Britain's finest contributions to the culinary world.
With the recent dip in temperatures and the large blocks of time I'm spending these days in the quaint old-fashioned town of Havana, my thoughts have returned to Januarys past and to the time-honored foods of by-gone eras. It didn't take long for the lingering memories of this Old English treat to inspire my pen or my taste buds. As not to "faint away and have my faculties absorbed in crust," as Dickens would say, I've elected to write first, then cook.
If you are looking to cook up something wonderful this winter with some deep soul-nurturing goodness, and don't mind laboring for a while in the kitchen with your rolling pin an Old Fashioned Fidget Pie will be well worth the effort. Who knows maybe you'll like it so much that you'll depart on your own mission to uncover your most favorite Fidget Pie recipe. This particular recipe joins together ham, potatoes, onions, leeks and apples inside a rich, buttery pastry crust. But all sorts of other combinations could be concocted, just engage your imagination!
Old Fashioned Fidget Pie
1 pound potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced, sea salt, pepper and Lawry's Seasoning Salt to taste
1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
one-half teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
12 oz. Black Forest Ham, cooked and diced
2 small onions, thinly sliced
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 pound cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 and one-quarter cups home-made chicken broth
home-made or store-bought pastry for a single crust 9 inch pie
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a 2-quart souffle dish.
2. Layer potatoes in the bottom of casserole. Lightly season as you go. Layer ham, onions, leeks and apples. Top with chicken broth.
3. Roll out pastry on a floured board to a one fourth inch thickness. Fit the pastry over the filled soufflé dish. Seal and flute the edges. Cut a decorative hole in the center to allow the steam to escape. Add decorative pastry embellishments.
4. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
5. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 more minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden and the potatoes are tender.
Kathi Dameron is a caterer, special event designer, food writer and teacher of cooking classes. She owns Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 850-539-7750.
This article originally appeared in the Northeast Chronicle, a community publication of the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper. The Entertaining with Kathi column comes out every other Wednesday.
Tags: Tallahassee, Havana, Thomasville, Bainbridge, Monticello, St. George Island, Wakulla, Crawfordville, St. Marks, North Florida, South Georgia, Leon, Gadsden, Jefferson, Franklin, Bay, Thomas County, special events, weddings, rehearsal dinners, receptions, parties, gourmet, food, office luncheons, corporate, legislative, Chamber of Commerce Business Member, Licensed, Insured, Banquet Room, Day on the Hill, Session, food purveyor, buffet lunch, box lunches, grand openings, ribbon cutting ceremony, bill signing reception, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, black-tie galas, food tourism, international cooking classes, personal chef, instructor, cookery school, food stylist.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"Let These Home-Made Treats Help Sweeten Your Holidays"
By Kathi Dameron
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse, when momma awoke and slipped into her fur-trimmed robe and tip-toed to the kitchen for a time-honored tradition.
With husband and young ones still deep in their slumber, Momma carefully reached into her china cupboard to retrieve her vintage Victorian cocoa pot and mugs.
While outdoors the polar-esque winds of winter blew and icy negligees of frozen rain blanketed the peripheral gardens, indoors the kitchen was warm and toasty and fragrant with the aroma of Pecan Stuffed French Toast With Honey Nut Butter and the seasonal splurge of a lovingly brewed pot of hot cocoa with old-fashioned homemade marshmallows.
Rich frothy hot chocolate, decadent French toast and the opening of Christmas presents around a beautifully adorned and illuminated evergreen tree sing of the sweet joy of Christmas morning.
For Christmas morning, Christmas Eve or to warm a group of holiday carolers; a well-brewed pot of Hot Cocoa will delight the spirit and warm the soul. My recipe for hot cocoa has a couple of special twists. Rather than the standard dark chocolate, I’ve opted for a white chocolate with a jolt of java added. Instead of the usual packaged rubbery marshmallows, my recipe includes the how to directions for creating your very own homemade marshmallows like the ones made in days of long ago.
Frothy White Hot Chocolate Cappuccino (Serves 2)
1 cup steamed milk
2 tablespoons espresso
4-oz White Chocolate, melted
one-half teaspoon sugar
a dusting of cinnamon
white chocolate garnish of curls or shavings
2 cinnamon sticks
Pour steamed milk, espresso and melted white chocolate together. Stir well. Sprinkle top with sugar, cinnamon, homemade marshmallows and white chocolate garnish. Add cinnamon stick to be used as a fragrant stirrer.
Old Fashioned Home-made Marshmallows
3 packages Knox Unflavored Gelatin made with one half cup ice cold water
one and one half cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
one quarter teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the unflavored gelatin with one half-cup ice cold water in an electric mixer. Set aside.
Mix together sugar, corn syrup, salt and one half-cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar melts. Increase temperature, insert candy thermometer and cook the syrup until it reaches 240 degrees.
Slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture. Mix well then increase to high speed for about 15 minutes. Whip the mixture until it is very thick. Add vanilla, mixing well.
Dust a glass, baking dish with confectioners’ sugar.
Pour marshmallow mixture into pan. Smooth the top and dust with additional confectioners’ sugar. Let dry out over night at room temperature.
Cut in squares and dust with additional confectioners’ sugar.
