Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Slow dinner not slow enough?

The fund raising dinner at Campanile on Sunday night was a rousing success. I believe a lot of money was raised for the Slow Food event in San Francisco in May of 2008.
Two wines, a Pinot Gris as well as a Riesling were poured freely in the fountain entry and the appetizers were passed by tray by the waitstaff who were eager to please. But this didn't seem slow at all to me. It was a press opportunity for some. Alice Waters and Suzanne Goin were hosting questions and being as personable and homey as possible in such a see-and-be-scene town.
For a minimum of $250 per person, guests were romanced by the grilling virtuosity of Mark Peel (found him out front nursing the lamb legs, we remembered him, not so much on his side...), and the seasonal genius of Alice Waters.
She spoke before we were served our main course. For quite a while she spoke. It was inspirational and very informative to people like my husband who have only heard one person espouse the virtues of eating locally and consciously. For me, it was preaching to the choir. I needed a pep talk about how to make Los Angeles county as foodie friendly and as in touch with American culinary heritage as places like San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles and Temecula.
I had a great dinner. I was happy to participate. But I was craving more. It just wasn't slow enough for me. Maybe I was wrong to expect that?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Potted Shrimp from Brandy and Randy's Wedding

Our new neighbors were married last summer and they invited everyone on our block. The ceremony and celebration were as small town quiant as this beachside suburb of Los Angeles could muster. Guests were asked to bring a favorite dish and to fill out a card explaining what you brought and why. The cards were kept by the newlyweds as a fabulous memento of the pot luck feast created by their new neighbors.

I made Potted Shrimp. It's not one of my specialties, but when I thought about a summer wedding, I wanted something just fancy enough to be celebratory but simple enough to be eaten with one hand. I also had a few pounds of shrimp in the freezer which helped influence my decision! I looked around online and in a few cookbooks but ultimately I came up with my own recipe.

This got rave reviews from everyone. Enjoy!

Culinary Vixen

Potted Shrimp

(makes approximately 2 cups)
Recipe by Vickie McCorkendale


½ C minced shallots
4 oz. (1 cube) butter (divided), at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch Mace
Pinch Cayenne Pepper
½ teaspoon Emeril’s Essence or other Cajun Spice Mix
2 Tablespoons Brandy
1 lb shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined (you may use frozen or fresh, crayfish work well too).
2 Tablespoons chopped chives


Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of butter. When the butter melts, add the shallots and cook slowly until tender.

Put the remaining butter, the cream cheese and the lemon juice into a bowl (or bowl of a standing mixer). Mix on low speed to combine.

Add the garlic, mace, cayenne and spice mix to the shallots. Cook for one minute until fragrant. Add the brandy and cook until almost no liquid remains in the pan. Turn the heat up a bit and add the shrimp. Sauté until they are just cooked and bright pink on both sides, about 3 minutes.

Remove the shrimp from the pan to a cutting board with tongs. Chop well to desired consistency. Add the shrimp and the contents of the pan to the cream cheese and butter. Add the chives. Mix on low until thoroughly combined.

Put mixture in a serving bowl or crock and chill for at least 3 hours.

Serve with croutons (recipe below).

Garlic Croutons

Makes approximately 20 slices

Recipe by Vickie McCorkendale


1 baguette
2 oz. butter (1/2 cube)
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic minced
Pinch of salt


Slice the baguette into 1/3” slices. Place onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Preheat the oven to 375F.

Put the butter, olive oil and garlic into a small bowl. Heat in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds until butter just melts. Add the salt.

Using a pastry brush, paint the mixture onto the top sides of the bread slices.

Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them. You want them toasted, but not completely brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool.

Vickie's Green Apple Cole Slaw

In Manhattan Beach the LA Food Show restaurant serves a green apple slaw which is quite tasty. This slaw is my attempt to make it even better. I use my mother-in-law's basic slaw dressing recipe (1/3 each sugar, vinegar and mayonnaise) because I think it's the best creamy tangy combination and perfect with the green apples too. The celery seeds add a nice warm and nutty flavor to round it out.

If this is too simple for you, try adding 1/2 Cup of crumbled blue cheese over the top just before serving. Wow!

Vickie’s Green Apple Cole Slaw
Serves 10 as a side dish

1 head of green cabbage
2 Granny Smith apples
1/3 C mayonnaise
1/3 C cider vinegar
1/3 C sugar
½ t celery seeds
Salt to taste

Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Shred the cabbage quarters using a food processor, mandolin, V-slicer or by hand.
Slice the apple into 1/3” slices off the core, then into 1/3" batons (sticks) and then into 1/3” cubes.
Put the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and seeds into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Adjust to your taste with salt and more sugar or vinegar.
Add the cabbage and apple to the dressing. Fold to combine.
Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Note: Tabasco, Worcestershire, Soy Sauce, Liquid Aminos, and Dijon Mustard are each acceptable flavor enhancers for the dressing. Pick one and add 1 teaspoon and whisk to combine. Adjust to taste as stated above.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hawaiian Handrolls with Ham, not Spam

When my husband is out of town dinner plans become somewhat creative. I strive to find a way to make a single adult dinner with the remnants of plain Jane ingredients I used to make a simple, kid-friendly meal for my boys.

Tonight I was serving ham steak with barbecue sauce, steamed brown rice and cucumber slices. It was well received by the boys, but it certainly wasn't going to suffice for my dinner.

I've been toying with Nori. Nori is the seaweed sheets used for sushi rolls. I'm especially fond of very crispy Nori used for hand rolls. Hand rolls seem to be the easiest way to get the Nori sushi taste with the least amount of fuss or fancy knife work.

So, I slivered some of that cucumber, and then did the same to a scallion and a carrot. I thinly sliced about 4 ounces of the ham steak. I pulled a bottle of Chinese Chicken Salad dressing out of the fridge and pulled the Nori sheets from the pantry.

The true inspiration for the entire hand roll was the Shiso leaf I picked from the garden earlier in the day. So I washed two tender leaves and slivered them, adding them to the pile of vegetables.

I smeared some hot brown rice onto half a sheet of Nori. I dressed the pile of vegetables with a tablespoon or two of the bottled dressing. I placed 1/3 C of the vegetables onto the rice on each Nori sheet. The ham slices were added last. Rolled up into a tight bundle, they made for a fabulously innovative way to use Nori, eat the remnants from the kid's meal and to truly enjoy the pleasure of the Shiso leaf picked from the garden.

The Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand went with it fabulously!