A Refreshing & Intoxicating “Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook” and a “Spicy Golden Mary”

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Above is a cool, refreshing & quite intoxicating “Spicy Golden Mary”.

Below is the refreshing & intoxicating cover of the “Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook” by Nancy Vienneau (her blog is Good Food Matters). This book’s release date is just a few days away, June 17th, 2014 and will be available at your local bookstores and on-line. It’s a beauty full of wonderful stories of food and folks. The “monthly chapters” feature seasonal produce & recipes from each month of the year. You can cook your way through 5 years of Third Thursday Potluck gatherings all in one book. I was so pleased to do the food and prop styling for this book, which was a real labor of love.

Third Thursday FINAL

What do these two things have in common you might ask?

One is a much-anticipated cookbook that chronicles the stories and recipes that have been shared over the past 5 years, every Third Thursday of every month, at one of Nashville’s best kept secrets. Nancy, and her friend, Gigi Gaskins (who owns HatWRKS) started this potluck as a way for a group of food friends to get together, share incredible seasonal recipes & foods, have a glass of wine and talk. There is no set theme except for the season.  As the cover says, this truly is a potluck like no other.

To herald this book’s release I want to share with you a recipe of mine from the book. The deliciously refreshing & intoxicating “Spicy Golden Mary “.  Get the book for this and so many more enticing recipes and stories. This recipe is from July’s Chapter “The Big Tomato”.

Before we have a “Spicy Golden Mary”, here are two events you will not want to miss if you happen to live, or be visiting the Nashville, TN area on these dates….lots of fun and good food.

This one is on Tuesday night, 6/17……

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This is on “Third Thursday”, 6/19 of course! Bring a dish and a drink (wine, etc) if you like and come join all of us…..

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Here is how to make my  recipe,
“Spicy Golden Mary”
Orange heirloom tomatoes
1. Core and chop 4-5 pounds of very ripe yellow tomatoes. (About 7 cups).
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heirloom tomatoes
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2. You will also need 1 1/2 cups good quality Vodka such as Tito’s from Austin, Texas or Ketel One from Holland.
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3. Puree chopped tomatoes in a food processor fitted with a chopping blade until smooth.
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4. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the pulp, pressing down gently with a wooden spoon to get all the juice from the pulp.
IMG_1649Whoa! Look at that beautiful golden tomato juice.
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5. To the bowl of tomato juice add the following:  the Vodka, 2 tsp grated horseradish, a generous pinch of salt to taste, freshly ground black pepper to taste, 1 tbsp Serrano chili-lime pepper sauce (or 2 tsp Tabasco sauce), 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice and 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings.
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7. As I was making this for a  Third Thursday Potluck evening I used two bottles to transport it to the gathering. First I made a label on my computer of a giant tomato on a gold background and added type identifying what was in the bottles. All the ingredients were listed, along with my blog name and a catchy phrase “Drink your breakfast for dinner right now!”.
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I cut up some fresh limes & celery sticks, packed it all up in my antique carrier and off to Third Thursday!
Here is a toast to all the past Third Thursday Community Potluck dinners and to many, many more! Congratulations Nancy on your beautiful cookbook!

Spring Green Tonics

“Spring Tonic”

To celebrate Daylight Savings Time, St. Patrick’s Day and the Spring Equinox

On the third Thursday evening of each month I attend a dinner hosted by friends, Nancy Vienneau and Gigi Gaskins. It is appropriately called “Third Thursday” and is a potluck dinner party made up of many folks whose common love of interesting, healthy, local foods is the common thread.

March’s Third Thursday Dinner fell on St. Patrick’s Day. As you can imagine there were lots of dishes honoring “green”. Spinach, green beans, basil, avocado dishes were plentiful. For this occasion I created a “Spring Tonic”.  With cucumbers & lime juice as the main ingredients this “tonic” was the essence of “all things green”.

This tonic is easy to make, beautiful, refreshing, not too sweet and is like drinking a glass of spring.

