Friday, May 9, 2014

Recipe Revision and a Great Fruit Salad

I have been asked to do a cooking demonstration for the local museum in late June. The title of the class is "Summer Patio Brunch". I looked up brunch recipes a couple of months back when I was first approached about this and came up with some things I felt at the time were good ideas. And - they probably are good ideas, but things happened and ideas changed.
My Original Ham & Blue Cheese Bread Pudding

First, I had created a Ham and Blue Cheese Bread Pudding one day recently and it came out so good that I decided this would also be a very suitable brunch (or even breakfast) dish. Much can be done ahead, making it wonderful if you have friends or family coming over. Any time things can be made or partially prepped ahead makes entertaining so much more fun. Thinking about the Ham & Blue Cheese Bread Pudding, I decided to make it a simpler recipe, using more common ingredients that might please more people. I substituted regular black pepper for the pink peppercorns, I used Feta cheese instead of Blue, and I used white raisins instead of currants, though regular raisins would also work perfectly. Otherwise the recipe is the same as the one from April 29th.
Ham & Feta Bread Pudding with White Raisins

I had thought about cheeses that would substitute well in that recipe and my first thought was Gruyere. Unfortunately, the only Gruyere available locally now costs over $13, so I scratched that idea, though I still think it may have been the very best flavor pairing. Of course, cheddar would work perfectly, and who doesn't like a nice cheesy casserole with cheddar cheese all melty inside? It just occurred to me that a nice Hollandaise Sauce drizzled over the bread pudding would really make it a classy brunch.

Then I got thinking about something to serve along with the Bread Pudding. I had found a recipe I wanted to toy around with, but it just happened that evening Bobby Flay did a fruit and vegetable salad in his Brunch @ Bobby's program. I did not pay attention to the "recipe", nor did I look it up. But I did really like the sound of the combination. He used Cantaloupe, Mango, Pineapple, Jicama, Cucumber and Strawberries. I kept that combination in mind when I made a salad of these ingredients. I need to have exact measurements to give the class, so I decided to make things really easy and use 1 cup of each fruit or vegetable. I dressed the fruit and veggies with a little salt and lime juice and a chiffonade of mint. I invited my sister-in-law over and we taste tested. It was good, so i will be using these recipes for the class. These ingredients are guidelines. Other things could be added or substituted. I think Green peas would be great in here, as well as fresh, raw asparagus. Switch a few things out. Blueberries would be great. Just run with it! As for the portions, I counted 1 cup as a portion. If you need more servings, or larger servings, just multiply accordingly.

Fruit and Vegetable Salad

Makes six 1-cup portions
Fruit and Vegetable Salad

1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
1 cup fresh mango slices
1 cup cantaloupe balls
1 cup strawberries, halved
1 cup cucumber, sliced
1 cup jicama, in matchsticks
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1 - 2 tablespoons fresh mint chiffonade

Combine all the fruits and vegetables and toss with the salt, lemon or lime juice and the mint. Serve immediately.

DO AHEAD: If you are having a summer brunch and need to plan things ahead so you are not up at the crack of dawn prepping, consider cutting the pineapple the day before and storing in a lidded container or zip-top baggie in the refrigerator. Likewise prep the cantaloupe balls, mango slices and jicama and refrigerate each separately. On the morning of serving, prep the cucumber and strawberries, juice the lemon or lime and chiffonade the mint. Set all these aside and combine the ingredients no more than 30 minutes ahead for best freshness. 
Cut off top and bottom - slice off outer skin - peeled pineapple - slice off fruit on either side of core - core in the center

When I was creating hand-out recipe sheets for these recipes, I was also thinking about many people's unfamiliarity with cutting up a jicama, pineapple or mango. Many people still have never done these things, so I was taking quick shots with my phone while I prepped, to demonstrate how it is done. Above is a sequence showing the cutting of a pineapple. I will be demonstrating this in person at the Summer Patio Brunch event, but  even when it is seen, having photos at hand help for a novice. I certainly appreciated photos when I was first learning to cook.
A Mango - peeling - cutting along seed - the narrow seed - the component parts

Mangoes have become more common these days, but if one has never had one in hand, it is good to know that there is a rather large and flat seed inside. When cutting the fruit, this seed needs to be kept in mind. And then there is the jicama. 
Jicama - cut in half - peeling the skin off

If you have never had jicama, it can be as small as an orange or as large as a small melon. It is a vegetable with a thick skin that must be removed. If it cooperates, a small cut at one end will allow the skin to be pulled off. Use a potato peeler for any stubborn spots. The jicama flesh is somewhat juicy and very crisp. To me, the flavor is reminiscent of fresh green peas, though I have heard many descriptors for its flavor. It makes a wonderful addition to a veggie tray with a dip alongside. It also is wonderful as a scoop for hummus.

Try out these recipes together; they make a most lovely meal, whether breakfast, brunch or dinner.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.