Pecan Stuffed French Toast with Honey Nut Butter
From the Chicago Pike Inn, a Bed and Breakfast in Coldwater, Michigan comes this Christmas morning indulgence.
4 oz. cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons pecans, chopped
1 loaf day old French bread, unsliced
one quarter cup milk
cinnamon or nutmeg
Honey Nut Butter:
One third cup pecans, chopped
One half cup butter
One quarter cup honey
French Toast: Blend cream cheese, vanilla, nuts and only one tablespoon of sugar.
Slice bread into one and one-half inch slices. Don’t use ends. (You should have about 16 slices bread.) Slice a pocket across the top to make a pocket to stuff with one tablespoon of cream cheese mixture. Mix eggs, milk the other one tablespoon of sugar. Dip bread into mixture and fry or grill in melted shortening. (It also works to bake it in the oven, flipping bread slices to bake on both sides.) Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg. Use the following honey nut butter to pour over the top of the French toast.
Honey Nut Butter:
Mix nuts with butter and honey till well blended. Heat mixture till warm and the consistency of syrup. Makes 1 cup.
The edited version of this article appeared in the Northeast Chronicle, a publication of the Tallahassee Democrat.
Kathi Dameron is a caterer, special event designer, food writer and teacher of cooking classes. She owns Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 850-539-7750
“This is a Chocolate Kahlua Croquembouche for tonight’s Christmas Party.” I responded with the pride of a pastry chef.
“It is beautiful! I’ve never seen anything like it! I sure would love to learn to make one!” She said as I showed her the sketch of the Holiday Pastry Stations that we would be creating for the festive corporate soiree we were catering for 300 guests.
The croquembouche was the centerpiece in a round trio table presentation, anchored by heavenly Chocolate Buche De Noel Yule Logs and elegant displays of bite-size Christmas-time confections. To complete the look, the tables were elaborately adorned with festive gold lame fabrics, bejeweled holiday trims and candlelight to create a vision of seasonal splendor.
My interpretation of a Holiday Croquembouche is made with one of my favorite holiday indulgences- Chocolate Pecan Kahlua Balls. The process is similar to making a traditional croquembouche, except I substituted the standard vanilla crème patisserie cream puffs and obliterated the need for the traditional sword that usually accompanies a Croquembouche.
Creative license in the kitchen is a good thing! By tweaking an age-old design with a flourish of culinary artistry, you can build a rich and spirited holiday confection that kindles the senses and ignites the oohs and ahs! You will find that this treat towers above and beyond the same ole, same ole Christmas party fare and will speak volumes about the caliber of party you throw! If you are anything like me, you want to serve food at your soirees that is beautiful, delicious and different from the food being served at every other party.
Chocolate Pecan Kahlua Balls
One half cup Kahlua
0ne fourth cup light corn syrup
one third cup candied cherries, chopped
one third cup golden raisins, chopped
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
one half cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 and one half cups vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped fine
1 cups pecans, finely chopped
For Rolling: powdered sugar, cocoa powder, coconut, chopped nuts
Combine kahlua with syrup and fruits. Blend sugar, cocoa, crumbs and pecans. Combine mixtures, Shape into small balls. Roll in desired coating. Freeze or store in an airtight container.
This recipe yields about 4 dozen balls or enough for a small croquembouche. Multiply the recipe accordingly as needed.
To Assemble A Holiday Croquembouche
Styrofoam Cylinder Cone
Bittersweet Chocolate, melted
Brush cone with melted chocolate in 2-inch wide strips down the length of the cone.
Wrap waxed paper around cone. Completely cover cone, letting the chocolate serve as your adhesive.
Place cone on a platter.
Holding toothpick at an angle, press two-thirds of the toothpick into the cone. Press Chocolate Pecan Kahlua Ball onto toothpick.
Repeat, working in a spiral-like design toward the top of the cone.
Dress your pyramid and dessert platter with strands of spun sugar and marzipan roses.
This article originally appeared in the Entertaining with Kathi newspaper column that runs every other week in the Northeast Chronicle, a publication of the Tallahassee Democrat.
Kathi Dameron is a caterer, special event designer, food writer and teacher of cooking classes. She owns Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company in Havana, Florida. She can be reached at 850-539-7750 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Fresh Harvested Pecans” the sign read.
I couldn’t resist the temptation! I skidded on the brakes and maneuvered my vehicle into the crunchy, graveled parking lot of the roadside stand.
The sound of a shelling machine deafened the air.
“When did you start harvesting?” I asked the farmer.
“About a month ago….” he said before we trailed off in conversation about Gin Creek.
“I’ll take a five pound bag.” I said. But I probably should have gone for the fifty-pounder. With the holiday season coming and the launch of my new culinary arts studio and catering company, I’m sure to run through some pecans pretty quick.
Toting my bag, I returned to the car and headed south for the final stretch of my days adventure. I was thrilled. I had a regional culinary treasure to tote back to Tallahassee! Pecan recipes began sifting through my imagination alongside the captured memories of the afternoon.
Caramelized Pecan Oven-Fried Chicken…
Meeting with the plumber and electrician in Havana.
Marshmallow Pecan Divinity…
Getting lost beside South Georgia cotton fields.
Pecan Turkey Dressing…
Summoning patience while driving behind a colorful poultry housekeeper wagon that slowed the traffic.
