Boca Raton’s Junior Leaguers relive scenes from landmark cookbook, ‘Savor the Moment’
By Liz Balmaseda
December 22, 2010
Scenes from a cookbook, circa 2000: Tables, dressed in lavish detail, await well-heeled guests and their champagne and caviar notions. It’s a time of abundance, of glittery themes, of parties for parties’ sake.
So much has happened since then – and many cookbooks have come and gone since the publication of Savor the Moment: Entertaining Without Reservations. But somehow this treasury of recipes, compiled and published by the Junior League of Boca Raton a decade ago, not only endures, it thrives.
It’s as if the book took on a life of its own years ago. Not only did it win a prestigious James Beard Award in 2001, it came to reflect the personality of its city, Boca Raton, the way it loves to entertain and be entertained.
Predicated on the philosophy that “there’s an art to celebrating the everyday things,” Savor was designed and photographed at a series of parties at some of Boca Raton’s “most eye-catching” landmarks.
The book inspired Junior Leaguer Stephanie Miskew, a Delray Beach wine writer and lecturer, to cook her way through its 255 recipes, much like the way Julie Powell cooked her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the book and film Julie & Julia.
She meandered through the “amazing” lamb dishes, the mousses and soufflés, and she says she felt a culinary kinship with the hundreds of home cooks who contributed those recipes. The former speech pathologist fell in love with some of the dishes – like the filet mignon with shallot sauce – and bravely pressed through the more intricate ones.
“The apple tarte tatin with oatmeal crust kicked my butt,” she says with a laugh.
Not so for her favorite of the appetizers.
“I just adore the sun-dried tomato mousse. Anytime I bring it to someone’s house, they want the recipe,” says Miskew, who also loved making the book’s fallen chocolate soufflé cake and, in the spring, the frozen lemon mousse.
“It’s a three-step, involved process,” she says of the latter, “But it’s great.”
An adventure to savor
Miskew has been chronicling her Savor adventures on her blog, Stephanie Savors the Moment (StephanieSavorsTheMoment.blogspot.com).
There was one notable Savor the Moment night when she did not cook. It was the night in November when she joined fellow leaguers, including original cookbook committee members Cindy Krebsbach and Lisa Mulhall, in celebrating the book’s 10th anniversary at the Seagate Beach Club in Delray Beach over drinks and bites inspired by the book. That night the beach club’s chef de cuisine, Chris Schaefer, did the cooking.
He says he was inspired by the story Miskew told him about the book, during the planning stages of the fund-raising event.
“It was very heartfelt and it gave me an inspiration, off the bat, to make some of these recipes and put my own spin on them,” says Schaefer, who went to work at the Seagate three years. “I took the recipes and put more of a 2010 shine to it.”
For instance, he took the recipe for stuffed cherry tomatoes with orzo pesto and flipped it around, skewering the cherry tomatoes and small spheres of mozzarella with pipettes filled with a broken vinaigrette. Each bite is flavored with a gentle squeeze of the tube.
Putting a personal spin on recipes is something the chef greatly encourages.
“A couple of words of advice I’d have for home cooks is to be patient – a recipe is only a recipe. If you overthink things, it can become more daunting than what it needs to be,” he says. “I wouldn’t follow a recipe per se. Instead, try to make it your own.”
“Savor the Moment” is available for $29.95 at the Junior League of Boca Raton’s website, JLBR.org.
• Jerk Marinated Grouper, Banana Chutney & Crisp Plantain
• Nueske Bacon Wrapped Dates stuffed with Point Reyes Bleu Cheese & Marcona Almonds
• Chicken Marakesh, Peppadew, Red Pepper & Onion
• Marinated Cherry Tomato, Spicy Mozzarella & Broken Balsamic Vinaigrette
• Brie en croute with Raspberry Jam
• Crab Tater Tots with Black Truffle and Old Bay Aioli
BAKED GROUPER BITES WITH BANANA SALSA
“Take a trip to the islands with every crunchy bite,” says the cookbook.
1⁄2 cup chopped green pepper
1⁄2 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeño, seeded, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
2 medium bananas, chopped
11⁄2 cups crushed potato chips
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 pound grouper fillets, cut into strips
1⁄4 cup milk
For the salsa, combine the bell peppers, green onions, cilantro, jalapeño, brown sugar, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Add the bananas and mix gently. Chill, covered, for 3 hours or longer.
For the grouper, mix the potato chips, cheese and thyme in a shallow dish. Dip the fish into the milk and then into the potato chip mixture, coating well.
Arrange in a single layer in a greased baking dish. Bake at 500 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with the salsa.
“Your guests will cross 100 miles of sand for these.”
1⁄2 cup finely chopped walnuts or almonds
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup bleu cheese, at room temperature
1⁄4 cup whipped cream cheese, softened
Coarse salt to taste
16 large dates
Saute the walnuts in the butter in a skillet until light brown. Drain on a paper towel and set aside. Combine the bleu cheese, cream cheese and salt in a bowl and mix well. Cut the dates into halves. Sprinkle with the walnuts. Serve at room temperature.
