Dim Sum Sunday Summer Soups: Corn Chowder!


Darlings, when La Diva was asked to participate in the latest Dim Sum Sunday's suggestion of refreshing summer soups, I instantly thought of classics: gazpacho, vichyssoise and chilled strawberry soup.

blech.

I hate all of those. I don't know why, but I'm not so fond of the cool soup. Gazpacho to me tastes like I am eating a bowl of salsa. I know that there are a number of white gazpacho recipes as well that include grapes and almonds but again, that combo does nothing to titillate La Diva's taste buds!

I've tasted a variety of chilled soups in many restaurants but every time I eat them, I think to myself, man, this is good, but it would be so much better if it was hot! As for fruit soup? Fuggedaboudit, NOT a fan. Besides, does refreshing always mean cold?

Wish we could see more corn varieties in the grocery. I wonder how many colored varieties you can actually eat and aren't just ornamental? These look divine, click on the photo to enlarge!

The growing season in Southern Florida has been over for a few months now and I was weary of getting not-so-fresh-but-still-expensive organic produce at the grocery, so I joined an organic buying club. And, in my bountiful booty this past week (no, NOT that booty!!) were four lovely ears of sweet corn still in their silken husks.

La Diva usually keeps her corn simple and fresh: I like it on the cob with butta and salt. But, I knew we'd never eat that much in a few days so thought a corn chowda, something I never made before, was in high order.

I found the recipe online and decided to forgo the recipes I saw with the usual combo of shrimp and corn. This recipe called for bacon but you could make it without. (It was Sunday and La Diva wasn't about to go traipsing to the grocery store to get one slice of bacon!) I also was out of carrots but the soup turned out just fine without both! You can find the recipe by clicking here and it is perfect for vegetarians and hearty enough for meat-lovers as well.

Fresh corn chowda with a sassy little chive and tomato garnish! Go on and click, darlings, it's so divine!

As the soup was cooking and the milk base being flavored by the shucked corn cobs, La Diva wondered how this broth was going to come together? To me, it tasted like warm milk and butter.

Ahhh....but I was wrong. By the time I'd served it up, fresh, light and full of corny deliciousness, it was a delightful and FLAVORFUL summer soup. The potatoes aided in the satiety factor and the fresh corn just pops in your mouth! My sidekick, DJ Nevah L8, a big guy with a big appetite to boot, not only loved it but went back for seconds. The next day, the soup was even better, giving the potatoes a chance to soak up the seasonings and flavors to meld.

Back in the old days, corn was transported across the country on toy trains, ear by ear and load by load. Really!

Want to see what soups other participants in Karmic Kitchen's Dim Sum Sunday have made? Please click here, the great Shamu at Karmic Kitchen has posted what looks like some pretty incredible tomato soup....and NOT the traditional type!

Who knows, a recipe and photo could catch La Diva's eye and change my entire attitude about chilled soup! Ciao, darlings!cooking class, cocktails, parties, cocktail party, Miami, coral gables, events, bartending class, cocktail class, Laura Lafata, Miami Beach, miami cooking classes, bachelorette parties, bachelorette party

Screaming baby in a restaurant...What would YOU do?

Darlings!!! When La Diva was recently entertaining out of town guests at a local, casual seafood bar and grill in South Beach, I experienced something that became the subject of lively discussion.

What to do when a baby cries and disrupts everyone's fine evening in a restaurant?

The restaurant the "incident" occurred in is a regular kind of "middle of the road" restaurant with burgers, fish, steak, ribs and a lively bar that played sport on myriad TVs. It was also 8 o'clock at night with lots of bar patrons, a loud and busy happy hour with Bud Light beer promo girls walking around. An okay place to hang as an adult but not La Diva's first pick of a restaurant to take toddlers at a time when they should have already eaten and have been tucked into bed.

Crikey, what a maw on this young' un! I feel sorry for her future husband! Let's face it, babies aren't built to be ignored and have those lungs for a reason! Here's an example of what can happen in a restaurant with a baby crying and management or the parents refuse to take action....click here to find out now!

As we headed into the restaurant from the parking lot, a family of three adults and two kids (both toddlers) walked in the door in front of us. We didn't think a thing about it. They sat at a large round table near the bar and we were seated in the next section over. Again, didn't think a thing about it.

However, when the toddler started to wail and the only thing that lie between us and the disruption was a fish tank, things changed and rapidly got VERY UGLY.

And boy, did this kid wail.

JEEZ LOUISE!

The two teen-agers I was with showed no pity or patience, though my sister and I were willing to give the poor mother a break...she was going to take the little screamer outside, right? RIGHT?!

NOPE.

The adults let the child cry on and on and on....it went on for at least a good five minutes. Now, five minutes doesn't seem like a long time, but I assure you, in screaming baby terms, it's an eternity.


As the chaotic table was situated right next to the bar, La Diva noticed a couple of women who'd been chatting, look over annoyingly at the screaming kid. I watched them closely, wondering just how long they would be able to "take" this banshee just a few feet away.