Accepting coffee and directions from a kind-hearted transplanted grandfatherly Indian Inn Keeper in Bainbridge.
Dreamy Plantation Pecan Pie
Visiting Gin Creek and seeing the setting and vision for dream wedding receptions.
Caramel Apple Pecan Cake….
A delicious cake I tasted this year at a Halloween Party in Havana. The rich, wholesome flavor still lingers in memory, tempting me to create a similar version to send to my long –distance family for a Thanksgiving present.
Pecan Date Loaf Candy….
Memories of a friends heirloom holiday recipe resurfaced.
Bingo! Not only had I accomplished my mission of exploring the logistics of catering an upcoming wedding at Gin Creek, the day’s jaunt also provided an idea and recipe inspiration for today’s column...Pecan Date Loaf Candy . It is an absolutely amazing holiday treat!
Ten years ago a friend shared this recipe with me. He had invited me over to his new home in Lafayette Oaks. By moonlight and flashlight, we stalked the collard green patch. He filled shopping bags full of big, beautiful deep green ruffled leaves for me to use for my catering. No I didn’t chop them and cook them with ham hocks. But instead I used them as an edible signature liner for Canopy Rose party platters. It was on that same evening I was introduced to one of the most delicious Holiday confections I have ever put in my mouth.
But be forewarned, once you taste these treasures you just might not be able to resist the temptation to over-indulge.
Ozark Pecan Date Loaf Candy
3 cups sugar
1 package dates, chopped
1 cup canned evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons butter
one half cup white Karo syrup
1 cup chopped pecans
one eight teaspoon salt
Combine sugar, milk, butter, Karo syrup and salt. Blend until smooth.
Cook to 230 degrees, then remove from heat and add dates, pecans and vanilla. You must use a candy thermometer. It will make a huge difference in obtaining the correct consistence for the candy.
Beat until creamy and thick.
Pour onto a clean damp tea towel.
Make roll one and one-half inches in diameter, put aside or refrigerate until cool.
Break into bite size pieces and store in pretty air-tight holiday tins.
Kathi Dameron is up to her taste buds in setting up the new Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio and Catering Company for the 2007 Holiday Party Season. She can be reached at 850-539-7750 or at www.canopyrose.com
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
New Season Brings New Adventures
By Kathi Dameron
A new food business is opening up in the Tallahassee area, and I've got the inside scoop.
Twelve miles outside of town, in the quaint historic town of Havana, a beautiful old building is being refashioned into a unique culinary-arts studio that will feature a diverse menu of creative food events, cooking classes and professional collaborations.
The cuisine de jour of this new adventure will be based on some eclectic flavor-jaunting around the globe. For good measure, regional twists and gracious purposes will be added to the mix to infuse an uncommon flavor. Sound familiar?
Actually, I've got the exclusive on this story because this new culinary venture is my brainchild.
It's amazing how things evolve over time when we embark on a journey. We can't ever really know at the onset where the journey will eventually lead us. I didn't realize when I first started writing this food and entertaining column in May of 2006 that an unquenchable creative thirst in my spirit would spring to life and give way to a blazing desire to branch out in new directions in the field of culinary arts.
But that is exactly what has happened. Writing this column has in some inexplicable way reconnected me with the girl I once was - an intermittently shy girl who dreamed big dreams, who believed her daddy every time he told her that she could be whatever she wanted to be in life as long as she was willing to work hard enough at it and trust the music that played in her own soul.
Writing this column has been a labor of love for me. I hope that you will continue to want to read Entertaining with Kathi as much as I want to continue to pen it. I have big plans for the future, and I want you all to be a part of the exciting things to come!
First on the drawing board is a series of make-and-take workshops. Very fun! Very hands-on!
Cooking class parties, team-building events, evenings of dialogue, guest-chef collaborations and culinary jaunts to far-away destinations are a few of the other plans in the works for this new food business.
A Gala Grand Opening Celebration is being planned for after the holidays. In the meantime, the space will serve as a unique rental venue for private holiday gatherings, wedding rehearsal dinners, classes, seminars and workshops. So, if you are looking for a great place to hold your next special event, call me, and let's powwow!
Speaking about powwowing, November is the perfect time to gather your friends near a crackling fire for an evening of delicious seasonal dining.
Why not kick-off your dinner soiree with a yummy, savory brew of curried-pumpkin and toasted-almond soup topped with a sprinkling of smoky bacon and the sweet, crispy bite of orange-cinnamon croutons. Ah, here you have the quintessential first course for an elegant November supper.
Curried Pumpkin & Toasted Almond Soup with Orange Cinnamon Honey Crispies
1. Whip up your favorite pumpkin soup recipe. Add finely ground almonds.
2. Cook up a few strips of bacon. Crumble and set aside.
3. Drizzle honey, cinnamon and orange juice over diced bread bites and toast in a 350-degree oven till crisp and golden. Stirring occasionally.
