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In a previous life, I entertained a great deal more than I do now, and here are some ideas that always went over well.

(Keep in mind that I have no idea as to what you can find locally, so I realize some of these ideas may not be practical. Also, I know that much of this you probably already know, but figured the best thing was just to toss it all out there, and you can take what might be helpful, and ignore what's not.)

Tea sandwiches: First, the bread. Keep in mind that you can use a variety of breads (white, wheat, rye, cinnamon and raisin, pumpernickel, mini-croissants, etc.), and that alone makes it look like you're offering up a large selection, even when you're not. A favorite trick in the US is to spread your sandwich filling on a flour tortilla (I like to grill them briefly first, just to get rid of that raw flour taste), then roll it up and slice into pinwheels. If you don't have flour tortillas, then take slices of white bread, flatten them, spread on your sandwich filling, roll them up and slice.

As for fillings: almost anything using cream cheese as a base can make a tasty tea sandwich but I had particularly good luck with cream cheese & sliced olives (with and without pimentos) (and with and without chopped nuts); minced candied ginger and rum; chopped eggs with minced green onions and a bit of mustard and capers or rinsed caviar; chopped dates and walnuts; sliced cucumbers of course, but don't overlook other vegetables. Very thinly-sliced or minced sweet red onions with cream cheese, a little mayo, and grated Parmesan is terrific. Truthfully, it's impossible to list all the potential combinations. If the mixture seems too thick, thin it with a little milk or cream or mayo. For seasonings, in addition to the obvious salt and pepper, try a favorite blend of seasoning salt, celery salt, bottled salad dressings (or mixes like Good Seasons "Italian"), various paprikas, favorite herbs like tarragon, oregano, basil, Tabasco or other hot sauces, lemon juice, rum or brandy or liqueurs (orange liqueur goes with many things; Khalua is good with cream cheese and chopped nuts), Worsty, soy sauce, Thai sweet chili paste, jarred pickled ginger, or any of the other thousands of Asian sauces, pickles, chutneys (I really adore Major Gray), pastes, whatever. Stand at the "Asian sauces and seasonings" section in your grocery store and just let your imagination run. As someone said upthread, a sprinkle of curry powder makes many things seem more interesting and tasty and I'm never without it. Think like a mad scientist in your laboratory and mix up small batches of whatever sounds appealing or whatever you have on hand. Peruse recipes for various dips, spreads, cheese balls, etc., that aren't specifically "fillings for tea sandwiches," but that would work perfectly.

Various salads: ham salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, Asian pork salad made with minced pork leftover from last night's dinner and some finely-chopped green onions and water chestnuts. Try various fruits, fresh or dried, mixed in - apples, grapes, raisins, craysins, chopped dried apricots, etc.

Meats: all sorts of potted meat spreads can be really good and an excellent way to use up leftovers of whatever was your main protein course the night before. If you want to do small sandwiches with sliced meats - ham, roast beef, turkey, whatever, it works much better to use those shaved "deli-slices." If you have a meat slicer that will slice it that thinly, that's best, but if you don't, buy it sliced that thinly. Nothing is worse than trying to take a bite of a ham or other meat sandwich, and getting a piece that you can't bite through, and you pull the whole slice of meat out and it flops onto your chin, dripping honey mustard sauce all over your tatas.

A wedge of tasty cheese always puts smiles on faces. Offer a selection of sliced cheeses, or put out a chunk of bleu, drizzled with honey and chopped walnuts. Serve one of those impressive brie or Camembert wheels baked in pastry.

In the American South, you're always going to get Pimento Cheese (most people just mix it up without a recipe, or buy it already made at their local market, and you can google for a plethora of recipes, but here's a start: Pimento Cheese ) either in small finger sandwiches, or spread into celery stalks, or scooped into bell pepper boats or something. But it's ubiquitous.

