Recipe for a Grand Dinner Party

July 29th, 2013

My friend Penny of The Comforts of Home and From Harvest to Table is a multi-talented lady.  Not only has she turned her new home into a beautiful place to live by painting, sewing, digging in the dirt and creative decorating, but she is also an accomplished and creative cook.  This past weekend David and I had the pleasure of dining with Penny and her hubby.  The menu was posted in her kitchen.

We were seated in her cozy kitchen nook and enjoyed the crostini and brushetta while she stirred the risotto and we all had a chance to chat. It is fun to watch the hostess put the finishing touches on a meal.  It is smart though to have a place for your guests to sit well out of the way of the action.  Sometimes it is easy to get distracted when people are leaning over your shoulder and messing in your space.  Penny has the perfect set up.

Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the appetizers.  But they were just perfect with a glass of crisp white wine.

I cannot say enough about the Creamy Corn Risotto with grilled shrimp and truffle oil.  This is a perfect summer dish.  All of the flavors of fresh corn are extracted from the ears.  The cobs are used to make a stock and the corn kernels are used in both a puree and a saute.  The risotto is creamy and full of the flavor of corn.  The shrimp with truffle oil is just simply the perfect embellishment to the dish.  I can see why Penny said “there were a lot of mmms going on from her friends” when she first made this because we were doing it too.  We all ate our dishes with a big spoon and I scraped my bowl clean.

Ah, Poached Pears in Marsala wine with English Stilton Cheese.  This was such an elegant dish and believe it our not it was made in a crock pot.  Simple elegance.  Penny and I both have The French Slow Cooker cookbook by Michele Scicolone which we love.  But she also bought the Italian Slow Cooker and this recipe came from that book.  It is a no fail easy way to poach pears and the rich sauce and bleu cheese complemented it perfectly.  I have a feeling Penny will have the recipe on her From Harvest to Table website soon so be sure to go over there to view it.  Here is her recipe for the risotto.  It might seem long but it can be done in stages and each component held in the fridge until the final cooking of the risotto.

This is a perfect dinner party menu.  I hope you give it a try.  Thanks Penny.



RECIPE (serves 6)

Corn Stock

  • 6 ears corn, husked
  • 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, halved lengthwise
  • 1 leek (white and light green part only), cut into 1-inch pieces


Corn Purée and Sauté

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs



  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Sartori Stravecchio cheese (or another domestic Parmesan  cheese)


  • 24 peeled and de-veined shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil
  • 2 medium summer truffles, very thinly sliced (optional)

Make the Corn Stock

Using a large chef’s knife, cut the corn kernels off the cobs and set aside.  Place the cobs in a large stockpot along with the onion, celery, and chopped  leek. Add 10 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat  and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain the corn stock through a fine-mesh  strainer into a bowl. Discard the solids. You should have at least 6 cups of  stock.

Make the Corn Purée

Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over  medium heat until the butter begins to foam. Add the onion and garlic and sauté  until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the reserved corn  kernels, season to taste with salt and pepper, and continue to cook over low  heat, stirring constantly, until the kernels begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the cream, thyme, and 1 cup of the corn stock and continue to simmer over  low heat until the mixture begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Remove the thyme  and purée the mixture in a blender until smooth.

Sauté the Corn

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium sauté pan over  medium-high heat. Add the remaining corn kernels and sauté until the corn is  tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the Risotto

Heat the olive oil in a large wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion  and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir  to coat with the oil. Add the wine and reduce the heat to a simmer until most of  the wine has evaporated. Add 1 cup of the corn stock to the pan and continue to  cook, stirring constantly, until most of the stock is absorbed. Repeat the  process with the remaining 4 cups of corn stock, making sure the stock has been  fully incorporated after each addition before adding more. Once the rice is  tender yet firm to the bite, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the corn  purée, sautéed corn, and grated cheese and season to taste with salt and  pepper.

Prepare The Shrimp

Preheat a gas grill to high.  Lightly brush the peeled and de-veined shrimp with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.  Place on grill and cook until pink, about 2 minutes per side.

To Serve

Divide the risotto among 6 warm bowls. Arrange 4 shrimp atop each bowl of risotto. Drizzle with the truffle oil and garnish with sliced summer  truffles, if desired.

