A tea sandwich fit for a royal and a few blurred eyed girl friends

Royal Wedding Watch Party evite.

I put out the call –  and they came.

On May 19, 2018 at 3:30 a.m. in the morning, the Royal Wedding Watch Party began.

The faithful and true “women of their word” arrived at Casa Veronique (that’s what I call my home) to watch the royal wedding of Meghan Markle to Prince Harry of Wales.

Royal Wedding Posse. Bottom left to right: Anne Dunn, Veronica Hendrix Keta Davis, Doreen Mills, Roxanne Washington. Top left to right: Jackie Marriott, Angela Hoffman, Donna Horton, Jan Davis, Schmel Graham, Kathleen Allison.

Blurred eyed and wearing their  “fascinator” hats, my friends filed into my living room with a glint of excitement, anticipation and wonder in their eyes. After all, it’s not every day someone from our Los Angeles community falls in love with a prince and marries him.

For most of them (except one who came grumbling and you know who you are), not even an early morning call time could keep them from watching this historic event.  And watching the royal wedding in the company of girl friends? Extraordinary. Unforgettable.  Nutty.  And so worth it.

Wave Newspapers, lead story, Western edition.

The Los Angeles Wave Newspapers captured the early morning viewing nuptials at my Spanish-style home in an article they published following the wedding.  It is clear from many of the comments of my guests – as reported in the story – it was a gathering of women who viewed the wedding from varying perspectives. That was no surprise to me. I know these women well.

There was one perspective that we all shared.

You guessed it – the food.

You see this group of accomplished and consciously heeled women not only practice living their best lives, they make it a point to enjoy some really good food while in spirited pursuit of it.

So what kind of early morning menu do you plan for such an esteemed group of royal wedding watchers? A British theme menu with a splash of Southern/Cali soul, paired with coffee and lots of the bubbly stuff.

Royal Wedding Watch Party food: Left: banquet table spread. Right top: breakfast potatoes and grilled chicken and garlic sausages; lemon, elder flower and champagne cupcakes. Right bottom: mini chocolate chip tea cakes, fried chicken drumettes.

The menu featured:

    • Mini chocolate chip tea cakes
    • Crab and vegetable tea sandwiches
    • Chicken drumettes
    • Quiche Lorraine
    • Grilled chicken and garlic sausages
    • Breakfast potatoes
    • Fresh fruit
    • Lemon, elder flower liquor and champagne cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Thankfully, a few of the ladies helped out by bringing the quiches, fresh fruit and chicken drumettes. It was indeed a royal feast for a few divine friends. We munched and sipped throughout the entire wedding and these royal wedding watchers didn’t depart my domicile until about10:00 a.m. It was a long, thrilling morning.

Left: Royal wedding watch parth guests enjoying the early morning feast. Right top: Veronica Hendrix with Donna Horton; Veronica Hendrix with Anne Dunn. Right bottom: Veronica Hendrix with Angela Hoffman; Veronica Hendrix with Jan Davis.

Well, the wedding is over, Meghan is now the Duchess of Sussex, and the memories of our early morning Royal Wedding Watch party linger on. And so do the memories of the vegetable and crab tea sandwiches I served at the party.

Easy vegetable and crab cream cheese tea sandwiches

My guests loved the Southern Californian inspired little sandwiches. I created this version as homage to Meghan’s Southern California roots while acknowledging her new life as a royal.

The fresh dill in these creamy, little delicate sandwiches made them savory. The finely chopped celery, yellow bell pepper and chopped carrots gave them freshness and a bit of crunch. And the addition of chopped, lump crab meat made them decadent. They were the perfect little bites.

Be careful when you make them. They are so good; no one can eat just one, two, three or four.

Duchess in Mumbai, India during a 2017 women’s empowerment mission with World Vision.

As I think about the union of Meghan and Harry, I can’t wait to see how the newly minted Duke and Duchess of Sussex will use their platform for good.

I’m chuffed to bits about it all. That’s British slang for “I’m pleased  with what’s happened.”  So cheerio loves, and I hope you enjoy the recipe.

Easy vegetable and crab cream cheese tea sandwiches

  • Servings: 8 to 10
  • Difficulty: Very easy
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A savory little sandwich filled with flavor.

Ingredients

1~8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
2 heaping tablespoons fresh chopped dill
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon celery salt
2 heaping tablespoons fresh yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
2 heaping tablespoons fresh celery, finely chopped
2 heaping tablespoons fresh grated carrots, finely chopped
½ cup lump crab meat, chopped (make it a generous ½ cup measurement)
1~24 ounce package of sliced sandwich style bread (package will contain 20 to 22 slices)

Directions

  1. Place softened cream cheese in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Add fresh dill, garlic powder and celery salt. Mix well with a large, sturdy spoon. Add yellow bell pepper, celery and carrots. Mix well. Fold in lump crab and mix until it is completely incorporated.