Also ubiquitous are Pecan Tassies for a sweet: Pecan Tassies. For many years, I seriously don't think I went to a single coffee or tea where there wasn't a pretty plate of Pecan Tassies set upon the table. The quintessential Southern ladies' gathering dessert.

Don't forget fresh fruit. It's always welcome. Cut up some apples or melons or pineapples or other seasonal fruit and put it into a Tupperware or other plastic container, toss with 7-Up or Ginger Ale or lemon juice or Fruit Fresh, or something to keep it from turning brown, chill and offer with a smooth dipping sauce made of yogurt or sour cream or Nutella or something. I don't know if you can get Bisquick over there, but good ol' American shortbread takes about 12 minutes to make with that recipe on the box, and it's not too sweet (similar to scones), and they're easy to slide off of your baking sheet, put into a ziplock bag, carry to the party, and then plate up with a ladle of sliced strawberries over, and a squirt or spritz or dollop of sweetened whipped cream on top.

Don't overlook "Pigs in a Blanket" - which for years, I admit I shied away from because it seemed sorta "low rent" or something, I don't know exactly, but the truth is that people love them. Again, most folks just make them up without a particular recipe, but in case you're not familiar with them, here's a recipe: Pigs in a Blanket

And many seafood options, too. Salmon spread is always good, but smoked oysters, sardines, etc., can produce great snacks as well. Here's a crab spread that is great on tea sandwiches, or with crackers, or spread into celery stalks:

Crab Spread

8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temp

1 can crab meat, drained, carefully picked through, or you can use some chopped imitation crab meat

1 tsp horseradish

2 T mayo

chopped green onions to taste

Salt & pepper & paprika & hot sauce & garlic powder & lemon juice or other seasonings to taste.

Combine everything and put it in a tightly-sealed container. Chill until firm. You can either mold this onto a plate for serving, or pat it into a log, or whatever other shape you find attractive, and surround with crackers. You can roll it in chopped parsley or almonds or something if you'd like. Or, as I said, you can serve it in celery stalks, or stuffed into cherry tomatoes, or as a filling in tea sandwiches.

Here's another seafood-based spread:

Shrimp Butter

8 oz cream cheese

1 US stick of butter (1/4 pound of butter, not "light butter" or margarine or other butter substitute because it won't work)

Put the cream cheese and the stick of butter into a med-sized mixing bowl and allow to come to room temperature. Combine well. Add:

1 can cooked cocktail shrimp, drained

1/4 C mayonnaise

1 tsp lemon juice

Salt & pepper & white pepper & Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste

1 Tbl grated onion.

Blend thoroughly and chill until serving time, to let the flavors marry.

To serve, you can either allow it to come to room temperature and serve with spreaders and crackers or toast points or crostini, or spread chilled onto bread for tea sandwiches.

And here's a personal favorite Tea Sandwich recipe (from Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel): Empress Hotel Shredded Carrot & Ginger tea sandwiches

Mini-muffins, of course, and cookies. Oatmeal cookies always went over well. Not so sweet as some. And the various "breads" that are more like cakes: zucchini bread, banana nut bread, brown molasses and raisin bread, carrot bread, applesauce bread. Take some softened cream cheese for spreading over.

You can even serve soups. Cold, smooth soups seem to work best - the ones that you can basically sip without needing a spoon. Take it in a thermos, and then serve by pouring into those small clear plastic cocktail or wine glasses. Cold avocado soups are so wonderful, as are fruit soups - cherry, peach, etc. I had a great cold apple soup served just that way, from a thermos, while attending a "formal picnic" (I know that sounds like a contradiction, but that's what it was) while visiting an apple hacienda in Mexico.

A few general tips: if you're serving tea sandwiches with some sort of mayo-based filling, like chicken salad, tuna salad, ham salad, etc., spread a thin layer of butter on the bread first to seal it and keep it from becoming soggy. White bread, in particular, can be difficult to spread with a thick filling. It can be easier if you freeze the bread, and work with it while frozen.

