Antipasto Platter Features a Tower of Brie

How many engineers does it take to plan, design and execute antipasto platters for Andria’s wedding. In this case, it was 6 engineers, 2 doctors of physical therapy and 1 with a MS in social work to plan and design a tower of brie cheese surrounded with just the perfect tiny bites.   Three stacked rounds of cheese made tiers resembling a wedding cake. The towering cheeses were the starting place for antipasto platters to be served at Andria’s wedding.

Hilary Austin, Samantha Kallman, Tessa Mauer, Shelby Jones, Andria Nyenhuis, Ciera Sebelius, Jordanna Pedersen, Sara Small, Abby DeWitt work out the plan for antipasto boards.
Hilary Austin, Samantha Kallman, Tessa Mauer, Shelby Jones, Andria Nyenhuis, Ciera Sebelius, Jordanna Pedersen, Sara Small, Abby DeWitt work out the plan for antipasto boards.

Andria and her fiance’ made 90 cutting boards for serving the 5 course meal. The first course, an antipasto platter, took a little creative action when Andria and Friends got together.

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Andria and Friends tried all kinds of different arrangements to see which one would make the best display for the wedding platters. Determining the flavors that went best together was the next goal. Antipasto typically is made up of cured meats, dried fruits, marinated vegetables and cheeses. So the analysis also included exactly which ingredients would surround the brie-mini -wedding-cakes.   The slight tang of fresh grapes paired well with the cheese. The rest of the antipasto platter pulled together really quickly by arranging nuts, dried fruit and crackers at the base of the trio of brie rounds.

Antipasto trays in production.  The wood for the trees came from the farm in Iowa. Greg and Andria designed and made them with help from family.
Antipasto trays in production. The wood for the trees came from the farm in Iowa. Greg and Andria designed and made them with help from family.

A rose made from prosciutto and thinly sliced cheese garnished each tray.  It was made by placing 1 slice of prosciutto on one slice of cheese.  Starting at narrow end, roll cheese up with prosciutto in the center. Ruffle out the prosciutto and cheese slightly to give the roll a rose petal effect.  Place a toothpick through all of the layers at the base of the meat and cheese.

The rose is created with a slice of prosciutto and a slice of cheese, rolled and held in place with a toothpick.
The rose is created with a slice of prosciutto and a slice of cheese, rolled and held in place with a toothpick.

Antipasta Platters

Start with three different sizes of brie set up on top of the other for a “mini wedding cake”.

Add an assortment of  Italian inspired tiny bites such as:
Cured Meats: Prosciutto, hard salami, pancetta
Dried fruit: Apricots, dates
Fresh Fruit: Figs, red grapes, green grapes
Marinated Vegetables: Peppadews, tomatoes
Olives: Castelvetrano, Cerignola
Bread Sticks, foccaccia bread,
Crackers, cheese straws
Parmesan Reggio Cheese, feta, fresh mozzarella
Fresh herbs: Rosemary, basil, bay
Nuts: Almonds, pecans

Arrange tiny bites around brie and serve as a first course.

 

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The tables were beautiful and the antipasto platters were a perfect centerpiece.

Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi

Sometimes a meal is special because of an event and other times it is special for the food itself. There was one specific meal that I will always remember because of the event and it just happened that the food was really special too.

Coulter would be deployed with the United States Marine Corps the next day but just for the evening we had a little precious time with him for a meal together. Dave and I flew across the country to see him off.  Little did we know that one of his men were killed in a motorcycle accident and another one was in the hospital. He attended the funeral  and then needed to head to the hospital to visit the other marine. That meant we had literally 2 hours to spend with him. We went to a restaurant in San Diego  that Coulter chose. It was a memorable meal in that goodbyes before a deployment are never easy but I remember how proud I felt. He was putting himself out there for his marines, for his country and for us.  It was one of those meals where the food was not really that important compared to having he chance to share heart to heart with him, but it turned out that the food was exceptionally good. Dave ordered Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi and I still remember it as special.  The following recipe recreates the flavorful  macadamia nut topping and the beautiful texture of the mahi mahi.

In recreating this recipe, it needed to have a crunching topping  and the fish all perfectly done at the same time. To achieve this, the fish is cooked for about 5 minutes before the topping is added. By adding the macadamia nut topping to the partially baked fish, both the fish and topping  come out perfectly done at the same time.

Mahi Mahi is done when it turns from  translucent to opaque white and it flakes easily when a fork is inserted into the center of the fillet. The reason the fish turns color is because the heat denatures the proteins as they reach a specific temperature. It is similar to what happens to egg white as heat is applied. The egg white turns from a clear liquid to an opaque white. It is difficult to take the temperature of most fish fillets because they are too thin for a thermometer to accurately record the temperature. Just as reliable as a number on a thermometer is the change of the fish color.  If there is any difficulty seeing a change in color, a backup test is inserting a fork in the thickest part of the fillet and twisting it slightly to see if the fish flakes. When the fork test shows flakes of fish as well as white, opaque flesh, the fish is done.

A Mango Salsa with just a touch of citrus balances the saltiness of the macadamia crusted fish.
A Mango Salsa with just a touch of citrus balances the saltiness of the macadamia crusted fish.

We just happened to have fresh mahi mahi for this recipe but most other fish can be used. The time can be increased 4 to 5 minutes for thicker fish or decreased a little for thinner fillets. Using a fork to check if the fish flakes easily and looking for a change in color of the flesh are both doneness tests that work on any fish.  Fish does continue to cook a little after it is removed from the oven so allow it to stand a few minutes before serving.

Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi

2  pounds mahi mahi
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
1 cup macadamia nuts|
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Mango Salsa

2 fresh mangoes
1/4 cup cilantro , chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Thai basil
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tablespoon lime juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place fish on foiled lined baking sheet that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Bake for 5 minutes. Spoon coconut milk over fish. Combine nuts, bread crumbs and butter in food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Top fish with nut and bread crumb mixture. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Combine all ingredients for mango salsa and serve with fish.

Makes 6 servings

 

Carson takes his fishing serious. A sting ray was the first thing he ever caught and it caught everyone in the boat by surprise.
Carson takes his fishing seriously A sting ray was the first thing he ever caught and it caught everyone in the boat by surprise.

 

 

 

Ashley and Dave took over the fishing pole after Carson caught a sting ray, but they are at a loss of what to do with it.
Ashley and Dave took over the fishing pole after Carson caught a sting ray, but they are at a loss of what to do with it.