49th Tablescape Thursday ~ July 30, 2009

A HUGE THANKS to sweet Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for hosting the 49th Tablescape Thursday, please click the logo to see the other participants for this week.

I decided to go with a very simple East-West this time. I was going to set up one of the outdoor tables, but the temperatures have been averaging 105 degrees afternoons ~
too HOT for me, so I set it up in the breakfast nook instead. :)

The little 6-inch bamboo steamers are stackable, and can also be used for serving.

Inexpensive bamboo themed flatware.

I've collected these porcelain soup spoons for quite some time in different patterns and colors; they can also be used for small amounts of condiments, seasoned dipping salts and one-bite amuse bouches (~ little appetizer bites.)

I've had these Foo Dogs for over 30 years, I remember clearly the day I bought them; it was a girl's day out with my dear mother for lunch and shopping. I surely cherish those memories of time spent with my mother.

The fragrant lilies are in full bloom right now ~ so I plucked one for the table.
The little bottles hold soy sauce and seasoned rice vinegar.

The tablecloth and napkins are by April Cornell; the mat beneath the Foo Dogs is actually a sushi rolling mat.

Thank you so much for stopping by and have a wonderful day. :)

Postcards ~ From the Garden

It's been a while since I've posted photos from the gardens, so I thought I would share some today.
A couple of young bucks wandering through the property ~

The gardens begin looking a little tired in late July and in August, but here are a few things that are still blooming.
There will be one more flush of roses in Fall...

I hope you enjoy. :)

The fragrant lilies are blooming, filling the air with their intoxicating scent. I planted them close to pathways so their beauty and fragrance can be enjoyed close up.

One more young buck...

Thank you so much for stopping by! xo~m.


Mediterranean Appetizer Skewers

When it is too hot to cook, or you are simply looking for a quick appetizer, snack or accompaniment for a simple meal you might consider these healthful skewers.

Of course they can be adapted to incorporate whatever vegetables, cheeses, or cooked fish, chicken or meat cubes you like. As you can see this time I used Cigilegine (tiny, fresh mozzarella balls), grape tomatoes, pitted Kalamata olives, English cucumber wedges and small basil leaves.

Rather than a heavy dressing, I simply drizzled with a little homemade Basil Oil Drizzle. Balsamic vinegar is a great substitute if you don't have time to make the infused Basil Oil.

Cubed Feta is also very good instead of the fresh Mozzarella...

... and if you like red onion, you may like a single piece or two on each skewer.

Pepperoncinis, caper berries, marinated artichoke hearts,

pickled cocktail onions, mild red cherry peppers...

If you want more protein, rolled slices of proscuitto, cubes of cooked chicken, ham, salami, sausage slices or cooked prawns/shrimp are possibilities as well.

It's fun to come up with different combinations. If you try them, I hope you like them, too!

How to Make Infused Olive Oil

Infused olive oil can can add an interesting dimension to many dishes; it can be drizzled over roasted vegetables, grilled or seared meat, fish, poultry or included in vinaigrettes, dressings and sauces.

Ahhh Basil!

Every summer when the herb garden is thick with basil I can't seem to get enough of it! I make a fair share of pesto, and also use those fragrant emerald leaves in sandwiches, salads and with chicken and fish ~

I also like to make Basil Infused Olive Oil.

I learned this simple technique for infusing olive oil with herbs from chef Michael Chiarello. The method can be used for making many kinds of infused oils whether the ingredient is basil, rosemary, oregano, garlic, chiles, chervil, chives, cilantro, mint, mushrooms or citrus fruit. (Tarragon works best in early spring, otherwise it is quite bitter when infused.)

By following a few common sense tips you can safely* and easily make your own.

I adore the flavor and color it adds to the plate! With this simple processing method the oil must be used within a couple of days, so I make a very small amount; usually about 1/2 cup.

For greater control in application you can put it in plastic squirt bottles, but I usually just store it in these tiny bottles given to me in a surprise box by a special friend , after I admired some that she had. Thank you special friend! You know I think of you often. :)

* Important notes:

It must be kept under refrigeration and used within 5 days, so I make it in small quanities (about 1/2 cup at a time.)

Unlike flavored vinegars, it is important that no fresh herbs or other ingredients are added back into the oil before storage because this could introduce the risk of the food borne illness, botulism.

If you would like a printable copy of the method for making infused olive oils you can find it on my recipe blog by clicking HERE.

Thank you for stopping by ~ have a healthy and delicious day!


Pan Seared Salmon Filets with Toasted Almonds, Blueberries on Spinach with Black Fig Drizzle

I've seen recipes for Salmon presented with the unlikely paring of blueberries before, but none really appealed to me.
However, finding the kitchen overrun with fresh blueberries was encouragement enough to rethink this combination.
I still wasn't able to find a recipe that called out to me, set out to invent my own ~
I devised this simple salad which received THUMBS UP around the table. :)

If you've been following my blog, you know by now that I often "wing it" when it comes to cooking, I love the creativity it provides ~ and this recipe (more of a guideline) is no exception.
The steps are easy ~
Prepare the salad ingredients: rinse and drain baby spinach leaves, sliver as much red onion as you like, wash the blueberries, and toast almond slivers (directions follow.)
In a medium-hot saute pan (big enough to hold salmon filets in one layer), toast almonds in dry pan, stirring often until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In same pan add 2 teaspoons up to 1 Tablespoon or so of olive oil (you can use more but I use as little oil as possible), allow to heat over medium-hot flame.
Lightly salt and pepper (4 to 6 ounce portions ~ one per person) salmon filets, add them to the hot pan and cook turning once about 4 to 6 minutes per side (depending upon thickness of the filets)
When salmon is cooked, arrange on the beds of spinach, add about 1/4 cup of Sweet Black Fig Vinegar* to the pan the filets were cooked in and reduce over medium heat until thick, but still pourable. Drizzle over the spinach leaves and salmon.
I think a Balsamic Vinegar reduction (perhaps sweetened with a little honey) would work just as well.
Sprinkle toasted almonds, slivered red onion, and blueberries over the salad, then enjoy!

* The salad dressing/sauce is simply a reduction of

Cuisine Perels' Black Fig Vinegar it is DELICIOUSLY sweet, and not too tart.
(click to learn more.)

If you would like a PRINTABLE copy of this recipe, please click
HERE to go to my recipe blog.

Thank you for stopping by!
I hope you have a healthy and delicious day. :)

xo ~m

A Sampling of my food . . .


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