When Karen Keith secured the winning bid on a dinner that was auctioned off at the Fuzzy Friends Barkin’ Ball, her good friend Betsy Robinson offered to host it. Robinson said Keith could have the dinner at the house where she and her husband, Clifton, lived at the time, or she could wait and have the dinner at the house where the Robinsons were preparing to move. Keith decided to wait for the new house, and on May 16, she and a group of friends gathered together for the meal.
After she won the prize, Keith, who owns Keith’s Ace Hardware on Hewitt Drive, said she was given a choice of having dinner for 10 or a cocktail party for 20. She chose the latter.
“I bought a dinner the year before, and it was absolutely fabulous,” she said. “This time, I said, ‘Hey, I’ll do a cocktail party.’”
The dinner was donated to Barkin’ Ball by Betsy and Clifton Robinson, Roger and Lana Schmidt and Dr. Bill and Amy Peper. Barkin’ Ball is a fundraiser for Fuzzy Friends, a no-kill animal shelter Betsy Robinson founded in 1990. Keith is a strong supporter of Fuzzy Friends.
“I’m sickened people drop off animals,” she said. “The fact that Fuzzy Friends and these other agencies protect these animals or find them homes is wonderful.”
Keith said Roger Schmidt of Young Chefs asked what she wanted on the menu. She replied, “Y’all know your stuff. You do what you enjoy doing. It’ll be fun no matter what.” At the party, Keith said, “Y’all have made this unbelievable. This is as fancy as dinner for 10. They’ve almost made it a dinner for 20. It’s incredible.”
And the menu for the party was pretty incredible. Guests were served 13 savory appetizers and five desserts during the nearly four-hour soiree.
Keith said she couldn’t decide on her favorite dish of the evening. “I like everything,” she said.
Handling most of the cooking duties were Roger Schmidt, president of Young Chefs Academy; Julie Burleson, Young Chefs’ founder and CEO; and her husband, Charles Burleson, Young Chefs’ IT professional. Abby, who works with Young Chefs Academy, and I helped as well.
On the savory side, the menu included: Alfredo Glazed Chicken Breasts with Garlic-Herb Rub; Baked Lump Crab Dip Baked Phyllo Cups with Pulled Oryx Tenderloin and Jalapeno Chutney; Charged Chicken Dip; Deviled Eggs with Capers and Red Peppers; Elk-Jalapeno Sausage in Marinara; Feta Cheese Garlic Artichoke Dip; Grilled Filet Mignon with Onions, Mushrooms and Red Wine Reduction; Herbed Lavash with Avocado Hummus; Mango Salsa in Wonton Cups with Spicy Shrimp; Parmesan Tuiles with Charred Tomato Chutney; Penne Pasta with Red Stag Tenderloin; and Spicy Pork Bundles.
The dessert menu consisted of: Bourbon Pecan Pie, Chocolate Cheesecake, Hand-Dipped Strawberries with White and Dark Chocolate, Maple Pecan Cake, and Lemon Tarts.
Mango Salsa in Wonton Cups
- 12 wonton wrappers
- 2 cups mango, peeled, pitted and chopped
- 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 2/3 cup green onions, chopped
- 1 or 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- Spicy Shrimp (optional, recipe follows)
To make the wonton cups, heat oven to 350 F. Make the cups by gently pressing each wrapper down into a mini-baking cup, careful to be sure that the corners are folded out and not in. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until the cups are firm and slightly golden.
To make the salsa, in a bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, place a spoonful of salsa in each wonton cup, and top with one shrimp (if using). Makes 12 wonton cups.
- 12 large shrimp
- Geoffrey Michael’s Spicet seasoning (or your favorite spicy seasoning mix), to taste
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- Butter for cooking
- 1 lime, halved
Peel, devein and rinse shrimp under cold water. Lay shrimp flat on a plate and sprinkle lightly with Spicet (or other seasoning mix) and cayenne pepper.
In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, melt some butter. Add shrimp to pan (cook in batches, if necessary), seasoned side down. Sprinkle shrimp with more Spicet. Cook for 3 minutes. Flip over and squeeze the juice of half a lime over the shrimp. Cook for another 3 minutes or until done. Makes 12 shrimp.