You know, I envy you. I haven't done this sort of entertaining in years, but I always thought it was so much fun. You can basically just mix up anything that suits your whimsy, that flits across your fancy, and give it a try. You're not investing much time, money or energy in it and if something doesn't turn out great, you can toss it away without a second thought. It's not like you've ruined an entire $50 standing rib roast and now you have nothing to serve the 12 hungry dinner guests becoming restless in your living room.

So have fun, and report back!

:rolleyes:


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Wonderful post, Jaymes. It was so much fun reading it.

Best part: I hadn't thought about pimento cream cheese in decades. As I recall, my Mother used to buy it premade. I loved it in sandwiches. :smile: With chopped walnuts on it.


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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You know, I envy you. I haven't done this sort of entertaining in years, but I always thought it was so much fun. You can basically just mix up anything that suits your whimsy, that flits across your fancy, and give it a try. You're not investing much time, money or energy in it and if something doesn't turn out great, you can toss it away without a second thought. It's not like you've ruined an entire $50 standing rib roast and now you have nothing to serve the 12 hungry dinner guests becoming restless in your living room.

So have fun, and report back!

:rolleyes:

Thanks Jaymes for all the ideas! It's so true what you say about giving anything a try - that's pretty much my attitude. It gives me a chance to try out lots of new things without expanding my own waistline too much, and if the staff don't like it either Year 8 or the chickens can have a go.

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Wonderful post, Jaymes. It was so much fun reading it.

Best part: I hadn't thought about pimento cream cheese in decades. As I recall, my Mother used to buy it premade. I loved it in sandwiches. :smile: With chopped walnuts on it.

I make my own pimento cheese but with the addition of a few spicy (preserved) peppers to perk it up a bit.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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I make my own pimento cheese but with the addition of a few spicy (preserved) peppers to perk it up a bit.

Me too, but without peppers. :)


Edited by heidih Fix quote tags (log)

"The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live."

Franchise Takeaway

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So, my faculty has hosted two or three morning teas since I was last here. Yesterday was a bit of a disaster in some ways, because we are all in the middle of reports and a zillion other end-of-term things, so the last thing any of us wanted was a marathon cooking session. Still, we did well. There were home made brownies, little cheesecakes, party pies and spring rolls, oranges (because it's orange season now) and other things. I made shortbread, which was slightly overbaked, but still disappeared. I make the kind with rice flour after a friend introduced me to it. She pats the mixture into a pan, scores it, bakes it then cuts through agai Whe it's just out of the oven. No fancy shapes, etc, which makes it very quick! I also did homemade tzatiki (with fresh mint) and hummus with pits bread triangles and cut up veggies (my houseguest did the cutting while I whirled the dips). The tzatiki was a huge hit and I will do it again (as long as cucumbers don't go back to nearly $5 each). we had a lot of people out so it didn't all get eaten, but I put out the left overs at lunch and they disappeared.

At the one we hosted before some enterprising people brought out their crockpots, and put out some hot dishes. Unfortunately I was supervising a makeup exam so I completely missed out, but apparently they were really popular and totally cleaned out at the end of the 20 minutes.

When the weather warms up we have decided we will do an ice cream bar, with home made sauces and lots of different fun toppings.

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When the weather warms up we have decided we will do an ice cream bar, with home made sauces and lots of different fun toppings.

Surely you'll have homemade ice creams??? :sad:


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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When the weather warms up we have decided we will do an ice cream bar, with home made sauces and lots of different fun toppings.

Surely you'll have homemade ice creams??? :sad:

Yeah....sure we will! :wink: I'd love to, but not to feed thirty people. Plus my ice cream maker died.... They will have blue ribbon and like it!

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So last day of school yesterday and the end of the academic year. At my faculty's last morning tea we did an ice cream bar, with purchased toppings, lollies, marshmallows and fruit (cherry season is in full swing!). It went down a treat, and my Year 7 class appreciated the leftovers in a cone in last period.

