Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dinner On The Porch

As of this past May, Stone and I have new neighbors.  Actually they bought the house this past fall, but have recently moved in.  The first time I met Sid, I had just returned from the golf course.  Quickly deciding the lawn needed mowing before the rain came, I went straight to it.  I didn't change cloths, just put on my mowing shoes.  Now let me give you a vision.  I had on my black golf skirt, fuchsia golf top with collar and short sleeves and pearl earrings and necklace.  I always wear my pearls to the golf course. I don't know why, I guess it's a southern thing. I also had on my white golfing hat, and lastly, I had put on my nasty mowing shoes.  Now, these shoes have holes in them, dirty, and well ,you know what shoes look like when you have worn them mowing for years, black and green.  Anyway, Sid had walked over to introduce himself and we talked for a while.  As he was leaving, he made it to the end of my driveway and turned around and said, "Oh, by the way, those shoes do not match your outfit".  When Stone came home, I recounted this story to him, stating that the current neighbor and I we're going to get along just fine. Even though they are recent to the neighborhood, we felt as though we already knew them once they moved in.  We have spoken and visited so many times just on the drive way, yelling across the street for months.  Me telling Sid, I can see clover growing in your yard. Him yelling back at me, about time you mow your yard, it's beginning to disgrace the neighborhood.    Before leaving for Philadelphia, we were chatting with Sid, somehow getting on the subject of flag poles. I had told him that I had tried to find someone, not once, but twice in the past to attach the flag pole mount to my brick wall by the front door. It didn't happen, which I don't understand.  Both said, "no problem, I'll be their tomorrow".  Sid immediately says, "you want your flag pole attached"?  I can do it.  I'm going to be attaching mine this week.  I can do it at the same time."  I immediately said, "yes, that would be great".   I told Sid as a thank you I would like to have he and Shannon over for dinner.  Now this is the funny part.  Stone and Sid are going back and forth, well maybe this project is worth more than just dinner.  Maybe a yard mowing and mulching should be thrown in.  Stone said maybe mowing for the summer.  Hey I say, not happening!!!     Honestly I would had agreed to just about anything to get that flagpole installed. We left for our trip, coming home to find the mount for the flag pole attached to the brick exactly where we wanted.  I was so exited since for a year I have wanted this.  The food has come together and the table was set.  Stone and I were ready to spend the evening getting to know our new neighbors.   Sid and Shannon walked over for dinner bearing gifts.  They brought  this beautiful orange begonia plant and a loaf of Pineapple Coconut Bread that she had gotten at the Fresh Market.  I love Fresh Market.   Anyone that has ever shopped there knows that anything you purchase is sooooo good.  It was early evening as we, along with Lucy, made our way onto the screened porch.  We began by enjoying a glass of Watermelon-Basil Lemonade. My daughter Abby Gail had recommended this drink and I was glad she did. It tasted like summer. It was sweet and tangy with an added burst of flavor from the basil.  For appetizers, I chose two different cheeses, both Italian . One was a Rosemary and Olive Oil Rubbed Asiago, an intense nutty cheese that is rubbed in olive oil and fresh rosemary.  The other,  a Fromager d'Affinois, similar to brie with its creamy, buttery flavor.  We nibbled and chatted, getting to know each other better.

tables cape, hydrangea, day lilies, glass wear, cilantro, porch
Tablescape for the evening.

watermelon-basil lemonade,sugar
Watermelon-Basil Lemonade
 Servings: 6
Serving size : 10 ounces

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
4 cups boiling water
1 cup lemon juice, (juice from 4-6 lemons), rinds reserved
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
3 cups pureed watermelon

In a 4-quart bowl or  heat-proof pitcher, use the back of a wooden spoon to bruise 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves.  Add lemon juice.  Mix juice with sugar.  Pour boiling water over juice mixture, stir to dissolve sugar. Add lemon rinds and pureed watermelon.  Cover and refrigerate 2-3  hours.  Remove and discard rinds.  Strain through a mesh sieve into a pitcher.  Stir before serving. With a pick, add watermelon and fresh basil leaf and place in glass.    Makes about six (10-ounce) glasses over ice. Recipe from:

italian cheeses, nut thin crackers

We began our next course with a salad of greens, straight from our garden, beets, goat cheese, and candied pecans.  I love this salad, moistened with a really good vinaigrette.  I apparently was so excited to eat that I forgot to take a picture. My bad, but I can post the recipe.  This is one of my favorite salads.  I have made it many times.