Thankfully, it didn't take long for one of the ladies to pipe up and ask WTF?!

I heard the father say without apology: "Its a baby." No kidding, it's a baby all right. A baby in a bar and grill at 8 o'clock at night that you have no business being in, buddy.

LISTEN. I AIN'T LYIN' HERE WHEN I SAY THAT BABY FREAKIN' WAILED AND WAILED FOR A LONG-ASS TIME!

Why didn't the mother take it outside?

A few minutes later, I heard the lady at the hightop table snarl: "Yeah, it's all about YOU, right? No one else? Can't you see you are disturbing everyone in here?" Frustrated, the woman and her friend stormed out vowing to carry on their "happy hour" somewhere else. But we were still there. And we were still hungry.

Do you know that this mother never took her kid outside and it wailed continuously three separate times?


Don't be cruel, now. I mean it. It's got a mother somewhere.

After voicing our own displeasure to our waiter about the lack of action from management in "dealing" with the "baby?-what-screaming-baby?-parents," we scrambled quickly to to the rear of the restaurant, as far away as possible, and were determined not to let the blubbering bubby detract us from having a nice, quiet dinner where we can actually converse and hear each other. Ahhh....

We were not even settled at our table (actually the employees' table!) when we heard a bit of a whimper. Uh oh. We glared around and found one of the waiters laughing, pretending to be the crying baby and playing a trick on us!

Ha. Ha.

Let's see how funny you are when you see your tip! (but it WAS pretty funny actually!)

So darlings, what to do? Yelp readers discuss that very question here.


And, what about you parents out there that WANT to go out for dinner but aren't sure how to handle this situation yourselves? How DO you cope? La Diva found a few sites on how to keep baby quiet in the restaurant here. AND MORE ARE HERE!!!! (Yes, darlings, TWO LINKS as some of you obviously need all the help you can get!!)

And also, here's a place that kids are welcomed at: click here if you want to further enable your already-spoilt kids that have not been socialized or are just too damn young to be going to a restaurant, er, I mean, if you want to take your little angels someplace "kid friendly!"


Oh dear....how did THIS rude photo get in here?! (tee hee!) RIP Dom DeLuise!

In the meantime, La Diva wants to know what YOU THINK?! Take a mo' and take the poll!

(click on answers to activate drop down menu!)

What would you do if you heard a screaming baby in a restaurant and mama wasn't movin'?
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Salad days...BBQ chicken salad with creamy avocado garlic dressing

La Diva just loves the vibrant colors of Miami Beach!

Ahhhhh....darlings, it's so hot that La Diva has not been cooking hardly anything at all! In sticking with my promise of easy summer salads for main meals, here's a great recipe for a salad that everyone will love! Spicy barbeque chicken salad with a cool 'n' creamy avocado dressing.....mmmmmm.......

La Diva's BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Avocado Garlic Dressing
Serves two

BBQ chicken:


At least an hour before dinner (if not longer), rub two or three boneless, skinless chicken breasts with your fave bbq rub. La Diva uses brown sugar, white sugar, paprika, garlic salt, chili powder, cumin, salt and black pepper. Grill and baste breasts with your fave sauce! (Bottle is fine, hey, it's HOT and it's SUMMER and that = convenience!)

Set aside to cool. Go to beach.

No, darlings, this isn't La Diva and gal pal but it might as well be. The BEST purchase I've made this summer is for two collapsable beach floats! These are perfect for those days when you just have to be in the water to stay cool and there is no wave action happenin'! When it's time to go, just deflate and collapse into a circle and carry off! The best thing about these floats is that you can sit up in them AND lay back! aaaaahhhh.....

La Diva likes sitting up for two reasons:
  1. It's always good form to see what's going on in the ocean and not get "too" relaxed.
  2. And, how the hell can you drink your cocktail laying back on a float?!
After an hour or two, come back from beach and pull it together for dinner!

JICAMA: Here's a photo just in case some of you aren't familiar with this excellently crunchy and refreshing vegetable. (the "J" is pronounced like an "H"!) Click on the photo to learn more about it!

Salad:

Add to a layer of mixed greens:

  • 1/2 ear of fresh cooked corn
  • jicama julienned
  • red pepper slices
  • red onion slices
  • celery sliced thin
  • carrots julienned
  • tomatoes
Cut chicken into slices and fan across top of salad and veggies.

One of the many noisy cigarette boats on Miami Beach. I love this photo though as it's a perfect representation of the beautiful color of the water here in on South Beach! Paradise!

Creamy avocado garlic dressing

1/4 ripe avocado
1 clove garlic
1 T mayo

1 T low fat or fat free Greek yogurt
1 T olive oil or canola oil
1 T white wine vinegar
1 T fresh lime juice

2-3 T milk (I used low fat)
salt and pepper to taste

Take avocado and garlic and put into jug to use with immersion blender. Add all ingredients except for the milk and blend well. Add milk by the spoonful until well blended and dressing can be easily poured. Do not make too thin.