Some of my hits this year:

  • cucumber sandwiches with herbed cream cheese
  • lighter-than-air chocolate cake with vanilla whipped cream
  • butterscotch squares with chocolate chunks, dried cherries and pecans
  • mud hen bars
  • mini brocolli and cheddar quiches
  • cocoa brownies
  • flourless peanut butter cookies
  • tzatziki

Although the food I've brought in has always been appreciated, it is hard to keep up the momentum through the year, particularly this last term! As a few others predicted not everyone makes a full effort, but as a rule we've had some enjoyable teas.

I'm always on the lookout for more ideas, and we've recently had a stove and oven hooked up into the common room, so I'll be able to do a few more exciting things.

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Sounds delicious. But no photos? I wanted to see a photo of a Mud Hen Bar. :huh:


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Mud Hen Bars! I came across them on Pinterest: a cookie base with brown sugar meringue topping, and chocolate and marshmallow inbetween.

http://www.cookingwithk.net/2012/01/mud-hen-bars.html

This is the recipe I used, except I baked the base for 10 minutes before putting on the topping. They were quite a hit and completely devoured.

Of course the best thing for me at morning teas this year was the opportunity to eat lots of delicious sponge cakes, scones and pikelets with jam and cream.

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We are already 1/4 of the way through the new school year and there has been little to report on the morning tea front so far this year. My faculty hosted two teas in term one - cocoa brownies and blondes with chocolate were my contributions.

Yesterday we hosted our first for term 2 - there was a pumpkin soup, some party pies, mini quiches and individual cheesecakes amongst other things. My own contribution was a vaguely trashy warm bean dip with tortilla chips (a gluten free and vegetarian offering so it ticked two necessary boxes) and people went pretty mad for it. Given the cool weather, I'd like to try a few more warm dips next time - does anyone have any suggestions?

Here is the 'recipe' for the bean dip: combine two tins of refried beans with about two cups of shredded cheese, 1/2 cup of crushed tinned tomatoes a bit of garlic powder and some chiles (I used Vietnamese pickled ground chiles because I had them) and just enough water to make it a little loose. Microwave until cheese is melted then top with chopped tomato, avocado, green onion and fresh coriander mixed with a bit of salt and lime and sour cream. Stupidly simple and it took me less than 10 minutes to put together at home that morning, and just needed heating and topping at school.

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Mud Hen Bars! I came across them on Pinterest: a cookie base with brown sugar meringue topping, and chocolate and marshmallow inbetween.

http://www.cookingwithk.net/2012/01/mud-hen-bars.html

This is the recipe I used, except I baked the base for 10 minutes before putting on the topping. They were quite a hit and completely devoured.

Those look and sound delish. Will definitely give them a try.

Classic warm dips are artichoke dip and hot crab dip. A simple google search should you give tons of recipes for them. And there's always chili con queso -- which you sort of did with the bean/cheese/tomato already.

We had a tea luncheon the other day at church and I made little sandwiches -- white bread buttered with egg salad and brown bread buttered with tuna salad. They disappeared rapidly. We also had a cold zucchini soup (which I didn't make but was quite good) and I made an oldy recipe from the Joy of Cooking -- Brown Sugar Coconut Bars -- basically a brown sugar cookie base with eggs beaten with brown sugar, then coconut and chopped almonds stirred in, pour over the partly baked base and cook until brown. They come out nicely chewy and butterscotchy. They used to be popular when I was a kid and I see why -- easy and yummy.

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This topic hasn't seen much action lately, so let's see what we can do.

 

This morning I stepped out of the office and walked down the road to Paris:

 

Counter2.png

Counter1.png

 

OK, not quite.  But Wellington is fortunate to have Louis Sergeant, a real live French patissier.  One can order from an extensive range of teas (served in rather lovely china pots), one can browse the wine list, one can have the full high tea experience (I haven't, but it will happen).

 

For today I had Absolument:

Absolument.png

Ganache sphere, caramel/coffee macaron-lke base.

 

And Wifey had a Religieuse J'adore:

Religeuse.png

Hazelnut praline in choux pastry, covered in chocolate and almonds.

 

Wonderful stuff.  If you can't manage April in Paris, April in Wellington isn't that bad.

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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

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Yum!  

 

The spheres do look very silly though -- wonder how long that particular fashion will last?  Or does the sphere provide the ability to deliver something freestanding that ordinarily would have to be eaten with a spoon?

 

A rhubarb eclair sounds like my kind of heaven. 

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18 hours ago, SylviaLovegren said:

Yum!  

 

The spheres do look very silly though -- wonder how long that particular fashion will last?  Or does the sphere provide the ability to deliver something freestanding that ordinarily would have to be eaten with a spoon?

 

A rhubarb eclair sounds like my kind of heaven. 

 

We must disagree; spheres are enormous fun!

 

But that's not one of those spheres; it's a very nicely moulded bit of ganache covered with caramel.

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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

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For Morning?  Much too cloyingly sweet for me.  And I have never cared for "architectural" constructions in food.  But that's just me and probably dates back to an incident at a high end restaurant in Santa Monica that presented one of those "tower-like" desserts which was apparently unstable and the top broke off and fell into my lap before I even touched it.

Unfortunately, I was wearing an expensive silk pantsuit and we were supposed to be going on to the theater, which did not happen.

The restaurant did pay for cleaning my garment, I didn't even have to ask, the manager said, "have it cleaned and send me the bill."

 

But it left me with a deep suspicion of "tall" foods on flat plates.

 

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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On 4/14/2016 at 3:19 AM, lesliec said:

 

We must disagree; spheres are enormous fun!

 

But that's not one of those spheres; it's a very nicely moulded bit of ganache covered with caramel.

 

 

sphere.jpg

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      Place 2/3 of the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Place the apricot filling in an even layer on top, keeping a small space between the filling and the pan's edges. Place the remaining batter on top and smooth to create a relatively even surface.
       
      Bake for approximately 50 minutes at 350° or until the top is dark brown and springs back to a light touch.
       
      Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Invert the pan onto a serving plate. Cool and serve. Be cautious about serving this hot, as the apricot filling can cause serious burns. When fully cooled, cover or wrap in plastic wrap to store. Will keep for several days in a cool, dry place.
       
      Nutrition (thanks MasterCook!) 
      324 calories, 15g fat, (7g sat fat, 6g mono-unsat fat, 1g ploy-unsat fat), 5g protein, 43g carbohydrates, 175mg sodium, 101mg potassium,  58g calcium
      42% calories from fat, 52% calories from carbohydrates, 6% calories from protein
    • By Daily Gullet Staff
      by David Ross

      "Your crab was dry," Mike says as I walk into his shop, Williams Seafood Market and Wines in the Spokane Valley. He tells me the crab cakes I made on TV back in December looked delicious . . . but the giant Dungeness Crab that he donated for the on-camera display "looked dry and the shell wasn’t shiny enough."

      Mike’s brutal critique doesn’t shake my resolve to do another seafood dish. I tell him I’m at the store to purchase the shellfish that I need for the dish I’ll be doing on Sunday: "Grilled Shrimp Stuffed with Crab."

      But thanks for the constructive criticism, anyway. I guess I should count myself lucky. My small fan base includes a wisecracking fishmonger. Such is the life of a cook on local television.

      + + +

      Today I’m preparing for my 34th show on "Sunday Morning Northwest" on KXLY-ABC 4.

      During the week, the program is called "Good Morning Northwest." The show focuses on news and weather, and serves as the lead-in to "Good Morning America," on ABC.

      On Sunday, the show takes a different turn-much like the local programs that first aired on television back in the early days. The laid-back, carefree attitude and spontaneity of live, local television, lives on at "Sunday Morning Northwest."

      The first half-hour of the show always includes a reading of the newspaper headlines from the small, rural, farming towns that surround Spokane. If a moose decided to take a dip in the community pool in Omak, you can be sure it will make the headlines of the Okanagan County Chronicle -- and it will certainly by noted live on "Sunday Morning Northwest." The weather is usually done from a live remote at a local community event.

      Of course, the Sunday show is never complete without a cooking segment featuring a local Chef or nervous home cook.

      We’ve seen everything from "Roasted Loin of Elk with Huckleberry Demi-Glace" presented by the Chef of a fancy resort in Northern Idaho to the Woman who won the Spam cook-off at the Interstate Fair.

      It’s all done in the spirit of promoting local Chefs and restaurants while having fun with food and cooking. (And as fate often demonstrates on live TV -- the viewers have a few laughs at wacky cooks who muster-up enough courage to come on live television and make some sort of horrendous tuna casserole).

      We try to make the recipe simple enough that it can be done in a reasonable amount of time, but we don’t restrict ourselves to doing recipes in 30 minutes or less.

      If you have to chill the custard base of the ice cream overnight, that’s what we tell the viewers. While we may use short-cuts on-camera to demonstrate the steps of the recipe, short cuts in the actual recipe aren’t allowed for the sake of convenience.

      If crab cakes taste better when they’re sautéed in clarified butter, so be it. We don’t forsake flavor at the cost of cutting fat and calories. We present the most flavorful dish possible.

      I e-mail the producer about three weeks before the show with a general idea of the dish I’m planning. Then about three or four days before the show, I send the recipe of the final dish. This allows KXLY to do promos up to two days in advance of the show: "Coming up on KXLY Sunday Morning Northwest, our favorite local chef, David Ross, will be preparing a delicious dish using fresh Dungeness Crab and Shrimp from Williams Seafood in the Valley."

      The recipe we post on the station’s website is usually written to serve 6-8 people. But, when you cook on local television, there is a very, very important consideration that you must factor into your shopping list-enough food to feed the crew.

      That means a recipe written for the public to serve precisely one "Shrimp Stuffed with Crab" to each of 8 guests, is a much different, and much larger recipe, behind the scenes. It’s more than just a matter of prepping 8 stuffed shrimp. It’s a matter of stuffing 30, maybe even 40 shrimp.

      I triple or quadruple the quantities called for in a recipe so that I can feed the cameramen, the floor director, the producer, the hosts, the sports guy, the weather lady, the DJ’s in the adjacent AM radio station booth-every person working in the studio on Sunday morning will have at least one of these delectable stuffed shrimp. (It’s vital to send the crew home sated; they are the ultimate taste-test panel. If they like your food, the viewers will like it too.)

      After the recipe for the dish I put together an "Invoice," a shopping list of ingredients that lists the cost of the products I’ll be buying for the recipe. This serves as my contract, if you will, for KXLY.

      The final piece of the written paperwork for each show is the "script" that I write for myself.

      This isn’t the same type of "script" that might be rehearsed by the actors on "The Bold and The Beautiful." The only person that reads this script is me. (And maybe the co-host who glances at the script tucked under the plate displayed on the set). When you cook on local television you don’t rehearse with other actors. If you choose to rehearse you do it at home ahead of time.

      Remember, this is live TV. We don’t have room for errors. We don’t do re-takes or re-shoot scenes. We’re LIVE! For my own piece of mind, I need a script as a sort of crutch to lean on. (Hey, Martha always has a cheat sheet on the counter).

      The script is my guide to all the points of the dish that I want to convey. This Sunday, I want to mention Williams Seafood and the array of products that Mike offers. I’ll talk about using wild American shrimp because they have a sweeter taste than farm-raised, and I’ll demonstrate how the prosciutto serves as a natural wrapper to hold the crab stuffing in the shrimp.