4. Ladle soup into individual hollowed-out mini-pumpkins. Top with crumbled bacon, chopped green onions and croutons.
Serve with a hot from the oven home-made loaf of bread with herb-spiked olive oil, a mixed-greens, main-course salad with grilled chicken, Gorgonzola, green apple, sun-dried cranberries and caramelized pumpkin-seed brittle drizzled with a Florida peppered-tangerine vinaigrette. For a show-stopping seasonal dessert, autumn lacquered pears or a Vermont apple crisp with hand-churned, vanilla-bean or pralines-and-cream ice cream drizzled with hot caramel sauce will add a delightful finishing touch.
Kathi Dameron is a caterer, special event designer, food writer and chef-instructor. She was the founder and chef-owner of the legendary Canopy Rose Cafe and Catering Company that catered to the Who's Who of Florida for many years. She took a sabbatical of sorts for a few years from catering, to work on writing projects and hone her skills in public relations, marketing and branding. During this time she founded Kathi Dameron and Associates, a boutique consulting business that offers creative out-of-the-box services to other businesses. The offices for Kathi Dameron and Associates will be relocating to the beautiful Canopy Rose Culinary Arts Studio when it opens for the 2007 Holidays. Need catering? Full-service custom catering services will once again be offered! Check out some of our menus.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
By Kathi Dameron
A frightfully good Halloween Party was the heady brew bubbling in the cauldron of my imagination.
My vision was to concoct a zany recipe for a weird and wonderful party that would be cutting edge and in-step with the times.
In a moment of serendipity, the contemporary newsworthy expression “Hasta La Vista Baby To Greenhouse Gases…” from the lips of THE TERMINATOR popped across my imagination and I was off and stirring with a ghoulish idea.
Co-mingling current affairs with thought-provoking art is an idea that I first tasted during my impressionable forays into the avant garde New York City design world of the late 1970’s. Showcasing the noble and worthy through the artistic, the fun and even the outrageous is a tasteful strategy for drawing attention to a worthwhile cause. In my book, the future of our environment qualifies as an important cause to be embraced.
So for a Halloween soiree- why not transform the front yard into a creepy and foggy cemetery. On gray headstones, global warming messages could be painted in shaky blood-red lettering while rented fog machines could create the eerie effects of smoke and smog.
Halloween is indeed the perfect time to throw an all out crazy palooza! For Halloween gives us the opportunity to do the otherwise insane.
But instead of being crazy, the party theme and menu would be very sane for it would showcase the epitome of environmentally conscious entertaining.
We are talking eco-chic soirees, here. My conscious shudders with guilt over the many times that parties I hosted or catered over the years were anything but eco-chic. But hey we all make mistakes, and some of us, yours truly included, might have a tendency to arrive fashionably late.
The good news is… it’s not too late to clean up our act and get moving forward on an ecologically chic pathway.
So where would we begin? How would one go about throwing an environmentally conscious party? It begins in the planning process when a conscience decision is made to only do that which is good for the environment and reject that which is destructive.
How To Throw An Eco-Chic Party
1. Invitations - Whenever possible opt for post-consumer recycled paper and soy ink or even send a digital invitation. Did you know that there are free online invitation services?
2. Tabletop Dishes – Use the real thing. It is so much nicer to eat off real dishes with real silverware anyway. Beverages also always taste better in nice glassware. If you must use disposable products, then choose products that are recyclable, biodegradable and made from unbleached materials.
3. Candles – Dim the lights and use nontoxic, beeswax or soy-based, petroleum-free candles. If you have a collection of half-burned candles, recycle them by melting them together and re pouring them into old jelly jars to create new candles.
4. Food- Think local! Plan your menu around seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Support our local farmers.
5. Serving Dishes-Use natural containers for your food. At Halloween, pumpkins are great as a wonderful and whimsical dual purpose soup tureen or dip container.
6. Leftovers- Donate excessive left over food to the food bank or send guests home with food!
7. Garbage- Make it easy on your guests to recycle. Set up separate recycle bins near the garbage.
8. Transportation- Encourage guests to carpool.
9. Clean-Up- Use non-toxic planet friendly cleaners.
10. Menu Ideas – Attend one of my eco-chic cooking classes for delicious and regionally inspired green party menus.
This article was originally submitted to the Northeast Chronicle, a community publication of the Tallahassee Democrat for the October 25, 2007 "Entertaining with Kathi" food and entertaining column.
Kathi Dameron teaches Make and Take Cooking Workshops. To request a cooking class schedule contact Kathi at 850-422-3599 or at email@example.com
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
“I suspect you are a real connoisseur of buckshot speckled-delights,” I responded. “Sounds like a plan. How about I drive up after church?”
“Make sure and wear your jeans; no one dresses up on this ranch. Do you own cowboy boots?”
“Absolutely! I've been around ranches in my life. I'm a cowgirl from way back."
“Good. I'll take you out riding on the trails.”
“Can I bring something?”
“No, no, no. We don't need any of those chlorophyll leaves you city folks call food. You just bring yourself. I'll handle the provisions.”
Being the foodie that I am, I couldn't help but to ponder what sort of meal this bachelor beau would be cooking for a former caterer. Rich, hunteresque flavors rustled my taste buds as I reminisced about wild-game meals I had enjoyed in years past while growing up with a dad who enjoyed autumn hunts with his ranching buddies and who always kept the family's freezer well stocked with sides of beef and wild caches of pheasant, duck and deer. It had been a long time since I'd dined with a hunter. I couldn't wait.
