Easy and Elegant Al Fresco Dining! Quinoa Salad, Avocados and Salmon!

salmon al fresco

What do you do when unexpected guests, a limited budget and a lack time conspire to put a wrench into an otherwise beautiful summer evening?

039dinner al fresco

I had the quinoa, an avocado, some olives and cheese and the chocolate sauce!

The grocery was about to close in 10 minutes!

I ran in without a plan. Went straight to the “fish area”; I needed something fancy that would cook fast and go well with the quinoa salad I had just decided to make.

I bought the salmon; Wild Norwegian Salmon which is thick and moist which for me means easy cooking and a juicy dinner.

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I chopped the avocado and put together a deconstructed salad on a cute plate with some olives and feta cheese.

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A handful of fresh veggies get chopped and go into the cooked quinoa with olive oil and lime juice.

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I broiled the salmon with crushed garlic and some olive oil and lemon.

A quick toss of the quinoa and veggies and plate it up! 20 minutes! Quick and Fancy!

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I bought a quart of coconut ice cream and blackberries and topped it off with chocolate syrup.

coconut ice cream with chocoltae sauce and blackberries

I was almost embarrassed by how impressed everyone was but happily took the credit!

058coconut ice cream with blackberries and chocolate sauce


Fruit Tart: Part One

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I love these elegant desserts. Tarts remind me of the days when I lived in France and was able to eat beautiful food daily.

This is my first attempt at this recipe and my mistake was to make the crust too thick.

I should have used only half of the dough that this recipe makes.

Next time I will use half and freeze the other half for another day.

I also did not make the gelatin which tops off the fruit.

I will do so next time as I feel that it adds subtle flavor and it completes the presentation of the dessert.

005fruit tarte crust

This crust is delicious.

I used Martha Stewart’s Nut Crust recipe from The Martha Stewart Cookbook, Collected Recipes for Everyday 1995, Clarkson Potter/ Publishers, New York

Nut Crust

Makes two 8-10 inch tart shells or 12 2 1/2 to 3 inch tartlets

10 onces finely chopped nuts
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room tempeture
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Butter tart pan or tartlet pans.

Put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until well blended, using an electric mixer or wooden spoon.

Divide the mixture and press into the prepared pans.

Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the shells are golden brown.

Let cool on racks before filling.

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007fruit tarte crust

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Vanilla Custard

Recipe Courtesy of Not Derby Pie

1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
seeds and pulp of one vanilla bean (reserve scraped bean for another use)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature

In a medium saucepan, bring about 2 inches of water to a boil.

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together milk, sugar, eggs, egg yolks, salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, and vanilla bean pulp.

Set the bowl over the saucepan and continue whisking as mixture heats up.

After about 10 minutes of stirring, the mixture will have become thick enough that the mixing spoon or whisk will leave a trail.

At this point, remove the bowl from the heat and let the curd cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Then whisk in butter, one tab at a time, until it has melted into the curd and the mixture is smooth.

Strain the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into the tart crust; use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the curd and distribute it evenly.

Arrange the strawberries in concentric circles over the curd, starting on the outer rim and working your way inward.

If not serving immediately, cover tart lightly with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator.

Remove the outer ring of the tart pan to serve, and plate with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

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