04 September 2011


We entertained on our screened porch twice this weekend. Saturday we invited our daughter-in-laws cousins--2 Slovaks, a Brazilian husband, an American wife, 3 American-Slovak-Brazilian little girls, their (and now our) good friend DN and my good friend RvH. HR brought gifts of seasoned salts from Trader Joe's, while RvH arranged some gorgeous roses in what turns out to be the first gift I ever bought for her--a weathered pot that had been filled with a Rosemary plant. She'd forgotten where the pot originated. I will return it to her eventually. DN and B+LK brought some bottles of lovely wine.

We had Yellowfin Tuna burgers, Bacon-Sirloin burgers, Chinese Salad, and sweet potato fries with three dipping sauces (wasabi aioli, honey-Dijon mustard with cinnamon and nutmeg, and just plain ketchup). HR brought cheese and veggies for appetizers and I made oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwiches with a warm berry compote.

Such a beautiful evening on the porch. Great friends, stimulating and fun conversation, well-behaved and beautiful little girls, yummy food.

We drank Skinny Girl Margaritas, while the guys enjoyed some Bell's Oberon. There was also a lot of iced tea and bottled water consumed. Moderation is the key, except in our food choices!

McCormick & Schmick's
Seafood Restaurant Cookbook
(NOTE: 3 per pound of tuna for regular-sized burgers; 6 per pound for sliders) 

Burger mixture:
1    lb.  Yellowfin (Ahi) tuna          
2    T.   Onion, minced
1    T.   Pickled ginger, minced
1/2 T.   Asian chili paste
2    T.   Soy sauce
1/2  t.   Sesame oil
2    T.   Mayonnaise
3    T.   Panko bread crumbs
1/8  t.   Salt
1/8  t.   Pepper      

For the sandwich:
Whole wheat buns
4   T.   Wasabi aioli (below)
4   T.   Asian Cucumber Salad (below)

1. Pulse the tuna in a food processor briefly to create pea-sized pieces.
2. Blend the tuna with all remaining ingredient.
3. Form into patties.
4. Chill before grilling.
5. Grill slider-sized burgers 2 - 3 minutes per side; 4 oz. burgers 3 - 4 minutes per side.
6. Spread the bun with wasabi aioli and place the burger on the bun.
7. Top the burger with the Asian Cucumber Salad.

yield: 1 cup
2 tsp.  Wasabi powder
1 tsp.  Orange juice
1 tsp.  Lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 tsp.  Pickled ginger, minced
1        Egg yolk
1 C.   Mayonnaise

1. Combine the wasabi, orange juice, lime juice, picked ginger, and mayonnaise.
2. Allow mixture to rest for 10 minutes and then puree with egg yolk. (I didn't add egg yolk.)

yield: 3 cups
1-1/2   C.   Cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1/4       C.   Carrots, thinly julienned
1/2       C.   Red onion, thinly julienned
1/2       C.  Wakame salad, prepared
1/4       C.   Rice wine vinegar
1          T.   Sugar
3/4        t.   Salt
3/4        t.   Thai cili paste
1           T.  Sesame oil

1. Make 1 hour, but not more than 3 - 4 hours before using.
2. Slice the cucumbers thinly and toss them with the carrots, onion, and wakame.
3. Mix the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl to dissolve the sugar.
4. Pour the blended mixture over cucumber mixture.
5. Toss well.

1  lb. Beef sirloin tip roast per 1 lb. bacon. Yep! Half-n-half.

1. Have your butcher grind it together.
2. We found that the slider size was most appreciated.
3. Make sure these burgers are well-done when you grill, because of all the bacon.

And tonight, we entertain a few members of our small group with much the same menu. Our weather has turned, but the temperatures allow for dinner on the porch again. Friends bring chicken wings for an appetizer; Haricot Verts with sauteed onions, ham, and pine nuts; and a fresh blueberry-crumb pie.

CA pulls out some excellent Cotes du Rhone rose and more Bell's. Again, lots of iced tea, Diet Coke, and bottled waters also  are consumed.

I serve the bacon-sirloin sliders along with Ahi tuna sliders and the leftover Chinese Salad, with some additional toasted almonds to crunch it up. I make Parmesan-eggplant fries tonight and serve the same three dipping sauces. Excellent! Think I like them better than the sweet potato fries, but both are wonderful.

We laugh and talk, and eventually the four ladies light giant sparklers, and march and dance around the back yard singing "God bless America..." It's very dark out there, but we'd do the same even in the light! How often do four grandmas get a chance to cut loose and boogey? The guys quickly disappear inside (in embarrassment?!).

We love the blueberry pie with some Edy's French Vanilla ice cream, and I break-out a few of the leftover oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwiches for those willing to over-indulge. CA makes endless cups of decaf espresso and quite a few cappuccinos with our beloved Nespresso Citiz.

It's not a late-night, but certainly a wonderful night packed with great friends, good food, and much affection.

 Bon Appétit

 1    large   Eggplant, peeled
 2             Eggs, beaten
 1    Cup   Milk
 3/4 Cup   Bread crumbs
 1/4 Cup   Parmesan, grated
 1    tsp.    Onion salt
 1    tsp.    Salt
 1    tsp.    White pepper
 Oil for deep frying

  1. Cut peeled eggplant into 1/2" rounds, then into 3 x 1/2" strips.
  2. Place flour in ziplock bag.
  3. Combine eggs and milk in a medium bowl and blend until smooth
  4. In another bowl mix together breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and seasonings.
  5. Put small batches of eggplant in ziplock bag of flour. Shake until coated.
  6. Dip floured eggplant pieces in egg mixture, then coat completely with seasoned breadcrumbs.
  7. Shake off excess and place in a single layer on baking sheet.
  8. Chill thoroughly (at least 2 hours or overnight).
  9. Heat oil to 375 degrees.
10. Fry eggplant strips a few at a time until golden, about 3 minutes.
11. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

 2 bags   Broccoli slaw
 2 bags   Ramen Noodles (discard seasonings)
 1/2 C    Slivered almonds, toasted
 1/2 C    Green onions, sliced thin
 3/4 C    Vegetable oil
 3/4 C    Sugar (I use less)
 1/4 C    Apple cider vinegar
 2    T     Mustard
 1    T     Soy sauce

 1. Combine vegetable oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and soy sauce in blender and process until smooth.
 2. Toss with cabbage broccoli and green onions
 3. Just before serving, toss in Ramen noodles and toasted almonds.  

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