from Dara Bunjon, Dining Dish
The name of her business, Dara Does It—Creative Solutions for the Food Industry—is apt, because Dara Bunjon has done it all, from food styling, to cookbook compilation, to serving as a mentor for the PROSTART at Carver Vocational-Technical High School culinary team. With her hands in so many pots, it’s no surprise that she fills her blog with useful and entertaining information for any type of foodie. While she writes for many publications, she says it comes together on her blog. “It’s foodie gone awry—rants, raves, recipes, and reminiscences.” ✸ Diningdish.net
- Shrimp Ball Soup
- Mollie Katzen’s Wild Rice Pancakes
- Quinoa, dried cranberry and shelled edamame on a bed of kale
- Thai cucumber salad
- Lychee nuts with cubed mango
Get some of the menu recipes here.
Just Add Color
My penchant for Asian flavors continues to grow, and I find the flavors conducive to many of my center-of-the-plate choices. I’m always looking for bright flavors, texture, crunch, and color——we do a lot of eating with our eyes. The Shrimp Ball Soup recipe comes from a cover-dish party I attended at least 15 years ago, and it remains in my entertaining repertoire. I also like to try out new recipes——the Molly Katzen Wild Rice, Mushroom and Goat Cheese pancake recipe spoke to me on multiple levels: the umami of the mushrooms, the texture of the rice, and the ability to make it in advance and re-warm it for the dinner.
Always loosely wrap leftover cheese in parchment paper—change it every time you use the cheese.
TIP: Place wrapped cheese in a plastic bag to keep odors out of the refrigerator.
For a pre-dinner snack, I boil it up half way, drain it and throw it in a sauté or fry pan with a smidge of sambal olek (Asian garlic chili paste), soy sauce, and a splash of water.
Eat Your Veggies!
The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen has vegetarian (and vegan) recipes ideal for fresh ideas for sides, salads, soups, entrees, and desserts.
Use bright, exotic fruit to decorate your table rather than just flowers.
Belly up to the olive bar
You are busy cooking dinner, make it easy on yourself and pick up light bites. My favorites are pâté, cornichons, and French bread, smoked trout, or gravlax that I get at Trader Joe’s. The Whole Foods olive bar is another favorite.
It’s a great resource for ideas for your tabletops. Just do a search on table decorations, holiday tables, or tabletop decorations.
Table setting (see above): Multicolor water petal napkin ($5.99/each) at Crate & Barrel. Green bottle ($12) at Sweet Elizabeth Jane. Cantine dinner plate ($29.95) at Williams-Sonoma. Paola Navone Como dessert plate ($12.95) and Mallorca mini bowl ($7.95) at Crate & Barrel. Mallorca small oval platter ($19.95) at Crate & Barrel. Colombina Collection by Alessi flatware ($58/set, $10-13/each) polished steel set at Home on the Harbor. Livi sparkling wine glass ($8.95/each) at Crate & Barrel. Black-and-white floral linen ($15.95) at Sweet Elizabeth Jane. Brian Palmer for Baker 126” dining table ($8,500) at Orions Objects. Apilco eclectique dinner plates ($29.95/each) and Apilco eclectique bread-and-butter plates ($16.95/each) at Williams-Sonoma. Como splash flat plate ($14.95) at Crate & Barrel. Apilco eclectique salad plate ($27.95/each) at Williams-Sonoma.