Tag Archives: fruit salad

Shark Tale

Most people who have eaten at my table know that while I love to cook, I don’t really get into fancy presentation.  If it looks good and tastes good, that is enough for me.  You can keep your radish roses and curlicues and edible flowers.

But every once in a while, a special occasion calls for a little extra effort.  This is where I usually find a fun project that I’ve been dying to try and give it a go.  Recently for my aunt’s birthday, my mom threw her a luau-themed party.  Now, I’m not Hawaiian (note pasty pale skin and no dance moves), so I’m guessing this is not part of any authentic luau menu, but I thought the occasion called for a shark.

I like carving things.  At Halloween I’m the first to dive into the pumpkins (even before I had kids).  In art school I did all sorts of damage to myself carving linoleum blocks for printing.  Getting creative with carving is just plain fun.  And so…when I saw a photo of a watermelon shark, I knew it was going to happen at some point.

I know this looks fancy, but in reality, it was pretty easy to pull off!  You don’t have to be a master carver by any means. Give it a try and impress all your friends.

Shark!

Shark!

Watermelon Shark with Fruit Salad

Watermelon – go for longer oval shape rather than round
Pineapple
Grapes
Blueberry or chocolate chip

Slice off a small wedge at one end at an angle, so when you sit it on the flat part it leans a bit to one side.  Save the wedge – you’ll use it to cut a piece for the fin later.

Cut a big V shape out for the mouth.  One edge of the V is almost straight up, the other at a low angle – chomp!

Dig out all the watermelon flesh.  I did this by cutting around the inside edge and then slicing and scooping with a big spoon.  Then use the spoon or knife to scrape close to the sides (not all that different from cleaning a pumpkin but quite a bit easier).  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s nice to get all the edible stuff out so it can be eaten.  If you have loads of time, you can use a melon baller to do this, but I went more down and dirty and just hacked it all into bite sized chunks.  Set those aside.

Now you should have a watermelon shell with a big mouth cut in it and a hole in the bottom.  Good job!  Now take a small, sharp knife and score around the mouth about a half-inch or so from the edge all the way around.  Using the knife, cut away ONLY the green skin, leaving the white rind exposed.

Go slowly and slice off only the green outer layer.  If you score your outer line first it's easy to get a nice clean edge.

Go slowly and slice off only the green outer layer. If you score your outer line first it’s easy to get a nice clean edge.

Cut teeth out of the rind.  Very scary!

Close up of teeth carving.

Close up of teeth carving.

Carve a little diamond shape for the eye, inserting a blueberry or chocolate chip for the eyeball.  Cut a fin shape out of a piece of the rind you cut off.  I cut a little hole in the back of the shark and inserted it there so it would stay put.  Or you could use toothpicks to hold it in place if you prefer.

And here's your empty shark vessel.  Fill with fruit salad and wow all your friends!

And here’s your empty shark vessel. Fill with fruit salad and wow all your friends!

Chop up pineapple and de-stem grapes. Toss with the watermelon chunks and fill your shark.  Surround shark with fruit salad on the plate for a pretty presentation and you’re good to go!  You did it!

 

 

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , ,

Awesome Salad Meets So-So Casserole. Is It Love?

While I like to pretend I’m a creative genius when it comes to making up recipes, more often than not, they are happy accidents from playing with whatever happens to be in my fridge.  If it turns out good, I write it down.  If it’s just so-so, I forget it ever happened.  My goals for this recipe were to come up with something crunchy and colorful to brighten up a somewhat boring casserole.  For this dinner, the casserole was fine and dandy, but the real star of the plate was the side dish.  I wrote this one down.

Orange & Carrot Salad

Orange & Carrot Salad

1 1/2 cups baby carrots, quartered length-wise into matchsticks
1 large can (or two small ones) mandarin oranges, drained
2 tbsp. pomegranate infused red wine vinegar (or raspberry)
2 tsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt and oil until well blended.  Add carrots, orange and parsley and toss to coat.

Green & White Bean Gratin with Orange & Carrot Salad

Oh, and what was the underwhelming casserole, you ask?  Green & White Bean Gratin.  I found it in my Moosewood Cookbook and was intrigued.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  It tasted good.  I actually liked it quite a lot. But.  You heard that “but” coming, didn’t you?  This casserole had a definite “side dish” vibe.  Sometimes when I make vegetarian meals, I look at my plate and think, “where are the pork chops?”  I think part of the problem is adjusting my thinking a bit, and what I think of as a complete meal sometimes still includes meat.  But part of the problem is that this main dish needs help!

So it tasted good, and was filling.  But it’s still kind of lacking as a main dish.  I just couldn’t help but feel like something was missing.  And I’m not sure what.  Maybe it needed more crunch?  Maybe more veggie variety or color?  Spice?  Meat?  I’m not sure.  Any suggestions?  Or should this just be relegated to my “tasty side dish” recipe box?

Green & White Bean Gratin

Green & White Bean Gratin
(from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers)

2 cups frozen (thawed) or fresh green beans
2 – 15 oz. cans white beans
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp. dried rosemary, sage or thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of black pepper
1 cup grated Cheddar, Fontina, or Gruyere cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. melted butter

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Butter an 8 inch square baking dish.  Spread green beans to cover the bottom of the baking dish.  In a blender, whirl one can of white beans, undrained, with the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper until smooth.  Pour over the green beans in the baking dish and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.  Drain the second can of white beans and spread the beans on top.

In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and melted butter.  Sprinkle over the top of the gratin.  Bake covered for 25 minutes.  Uncover and bake until golden and bubbling, about 10 minutes more.

This made a good pairing with Orange & Carrot Salad.  But I still missed that pork chop.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements