Saturday, March 27, 2010

Easter Basket to Easter Table

While I was acting as the Easter Bunny and doing the shopping for my kids Easter baskets at Target, it struck me, that I could re-use ALL of the "junk" I was buying to set the table for our Easter brunch.  Suddenly, the "junk" became a treasure and buying all the Easter themed goodies didn't seem such a short lived waste.  For under $75 I got 2 baskets full of goodies and EVERYTHING I would need to set my table.  Here's what it will look like next Sunday morning:

In addition to the purchases I made at Target, I used my Easter egg PlaceTiles and my beaded round PlaceTiles, my china and silver, and some daffodils that were growing in my neighborhood.  I filled the basket with the bags from target and covered those with Easter basket grass.  Then I filled it in with plastic eggs and easter candy.  

I used the remainder of the Easter grass as a placemat for the China, to nest under my PlaceTiles, and to decorate my egg and jelly bean displays at  the corners of each table. 

The vase PlaceTiles were filled with daffodils, and I set up the candy and toys around the basket in the center of the table.  I also used the chocolate bunnies as additional decor at opposite corners of the table.  

I set it all up, took the pictures and tore it all down in under an hour, which is good news since I won't be able to set the real Easter brunch table until after my kids find their Easter baskets that morning.  The added bonus of using their Easter loot, is that hopefully my guests will help eat the candy because, Lord knows my kids don't need any more suger in their diet!!!

This is a guest post by Molly White, an avid fan of PlaceTile Designs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Passover Celebration

each family has it's own traditions for the Seder meal at Passover; Aunt Betty's 3 layer kugel, Cousin Lisa's special matzo ball soup stuffed with chicken fat fried onions, Mom's mandel breit, the list goes on.  This year why not start a new tradition and try some of the fabulous recipes we found across the 'net.  Each link has a full menu of ideas to chose from and we even found an online Kosher wine shop!  To set the perfect table, use our PlaceTile Designs Vineyard Collection.  

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tuna AvaTar-Tar, The Blind Sliders, and District 9 Layer Dip; Eat Up The Oscars!

The Oscars are one of our 3 favorite TV events of the year.  There's the Super Bowl, (we admit, it's the commercials we love even more than the game), the 24 hours of A Christmas Story (You'll shoot your eye out), and the Oscars.  From the fashions that the stars wear to the movies themselves, the Oscars are a tv spectacle to behold.  Plus we love placing bets on how long the show will run.

Hosting a party to celebrate the Oscars makes watching them even more fun.  This year with the help of Chef Paternotte, we came up with a fantastically fun way to make the most out of the nominees for Best Picture at an Oscar party....we let the movies inspire our menu!  

From The Hurt Lockertini to the Tuna AvaTar-Tar, each drink and dish will remind you of the movies in the running for the 2010 Academy Award for Best Picture! You can write the names of the dishes and drinks on an assortment of our PlaceTiles for the finishing touch.   Enjoy our menu and see if you can think of any on your own!

An Evening with Oscar

The Hurt Lockertini
Jameson and Baileys chilled, shaken and poured up and finished with Guinness

Stoli Orange, Cointreau and cranberry, shaken and served up then splashed with champagne and garnished with candied orange peel

smashed black beans, ground beef, roasted tomato, guacamole, red peppers, creme fraiche, cheddar cheese, green onions and crushed blue tortilla chips

pulled pork shoulder, sesame slaw and jalapeno creme fraiche on tiny potato roll ground beef, balsamic onions, grafton cheddar and avocado on tiny potato roll roasted chicken, apple, and walnut salad with roquefort blue cheese

tuna tartare, spicy sweet soy sauce, green onions, on wonton chips

Recipes & Procedures
(all recipes serve 10 people, drinks are per serving)

The Hurt Lockertini:
2 oz Jameson
1 oz baileys irish cream
3 oz guinness

In a shaker pour jameson and baileys over ice shaking vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain and pour into a chilled martini glass and top off with Guinness.

