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lili@delightfulpalate.net

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Chopped Grape Tomato Relish Layer Dip with Delightful Palate’s Balsamic Garlic Honey Vinaigrette over Hummus

The first layer is the hummus, combine the chopped cherry tomato and herbs with the Balsamic Garlic Honey Vinaigrette, Plate it with the cucumber slices, Greek twist add feta and olives, Serve the Tomato Cherry Relish over a bed of homemade ricotta Chopped Grape Tomato Relish Layer Dip with Delightful Palate’s Balsamic Garlic HoneyVinaigrette over Hummus

Hummus and Chopped Grape Tomato Relish Layer Dip

with Delightful Palate’s Balsamic Garlic Honey

2 cups of your favorite flavor Hummus

1 pint of grape tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons of fresh basil or flat leaf parsley

2 green onions, chopped

Salt and pepper

¼ to ½ of Delightful Palate’s Balsamic Garlic Honey

Pita chips or cucumber slices

 

In a medium bowl, place the chopped tomatoes, herbs, green onions, salt and pepper. Drizzle with Delightful Palate’s Balsamic Garlic Honey Vinaigrette and toss to coat.

On a small platter spread a layer of hummus to cover the bottom to cover the bottom of the platter. Spread tomato relish on the top and serve with pita chips or cucumber slices.

Alternative: Serve over a pile of fuffy homemade ricotta

Or add 1/4 cup of feta and 1/4 cup of Geek olives and give the recipe a twist.  

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My Red Headed Step Child with Freckles

Shaved fFennel, orange, Avocado and Pistachio Slaw with Delightful Palate's Stone Fruit Nectar

My Red Headed Step Child with Freckles 

I was training my sister’s friend Jennifer to help me demo my Delightful Palate product line of marinades, glazes and vinaigrettes. She is overqualified to be a demo person as she has effective marketing skills. After our third and final training session in one week, which consisted of setting up Delightful Palate displays and handing out tempting samples in the produce isles of grocery stores, Jennifer’s hilarious sense of humor appeared. She picked up a bottle of Stone Fruit Nectar and cradled it in her arms as it were a baby and softly said, “ you are my red headed step child—with freckles.” She paused and 

The scale that measures in grams only with a weight boat

Eerie looking samples

My redheaded step child with freckles

Dr Luis Espinoza in actiom

My Red Headed Step Child with Freckles

I was training my sister’s friend Jennifer to help me demo my Delightful Palate product line of marinades, glazes and vinaigrettes. She is overqualified to be a demo person as she has effective marketing skills. After our third and final training session in one week, which consisted of setting up Delightful Palate displays and handing out tempting samples in the produce isles of grocery stores, Jennifer’s hilarious sense of humor appeared. She picked up a bottle of Stone Fruit Nectar and cradled it in her arms as it were a baby and softly said, “ you are my red headed step child—with freckles.” She paused and whispered to the pretend baby in her arms  “You are my black Jellybean, my brown M&M.” She was referring to the fact that the other flavors in my product line out sell Baby Stone Fruit Nectar 2 to 1. 

She is right, but it is also my favorite flavor and I use it almost every night, in my dinner. I can go on and on about how many ways to use it, shaved fennel, oranges, avocado, dried cherries, green onion and pistachios or tossed with Beluga lentils, shredded dinosaur kale, currants, red onion and medjool dates with a dollop of yogurt, and a sprinkle of curry mixed in with stone fruit nectar and drizzled on top. 

My quest to re-evaluate the recipe for my redheaded stepchild with freckles and a pocket full of black jellybeans begins.  I consult with food scientist Dr. Luis Espinoza at the Louisiana State University incubator and he recommends ordering new samples of all natural peach flavorings and we will begin there.

I received an email from Dr. Luis that the samples have arrived and I am scheduled for a Thursday morning tasting session. I walk into the cold lab room, my nose immediately started running as it always does in this building, I don’t know if it is because the temperature is always kept at 60 degrees for anti microbial reasons or I am allergic to knowledge.