To assemble

  1. Trim the crusts from each all the bread slices. You will have between 20 to 22 slices. Reserve half of the bread slices to top the sandwiches later.
  2. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon (I used a 1-1/8″  All Purpose Stainless Steel Scoop) of the cream cheese mixture over the other half of slices, getting close to the edges. Place a reserved sandwich slice on top.
  3. Cut each completed sandwich diagonally with a bread or serrated knife, if you have one.
  4. Then cut each diagonal slice in half. Repeat until all the sandwiches are complete. Makes 44 to 48 quarter sandwiches.
  5. Plate sandwiches and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill 15 minutes to 12 hours.
  6. Before serving, garnish plated sandwiches with more chopped dill or chopped chives.

A tasty, home-style, Mothers’ Day “gift experience”

Spinach and Turkey Sausage Lasagne served with fresh, oven-roasted broccoli.

Social activist Anna Jarvis is credited with creating Mother’s Day back in 1908 as a way of honoring the passing of her mother and the sacrifices that all mothers make for their children. History records that Jarvis later denounced the holiday because it became so commercialized. She subsequently spent the later years of her life trying to undo her efforts which led to it being recognized as a national holiday.

Mother’s Day spending

Her efforts failed and the commercialization of Mother’s’ Day grew exponentially year after year. Fast forward to 2018, Mother’s Day spending is expected to total “a near-record $23.1 billion this year,” according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF), with Americans spending an average of $180 on mom to celebrate her.

The NRF survey also revealed another interesting fact: 29% or 3 out of 10 moms would love to receive a “gift of experience” such as a gym membership, spa day, paint and sip outing, gourmet cooking class – you get the ideal.

A heartfelt gift of experience

About 70% of us will book a reservation at a restaurant and take mom out to eat.  That is a lovely experience. While I absolutely appreciate the ritual of dining out on Mother’s Day, I have to admit I equally appreciate the effort of having a lovely home cooked meal thoughtfully prepared, beautifully plated and cheerfully served to me.  And sometimes, avoiding the crowds, long wait times and skipping the hustle and bustle at restaurants is just what I need.

What is more loving and nurturing than having someone you love make dinner as way of honoring you? That is a not only a wonderful experience, it is a most memorable one.

A Mother’s Day recipe

A Mother’s Day recipe she will not forget.

If you are thinking about dining home this Mother’s Day and you are searching for a recipe to wow and honor your mom or the woman who has played a significant role in nurturing you, look no further.

My Mother’s Day Spinach and Turkey Sausage Lasagne recipe is  hearty, satisfying, scrumptious and beautiful. It uses fresh spinach and a homemade sauce made with fire roasted tomatoes. One word of caution: this recipe takes time to prepare, so carve out some time and take your time. It is not to be rushed. And after you taste that first bite, it will be your favorite lasagne, rivaling any restaurant recipe.

I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe and that you have a beautiful Mother’s Day.

Oh, and the gifts of experience the NRF mentioned that moms would love to have for Mother’s Day,  add at least one of them too – in addition to making her dinner. After all,  she deserves it.

Cooks note: I did sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over each layer of mozzarella cheese to boost the flavor. This is completely optional.  

Mother’s Day Spinach and Turkey Sausage Lasagne

  • Servings: 8 to 12
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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This will be your favorite lasagne, rivaling any restaurant recipe.

Ingredients


1 immersion blender (or blender if you must)
2 pounds Italian sausage, casings removed
3 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
1 box no boil lasagne noodles (Barilla featured here)
4 cans simple truth fire roasted tomatoes
1 medium bell pepper
½  cup chopped red onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 tablespoon dry Italian seasoning
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1~ 5 ounce package fresh spinach
16 ounces ricotta cheese
Salt, pepper

Directions

  1. To a large mixing bowl, add 4 cans of fire roasted tomatoes.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet set on medium heat. Add chopped bell pepper and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Add chopped onion and stirring another two 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chopped garlic and stir another 30 seconds, until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add sauté vegetables to bowl of tomatoes.  With an immersion blender, blend until semi smooth, about 40 to 50 pulses.( If you don’t have an immersion blender, and you should, place contents into a stand up blender, and pulse until semi smooth.)
  4. Add blended tomatoes and sautéed vegetables to a large sauce pan. Add 1 tablespoon Italian season, 3 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Blend well. Set heat at medium, once sauce is heated, turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat once done and set aside.
  5. While sauce is simmering, to that same skillet set on medium heat add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once heated, add 5 ounce package of fresh spinach. Sprinkle with a little salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until all the spinach is wilted.  Remove spinach from the skillet and scoop into heat resistant dish. Once cooled, you will chop it.
  6. To that same skillet, add Italian sausage (casing removed). Break up the meat with a wooden spoon once in pan. Cook on medium to medium high heat until lightly browned. Drain off excess fat.
  7. To a large bowl, add ricotta cheese, ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives, chopped spinach. Blend well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Make sure to taste it to ensure it has enough flavor.

