Heidi Rolls

IMG_6616It’s raining, and I feel like making bread. I have to make 16 loaves for an event, but I’m not feeling like doing that right now. Because it is usually part of any catered meal, it seems that I never just make enough for us. There’s always a reason to make several batches.

With summer just around the corner (even though she’s been taunting us with her wiles for the past couple of months), I’m going to make some of these delightful little buns to put in the freezer to have ready to accompany an al fresco dinner on the porch, or beach.

They’re not huge, just big enough to enjoy with a salad and something grilled. They can be topped with different seeds, and are buttery & slightly sweet. This recipe makes 36 rolls, enough for several dinners for 4 or 6.  If you’re invited to a potluck, these are always appreciated!

I call them Heidi Rolls, after the soft, white rolls that Heidi brought to Peter’s blind grandmother when she returns from Frankfurt, in the Swiss children’s story Heidi. Continue reading

Glazed Harissa Spiced Pork Ribs with Roasted Oranges

IMG_7642Our community is often on the look out for great fund-raising ideas for our little island for different social assistance programs, the school, and maintaining & improving our community hall. The essentials are that it be interesting enough to attract at least 30% of our population, be something that we can pull off with the expertise we have at hand, and an event that makes the most money possible given the first two requirements.

One year we decided to do a walk-a-thon to raise funds. We don’t have a circuitous route on Thetis, so we had boats move us from one road end point to another. Already we had a built in infrastructure consideration that made the walk more interesting! The walk was planned for a Saturday morning, so some of us realized that most people would already be here the night before, so why not feed them?

I led the group, and we served big servings of lasagne and Caesar salad. This was the event that I created my Roasted Vegetable Lasagne for. We sold 80 tickets for $15 within the first three days, and as there were only 350 residents on the island that was pretty good!

Then my head started tumbling over ideas… If we already had a captive audience, how about doing some sort of auction?

Our house is full of art. We have many pieces waiting to get hung if another piece gets moved. What if others are in the same boat? What if some of that art isn’t ever going to get hung? What if we had an auction where folks could put the art up for auction whether it’s a print or an original; acquired or created by themselves? What about artisans? Before I knew it, the idea had created itself!

By the time of the event, we had a beautiful quilt, original sketches, acrylics, funny little thrift shop finds, and some amazing current and antique prints offered for sale.

I can’t remember how much money we made that night, but I do remember the quilt being sold for $1,500. Many people took home new art, as well as selling one of their own pieces.

The weekend was a huge success, and although we didn’t offer the art auction again the next year, the walk-a-thon continued on for several years raising money for our little one room schoolhouse.

A decade or so later, in 2011, the community dusted off the idea of an art auction. Instead of being a last minute idea, we would take the time to figure out logistics, and try to make it a “huge” event. This year will be our 4th in a row, and each year has done substantially better than the past.

The main draw, besides an awesome evening out, is the dinner. We have decided to go with a Moroccan inspired meal this year, so from an appetizer tent to the main meal served on linen clad tables on the tennis court, every item draws from the southern shores of the Mediterranean.

I spent most of a day figuring out this recipe for this year’s event. Braising the ribs in harissa spiced orange juice, and incorporating roasted oranges to the final glaze, which elevated a basic rib recipe into something exotic. The ribs can be glazed either on the barbeque (as we’ll be doing for the event) or simply glazed in the oven, as I’ve done with them here. Continue reading

Black Bean & Quinoa Wraps

IMG_7238Earlier this spring I was catering for a large group, and was asked to provide a 50/50 split of vegetarian and meat sandwiches or wraps. This is so standard now, as many non-vegetarians simply don’t want to be eating meat at every turn.

The vegetarian wraps would need to be sustaining, not just filled with veggies & sauce. I decided to do a mix of beans & quinoa, which would keep these folks energized all afternoon. The resulting mixture made for one of the best wraps I’ve ever had, a good ratio of filling to wrap, with a nice blend of textures.IMG_7214 Continue reading

Fluffy Lemon Buttercream

IMG_7668Every year at this time, our community celebrates a woman who has quietly volunteered to make our community a better place. Whether it’s through education, seniors outreach, communication, the environment, or many other facets, it all gets done by volunteers.

The program started a decade or so ago, and now the past recipients make a surprise visit to the woman’s home, ready to celebrate her with a cake, and a bottle of bubbly. Or two.

Usually I make the cake, mostly because I love doing it. I’m sure someone else will happily step up if the need arises. Cakes used to be served to celebrate any occasion, but as we’re more aware of the value of calories we consume we’re more selective on when to serve one. Consequently, they’re even more of a treat.

For this year’s event, I decided to do a 3-layer white buttermilk cake, filled with seedless raspberry preserves, and frosted with a fluffy and very lemony buttercream.

We enjoyed the cake, while sipping on bubbly, and chatting with each other through the evening. Ten women from very diverse backgrounds makes for very good conversation.

Continue reading