2oz Stoli Orange
1 oz cointreau (Gran Marnier works well too)
1 oz cranberry juice
2oz champagne

In a shaker with ice, pour Stoli, Cointreau, and cranberry together and shake for 10 seconds. Strain and pour into a chilled martini glass, and top off with your favorite champagne.

For the candied orange peel, slice peel off an orange and cut into three inch strips. Boil the strips three times in new water each time. Remove from the water the last time and put in a small saute pan with 6 tbsps sugar and one tbsp water. On medium heat stir together, coating the orange peels and allowing the sugar to melt. do not let any color develop, you want to leave the liquid clear. Be careful not to touch peels with your bare hands, it can be harmful. Remove from the pot and immediately toss in a bowl of 1 cup of sugar to coat the peels. Allow to cool in the sugar.

District 9 Layer Dip:
1 Can Black Beans
1 large onion
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 beer (negro modelo preferred)
1 lb ground Beef
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp cumin
5 vine ripe tomatoes
3 avocados
2 limes
4 red peppers
2 cups creme fraiche (or sour cream)
1 bunch green onions
2 cups blue corn chips, crushed
8 oz grafton cheddar (4 month old)

Dice onion and saute half of it until tender and slightly translucent. Briefly drain then add the can of black beans to the onions. Chop the 1/2 bunch of cilantro and sprinkle two tablespoons into the beans and onions. Add the beer and simmer beans for 10 minutes and when most liquid is absorbed, mash the beans into a mash potato consistency. Spread evenly on the bottom of a 9x9 (pyrex) dish as the first layer.

Saute ground beef in olive oil with the other half of the onion. Add the chili powder, cayenne pepper and cumin and saute for 3-5 minutes. Stir and make sure that seasonings are evenly distributed. remove from the pan and spread evenly over the bean layer.

Cut tomatoes (see red peppers below) into quarters, place them on a foil covered cookie sheet, toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a 450 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove and layer on top of beef in the pan.

Peel and remove pits from the avocado. Smash up with the juice from 2 limes, salt and pepper. spread on top of tomato layer.

Roast peppers in the same oven as the tomatoes (450 degrees). Place whole peppers tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper on a foil covered sheet tray and roast until the skin is blackened and blistered. Remove and allow to cool. Peel and deseed the peppers. Lay the large pieces of roasted pepper on top of the avocado layer.

Spread two cups of creme fraiche or sour cream on pepper layer.

Slice all green onions into tiny coins and sprinkle on top of cream fraiche/sour cream.

Crush the blue corn chips into small pieces.and spread evenly over the last layer. Shred the cheddar cheese and sprinkle on top of tortilla chips. Place whole dish in a 450 degree oven and bake until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

The Blind Sliders:
Pork Sliders:
15 Mini Potato Rolls (parker house rolls are great as well)
2 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 3 large pieces
2 onions, quartered
1 head garlic, sliced in half crosswise in husk
2 inches ginger, cut in half (if washed well, no need to peel)
1 stalk of celery, chopped (no leaves)
2 cups sake
4 cups vegetable stock or water

For the Slaw:
2 cups napa cabbage, shredded
4 green onions
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
4 oz sesame seeds, toasted
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 oz sweet soy sauce (ABC sweet soy)
For the sauce:
1 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
2 jalapenos, roasted and deseeded
1 lime, juiced

In a large and deep oven proof skillet, brown the salt and peppered pork shoulder on all sides in 5 tbsp of vegetable oil over a medium high flame. Remove from the pan, keeping the fat in the pan, add in the onion, garlic and stalk of celery. Saute for 3-4 minutes over medium high heat and reintroduce the pork. Immediately add the sake and stock (or water). Cover and place in a 375 degree oven for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, depending on the oven because baking ovens, opposed to convection, may take longer. To check doneness you should be able to pull apart with a fork. When finished, remove the meat and vegetables, strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve and return to a small sauce pan and reduce the liquid to 3 cups, the sauce should be thickened enough to gently coat the spoon. Let the liquid rest so the fat rises to the top, then skim off with a spoon or In the meantime, shred the pork using you hands or if its still too hot, forks work well.  Remove the sauce from the heat and toss together with the pork. Season with some extra salt and pepper if needed.