To craft a product with a food scientist who is also a chemical engineer, from Honduras and speaks with a heavy accent is by the book. Let’s start with the term “brix”, in the process of flavoring vinegar, we will measure the brix, or sugar content in the vinegar I am currently using in my recipe. 

On the counter of the lab there is a scale that measures in grams only, a nightmare for me as I am mathematically challenged and never learned the metric system. There is also other precise equipment such as a pH meter stick and an electrical refractory to measure the brix. The drawers in the table where we are working contain boxes of disposable droppers and the cabinets are lined with assorted sizes of thin glass beakers.

We begin talking strategy and measure the Brix in the original recipe which is 52 and decide to add 15 per cent more peach flavoring to create our base recipe. We both agree we like the flavor profile. Out comes his phone and he flips open the cover and starts calculating in grams percentages of weight and starts writing down umpteen algebraic formulas… I stand there in the deafening silence as he derives at the proper amounts. 

He hands over the calculations scribbled on a piece of paper and I enthusiastically start multiplying them by 28 to convert them to grams.

I pull out the weight boats, little plastic holders that weigh a miniscule amount, tare the scale and start methodically sprinkling sugar crystals into the boat.  It does not take many granules to equal a gram. I add the new flavoring with the disposable droppers and counting how many drops equal 0.7 grams, Finally all my samples using flavorings #52, #54 and # 55 mixed with vinegar A are ready to taste. They have an eerie resemblance, to urine samples lined up in a doctor’s office. 

Dr. Luis tells me, in his thick Central American accent to take the disposable droplet and, one flavor at a time, place three drops under my tongue, close my mouth and swish it around so it coats all my taste buds. Then I count how long the flavor lingers on my palate. I place the first drops of sample # 52 under my tongue and close my eyes to concentrate on what I taste, the first thing I notice is a juicy, floral , peach flavor. It is delicious. The second one # 54 has a sweeter note and taste like a combination of fruit flavors. Dr. Luis explains to me I taste the flavor of green apple. The third #55 taste like Jolly Rancher, I am not interested in that one. The clear winner is #52 with sample A of vinegar. 

Ahh! Dr Luis says we could use #52 in sample B vinegar and up the Peach  flavoring 15 percent and see how that would taste, but my time was up with the mathematical scientist and a decision is still pending because there is always another concoction you can multiply by 28 to drop under your tongue. 

I know mothers are not supposed to have  a favorite child and I don’t,  all my flavors enhance certain ingredients  to  be delicious, but I will share my latest favorite redheaded step child with freckles recipe using root vegetables and citrus that are so abundant this time of year.

Shaved Fennel, Orange, Avocado, and Pistachio Slaw with Delightful Palate’s Red Headed Step Child with Freckles. (aka: Stone Fruit Nectar)

1 large fennel bulbs with fronds, trimmed, reserve fennel fronds lengthwise, cored, and very thinly sliced

1 avocado, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

1 orange

1 large pink grapefruit

¼ cup dried cherries, chopped fine

2 green onions, finely chopped

Sea Salt

Fresh black pepper

3 Tablespoons of Delightful Palate’s Stone Fruit Nectar

Optional: Feta, Blue Cheese or grated Parmesan 

Slice off the ends of the grapefruit to expose the fruit. Stand the fruit on a cut end, and slice off the skin and pith, following the natural curve of the fruit from top to bottom. Cut on each side of each membrane to free the segments, then cut the segments in half , do the same with the orange and add them to the fennel. Add the avocados, cherries, and green onion. Toss gently and season to taste with salt. Serve immediately topped with the remaining fronds and nuts, a pinch of pepper, and a light drizzle Stone Fruit Nectar and cheese if you are using.