“If this dinner tastes as good as it looks and smells, I'll be dreaming of buck-shot meats for a long time. I hope you'll share at least one recipe with me.”
“Maybe one,” he said with a wink as he raised his glass and toasted the animals for their lives.
“I don't know that I want you putting my recipes in your newspaper column or anything. These recipes have been handed down in my family for generations. In fact, we keep copies in the bank vault,” he said as he puffed out his chest with generational pride, while cautiously carving the crisp, golden roasted venison.
“So, what is your secret?” I asked.
“Kathi, one of the secrets to great tasting game is to marinate it for a couple days.”
There you have it, from the mouth of a shotgun-shooting and card-carrying outdoors man who knows how to cook what he hunts and how to hunt for what he eats.
Maybe one of the best parts of eating a wild game dinner with the hunter himself is witnessing the hunter's delight in reliving the experience of hunting that meal. You almost feel as if you are in the field at sunrise with him in the company of his good friends, faced with the challenge and about to be tested to the limit.
I learned something from this meal and from the wisdom gleaned that hunting for one's food is about so much more than what it appears to be on the surface. It's about an intimate relationship between man and his food source, and it's about putting a delicious meal on the table. It is also about carrying on an age-old tradition of human survival - perhaps even today it is still an important skill. With the cost of meat from a butcher in the double digits, hunting starts to look more and more like a desirable and affordable solution for dining on real food.
This article was originally published in the Entertaining with Kathi column in the Northeast Chronicle- a community publication of the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper published on Oct 10, 2007.
Kathi Dameron is a Tallahassee, Florida based food writer and food publicist. She teaches culinary arts, entertaining and crafting classes for locals and visitors to the North Florida, Panhandle and South Georgia geographic region. Learn more about the scope of these classes
plus other services provided by Kathi Dameron & Associates at http://www.kathidameron.com/
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Giving Amsterdam A Down-Home Flair or AKA My Le Quack Duck Story
By Kathi Dameron ( A Florida food writer and culinary artist who use to cater big fancy parties but now writes about food and teaches cooking classes in North Florida and South Georgia.)
Whoosh! The cars whipped past us as we voyaged through the city of watery reflections.
“Watch the pothole!” Beth barked. “Pay attention and don't shilly-shally! We are going to turn at the next street.”
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom. The motorcars zipped down the street.
“If I survive this, it will be a miraclem” I mumbled as I crossed through the mirror.
Somehow by the grace of God, we arrived at our destination. As we parked, the pint-sized, kangaroo-pouched adoptive mother of two hopped off her bike to remove her toddler from the back seat.
Beth, my step-sister, had been trying to teach me street smarts ever since our parents had stitched our two families together, during a season when she was a graduate student in Bologna, Italy, and I was a college freshman in Podunk, middle America. A good 10- or 12-year span had passed in the interim.
“Kathi, what were you afraid of?” Beth snapped with her standing-on-tip toes-know-it-all attitude that could either stretch you or shrink you, depending on your openness or resistance.
“You can't come to Amsterdam and not ride bikes. It's the quintessential Dutch experience. Everyone does it.”
“I didn't come all this way to get crushed to death,” I wanted to say, but the sight before me took my breath away.
We had arrived at the famous floating flower market.
That night as the spell of moonlight pulled its shade of darkness over the day, I dined on one of the most incredibly delicious appetizers I had ever put in my mouth.
I ordered Peking duck at the restaurant my Dutch brother-in-law declared as Amsterdam's best eatery (and probably it's most expensive, too). The crisp duck, green-onion fans and hoisin sauce wrapped up in tiny blankets of mandarin pancakes were worth every penny.
Years later, I prepared this dish for a sophisticated catered event I did at a Thomasville, Ga., plantation. On the menu and monogrammed entree card, I named the dish Le Quack Duck. These delicate crepes were a huge hit with the game-loving crowd, for I had taken the traditional dish and tweaked it with Georgia flavors. Caramelized Georgia pecans and a peachy hoisin glaze brought the dish home and gave it a taste of regional relevance.
Le Quack Duck
Hoisin sauce mixed with diced peaches
Green onion fans
Crispy roasted duck
Smear peach hoisin sauce over crepe. Place one or two green onion fans, 2-3 slices crisp roasted duck and caramelized pecans on the crepe. Take one side of the crepe and fold it into the middle, take the opposite half and fold it to meet the other, then take one unfolded side and fold it in half.
To learn about the step-by-step process involved in making Le Quack Duck and other great tasting recipes by Florida Chef Kathi Dameron, visit http://www.kathidameron.com/
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
“Bring me a fire extinguisher!” demanded the crooked-toothed ex basketball player with the southern drawl, his hands waving in wild pursuit as he tried to fan his flaming mouth.
But long before he uttered the last syllables, the explosive burst of heat surely vanished leaving a nice lingering taste on his palate. Mischievous crinkles returned to his face as the soothing serenade of Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune reasserted its beautiful, lyrical resonance in the serene seaside setting.
“What in the world did you put in that sauce? Gunpowder?” He asked with a look of toothsome puzzlement painted on his face.
“Pretty intense, huh?” I chuckled. “Nothing like spicing up a meal with a little Japanese horseradish.”