NOTE: You may substitute whole pitted small dates for the larger ones.
GINGER CHICKEN RUMAKI
“Be prepared to double this recipe.”
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1⁄4 cup orange marmalade
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
12 slices bacon
1 (8-ounce) can whole water chestnuts, cut into halves
Cut the chicken into 24 bite-size pieces. Combine the marmalade, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and stir to coat well. Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes; drain.
Broil the bacon for 1 to 2 minutes or until partially cooked but not crisp; drain and cut into halves crosswise. Wrap 1 piece of bacon around each chicken piece and a water chestnut half; secure with wooden picks.
Broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat source for 3 to 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
CHERRY TOMATOES STUFFED WITH PESTO ORZO
“Delicious! The perfect bite to eat while balancing a cocktail.”
2 pints cherry tomatoes
4 ounces uncooked orzo
1⁄2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove
1⁄4 cup walnuts
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1⁄4 cup Romano Locatelli cheese
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Place the tomatoes stem side down and scoop out the centers with a sharp knife. Invert onto a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Chill in the refrigerator.
Cook the pasta using the package directions; drain.
Combine the basil, garlic and walnuts in a food processor container and process until smooth. Add the olive oil gradually, processing constantly. Combine with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Romano Locatelli cheese, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Add the pasta and mix gently. Chill, covered, for 1 hour.
Spoon mixture into the tomato shells. Arrange on a serving plate.
BRIE IN PUFF PASTRY WITH BERRY SAUCE
“Festive in both taste and presentation for your next special holiday party.”
(Serves 10 to 12)
1⁄4 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
1⁄4 cup whole cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon spiced rum
1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 (4-inch) round Brie cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 kiwi fruit, peeled, cut into wedges
For the sauce, press the raspberries through a sieve to remove the seeds. Combine the puree with the cranberry sauce in a bowl. Add the spiced rum and mix well. Set aside.
For the Brie, place 1 sheet of the pastry on a work surface and place the Brie cheese in the center. Trim 1 to 2-inch triangular pieces off the corners of the pastry.
Roll 1 of the trimmed pieces into a ball and set aside; discard the remaining trimmings. Bring up the pastry to enclose the cheese, overlapping and pleating as needed; there will be an opening over the center of the cheese.
Place the remaining pastry sheet on the work surface and cut 4 lengthwise strips 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 inch wide. Fold the strips over to form loops and position on the wrapped cheese to form a bow, trimming the ends to resemble trailing ribbons. Place the reserved dough ball in the center of the bow and press to secure.
Place on a baking sheet and brush with the egg. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a 12-inch platter. Spoon the sauce carefully around the outer edge. Garnish with kiwifruit and serve with sliced rounds of Cuban bread.
NOTE: For a quick sauce, combine 1⁄2 package Ocean Spray cran-raspberry sauce with 1 tablespoon spiced rum.
CRAB TATER TOTS WITH BLACK TRUFFLE
Recipe by Chris Schaefer, chef de cuisine, Seagate Beach Club
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup all purpose flour
1 large egg
1 cup Yukon gold potato mash (recipe to follow)
1⁄2 pound peekytoe crab meat
2 tablespoons sliced black truffle
Panko bread crumbs
In a small sauce pan, combine the butter with cup water over high heat. When the water comes to a simmer and the butter is melted, add the flour. Reduce the heat to medium and stir until the resulting paste pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat.
Add the egg to the pan and stir until the egg is incorporated into the flour mixture.
Stir in the Yukon gold potato mash. Add slices of truffle and crab meat, making sure not to over mix as the crab tends to break apart. Season with salt and pepper
Lay mixture out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and chill. Remove and portion to desired “tater tot” sizes. Use standard breading procedure to coat tots, dipping them in flour, egg wash, and panko bread crumbs.
Fry in a sauce pot, maintaining the oil at 350°.
For the Yukon gold potato mash:
3 Yukon gold potatoes
1⁄2 pound unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Place whole, unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with cold water and season well with salt. Cook until tender.
In a separate pot, combine butter and cream. Heat and remove
Once potatoes are tender, remove and peel. Run the potatoes through a food mill or ricer. (If you don’t have a ricer, you can use a mixer or a fork.) Add cream and butter, and season with salt and pepper.
All recipes, except for the Crab Tater Tots, are reprinted from “Savor the Moment: Entertaining Without Reservations.”
SAVOR THE MOMENT ANNIVERSARY
Inspired by the Savor the Moment cookbook, chef Chris Schaefer of the Seagate Beach Club created this menu for the book’s 10th anniversary celebration last month.
One of the chef’s own recipes (Crab Tater Tots with Black Truffle and Old Bay Aioli) appears below, along with some of the original recipes that inspired his menu.
Still today, they make killer cocktail dishes for holiday parties.