Salmon Cakes

November 29th, 2012


David asked me to make salmon cakes for him last week.  I had a can of salmon in the pantry.  I threw together a hasty batch of them and although they were good, they were not memorable.  He is nothing if not persistent.  He researched different recipes, finally settled on a Barefoot Contessa recipe, bought all of the ingredients and made a batch himself.



This recipe used fresh salmon, lots of fresh vegetables and Old Bay Seasoning.  It seemed like he was in the kitchen for hours.  I have learned that when he is cooking it is wise to move my pretty rug that is usually in front of the stove and make myself scarce.   Things tend to fly.



His salmon cakes were delicious.  He had almost decided that they were too much trouble until we tasted them.  Wow!  Leave it to the Barefoot Contessa to have the perfect recipe.  And he cleaned up the kitchen too.  Think I’ll keep both him and this recipe.


SALMON CAKES ( The Barefoot Contessa )

1/2 pound fresh salmon
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
1 1/2 cups small-diced celery (4 stalks)
1/2 cup small-diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup small-diced yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
3 slices stale bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the salmon on a sheet pan, skin side down.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until just cooked.  Remove from the oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Allow to rest for 10 miutes nd refrigerate until cold.

Meanwhile, place 2 tablespoons of the butter 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, parsley, capers, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce,  crab boil seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt , and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large saute pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.

Break the bread slices in pieces and process the bread in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  You should have about 1 cup of bread crumbs.  Place the read crumbs on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 5 minutes until lightly browned, tossing occasionally.

Flake the chilled salmon inot a large bowl.  Add the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs.  Add the vegetable mixture and mix well.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Shape into 10 cakes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  In batches, add the salmon cakes and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until browned.  Drain on paper towels; keep them warm in a preheated 250 degree F oven and serve hot.


Printable recipe


Shrimp and Arugula Pasta

November 7th, 2012

It is good to be back in The Sunshine State.  As much as we love the North Carolina mountains, a change of scene can be invigorating and cleansing.  My thoughts on cooking change with the environment also.  I left my Kitchen Aid mixer and food processor in the Lake Lure kitchen.  The meals I fix here are usually simple and straight forward.  We eat more seafood and try to get more exercise.

The local market had some beautiful wild jumbo shrimp so I adapted a Cooking Light recipe to make this pasta dish.  While visiting the kids I made a run through Trader Joe’s to pick up pantry staples for Florida.  Their lemon pepper pappardelle pasta goes very well with seafood.  Add a bunch of baby arugula and you have a meal in a dish.

So simple and easy!  There are changes coming to my blog.  I am in the process of moving over to Word Press so I hope you will stick with me.


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
12 ounces pasta of choice, fusilli, linguine, pappardelle
3 cups (packed) fresh baby or regular arugula

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add the red pepper flakes and white wine and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until the wine reduces by half, about 5 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook just until they are pink, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Drain the pasta, saving some of the pasta water.  Add the pasta and the arugula to the skillet.  Toss to combine.  Season the pasta with salt and pepper and add a little pasta water if dry.  Transfer to a large bowl and serve.

Printable recipe

Salmon with Swiss Chard and Couscous

August 10th, 2012

In my last post I mentioned a salmon dish that I had at Fig, a French Bistro in Asheville.  I have been experimenting with it to see if I could duplicate it.  My finished dish is above. Below is the dish at Fig.

There are several steps that need to be done to get this dish on the plate and I had a few obstacles to overcome.  While I was preparing my salmon dish, violent thunderstorms were raging outside the house.  I expected that we would lose power at any second.  When you live in the mountains surrounded by trees, power outages are a regular occurrence, so my focus was a little scattered.

What makes the salmon, greens and couscous come together is the lemon, chive beurre blanc sauce.  I was not happy with the results the first time I made it, but the recipe I used this time was a winner.

You start by reducing wine, lemon juice and shallots.

When the sauce is reduced to a few tablespoons, add cold butter cubes a few at a time.  The sauce thickens to a silky consistency.  Then you add the snipped chives.

