Saturday, October 23, 2010

Catered Luncheon Menu ...

I often serve this elegant Hot Seafood Salad when entertaining, it never fails me and it always receives rave reviews. It’s also a mainstay with catering clients. The accompaniments can be many and varied, for this luncheon I paired it with my recipe for Bloody Mary Aspic. To round out the meal, I served the duo with Braised Cucumbers.

The cucumbers were ridiculously simple to prepare and surprisingly tasty, so mellow, a complementing contrast to the vibrant flavors in the seafood and aspic dishes.

For 4-6 servings, cut two peeled, seeded cucumbers (about 6 cups) into chunks, season generously with salt, add 2 tablespoons melted butter and cook in a covered dish in a 350° oven for about 50-60 minutes until just fork tender.

In case your wondering why they're aren't any pictures posted? After we finished plating and I turned on the camera, the screen blared, battery exhausted!

Hot Seafood Salad

Tidbits for perfection: you can prepare the crab, shrimp and salad ingredients in advance, toss them together just before cooking. I prefer to cut the large shrimp into bite size pieces, its fork friendlier.


1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked of any shells

1 pound large shrimp, steamed, peeled and deveined, cut into bite size pieces

In a large bowl, toss crab with shrimp.


½ cup onion, finely chopped

½ cup celery, finely chopped

½ cup green or red pepper, finely chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

⅛ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine onion, celery, green pepper, mayonnaise, salt, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper. Fold crab/shrimp mixture into mayonnaise mixture, gently mix until well combined. Transfer seafood salad to a 2-liter baking dish.

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup good quality white bread (French or Italian works well) cut into small cubes

In a small pan, over moderate heat, melt butter add bread cubes and toss. Top seafood salad with buttered bread cubes. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until heated through or until bread cubes are light brown. Yield: 6 servings.

Sans Vodka

Bloody Mary Aspic

Aptly named, the ingredients in this recipe are akin to the list of ingredients found in many recipes for the popular Sunday libation. This rich, red dish is a colorful and complementing accompaniment to beef, chicken and seafood.

Tidbits for perfection: Aspics don’t hold up well in hot weather, they melt just like ice cream! Regardless of the weather, aspics should not be unmolded until just before serving time.

Worth noting: Aspic molds come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be found in most house ware and kitchen stores nationwide.The ½-cup capacity individual aspic molds are festive for a seated dinner party or luncheon. If you’re hosting a buffet party, use a one-quart aspic mold. Aspic must be prepared a day in advance. The gelatin in the Jell-O needs at least 24 hours to properly to jell.

3 cups tomato juice

2 three-ounce packages lemon JELL-O Gelatin Dessert

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon horseradish

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Generously oil a one-quart aspic mold or eight ½-cup capacity aspic molds with cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan, slowly bring tomato juice to a boil, stir in Jell-O, vinegar, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and stir until the sugar from the Jell-O has dissolved. Pour into mold or molds. If using individual ½-cup molds fill each about ¾ full. Allow aspic to cool before refrigerating overnight.

The following day …

Unmolding aspics can be tricky. The temperature of the water needs to be just right – too hot, the aspic will melt – not hot enough, the aspic won’t unmold. To remove aspic, fill a bowl larger than the diameter of the mold (the sink works well) with hot but not boiling water. Set the mold in the water to a point just below the rim, hold the mold there for a few seconds – wiggling it from side to side, when it begins to loosen immediately remove from the water. Set the serving plate or platter upside down over the mold. Hold the plate or platter and mold together with both hands, invert quickly. If the first attempt didn’t work, go through the process again. Serves 8.