“Japanese horseradish? Where do you come up with these things, Kathi? Why can’t you just learn how to cook like a good lil’ southern gal? I was thinking we would have some chicken fried steak, fried okra and pressure cooker green beans with ham hocks tonight when you said you were cooking up a special dinner. But instead we are off on another one of your exotic culinary adventures. Do you suppose we could have a little red-eye gravy with this dim-sum?”
“Oh shut up and eat!” I said as I pushed a shrimp tempura into his bushy demarcated mouth.
“This is actually some good-tasting stuff. I like the green sauce, too. Never a dull moment around here,” he said.
He was right about that!
As we dined on crispy, succulent bites of seafood and vegetable tempura in a haiku-like garden setting of hibiscus and night-blooming jasmine, I told the GRITS-lovin’ man about the wonders of wasabi.
For an adventurous duo, a tempura party can be a gastronomic ticket for a delicious and unforgettable evening that bursts onto the taste buds in an exquisite cascade of flavors. The true secret to exceptional flavoring in an Oriental-themed meal is to cover each of the flavor bases. You need the sweet and spicy, the salty, the sour and the sublime, all balanced together in a beautifully brewed alchemy of taste.
Where to begin?
1. Set the stage. Japanese food is about creating an experience unlike any other. Think kimonos, paper lanterns, chopsticks, sleek callas, cherry blossoms or orchids. Color coordinate in plums, boysenberry, cherry, black and white. Pop it with a dab of green.
2. For food think tempura, sushi, sukiyaki or yakitori. Serve a light elegant soup in lotus bowls and delicate ginger-laced salads on black lacquered four-pointed plates.
3. Don’t forget warm floral-infused fingertip towels or scented finger bowls, eating on cushions and international music to cast a spell of serenity and elegance.
4. Oops! Don’t make my mistake! It is always smart to pre-warn your dinner companions about super hot flavors!
Wasabi is a delightful sauce for so many different foods, from the traditional Japanese dishes to trendy fusions that can bring together unlikely cultures in exciting and innovative ways.
Why not do a Wasabi Gulf Coast Shrimp Cocktail on a puddle of stone ground cheese grits and frizzled leaks?
My vision is to slow roast some good southern stone ground grits with chicken broth, Vidalia onions and garlic. Stir in a liberal dash of sweet butter, heavy cream, hand-shredded Vermont cheddar and chives.
Now here’s the fun part. Serve this dish in a martini glass! A mound of your steamy cheese grits, a dollop or drizzle of wasabi, some wild frizzled leeks, and the crunch of shrimp tempura and I believe you have a dish worthy of any GRITS-lovin’ guest anywhere.
Kathi Dameron cooks up delicious culinary collaborations, many with an international and fusion flavor, that marries her local and regional sun-kissed Florida cuisine with far-flung flavors from around the globe. She is a food / travel writer, food publicist, culinary arts professional, former caterer and CEO of Kathi Dameron & Associates. She is available on a contract basis to promote food, tourism and trade in America and beyond. Need a travel destination writer? Looking for innovative ways to foster world peace and cultural awareness? Looking for a dynamic synergistic link for your next trade mission... call Kathi Dameron and Associates (850) 422-3599.
This article was originally published on September 13, 2007 in the Northeast Chronicle, a community publication of the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
“Great Gatsby! Inspirations and ideas are everywhere!” I said to my New Yawker bud who had joined me that Saturday morning for an antique jaunt through the shops of Havana.
Within minutes a vision for an elegant “Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams” soiree bloomed in my imagination. I could see the classic motorcars arriving, the chic 1920’s attire, the tented pavilions and the dining and dancing by the shore in an over-the-top evening of glamour fashioned in the delicious decadence of a Great Gatsby style party.
What could be more fun than a garden party for a good cause that whisks guests to a golden era when flirting and small talk was an art and wearing the perfect apparel was a necessity?
Beginning with a champagne reception in the garden with crystal flutes of Perrier Jouet champagne, butler-served blini with caviar and a magnificent fruits de mere display with bejeweled treasures from the sea and magically flavored-sauces from the workshop of a culinary artist, here-in lies the perfect launch for an evening splashing with sophistication and popping with purpose.
At the appointed hour the guests would retreat to the tented pavilion for a plated sit-down dinner served by white-gloved attendants while a full orchestra provides musical refreshment.
The evening concludes in the wee hours of the morning after hours of dancing and indulging in an ornate Death-By-Chocolate Dessert Buffet and free-flowing coffee bar.
Here you have a soiree that your guests will revel in partaking of and graciously swing open their checkbooks in support of the charity or foundation of your choice.
Go ahead make it over the top! But make it for a cause that will serve a higher purpose. For what could be more delicious than passing on a small portion of your blessings to an organization that can accomplish mighty things with your gift? The season of fund-raising is approaching and our community’s needs are many. Novel ideas and inspirations are everywhere, from vintage treasures to the latest craze.
Yukon Gold Potato Blini
Light, creamy and refined blini offer a most elegant way to begin a feast. These melt-in-your-mouth treasures can be adorned with a wonderful and eclectic flourish of toppings. From the simplicity of caviar or jewels of the sea, to tiny exquisite bites from nature’s bounty, blini are indeed the ultimate edible mini canvas for culinary creativity.
