Archive | November, 2012

Big Event!

I don’t even know where to start…the passed couple of days/weeks have been a whirlwind, a good whirlwind.

Thinking back on Friday and Saturday I am just overwhelmed with thankfulness for my mom. I had such a blast working side by side with mom on this catering event. Having her here was like having an army of culinary greats with me and I truly couldn’t have done it without having a massive panic without her.

I got to really enjoy cooking for 15o people without feeling stressed because I knew it would get done and be above and beyond with mom’s hand on it. This event was brought to me by Bowen’s sister and was for The Orchard Baby Dedication here in Memphis.

We made rosemary, garlic pork tenderloin sandwiches with a horseradish sour cream sauce (with bacon…), grilled chicken breast with an asian dipping sauce and honey mustard, a tomato, mozzarella, basil pasta salad, fruit kabobs, and a marscapone artichoke spread I have made several times on Spice.

Warm Artichoke and Bacon Spread


  • Butter, for greasing the baking dish
  • 5 strips thick-cut bacon
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, optional
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 8-ounce bag frozen artichokes, thawed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)


 For the dip: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round ceramic deep-dish pie pan or a 1-quart baking dish.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and bacon and cook until crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. When cool enough to handle, crumble into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside. In the same skillet, add the oil (if needed), shallots, garlic, artichokes, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until the shallots are translucent and the artichokes begin to brown, about 8 minutes.

Transfer the vegetables to a food processor. Add the mascarpone cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, 1/2 of the cooked bacon pieces and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse until combined but still chunky. Place the dip in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining bacon pieces. Bake until just warmed through (do not let the dip boil), 10 minutes. Serve the pita chips alongside.

Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Pasta Salad 

This is one of my favorites of the evening… we used grape tomatoes which we poked holes in each one with a tooth pick so the tomatoes would be filled with the vinagerrete (which I made from the oil the mozzarella was marinated in).

Balsamic Vinaigrette (my recipe was 100 x this)

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional*
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 T chopped shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Beat the vinegar in a bowl with the optional sugar, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper until sugar and salt dissolves. Then beat in the oil by droplets, whisking constantly. (Or place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine.) Taste and adjust the seasonings.
For the salad, we boiled tortellini until very al dente, then chilled pasta in an ice bath to quit cooking, then dried pasta in a kitchen towel, just before service we combine tomatoes (which were in vinaigrette), with the mozz, pasta and basil.

Bowen wanted to drink this asian dipping sauce (I think he tried to)…I thought it was such a perfect, sweet and sour sauce that would also be great for stir fry.

Hoisin Sesame Dipping Sauce 

  • 1/2cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4cup soy sauce
  • 1/4cup vegetable oil
  • 2tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
 Mix all the ingredients together in a medium sauce pan, bring to simmer, turn off heat and whisk in oil. (The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.)
For the honey mustard I combine mustard (1 large container), dijon (1/4 c.). and one bottle of honey, whisk to combine.

And…. I am so so thankful for sweet Bowen who was a HUGE help, woooo sigh of relief in this picture!