Beet Salad
Serves 4

Salad Ingredients:
4 ounces Chavie goat cheese
8 cups mixed baby greens
4 small red beets, cooked and cut into bite size pieces
2 ounces glazed pecans

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinager
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey

Divide greens between four bowls.  Divide up beets, goat cheese and pecans and place on top of greens.  Make vinaigrette by mixing olive oil, honey and balsamic vinegar until smooth.   Toss salad with vinaigrette.

We devoured our salad and I took the plates away, only to be replaced by our entree.  The evenings choice was Spicy Red Fish Stew.  It was a ridiculously simple, flavorful, and healthy dish that I served with slices of Semolina Sesame Bread from Panera.

spicy fish stew, fire roasted tomatoes, garlic, crushed red pepper, cilantro, lemon peel, halibut, shrimp, gantry bay seafood mussels in a garlic butter sauce
Spicy Red Fish Stew

Makes 6 servings:

1 1/2 jars (18 ounces) roasted red peppers in olive oil and garlic
5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 shallots, chopped
3 cans fire roasted tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 pound halibut, sliced into chunks
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 (16 ounce) box of Bantry Bay Seafood Mussels in a Garlic Butter Sauce
1 can Great Northern Beans (drained)

Chop red peppers and set aside.  In a heated skillet over medium heat, sauté shallots until soft, about 7 minutes.  Stir in peppers, garlic, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes with juice.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Add lemon peel, cilantro and Great Northern Beans.  Add fish, simmer until opaque in center, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, following instruction on box of Bantry Bay Seafood Mussels, cook them and when done, add the entire contents. Mussels and garlic butter sauce to the above stew.  Season stew with salt and pepper to taste. Adapted from:  Serve with yummy bread.

By now the sun had gone down and we were stuffed and satisfied.  We lingered at the table telling amusing stories of our past. The time had come for dessert, so we cleared the table and made room for Becky's Apple Pie, a recipe she received from her aunt.  Who is Becky?  A past neighbor, friend, my golf partner, and she and her husband, Hal, travel to all the SEC basketball games with Stone and I. Thank you for this delicious recipe Becky.

apple pie, pie crust, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, butter, ut basketball, sec basketball
Becky's Apple Pie

1 double crust for a 9" pie
1 (20 ounce) can White House sliced Apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 pats butter

Place bottom crust into pie plate.  In a large bowl mix apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon together.  Pour into pie crust.  Top with pats of butter.  Place second pie crust on top and crimp edges.  Bake for 45 or until crust has browned.  When cool, mix up glaze by stirring together; 1 Tablespoon melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 Tablespoon half & half and 1/3-1/2 cup powdered sugar.   Pour on top of pie.  I served this with some homemade vanilla ice-cream that I had added 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice while mixing.  This pie was just what we wanted, sweet without being to sweet.  It was just right.  The glaze was a perfect touch.
 Our evening had come to a close. Sid and Shannon take their exit through the back porch door and make their way across the street, the ending of another enjoyable dinner party.

begonias, pinaepple-coconut bread
Orange Begonia's and Pineapple Coconut Bread

As I write this post, I'm setting on my porch in my wicker rocker with a diet coke, a slice of this wonderful bread, the ceiling fans twirling, white puffy clouds against a clear blue sky background and enjoying these lovely flowers. Thank you Sid and Shannon.