The Mad Dash ~ Smoked Salmon Canapes

Smoked Salmon

When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was Musical Chairs.

(Remember that one?)

There was something thrilling about circling those chairs — minus one — while trying to appear calm & in control, one ear tuned to perceive the slightest pause in the music. (The other was listening for covert plans by my circle-mates; elbowing and edging-out were entirely acceptable.) My eyes were constantly riveted on the passing prospects for my imminent future… a familiar tale.

Then, there was the inevitable mad dash. The scrambling and the squealing — the flailing of arms and legs (with more than a few nudges) — as everybody tried to find their place in this world, at least temporarily.

Minus one…

(I don’t recall if I was a winner or loser at musical chairs or not.)

More than likely I had a distinct advantage with my finely tuned auditory nerves. (Big fan of the Bionic Woman in later years!) My latent memory is rather fuzzy when it comes to traumatic childhood events masquerading under the guise of games.

Conclusion?

Shuffling between chairs (and piano benches) seems to be my lot in life.

I hadn’t really given much thought to that from a posterior perspective… in fact, this is the first time it even occurred to me. But (no pun intended), wherever I’m ‘parked’ is pretty much what I’m doing at any given moment.

At least it’s less random…

And I get to pick the music. ;)

My concert is finally behind me (no pun…) and I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief. Much as I love performing, rehearsals were taking a big bite out of my… time.

You don’t just whip off excerpts from Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique or Debussy’s Clair de Lune or Schumann’s Concerto in A Minor (among others) without a lil’ preparation — or at least I don’t.

I’m tickled to report though that it was a resounding success. Fun, too!

I added a lighthearted segment at the end including such favorites as “Moon River,” “Over The Rainbow,” “Besame Mucho” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” — which seems to be my theme song these days. Ahem…

All in all, enough funds were raised to send ten teenagers to camp this summer (hallelujah!) and in appreciation, they presented me with this:

(Ain’t it gorgeous?)

Thank You Bouquet

And… notice any resemblance to this?

Smoked Salmon 2

Smoked Salmon & Lemon Pepper Avocado Creme Canapes

4 oz. smoked salmon, flaked
Crackers of your choice (I used Glutino gluten-free multi-grain crackers)
1 ripe avocado
Juice of half a lemon
2 T. butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pink Himalayan salt (or sea salt), to taste
Fresh thyme for garnish

Peel & seed the avocado; mash pulp in a small bowl. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly to prevent discoloration. Stir in butter, pepper, and salt until creamy.

Place a dab of Lemon Butter Avocado Creme on each cracker. Top with smoked salmon and garnish with thyme. Easy, peasy!

(Believe me, I was ready for a lil’ “easy peasy” at this point!)

Life and fabulous food always have a way of coming around…

Like musical chairs.

Enjoying the mad dash,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Poor Man’s Lobster

When I think of the first Thanksgiving, I have nothing but respect and admiration for those first cooks.  No electricity.  No appliances.  No 24-hour supermarket to run to for that missed item.  Can you imagine?  It makes me entirely grateful to prepare a meal amidst “modern day” comforts.

That alone is reason to give thanks!

But, three things we have in common with our ancestors are love, gratitude and celebration — and I don’t know of one food blogger who isn’t enthusiastic and thankful to share a meal prepared with love for their loved ones.

Thinking about humble beginnings also made me recall my roots (and how much I miss home…) — Minnesota was where I learned to fish.  Although I don’t cast a line as often as I used to, there’s something about a simple fish dinner that makes me thankful.

The following recipe is one I’ve modified over the years, from a delightful cookbook called “Great Northwoods Cooking.”  (I don’t even know if it’s in print anymore —  you’d have to contact the Walker, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.)  Resort owners from around the lakes compiled their “best of the best,” and isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?

Poor Man’s Lobster

4 fish fillets (I used good ol’ Oklahoma bass, courtesy of The Man Of Few Words)

2 quarts water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 T. sea salt (or to taste)

1/2 medium onion, quartered

1 bay leaf

Several sprigs of fresh parsley

Melted butter

Bring water, salt and lemon juice to a boil.  Add onion, bay leaf and parsley.  Cover and allow to steep for a few minutes.

Add fish fillets; bring to a boil again.  Reduce heat and simmer until fish is cooked — about 10 minutes depending on the size of your fillets.

With a slotted spoon, remove fish to a broiler pan.  (I cover mine with foil for easy clean-up — another reason to be thankful!)

Pat fillets dry with a paper towel, then broil for 3 to 5 minutes until slightly crisp.  Serve with melted butter.

