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I live in Southern California and somehow we were cheated our summer!  To be perfectly honest, I don’t miss the heat, but the sunshine, which SoCal is known for, is missing as well.  We get a burst of it sometime around 1:00 PM daily but honestly, is there anything better than waking up to a sunny morning?

So, I decided I needed to move my casual dinner for good friends indoors on Saturday evening.  We enjoyed our appetizer in the atrium and found it was relaxing and comfortable—but the idea of sitting on the patio for dinner seemed out of the question.  Its August for goodness sake!  We shouldn’t have to worry about cold this time of year.

My menu was:   Appetizer:  Skewered Greek Salad by Giada De Laurentis, roasted almonds.  Dinner:  Grilled Citrus Salmon (recipe below), Roasted Baby Potatoes with Herbs (Giada De Laurentis) and Barefoot Contessa’s Panzanella (from her Parties cookbook/her 2nd) and Dessert:     Mocha Alaska Pie (recipe below).

This is delicious and easy and you can assemble the skewers the morning of the dinner. Thanks to my friend Alison at paper{whites} for introducing me to this recipe.

Sorry for the slightly blurred picture.

This picture doesn't do this recipe justice---I really have to learn to take better photographs of food.

Since dessert was my favorite part of this particular meal I thought I’d start with that recipe:  Note, I couldn’t find my pie plate (I’m wondering if I got rid of the Corning pie plate in anticipation of purchasing an Emile Henri pie dish from Williams Sonoma, and then never got around to it?!)  In any event, I prepared this recipe and put it in a glass loaf pan—it really looked nice and the taste certainly didn’t suffer.  So here goes, super easy:

Mocha Alaska Pie (Loaf)


1 cup finely crushed chocolate cookie crumbs (I used chocolate cat cookies from Trader Joe’s in the food processor and made crumbs).

¼ cup butter, melted

1 tablespoon sugar

Press into the bottom of a 9” pie dish or a Pyrex loaf pan or  (if you use a loaf pan, generously line the bottom and side of the pan with plastic wrap so that when you are ready to remove the dessert you can get it out of the loaf pan without problem, you will not be able to bake it using this method but it didn’t seem to matter.  The crust held together perfectly and tasted delicious)

If you use a pie plate you can bake the crust for 10 minutes at 350° then cool completely.

Meanwhile, let ice cream sit on counter for about 10-15 minutes to soften slightly.

1 pint of coffee ice cream (you can substitute the coffee ice cream with chocolate if you don’t like coffee flavor)

1 pint of vanilla ice cream

1 jar of hot fudge sauce

Once the ice cream has softened spoon the coffee ice cream over the crust and press to even it out.  Then repeat with the vanilla ice cream.  Freeze.

Just before serving add hot fudge sauce over top and serve—yummy!  If you wanted to kick it up another notch you could roast almonds and sprinkle those over the top of the fudge.

Grilled Citrus Salmon (recipe from a 2004 Bon Appetit magazine)

Serves 6

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 dashes ground red pepper (cayenne)

2 dashes salt

1 teaspoon dried basil (fresh can be substituted)

2 teaspoons capers

3 pounds salmon, fresh, cut into serving size portions

In a small saute pan over medium heat, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, butter, mustard, garlic, red pepper, salt, basil and capers.  While stirring, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Place salmon pieces skin side down on a piece of heavy duty foil with the edges folded up to make a pan.  Pour the sauce evenly over the fish.

Prepare your BBQ to medium fire/heat.  Place the foil pan (with fish) on the grill and cover with a lid.  Barbecue for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness of serving portions.  The fish will be light pink and flaky when cooked.

More recipes next week.