Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Wedding Day

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It was November 2019 when I got the news, my niece, Danielle was getting married on January 11. 2020. I asked my sister what she needed. She said, “Danielle has hired a wedding planner and everything was covered except appetizers”. There were going to be cocktails, for after the ceremony, but no appetizers.

Say no more! The appetizers can be a wedding gift from the three of us. Melissa was still in school so she wasn’t going to be able to come. It was going to come down to Steve and me to pull this off.

I needed to start picking up a few essentials for the tablescape. The colors she’d chosen were burgundy and blush. First stop, Hobby Lobby. I found this amazing burgundy lace fabric to use as a table runner, blush-colored chargers for the appetizers, votive candles, and these awesome little blush colored confetti diamonds to fill the bottom of the herb-filled mason jars and to sprinkle all over the table.

Next, I needed to know what kind of appetizers she was looking to have. After speaking to her I got a better handle on what she was wanting.

I needed to go to D & G Occasions for party supplies. My living room was filling up with bags of goodies.

I always set up a backdrop for the table I plan on doing. I believe it lets the guests know a little about what you’re serving.

My first appetizer, the Proscuitto, and Brie Crostini topped with homemade cranberry sauce, microgreens, and balsamic glaze, I laid out a variety of baguettes and rolls flowing onto the table. The most important part of any crostini is to start with really good bread.

My second appetizer, Tropical Salsa, filled with fresh mango, pineapple, Fresno chilies, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and a shrimp garnish. The backdrop, apothecary jars filled with fresh Fresno and jalapenos, and fresh limes, mangos, and pineapples to complete the scene.

Finally in the center, fresh-cut flowers surrounded by cilantro-filled mason jars.

The menu was set, next, it was time for me to draw the plans for the table. The day was coming up fast and timing was really important. Groceries had to be bought, prepped for traveling, visiting the venue where the wedding was going to be held, and meeting with the wedding planner.

Having the opportunity to see where I’d be working and also the table’s location helped me to plan a strategy. It was extremely important to me the table be set and ready.

Wedding Day.
I was really pleased with how stunning the finished table looked. Finally and most importantly, the bride, groom, and guests all enjoyed the hors d’oeuvres.

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D & G Occasions

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Burrata And Prosciutto Bruschetta

 

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The dish I’m making today is Burrata And Prosciutto Bruschetta. Let me give you a little background on Burrata cheese first. Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside is filled with both mozzarella and cream. This gives this cheese a unique and soft texture. The mozzarella is formed into a pouch and filled with soft, stringy curd and cream. Inside each container, there are 2 mozzarella balls. This dish I’m showing you today only uses half of the mozzarella ball.

Until recently, I haven’t been to a restaurant that’s offered a dish using Burrata. I definitely wanted to recreate this dish but the biggest hurdle is being able to find this cheese. I was totally surprised to find Burrata was available at my local grocery store. Tucked away right next to the fresh mozzarella. How I missed these gems I’ll never know.

This recipe is easy to make, using a few really good ingredients. Keeping it simple is what Italian recipes do best.

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Arugula

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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 2 servings, 5 crostini per plate
Equipment: one baking sheet with a rack.

Ingredients:
1 loaf of good baguette bread, 10 toasted baguette slices, 5 per plate
1/4 cup of good olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt (for bread)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper ( for bread)
1/4 cup of baby arugula leaves
2 slices of Prosciutto cut into thirds
5 mini San Marzano or grape tomatoes halved
5 tablespoons of Burrata cheese
Kosher salt- to taste
Black pepper freshly cracked- to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven
to 375-degrees F.
Slice the baguette bread at a 45-degree angle into 1/2 -inch thick slices. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the top surface of each slice of baguette lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Place into the oven on the center rack. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the bread is golden. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let the toast cool slightly before adding the toppings.

Slice in half eight mini San Marzano tomatoes. In a sauté pan, on medium-low heat, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and the halved grape San Marzano tomatoes. Add a light sprinkling of Kosher salt and black pepper too. Toss the tomatoes around in the pan for about 2 to 3 minutes, just giving them enough time to softened and start to burst, then remove from the heat. Take 2 slices of Prosciutto and cut into thirds, allowing them to fit onto the toasted baguette slices.