Parmesan Tuiles with Charred Tomato Chutney
- 6 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus more for pressing
- Freshly ground pepper
For the Charred Tomato Chutney:
- 3 plum tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Coarse salt, to taste
Heat oven to 400 F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
To make the tuiles, in a medium bowl, combine Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with butter, flour and a generous pinch of pepper; mash all ingredients until a dough forms. Form the dough into a 4-inch log. Cut the log into 12 equal slices and arrange the slices on the baking sheet. Using your fingers, press the slices into 1 1/2-inch rounds.
Bake the tuiles on the lowest oven rack for about 7 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the tuiles are golden brown and sizzling. Let the tuiles cool completely. Carefully transfer them to a paper towel–lined plate and blot the excess fat. (The thin, crispy tuiles can be delicate; take care when moving them.)
To make the chutney, heat a small heavy skillet over high heat until very hot. Place whole tomatoes in the skillet and pan-roast until charred on all sides, turning frequently. Place charred tomatoes in a food processor.
Heat the same skillet over high heat until hot. Combine mustard seeds, coriander seeds and red pepper flakes in the skillet and toast until the seeds pop, stirring frequently.
Add the toasted seed mixture and a few pinches of salt to the food processor; pulse until the mixture is chunky. Serve tuiles with the tomato chutney alongside. Makes 12 tuiles.
Spicy Pork Bundles
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh peeled ginger, finely chopped
- 1 pound lean ground pork
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon cayenne or Sriracha chili sauce (or more to taste)
- 4 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
- Hoisin sauce
- 1 to 2 heads bibb or Boston lettuce, leaves separated
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant, for about 30 seconds. Add pork. Stir, breaking up meat into small bits, until cooked through, for 3-5 minutes. Add green onions and cook for 1 more minute.
Whisk sesame oil, soy sauce and cayenne or chili sauce together; add to pork mixture. Stir to mix and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, mint leaves and lime juice. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Serve with whole lettuce leaves and hoisin sauce. Let guests prepare their own bundles by spooning some pork mixture onto a lettuce leaf and top with hoisin sauce to taste. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Alfredo Glazed Chicken Breasts with Garlic-Herb Rub
- 3 pounds boneless chicken breasts (4-5 breasts), trimmed of any fat
- 1 ounce Italian spices, mixed well (such as oregano, garlic and basil, or use a 1-ounce or 2/3-ounce package of Italian salad dressing mix)
- 4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
- 1 can (10 ounces) cream of chicken soup
- 8 ounces cream cheese (don’t use the nonfat variety)
- 4 ounces fontina cheese
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 2/3 cup cooking sherry (do not skip this ingredient)
Sprinkle Italian spice mix over each chicken breast, covering well. Place chicken in a slow cooker and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Cook on low for about 2 1/2 hours.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart sauce pan; saute chopped onions, garlic and mushrooms for a few minutes. Add cream of chicken soup, cream cheese, fontina cheese, chicken stock and sherry. Stir until smooth.
Reduce fluid in slow cooker to 1/2 inch. Add sauce mixture and cook on low for another hour.
Remove from slow cooker and serve. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (If you want even more flavor, increase the onions to 1 1/2 cups and double the amount of garlic.) Makes 12-15 servings.
For the crust:
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 4 drops (about 1/8 teaspoon) vanilla
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
For the filling:
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 4 large eggs
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4lemons)
- Fresh whipped cream (for serving)
To make the crust, cream together butter, powdered sugar, salt, zest and vanilla until the mixture is smooth and pale. Add eggs, a little at a time, and beat well between each addition.
Mix the flours together separately. Add to the mixture and carefully blend into a soft dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight. (The dough will be very soft and must have a chance to chill and become firm.)
When ready to make the tarts, heat oven to 350 F. Remove dough from the refrigerator and let it soften for a few minutes if necessary. Roll out dough on a floured work surface to about 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch dough cutter, cut out as many discs as possible. Press the dough lightly into a mini-muffin pan or tart pan.
To make the filling, in a mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, sour cream, eggs, lemon zest and salt until fully blended. Slowly pour in lemon juice while whisking constantly until fully incorporated.
Pour the filling into the crusts and bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges of the tarts are golden brown. Allow the tarts to cool. Remove from the pan and top with fresh whipped cream to serve. Makes about 26-28 mini tarts.