For a basic how-to recipe I consulted The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. If you are not familiar with The French Laundry, you should be! The French Laundry is considered one of the top restaurants in America and for very good reason. The food is absolutely exquisite. But if a jaunt to California is not on the horizon anytime soon, The French Laundry Cookbook can be the next best thing. Published by Artisan in 1999, Chef Thomas Keller shares some of his delicious culinary secrets with the world.
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes2 tablespoons all-purpose flour2 to 3 tablespoons crème fraîche, at room temperature2 large eggs1 large egg yolkKosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
Place the potatoes in a saucepan with cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are thoroughly cooked and tender.
Peel the warm potatoes and press them through a tamis. Immediately weigh out 9 ounces of puréed potatoes and place them in a medium metal bowl. Working quickly, whisk the flour into the warm potatoes, then whisk in 2 tablespoons crème fraîche. Add 1 egg, whisking until the batter is smooth, add the second egg, and then add the yolk.
Hold the whisk with some of the batter over the bowl. The batter should fall in a thick stream but hold its shape when it hits the batter in the bowl. If it is too thick, add a little more ore me fraîche. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees F. Note, if you do not have a griddle, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Spoon between 1 and 1-1/2 teaspoons of batter onto the griddle or skillet for each pancake. Cook until the bottoms are browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Then flip them to cook the second side, about 1 minute. The blini should be evenly browned with a small ring of white around the edges. Transfer the blini to a small baking sheet and keep warm while you make the remaining blini, wiping the skillet with a paper towel between batches. Serve the blini as soon as possible.
Kathi Dameron cooks up culinary collaborations. She is a culinary arts professional, food writer, former caterer and CEO of Kathi Dameron & Associates.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
By Kathi Dameron
It was a “fun, fun, fun till daddy takes the T-bird away” sort of August weekend. Riding dune buggies, hang-gliding, and sipping Strawberry Hill watermelon shooters at the Michigan Dunes was the sort of thing that Chicago-area teenagers with automobiles did to entertain themselves in the lazy summer days of the early 1970s.
“You're grounded until you are 35, young lady!” the words shot across the room.
“But daddy, what about the concert? You said I could go to it.”
Flashing me a thunderous look, I knew I was hang gliding over a watershed and heading into the eye of a twister.
“Daddy. I'm sorry,” I said with a signature roll of my eyes.
"Katherine Anne, if you were sorry, you wouldn't have done it in the first place. You can forget going to that concert.”
The telephone rang and, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, my angry dad morphed into the gregarious BJ: “Rearing Katherine is a real challenge,” he chuckled with whomever was on the other end.
“Rearing Father is a real challenge,” I mumbled under my breath as I stormed out of the kitchen and retreated to the safe harbor of my diary.
Like driftwood washed ashore on the beach, so lay the visions of the previous night's dune dance and dinner, where spiked watermelon, grilled bratwurst and forbidden Strawberry Hill was on the menu. When we stashed the empty bottles of Boone's Farm, I didn't realize that they would end up in my picnic basket as incriminating evidence.
“So what are your plans tonight?” he asked.
“What?" I said, scrunching my face at the absurdity of the question. In 30 minutes' time, my dad had forgotten that he had just grounded me for life. Maybe he was going to let me go to the concert after all.
“No more Boone's Farm, OK?” he said with a look of deep concern on his face.
“Sure dad. It didn't taste all that good anyway. I'd rather have a chocolate milkshake any day.”
The taste that was actually the most memorable was the mixed grill, skewered on big shish-kebab rods and roasted over a sizzling bonfire, then eaten inside a chewy Sheboygan bun slathered with German mustard.
The region I grew up in was well-known for the best sausage dogs in the world. From June through September, bratwurst and its culinary cousins were the popular stars of outdoor cookery.
Whether prepared individually or in mixed grills that combine the tastes of bratwurst, thurman, Vienna, Polish and all-beef kosher hot dogs - this simple menu is perfect for casual summer shindigs that are sure to please the inner teenager.
To the menu add some garlic smashed-potato salad or the simplicity of bagged chips, a crisp salad, ice-cold watermelon boats and other favorites for a "Fun, Fun, Fun Till Daddy Takes The T-Bird Away Feast."
If you want to create the drama of letting your guests cook their bratwurst over an open blaze, I would recommend that you par boil the sausages first. This way you can be assured that the sausages will be completely cooked throughout. The last thing you want is for someone to bite into a raw center. Then, proceed as follows.
1. Fill a pot with plenty of beer or water, add some coarsely chopped onions, drop in the sausages and simmer over a low heat. Whatever you do, don't boil them! Boiling will cause the casings to burst and the delicious flavor within to be lost.
2. At the appointed hour, grill the the brats over the fire. When cooked to perfection, slide the sausage into a big fire-toasted Bavarian-style semmel roll and add Dijon or German mustard and your favorite condiments.
Kathi Dameron is a food and entertaining memoirist, culinary arts professional, food stylist, freelance writer, corporate blogger, newspaper columnist, and former caterer and special event designer. She is the CEO of Kathi Dameron and Associates, a consulting company that specializes in culinary collaborations. Her "Entertaining with Kathi" column runs in the Northeast Chronicle, a bi-weekly publication of the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper (Gannett) in Tallahassee, Florida.