      The script helps me with my timing when I’m on-camera -- and timing is critical when you cook on television. I rehearse the script over and over and over in my living room, while a little white kitchen timer ticks away.

      I can’t tell you how many professional chefs and amateur cooks I’ve seen on television who didn’t rehearse their bit-and the results on live television were disastrous.

      (Like the chef who -- at the moment of presenting his dessert -- realized that he left the ice cream in his car. In the sun. He literally ran out of the studio, on live TV, to go get the ice cream.)

      The only small measure of direction I get from the Floor Director on the set is when I’m told to "look into the camera" seconds before the red light comes on.

      + + +

      I’ll need two of Mike’s best crabs for Sunday’s show -- one for the meat in the crab stuffing, and another one for the display of ingredients on the set.

      This morning Mike takes literally 20 minutes to scrub and wash the shell of the prized "display crab." As he toils away, I vow to honor his crab by insuring that the shell will be kept wet and shiny during its appearance -- or I won’t be able to show my face in Mike’s shop again.

      I’ll be making a crab cake mixture to stuff the shrimp. I’m wondering if Mike can top himself after the wondrous crabs he’s already given me, but he doesn’t disappoint today -- his fresh Wild American Shrimp fished out of the Gulf of Florida are just the right size to hold my savory crab cake stuffing.

      In the case of Sunday’s dish of Stuffed Shrimp, the recipe calls for grilling the shrimp on the outdoor barbecue. But we won’t be barbecuing the shrimp on camera this Sunday. I’ll grill the shrimp at home and then we’ll go through the motions of the cooking process during our live segment.

      I try to have all of my prep work done by late Saturday afternoon so I all I have to do on Sunday morning is pack the coolers and drive to the studio. There won’t be a Hummer limousine at my doorstep on Sunday morning waiting to whisk me in comfort to KXLY. I’ll be driving myself to the studio in a Dodge pickup.

      My home office serves as the "staging" area for packing the coolers. Make note of the supplies on the floor next to the cooler-dishes, toothpicks, silverware, tongs, spatulas and kitchen towels.

      And yes, I am following the direct instructions of Mike the fish guy -- I bought a spray bottle at the "Dollar Store" so that I can keep our precious "display crab" wet on camera.

      + + +

      I’ve never cooked on the "Today Show" on NBC in New York. I’ve heard that cooks who appear on "Today" are escorted into what is called a "Green Room," catered with lush displays of fresh fruit, vegetable and cheese trays, pastries and a never-ending assortment of beverages to await their few moments of fame. We don’t have a "Green Room" at KXLY. What we have is a room used by the weekday news staff to script out the flow of the news programs.

      Not having a Green Room is a blessing in disguise. The atmosphere in the studio is very casual and I don’t have to sit in a cold, lonely room waiting for a perky intern to escort me to the studio. I wait in the studio.

      You learn to be patient and immodest around the crew -- these are the people who watch you unzip your pants in the studio. You pull out your shirt so they can thread a small microphone from your waist, underneath your shirt, up to your neck and then clip the little mouthpiece to your collar.

      The only style advice I ever got was from my co-host, Teresa Lukens, who cautioned me not to wear a striped or checked shirt on-camera-something about the pattern of my shirt being a distraction to the viewers. (And I thought the girth of my waist was more of a distraction to the viewers than the pattern of my shirt).

      I don’t wear a Chef’s coat, because I don’t consider myself a Chef. I’m a cook and I want the viewers to relate to my story and my personality with ease and comfort. I want them to feel comfortable going into their kitchens at home and creating the types of dishes they might have at a restaurant. I don’t want to scare them by thinking only a guy in a chef’s coat can cook good food.