To assemble

  1. Spray the bottom of a large 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Spread 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
  2. Using 4 sheet of pasta, form two rows across the length of the dish. The noodles will overlap in the center. Leave a little space between the rolls as the pasta will cook and expand.
  3. Take half of the ricotta cheese mixture and spread over both rolls of pasta.
  4. Take half of the cooked Italian sausage and spread it evenly over the casserole dish.
  5. Scoop out 2 generous cups of sauce and spread over the meat in the casserole dish.
  6. Cover sauce with 1 cup of cheese.
  7. Repeat, using 4 more pasta sheets to form second layer.
  8. For the final layer, top with 4 more pasta sheets. Add remaining sauce and spread evenly over sheet pasta. Spread 1 cup of cheese over the top.
  9. Tightly cover with foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  10. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes until browned and bubbly.
  11. Let stand 30 minutes before serving.

Cabbage please, indeed

Roasted cabbage and oven fried chicken wings.

In my moments of repose, I often ponder random questions, such as:

“How much cabbage have I eaten in my lifetime?”

In all seriousness, cabbage was pretty much a staple vegetable in my mom’s repertoire. When feeding a family of six, it was the perfect choice. It was inexpensive, filing, nutritious and a good source of roughage – now we call that fiber.

Stock pot of  cut cabbage ready for traditional Southern preparation.

For the most part, mom would cook a head of cabbage Southern style, cutting it into strips and slow cooking it in a pot with onions and bacon fat. That smoky, tasty pot of cabbage accompanied many Sunday dinners of roasted pork pot roast and mashed potatoes with pan gravy.

Ahhh .  .  .  what memories.

I still enjoy cabbage. Now that I know there are literally hundreds of varieties of the cruciferous vegetable grown all over the world, I’ve made it a point in my culinary journey to experience as many of them as I can.

Cannonball cabbage is widely available year round.

But the beloved cannonball cabbage of my youth, commonly known as green cabbage, remains my favorite.

Today, I have a new favorite way of preparing cabbage. I roast it.

Roasting draws out the natural sweetness in vegetables, and brings out an aromatic smokiness. Cooked at high heat, this process gently seams the leafy layers of the cabbage wedges and makes them tender, but not mushy. And more importantly, roasting maintains more of the nutrients which leach out when vegetables are cooked in liquid.

If you like cabbage as much as I do and you are looking for another recipe and cooking method to add to your cabbage repertoire, you will enjoy this roasted cabbage recipe.

The smokiness of the charred leaves combined with a delicate homemade, Asian inspired vinaigrette and garnish of cilantro and grated carrots will become a great alternative to your Sunday pot of Southern cabbage.

Oven Roasted Cabbage with Asian Inspired Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: Very easy
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Smoky charred leaves drizzled with a delicate homemade, Asian inspired vinaigrette.

Ingredients


1 medium head cabbage, cut into 4 to 6 wedges
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling, optional
salt, cracked black pepper, garlic powder red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 420°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Rinse cabbage and remove the outer layers.
  3. Cut cabbage into 4 wedges, 6 wedges if the cabbage is very large.
  4. Arrange cabbage wedges on baking sheet. Drizzle  1/2 teaspoon of olive oil on each side of the wedge,
    then season with salt, cracked pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. (Optional, drizzle with balsamic vinegar.)
  5. Turn wedges on side and place baking sheet in oven and roast until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
  6. Flip wedges and continue roasting until tender and deeply browned, another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, plate and drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with chopped cilantro and grated carrots.

 


Asian Inspired Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Print

A delicate homemade, Asian inspired vinaigrette.


Ingredients


2 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1/4 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon honey
Cracked pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Whisk until thickened.
  3. Drizzle over roasted cabbage.

 

Winning never tasted so good

Veronica Hendrix is a Los Angeles-based food blogger, author and home cook and has been featured on TV for her culinary talent.She was the winner of the BBVA Compass Student Chef Experience Sweepstakes. It offered a one-of-a-kind training with a renowned chef Jamie Bissonnette, assisting with preparations for the BBVA Compass Spanish Masters Dinner on March 1, 2018.

Here’s a behind the scene moment video of their meet up at Grand Central Market in downtown LA.

And ICYMI…here the media release below. Or click here or on the article to view online.