What you will need:

To make approximately 1/2 gallon of Spring Tonic:

About 8 fresh cucumbers, 5 or 6 limes juiced, a piece of fresh ginger, 1 to 1.5 cups of raw sugar, 2 to 3 cups of your favorite white rum, about 1 cup of Midori liqueur and seltzer water or club soda. (Adjust to taste as you mix.)

Trim and peel cucumbers. Scrape seeds out with a spoon. Cut into chunks and place in food processor. You may have to do this in batches. Process until cucumbers are pureed with no chunks. Pour puree into a colander lined with two layers of cheesecloth or into a fine sieve sitting over a bowl to catch the cucumber juice. Use a rubber scraper to press the puree through the cheesecloth to get out most of the liquid.

When finished you should have about 3 cups of liquid.

This color of green is so beautiful like spring grass.

To make Gingered Simple Syrup: Peel ginger & cut into slices. Place ginger pieces, raw sugar + 1.2 cups of water in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a low boil, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat to cool.

As I was taking my Spring Tonic to a dinner party I made labels for two 1 qt containers to share the ingredients with guests.

To mix Spring Tonic:

Into each 1 quart container add half of the Cucumber liquid, half of the Midori, half of the fresh Lime Juice, half of the Gingered Simple Syrup with ginger pieces & half of the White Rum. Stir mixture in each container until well mixed. Cover and chill until ready to drink.

To Drink: Place ice in a glass, pour in some Spring Tonic & add a splash of seltzer water, club soda or mineral water with gas.

 

 

….. evening of greens….

While concocting your own “Spring Tonic” you could enjoy some music by the band “Tonic”. Check them out on itunes for a listen.

 

Herbal tonic is used to help restore, tone and invigorate systems in the body or to promote general health and well-being.
“get your motor running….drink Spring tonics!”

 

“Cheese Tart & Clicquot…Happy New Year”

It was crisply chilled, there were multiple bottles, they were shared among friends, we brought appetizer’s….small, delicate, chocolate “cake-ettes” appeared from our hostess…”Table Topics” was introduced & we were off on many conversational roads leading to others, politics, history, funny stories & memories, food……it was the best of New Year’s Eves. Happy 2011

Wouter, Nancy, Jim, Wendy, me & Bill

An “Alsatian Cheese Tart” for New Year’s Eve, adapted from a recipe found at epicurious.com, originally in “Gourmet” Magazine, Feb. 2006

For this you will need: 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed; 1/2 cup whole milk cottage cheese; 1/4 cup plain yogurt; salt & pepper; 6 slices of bacon cooked crispy & broken into pieces; 1/2 small yellow onion sliced very thinly; 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To Make:

I discovered this Puff Pastry “Dufour Pastry Kitchens” brand at Whole Foods a couple of days ago and butter is the first ingredients listed. This inspired me to try it out with this Tart recipe. It is very delicious, baked up perfectly and tasted  like puff pastry is supposed to taste. Buttery!

1. With oven rack in the middle of oven, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw whatever puff pastry you use according to package directions.

2. While pastry is thawing prepare toppings. Blend together cottage cheese, yogurt, salt & pepper. Cook bacon ’til crisp & thinly slice onion.

3. Slightly roll out pastry on lightly floured surface with a rolling-pin. You will have a rectangle about 15″ x 10″ more or less.  Using a sharp knife I cut the pastry into two equal size pieces as I wanted to make one with bacon and the other vegetarian.

4. Place both pieces of pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread half the cheese mixture over the surface of each to within 1 inch of edge all way around. Sprinkle thin slices of onion over all. On one side sprinkle all the crumbled bacon. Top both with grated Parmesan cheese. Optional: sprinkle over both a light dusting of Italian Seasoning.

5. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffy. About 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes. Cut into small “two-bite” squares to serve.

(While my tart was baking I made a cup of Yogi Chai Tea. The tags on the tea bags have “pearls of wisdom” on them…this “worth sharing” tag pretty much says it all)

….Out of the oven……

Bon Apetit all year-long!