At this point, the bread should be coming out of the oven. It’s really all about the timing. Setting the bread into the preheated oven, then sautéing the tomatoes, and slicing the prosciutto.  This allows you to complete a few easy tasks at the same time.

Once the bread and tomatoes are ready, it’s just a matter of plating the bruschetta. Take a round plate and lay 5 of the crostini in the shape of a star. Place a few baby arugula leaves on each piece of toast along with one prosciutto piece on top. Next, for the Burrata. Cut open the cheese very carefully and place a tablespoon of Burrata on top of the prosciutto. Top the cheese with two tomato halves, and finish with another light sprinkling of Kosher salt and black pepper.

There you have it, Burrata And Prosciutto Bruschetta. A beautiful small bite loaded with flavor, and the plates look appealing too.

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Pestos and Tapenades

Pestos And Tapanades

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It’s a meat-free day today at my house. Anything you can spread over grilled and/or toasted bread is delicious.

Pesto doesn’t have to be made with just basil anymore. You can substitute arugula or spinach, you can add walnuts or pistachios. The possibilities are endless. Today I’m going to tap into my Hanging Organic Herb Garden to add a lot of freshness to my Pestos And Tapenades.

The difference between a Pesto and a Tapenade is generally Tapenades are olive-based… yes there are olives in certain Pestos.

In the pictures above I’ve made a Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto, a Pea With Fresh Mint Pesto, and Artichoke Pesto, and a Kalamata Olive With Cannellini Bean Tapenade.

I love to shake things up by using different kinds of ingredients. For example; roasted red peppers, artichokes, peas, Cannellini beans, Kalamata olives, or Ricotta cheese, mix in nuts and fresh herbs.

Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, fresh lemon juice, and a great Extra Virgin Olive Oil are key in making a great pesto or Tapenade. Let’s not forget about the nuts. Traditionally pine nuts are what’s used, not today, it’s pistachios. I even used a variety of herbs like basil, chives, mint, and Italian flat-leaf parsley. I say let your imagination go wild!  Then spread it on grilled bread.

In the next section, is my recipe for the Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto. Recipes may vary from one pesto to another, some tend to be thicker than others. A secret I use to thicken certain Pesto recipes is by adding a small amount of Cannellini Beans. They add creaminess and give great texture to the Pesto or Tapenade.

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Sweet Basil (2)

mint

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

Pestos And Tapenades

Roasted Red Peppers

Piquillo Peppers (2)

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Ciabatta

Toasted Ciabatta Bread

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Pestos And Tapenades

 

 

 

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Equipment: 1 (10-cup) food Processor, rimmed baking sheet pan, chef’s knife, small and large mixing bowls, indoor grill-pan

Ingredients For Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto:
1 (12-ounce) jar of roasted Piquillo peppers, drained (substitute roasted red peppers)
1/4 cup of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of Pistachios
1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 small clove of peeled garlic
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of *E.V.O.O.
1 loaf of Ciabatta (substitute baguette)

Directions For Oven Bakes Ciabatta Bread:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.

Slice the Ciabatta bread at a 45-degree angle into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet pan. Brush the top surface of each slice of Ciabatta lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Place into the oven on the center rack. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the bread is golden. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let the toast cool slightly before adding the toppings.

Directions For Grilling Ciabatta Bread:
Preheat indoor grill-pan over medium-high heat. Brush the both sides of the Ciabatta with olive oil. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Arrange the slices of bread on the grill. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Start processing the nuts ( Pistachios) garlic and the herb of choice first. You can see this in the pictures above. Once this has been processed, add in the main ingredients. In this case, the drained and rinsed roasted Piquillo peppers, Cannellini beans, fresh lemon juice, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Next, through the feed tube, at the top, drizzle in the *E.V.O.O. slowly. This will allow you to control the consistency of the pesto as it’s being processed, and you can adjust the amount accordingly.

Finally, add the grated cheese. The reason I do it this way, is so the cheese doesn’t get too hot from that blade doing all this processing and change the integrity of the cheese. I only pulse the cheese through the mix just until it’s mixed through.

This is the method I use when making any type of pesto. I also want to mention, using Cannellini beans gives extra body to the pesto without changing the flavor.

*E.V.O.O. is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

My Hanging Organic Herb Garden And Summertime Flowers

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