Friday, March 7, 2008

Music and Arts Festival

Last week we catered a lunch for a large music symposium and arts festival. I have rented equipment and built kitchens anywhere you can possibly think of from the beach to the mountains including a mausoleum at a cemetery! I thought for this lunch we could create a menu of all salads. It occurred to me that many of you might have large back to school or fund raising events that this menu would be helpful. Some of the challenges of preparing for a large crowd are that there are so many different tastes and eating styles. This menu is simple can be prepared ahead of time, has lots of different powerful flavors and has something for vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters. We served two bowls of orzo, one with out feta and created the vegan soybean salad for this event. We served a salad of baby greens with heirloom tomatoes in a balsamic Dressing and some crusty bread. These recipes can easily be expanded and you can add or delete items as it suites you. We got many compliments and rave reviews. So play with these recipes at your next big event.

Asian Chicken Salad
For the dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together:
3 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1-cup peanut butter
1/4-cup soy sauce
1-cup rice wine vinegar
1-tablespoon wasabi paste
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Crushed Red pepper to taste
In a slow steady stream add:
1/4-cup sesame oil
1/2-cup canola oil
For the salad
2 pounds chicken breasts, poached (see below)
3 cups white cabbage, shredded
3 cups red cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, peeled, grated
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
Toss together and then lightly dress.
A note on poaching chicken breasts
This is the simplest way to cook chicken breasts. (It even works for the frozen breasts in a bag.) Everyone says that my chicken is so tender. Place the breasts in a pot. Fill to cover with cold water. Add what ever you have and like. Garlic, salt, pepper onions, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, white wine. Bring to a boil and remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes. It will be the most amazing chicken ever.

Zeli’s Orzo and Feta Salad
2 boxes (16 ozs) orzo pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups feta cheese, diced
2 cucumbers, diced
2 red peppers, diced
2 pounds asparagus, grilled and chopped
2 cans large olives, sliced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1-cup basil, chopped
1-cup virgin olive oil
1 cup lemon juice
Splash green Tabasco (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté 1 box of the orzo until golden brown. In a large soup pot bring water to a boil and cook all orzo until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Once orzo has cooled, in serving bowl mix orzo, olives, feta, red peppers, cucumbers, asparagus, parsley and basil. In small bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice and green Tabasco. Mix into salad. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate and chill before serving.
Soybean and Corn Salad
6 cups edemame, shelled and cooked
5 cups corn, off the cob cooked and cut or frozen, cooked
2 red bell peppers, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro. Chopped
3/4-cup limejuice
1 tablespoon Cumin
Salt to taste
Mix all together. Taste. Adjust the lime. Unfortunately limes vary greatly in there flavor and juiciness. I always buy a few more than I need.


1 and 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4-teaspoon salt
1/2-teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2-cup flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces
3/4-cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray a nine-inch baking pan with bakers joy.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and nuts and chocolate chips. Bake for 45 minutes let cool completely before cutting into squares. You can then cut the squares on an angle for little triangles.

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