Monday, September 21, 2009

Cooking Hodge Podge

Saturday was a rough day for me. I spent the afternoon studying for a grueling test that I'll be taking in a couple of weeks and then got sick on the way home from the session...not my idea of a good time!  So, Sunday, when I was feeling normal again, I wanted to cook...a lot.  I wound up narrowing it down to 3 dishes. Two were new and one was an old favorite.

I love "old favorites" since they bring back so many memories.  This one brought back memories as far away as elementary school. My mom use to make Pasties and I would love to take them for lunch. All the kids would look at me like I was crazy--and why wouldn't I be? How many fourth graders bring cold meat pies to school for lunch?  Regardless, I loved the attention and I loved the lunch.  I remember that whenever I make them.

The new dishes I made I found out of a bargain cookbook from Border's: Appetizers Finger Food Buffets & Parties by Bridget Jones. (Not of the Bridget Jones' Diary fame, I'm sure...anyone remember blue soup?) The first was Smoked Salmon and Rice Salad Parcels and the other was Cold Lemon Souffle with Almonds.  Let me tell you they all turned out great!  Other than a little time consuming, they are all easy to make.  Still, 4 hours in the kitchen doesn't seem all that bad when the therapy aspect is considered.  It was the ideal therapy session, indeed.  I made dinner and felt giddy by the time the plates were filled. Seeing the happy faces of my kids trying something new and hearing the comments that follow, well, that just makes my heart soar.

Smoked Salmon and Rice Salad Parcels

Serves 4

1 cup mixed wild rice and basmati rice (I used Near East without the seasoning packet)
8 slices smoked salmon, approx. 12 oz. worth
4 inch piece of cucumber, finely diced
8 oz. feta cheese, cubed
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup diced onion
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. chopped curly leaf parsley
salt & fresh ground pepper
Lime slices & parsley for garnish

1. Cook the rice according to package directions. Drain any excess liquid and transfer to a bowl to cool completely.

2. Line 4 ramekins (or small cereal bowls) with plastic wrap, then line each with smoked salmon, allowing the ends to overlap the edges of the dishes. (I had extra salmon, so I used about 3 slices each.)

3. Add the cucumber, cubes of feta, and tomato quarters to the rice and stir in the mayonnaise, lime juice and parsley. Mix together well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Spoon the rice salad mixture into the salmon-lined bowls. Carefully fold over the overlapping ends of the salmon so that the rice mixture is completely encased.

5. Chill the parcels in the refrigerator 30-60 minutes, then invert each parcel onto a plate, using the plastic wrap to ease them out of the bowls. Carefully peel off the wrap, then garnish with parsley and lime. Serve.

Note: The extra rice mixture can be served as a separate salad.

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