You can keep the sauce warm while you precede to the next steps.  For this dish I used red Swiss chard but you could use any of a number of greens; Rainbow chard, kale or micro-greens as was used in the dish when we had it in early Spring.   I like the stems of the red chard so I first sauteed them with some onions.

Add the washed greens and cook until  they are wilted.

I made the couscous next, but did not snap a picture of it.  When all of these components are ready you can begin your salmon.  The technique is very simple but produces great results.  Sprinkle the top of center cut salmon fillets with kosher or course sea salt.  Saute them in an iron skillet salted side down over high heat until they are golden brown.

After they are browned on one side, flip them over and place in the oven to finish cooking for a few minutes.

After that it is just a matter of assembly.  Place the couscous in a bowl, top with the sauteed greens, place the salmon on top and drizzle the beurre blanc around the edges of the bowl.

I was happy with the results.  The salmon was crusty on the top and flaky inside.  The beurre blanc was decadently delicious and we didn’t lose power until the meal was completed and the dishes were in the dishwasher.  All and all, it couldn’t have been better.


For theLemon Chive Beurre Blanc:
1 to 2 shallots, chopped fine
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
Salt and white pepper to taste
Snipped chives

Add shallots, wine and lemon juice to a saucepan and cook over high heat until it is reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Add the cream and heat until it bubbles.  Reduce the heat to low.  Add the butter a few cubes at a time and whisk on and off the heat until incorporated.  Continue with a few cubes at a time until all of the butter is added and the mixture is fully emulsified and has a creamy consistency.  Season with salt, white pepper and chives.  This will stay warm if you are using it within a 30 minute period.  Just whisk it occasionally.

For the Swiss Chard:

1 bunch of Red or Rainbow Chard
olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the chard thoroughly in a sink full of cold water.  Remove the stems and chop the greens.  Using some of the stems, chop them along with the onion.  Saute stems and onion in a skillet until onion and stems are softened.  Add the drained greens and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover the skillet and cook the greens just until they are wilted.

For the Couscous:

Follow the instructions on the box or cook couscous in a pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes or until it is cooked through.  Drain and season with salt and pepper.

For the Salmon:

2 6 to 8 ounce center cut salmon fillets, skinned
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt or course sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Sprinkle salt on top side of salmon fillets.  Heat oil and butter in a skillet over high heat.  Add salmon fillets salted side down and cook over high heat until browned and crisp.  Turn fillets over.  Place pan in oven and roast until they are just flaky, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Assembly:  This dish is best plated in large individual bowls.  Add couscous to each bowl.  Top with greens. Place salmon fillets on top of each.  Drizzle beurre blanc around the edges of the dish.  Garnish with additional chives if desired.

Printable recipe

Scallops with Parsley, Pistachio Pasta

April 2nd, 2012

Fresh scallop season is now officially over.  It runs from November through March.  But that did not stop me from buying some (previously frozen) scallops from The market last week.  Our Friday night dinner was a simple one of flour dusted scallops with angel hair pasta coated with a pesto made from parsley instead of basil and pistachios instead of pine nuts.

After a week of putting the cottage back together, it was a relief to cook something simple.  It’s a shame that things will not just stay put together though.  The pollen is so heavy this year that I am heading back out to the porch today to clean and vacuum again.  Sigh.

At least we had a few leftovers for lunch over the weekend.  I think you will love this dish.  The scallops are sweet and the pasta is one that I could eat all by itself.  The lemon and parley accented freshness makes it feel light and decadent at the same time.  This is perfect for an easy meal for two.

SCALLOPS WITH PARLEY, PISTACHIO PASTA ( adapted from Cooking Light )

1 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped pistachios
The zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound of sea scallops
1/4 cup flour
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups hot cooked angel hair pasta (about 4 ounces uncooked pasta)
Pasta water as needed

Place first 8 ingredients in a food processor, and process until mixture is smooth, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.

Combine scallops, flour and salt in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and shake to coat.

Heat butter and oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add scallops and cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.

Combine parsley mixture and pasta in a large bowl. tossing gently.  Add a little pasta water if it is dry.  Arrange pasta on a platter and top with scallops.  2 servings with enough for leftovers.

Printable recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.