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Freedom and Fear of Over Purging

 Lasagna-Style Baked Penne with Meat Sauce., The beginning of the home made ricotta- whole milk, buttermilk and cream, This freshly made ricotta is irresistible, I take a heaping spoonful and enjoy the warm creamy cheese straight from the cheesecloth,  Browned lamb and veal simmering in the sauce, A dollop of  freshly  made ricotta to be folded into the meat sauce, Crunchy cheese baked around the edges of tho dish makes it scrumptious, Margaret, The lucky sister who now owns the crystal ice bucket, The overstocked shopping closet

Freedom from the Fear of Over -purging  

 

You should see the overwhelmed expression on my dear friend Fahy’s face as she slowly opens yet another door of a built -in cabinet to reveal three decades of antiquated possessions crammed in its shelves.

Fahy is the daughter of a surgeon and so has the capacity to look at the size and shape of any object and make it fit into a space.  She can easily choose the correct Tupperware for leftovers and pack a trunk for a food show without leaving any wasted room. She also has discerning taste, and we've known each other for twenty years, so I know I've picked the right friend to help me pack up my house.

 

My husband’s job requires us to relocate and as we are now empty- nesters, downsizing and moving to a new town sounds like a fun new opportunity? Fahy’s challenge is to condense a five thousand square foot house on fourteen acres into a garden home on a zero lot.


I think my husbandTim, and I reacted normally once we realized we were really going to have to move: we froze in denial, ignoring the fact that thirty years of our family life needed to be packed into boxesWe merrily whistled our way through the holidays, barely taking the time to research new homes.Finally, after being pushed by deadlines, we quickly decided on one.

 

I discovered once I tackled the first closet and shuffled through the stacks of old Santa Claus lettersabundant grade school pictures and framed handprints with ‘I love you “ written in the teachers' handwriting, that two hours had passed and nothing was yet in garbage bag or box. It was at that point that I called Fahy.

 

Fahy arrives and begins to unclutter the shelves by creating orderly piles. She picks up a lead crystal ice bucket and put it in the “bye, bye “ pile. "But, “ I said,  “you gave that to me for Christmas one year.” She replies, “then give it to a sister because you won't have room."


My sisters and a few close friends come by to shop in the overstocked inventory of great- looking pottery, platters, hand blown candlesticks  and festive tablecloths of assorted sizes. As they choose what they wantmy heart occasionally sags, but I then remember that it's all going to good homes. If I had snapped out of denial sooner I could have re-gifted these items for Christmas presents!

 

When I am only an eighth of the way through the house,exhaustion turns into angerI open yet another packed desk drawer and start dumping the contents into a huge, black contractor bag without looking. Fear sets in; am I over-purging? Will I one day regret that a homemade mother's day card has made its way into the “bye, bye“ pile.

 

In the drawer that contains forty pounds of torn- out recipes from my cooking magazines ,I am still hoping to test them all, I discover one for Lasagna-Style Baked Penne with Meat Sauce. The tantalizing photos of the baked, crunchy -cheese edges will surely sooth a sore back and my confusing decisions, so I leave my piles behind and head into my kitchen.

I chose to substitute the béchamel with homemade ricotta after being inspired from the blogger Your Daily Em-i-lis. I  am energized this time of year to challenge myself to learn something new and homemade ricotta is ridiculous easy to master and crazy fun. 

Recipe from Bon Appetit 

Lasagna-Style Baked Penne with Meat Sauce. 

1 pound pennette or ditali

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 pound ground lamb

1 pound ground veal

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 teaspoons chopped marjoram

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 quart whole milk

2 large egg yolks

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

 

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the ground lamb and veal and cook, stirring to break up the lumps, until the meat is beginning to brown, 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, marjoram and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, whisking, for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce is very thick and boiling, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks and the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir all but 1 1/2 cups of the sauce into the meat mixture along with the pasta and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the pasta into a 3-quart baking dish. Spread the reserved 1 1/2 cups of sauce on top.

Bake the pasta in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, until bubbling. Preheat the broiler. Broil the pasta 8 inches from the heat for about 2 minutes, until the top is browned and bubbling. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

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