Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Carrot Radish Salad in Citrus Cinnamon Vinaigrette

THUMBS UP:

The Carrot Salad in Citrus Cinnamon Vinaigrette was a big refreshing hit at a marvelous 50th Birthday Bash I catered last weekend with 75 guests.

So was everything else I made: Grilled Herb Pesto Chicken, Curried Barley Salad w/ Cranberries & Coconut (vegan), Rum-flavored Baked Beans (vegan). We also had a bratwurst & hotdog bar and veggie burgers too. For apps, I made Ginger Cranberry Cream Cheese and Roquefort Walnut Cream Cheese and put out store-bought hummus, veg tray, crackers, salsa & chips.

(I make different hummus type spreads but you can’t beat that 1.5 qt tub of creamy roasted red pepper hummus from Costco for $5.  Put savings toward one of my signature salads instead. Or good tequila. )

I am not a BBQ expert (no cable, no Food Network, Flay who?). This is my practical tip for big parties: bake the meats the night before til JUST BARELY done, ie still pink. Then you only have to quickly sear & heat on the grill, less than 5 min, resulting in MOIST meats with a nice char. Less time spent on your feet at the hot grill, more time in a seat with an ale.

THUMBS DOWN

At a recent potluck I sampled a couple deli salads from Linden Hills Co-op. Surprisingly disappointing, esp for $12/quart. Tomato Edamame Salad with basil and lime — sounds good, doesn’t it? Looked pretty, too. But it was very BLAH. No zing. No crunch, either.

The Taco Barley Salad was more flavorful. I spose if you’re really missing that typical taco seasoning this would hit the spot. It just seemed alright, nothing special to me. I think more peppers & corn would have helped balance the seasoning and add crunch.

Frankly I preferred my Curried Barley Salad — and so did a couple other guests I was talking with. 😀

SO, I’m going to makeover that Edamame salad with a better dressing — watch for it amongst upcoming Delivered Dish of the Week menus!

UP AND DOWN

I introduced my gourmet dad to Sea Salt in Minnehaha Falls Park on a perfect afternoon this week. I always get the same Fried Fish Basket, b/c it’s the best value for money — 4 large battered fillets — and so dang good. We also loved the Fried Oysters and Softshell Crab. Both were soft, fresh, delectable and good value (2 crabs in the sandwich).  So, the fried seafood was definitely thumbs up!

We gave the sides, however, thumbs down. Red Beans & Rice, Crawfish Creole soup, and even the Coleslaw.

The soup was OK, not enough depth I think. Not “oooh get your own”. But that kind of seafood soup is harder to make well.

I was particularly bummed about the beans, b/c, you know, it’s iconic and not hard to make.  Theirs even had sausage in it, so you’d think it would be tasty — but it wasn’t.  And finally the ubiquitous little cup of coleslaw. Fresh & crunchy, UP, but also, bland, DOWN. I appreciated the fact the dressing wasn’t super cloyingly sweet and over-mayonnaised as most are, but it could have used more ‘there” there.

So what’s the deal? Beans and slaw are basic. Dad concluded that it takes only fresh seafood, a good batter and quick hands to produce great fried food, but, it takes a palate for seasoning and a bit of time to make great sides. He thinks the dudes should get a N’awlins grandma to consult.

Meanwhile, I gonna make us a mess o’ beans.

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One thought on “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

  1. Linda Vieira

    Tracy, you’ve come highly recommended from a close friend at UU church on Girard. And I agree completely with your sea salt critique.

    Most important. We are having a wedding in our yard on Sept 18, 2010. The groom and many friends are vegan. We do have some meat eaters. We want cold salads and grilled things. Like veggies, and other meat options as well as some meat. There will be 70-80 people, wedding is at 4 and we’lll have champagne after the service. Maybe some small finger food. Eat about 6. Dancing on our patio after that. We willl have many veggies provided by the brides good friend who owns a farm in WI near here.

    How can I contact you with more details?. Thanks so much
    Linda

    Reply

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