For the Slaw: Thinly slice or julianne the cabbage,  slice the green onions into thin rounds, and chop the cilantro. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry saute pan, tossing frequently until golden brown and set aside. Mix together the vinegar, oil, sesames and soy pouring over the cabbage, green onions and cilantro. Let marinate for a hour in the refrigerator, over night will be fine as well if you want to prepare ahead of time.

For the sauce: In a food processor combine the creme fraiche, roasted jalapeno (roast whole for 10 minutes in a 450 degree oven, then deseed) and lime juice. Pulse until the the mixture is smooth, do not over mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the sliders, place the warm pork on a bun, and top with the cole slaw.

Beef Sliders
10 Mini potato rolls or parker house rolls
2 lbs ground beef (80/20)
1 1/2 large sweet onions, julianned
4 oz balsamic vinegar
1/2 lb Grafton Cheddar, sliced
2 avocados

Form the ground beef into 3 ounce patties, making sure not to over work the meat. In a large saute pan on medium high heat add 3 ounces of butter and the julianned onions. The onions should be mounded up in the pan. Let the bottom layer brown before stirring or flipping the onions. continue to toss the onions every few minutes making sure not to burn them. The bottom of the pan should begin to brown, the deeper brown the better. Once the onions are browned and very soft, and volume is reduced by half, add the balsamic to deglaze the pan. Toss throughly making sure to glaze the onions well with the balsamic and set aside.

Remove the avocado from the skin by slicing lengthwise cutting down to the pit. Spin the top side off while holding the bottom in you hand. To remove pit, stick the blade of a chefs knife into the pit as if to chop it. The blade will stick into the pit, twist and it pops right out. With a spoon, scoop the flesh from the skin and cut into small slices.

Grill the burgers on a very hot grill for 2 minutes on each side for a medium burger. as soon as you flip the burger, add the cheese. Stack the onions and avocado on top and place on the buns.

Chicken Salad Slider:
10 mini potato buns or parker house rolls
1 whole chicken, roasted
2 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbsp thyme, chopped
4 tbsp parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 onion, small dice
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 granny smith apple, sliced into thin wedges
5 oz Roquefort Cheese

Buying a rotisserie chicken is perfectly acceptable, however it is always more fun to roast yourself, and it tastes better! To roast the chicken preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Using the oil, half of the chopped herbs, salt and pepper generously rub the chicken inside and out. Halve one lemon and stick it inside the cavity. place chicken in an oven proof pan and roast for 2 hours. The Skin should be dark and crispy and the meat falling off the bone.

Remove chicken and peel off the skin and finely chop about half of it (use the crispy parts). Pull all the meat off the bone, being sure to get the meat from the back, there is a lot of meat there. Place both into a bowl, add the small dice of onion, rest of the herbs, mayonnaise, the juice of the other lemon and walnuts. Mix together and taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper.

To assemble, spoon the chicken salad on the buns, top with two slices of the apple, and  a small slice of the roquefort cheese.

**You can skewer all of the sliders with cocktail picks to hold together.

1/12 lbs raw sushi grade yellow fin tuna
2 oz siracha sauce (asian hot sauce, clear bottle with green top)
3 oz ABC sweet sot sauce
2 oz sesame oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced into little coins
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 package of wonton wrappers

Finely dice the tuna removing any silver skin if prevalent (white material holding the layers of muscle together). Mix the other ingredients together and toss with the tuna. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small pot, heat about 1 to 2 cups of vegetable oil. heat over medium heat and drop in the wonton wrappers one at a time. Remove with a slotted spoon when they stop bubbling. Drain on paper towels and season with salt while still hot.

To serve, spoon the tuna onto the wontons, to make more bite sized pieces, break the wontons up.

For the correct soy sauce (Kecap Manis ABC Sweet Soy, medium)  and Sriracha Sauce (Huy Fong Foods) goto an Asian Foods market near you, you can find it online at

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