(Recipe originally submitted by Betty Reese, Bay Shore Resort.)

Happy Thanksgiving!  Now go … COOK … and be sure to hug everybody twice.

Enjoying life with a little butter on it (for which I’m truly thankful),

~ Kim

Orange French Toast

One of my favorite treats is a leisurely weekend breakfast.  Orange French Toast, anyone?

But first… an outdoor shot.

No… make that a sunlight “spotlight” photo.

Or wait… how ’bout a close up?

Or maybe a picnic table repast…?

Nahhh… LET’S EAT!

Orange French Toast

1 loaf of French bread, sliced into 3/4″ thick slices

1 Tbsp. butter

1 c. orange juice

2 eggs, beaten

1 t. vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. salt

Powdered sugar

Maple syrup

Orange Nutmeg Butter

4 Tbsp. butter, softened

1 tsp. grated orange zest, plus additional for garnish

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste

Prepare Orange Nutmeg Butter first.  Mix ingredients until blended; chill in a ramekin, or “scoop” into individual sized servings for fun — I put mine in the freezer for a few minutes before I scooped it.

Next, whisk together the orange juice, eggs, vanilla and salt in a shallow baking dish or bowl; set aside.  Melt 1 tablespoon of butter on a griddle over medium heat.  Dip slices of French bread into orange juice mixture and allow them to “drip off” before placing on the griddle.

Cook until golden; flip and cook second side until golden.  Transfer to a cookie sheet and keep warm in the oven until all slices are cooked.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with Orange Nutmeg Butter and warm maple syrup.

Afterthought:  This would be good with a little Cointreau thrown in (maybe sweetened to taste with honey?) — in the butter, the batter — or both.  (If you beat me to it, let me know how it turns out!)

Meanwhile, here’s a slideshow to treat yourself to while you’re thinking about it…

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Enjoying tricks and treats,

~ Kim

The Prodigal Daughter Returns With Butter

Hi!  Sorry I’ve been out of the loop for awhile, but we just got back from Minnesota.  I’d forgotten how unpredicatable my home state can be in the Spring — it snowed on May 1st, there were windchills in the 20’s on May 2nd, and my car frosted over on May 3rd…

Don’t get me wrong — Minnesota is a beautiful place to live!  It’s just that this Okie export isn’t used to “unseasonably cold weather” (even for Minnesotans) in May.  But, I came home with a heart-full of warm memories and that’s all that matters.

I also came home with a pound of butter…

My Mom likes to surprise me with “culinary gifts” — jars of roasted red peppers and sun dried tomatoes, ramekin sets, unique kitchen utensils, cookbooks and the like, along with hugs and an enthusiasm for “my cooking” that makes me feel special and loved.   (Thank you, Mom.)  I’m one blessed daughter!

But when Mom pulls out the Hope Creamery Butter, I swoon.  (She knows I love it so…)  Hand-packed and creamy, it elevates every recipe to “something special.”  (Just like Mom!)  Hmmmm… what shall I make?

First up on the list was a long overdue batch of chocolate chip cookies for the hubby.  “God blesses us so that we can bless others…”

Then it was my turn…  I wanted something simple and sublime.  My thoughts turned to Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli’s amazing recipes (who, aptly enough, works at a restaurant named Butter.)  I settled on her Seared Porterhouse With Oozing Maitre d’ Butter — oozing is good.

While a Porterhouse wasn’t in the budget after our road trip, I did have a pretty nice chuck steak ready to throw on the grill (even though her recipe called for stovetop searing — next time I get my hands on a Porterhouse, I will!)  With Maitre d’ Butter oozing all over, it was everything I’d hoped it would be, and more.

By the way, that glob of pistachio green on the plate isn’t “jello,” it’s Asparagus Pesto  — another trial recipe.  Although it doesn’t have anything to do with butter yet, here’s how you make it…

Asparagus Pesto

1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1″ sections (remove woody ends before slicing)

3 fresh basil leaves (or dash of dried basil)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup toasted pecans

1 small clove garlic

1/4 tsp. sea salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil (or more as needed to reach pesto consistency)

Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor; blend until smooth.  (Mine turned out a little “chunky” but it was marvelous!)

Credit:  Adapted from a recipe attached to the fresh asparagus spears (no author given.)  They suggested serving it over pasta, which I’m making tonight.  But instead of tossing it with olive oil (per the recipe), I’m using butter.  Lots and lots of butter.  It’s Mother’s Day weekend, right?

Enjoying life one pat of butter at a time (except this weekend…)

~Kim

P.S.  Happy Mother’s Day!