      Our kitchen at KXLY comprises an electric, flat-top stove inserted into a formica cabinet on wheels, held in place with sandbags. We don’t have an oven, refrigerator, freezer or running water. We make do with what we have-and that’s why I bring my own spatulas, spoons and water bottle to spray the crab.

      After the "Pet for Adoption" segment, I’m allowed on the set to get ready. I usually have about 15 minutes to unpack the coolers, put the ingredients on display and get the stove-top heated.

      We begin our cooking segment with a 30-second lead-in, usually after the local sports report. Teresa introduces the dish we’ll be doing and then we break to another commercial. I don’t have a lot of time to grill shrimp when we go live on KLXY -- only four minutes total for cooking time and discussion of the dish with my co-host. I’m lucky to have Teresa as my host. She knows food and cooking. She knows that prosciutto is cured Italian ham and she knows it’s thin and slightly salty. She knows to ask if smaller prawns will work for the recipe. And without prompting, she’ll ask why I’m using fresh Dungeness crab instead of canned lump crab meat. At the end of the segment we cut to one last commercial.

      As we come back live, Rick and Teresa are their normally gracious selves, tasting the stuffed shrimp and declaring it delicious. The show is a wrap.

      One more taste-test lies ahead before we can bring this journey to an end. What will the crew say about my "Shrimp Stuffed with Crab?"

      They tell me the stuffed shrimp were delicious. But you know what they really liked? What impressed them the most? The radishes.

      About a week after Sunday’s show, I went back to Williams Seafood to get some photos of the shop for this story.

      I find Mike behind the counter cutting fresh tuna steaks.

      "At least it looked fresh this time," he says.

      + + +

      Epilogue

      Shortly after I finished this piece, I began working with KXLY on our next cooking segment, which was scheduled to take place on Sunday, November 16.

      The plan was to cook some unique side dishes that the home cook could easily do to accompany the holiday turkey or prime rib. At least that was the plan until I picked up the local newspaper on November 2.

      When I turned to the business section, I saw the ominous news: "KXLY cancels weekend news program." I immediately contacted the producer.

      I had been cancelled -- a victim of the horrible state of the economy. I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. Cancelled after seven years and dozens of live cooking segments. Cancelled.

      Because "Sunday Morning Northwest" wasn’t the lead-in program to "Good Morning America," on the weekdays, it relied heavily on local advertising for its survival. ABC wouldn’t (and KXLY couldn’t) carry the burden of producing a local show that didn’t feed into network programming.

      With so many local businesses filing for bankruptcy and others literally closing the doors, one of the first budget items to go was television advertising -- advertising revenue that paid to produce "Sunday Morning Northwest."

      I wasn’t the only on-air "personality" to get the pink slip. The weekend weather "person" also got her walking papers. Rick and Teresa Lukens returned to the security of the KXLY-AM 920 radio booth and continue with their weekday morning drive-time show.

      And I have taken an unwanted leave of absence from local television. At least for a few months.

      Loyalty is not a word that is highly regarded in the television business. If ABC cancels you, you talk to NBC and so I’ve shifted my ambitions to KHQ -- the local NBC affiliate.

      KHQ airs a local morning program seven days a week. So if the culinary Gods are praying for me, someday soon I’ll begin doing a live cooking segment on the "KHQ Morning News."

      * * *

      David Ross lives in Spokane, but works a one-hour plane ride away. When he's not tending to his day job -- or commuting -- he writes about food, reviews restaurants and -- obviously -- does food presentation. He is on the eGullet Society hosting team for the Culinary Culture and Kitchen forums.
    • By Smokeydoke
      After a delightful brunch at Koslow's Sqirl restaurant in Los Angeles, I've decided to attempt to cook through her cookbook. I'll post my results here.
       
      Please follow along and join in, if you're so inclined. Her food is wonderful, but I will surmise that her true deliciousness comes from using the best and freshest ingredients. I'll do my best to recreate the magic I felt at Sqirl.
       
      Here's the link to her book at Eat Your Books.
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