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Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Here is the original, unedited version of the "Entertaining with Kathi" column for August 2, 2007 by Tallahassee Florida food writer, Kathi Dameron. As is often the case, the newspaper has trimmed bits and pieces of the article. For example they cut the sentence, "For extra pizzazz, flambé the caramelized sauce or simply add a few sparklers."
You can read the article exactly as I wrote it right here at this blog. The newspaper slugged the article with the title, "Dessert that's perfect for a lazy sundae afternoon." While this is not my idea of a great title, it works and at the moment I can't think of anything any better. So I'll just go with that title here, too. If you want to read the edited version, you can find it at the website for the Tallahassee Democrat. Simply click on the Northeast Chronicle link and scroll down. It will only stay active there until it is replaced by the next issue in two weeks. However, it will remain active on the Internet a bit longer. I like to post the articles on this blog, so that they will remain available on the Internet for indefinite viewing. Please feel free to comment. I love hearing from readers with questions, comments and kudos!
Dessert That's Perfect For A Lazy Sundae Afternoon
By Kathi Dameron
“Pack your beach skivvies and sarongs in your skiff and join us on the high seas for a Bound For Ithaka Treasure Hunt / Boating Regatta Party. What could be more fun than a full day of sparkling seaside spontaneity from sunshine to starlight?” The burnished treasure map invitation read.
This rocking revelry on the waves of the Florida Intercoastal Waterway was a party that brought together sailboats, speedboats, a treasure hunt, good friends, fabulous food and million dollar moments.
Part of the inspiration came from the enchanting poem “Ithaka,” written in 1911 by the Greek poet C.P. Cavafy. The other part came from the “just another day in paradise” lifestyle that defined living on Florida’s Hutchinson Island back in the 1980’s – during a time when Mel Fisher’s Treasure Hunt Adventures filled the news and stirred the imagination.
Hidden behind a jumble of prickly purple bougainvillea that separated the vaulted screened-in swimming pool from the sun-bleached arbor-topped dock, sat my Chris Craft speedboat perched high on the hydraulic lift ready to be lowered into the water for fun boating adventures on a moment’s whim.
During carefree days, those whims were many. Picnic baskets, coolers and hidden caches of blue ice with special frozen treats were prepared and packed for nautical noshing. Entertaining on the boat was a favorite year-round tradition- from the big, loud splashy sun-kissed parties with fun-loving friends to romantic evenings for two, toasting and sipping Perrier Jouett Champagne from crystal flutes under a starry sky.
Eclectic Island Cuisine infused with far-away spice and joined with local bounty was standard boat picnic fare during those years. In planning the menu for the Bound For Ithaka Party, my culinary exploration led me to the magical ancient isles of Greece for inspiration and to my memory gardens filled with exquisite reminiscences of vacationing near the Aegean Sea. But the menu didn’t stop there. Creative license took the menu to other exotic ports of call for intriguing flavors.
Planning a perfectly delicious menu, designing treasure maps and coordinating all the details for this fun-filled adventure rocked my boat!
The grand finale of the evening menu was a scrumptious Flaming / Sparkling Brazilian Banana Sunday. This dessert sensation can be grilled right on a Hibachi, for a show-stopping salute to smooth sailing for whatever journey lies ahead.
Whether you are going island hopping in nearby or faraway waters or simply chilling out at home, a Bound For Ithaka Treasure Hunt Party is a grand way to encourage one another in the journey of life- sailboat or speedboat optional.
Flaming or Sparkling Brazilian Banana Sunday
1 or 2 Bananas
1 Teaspoon Butter *
1 Florida Orange, freshly squeezed *
about one quarter stick Butter *
about one quarter Brown Sugar *
a splash of Cachaca (Cachaca is a Brazilian liquor that is infused with the scent of sugar cane and rum.)
Vanilla Ice Cream
Brazil Nut Brittle
Blue Ice (If you are cooking on location, Blue Ice will keep your Ice Cream at the right temperature until dessert.)
Slice bananas lengthwise and crosswise. You will get 4 slices per banana. Brush bananas with melted butter and orange juice. Grill each side of the banana slices on a hibachi grill over medium-hot coals.
In a small skillet melt butter, brown sugar and Cachaca till caramelized.
To serve, scoop ice cream into Sunday boats. Add grilled bananas, caramelized sauce, toasted coconut, a dusting of cinnamon, and the crunch of Brazil Nut Brittle.
For extra pizzazz, flambé the caramelized sauce or simply add a few sparklers.
Special Note: I’m a culinary artist not a mathematician! Intuitive sprinkling, splashing and pouring is my standard method of measurement. So by all means use your own discerning common sense when exact measurements are needed. My culinary philosophy about sharing recipes is not that far different from a poster that was on the door of the assistant principal’s office when I taught school in South Florida. That poster read, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” In my opinion, this same wisdom applies to the art of culinary exploration. Recipes can be so much more fun, when the cook allows the recipe to become a treasure map of sorts, leading them onto a delicious and educational journey as a proactive partner, not necessarily following the recipe verbatim, but tweaking it to one’s own unique interpretation and taste sensibilities.
Kathi Dameron cooks up culinary collaborations. She is a Culinary Arts professional, food writer and former caterer.
Photo Credit: Greg Griffin & SXC