Click on the photo to see all of its crunchy refreshing textures!

Result: Wow! One of La Diva's fave salads! The bbq chicken is slightly spicy and sweet and works great with the crunchy jicama and celery. The corn adds another texture and enhances the Southern-style flavor profile. The creamy coolness of the dressing is divine! Gotta go, the beach is callin'!!!! Ciao!cooking class, cocktails, parties, cocktail party, Miami, coral gables, events, bartending class, cocktail class, Laura Lafata, Miami Beach, miami cooking classes, bachelorette parties, bachelorette party

La Diva's Indonesian-style lychee vanilla vodka snow cone!

Click to see the gorgeous details of this beautiful Balinese art!

Darlings, today's post was inspired by the dreadfully hot weather here in Southern Florida. For the last week it's been well into the '80's and up to the low '90's each day and with humidity thrown in at 100%, it's equatorial, tropical and DAMN HOT!!! Unless one is living the life aquatic or are holed away in a darkened, air-conditioned room, it's quite miserable out!

La Diva was suffering from heat exhaustion yesterday by over-doing it on her bike in the middle of the day (duh!) Today I was still feeling the wrath of the evil sun with an agonizing skull-pounding headache and was craving a good old-fashioned coke slurpee to cool myself off. Of course, the once-a-year that I want a freakin' slurpee, the stupid machine was not working properly and all that came out was the syrup. Sigh...no joy. Unable to enjoy the other sickly sweet flavors on tap, La Diva thought of a Plan B.


Now, very determined to have some icy cool refreshment and heat relief, La Diva trudged home wearily alongside DJ Nevah L8 and with my headache hammering away, picked up a bag of ice and came up with this concoction based on treats from my past life in Sydney.
As you know, La Diva lurves her Asian food and was reminded of what used to cool her down when traveling to steamy Bali and her fave Indonesian restaurant in Sydney: The Indonesian version of a snow cone, es campur.


Indonesian sweet treat es campur is like a fruit cocktail made with a variety of fruits, syrups and jellies all over shaved ice!

This Indonesian refreshment (mixed ice) is sold from street vendors during festivals but I've only had it in restaurants at the end of a meal. In typical Asian fashion, es campur is a refreshing snow cone with some pretty surprising stuff in it. Ingredients can include some sort of sweetening syrup like grenadine, condensed milk or coconut milk, fruit such as pineapple, mandarin oranges, lychees, jackfruit or mangoes all over cool and delectable shaved ice. Some versions include agar agar cubes (think of Asian-style Jell-o!) red kidney beans and even corn! There are as many styles of this refreshing treat as there are Indonesian islands!

La Diva's fave combo is: sweet condensed milk, freshly-shaved coconut slices and avocado chunks, and believe it or not, it is quite refreshing and tasty to have creamy avocado served sweet alongside coconut. I've found a recipe for es campur, you can click here to check it out. (But, DON'T get all caught up with the whole "eeeewwww, beans and corn" thang! If you are not game to try 'em, omit them and experiment with other flavors, fruits and syrups! But, TRY IT YOU MUST!!)

Now, let's get back to today's version of this icy treat!

The rice terraces of Ubud, Bali are divine!

La Diva's Indonesian-style Lychee Vanilla Vodka Snow Cone:

(Darling, it's easier to make than you think!)

1. First, it's imperative you have a food processor or some way to make ice "snow." If you have an old fashioned hand crank one, it'll do too!



2. Put the grater disk into the processor, put ice in feed tube and push down and process until you have filled the container. Put aside into another bowl and work fast so the ice doesn't melt before you use it!



3. I picked the lychees up from the Asian grocery but you'll find them in the regular grocery too either in with the canned fruit or Asian section. What? No lychees in your cupboard? Use pineapple chunks, mandarins or any other canned fruit packed in syrup.



4. The lychees are packed in syrup that you'll use for the mixed ice so don't strain the fruit!



5. Put four lychees per person into the base of the processor and for kicks, thinly slice a few kaffir lime leaves and process until smooth. Mint would be nice too. You can also leave the fruit whole if you want to eat with a spoon! (Hell, it's YOUR fruit cocktail!) Notice my ice ready to go on the side.



6. Take a bit of ice and add to a martini glass, add a bit of lychee and repeat until glass is full with lychee on top. Pour over about an 3/4 of an ounce of vanilla vodka (or not!) and two tablespoons of the lychee syrup.



7. Zest a bit of lime over the top, put in a frou frou cocktail straw and DEE-LITE in the cool tropical flavors!


Click on the photo to see the bevvie's icy goodness!!!

Hot damn, is that good! Of course you can omit the vodka and serve this as dessert for a very icy cool and easy summertime refreshment. Make it for your kids with bananas and some pineapple and condensed milk. I'm going to try making it again with ginger and lemongrass syrup, pineapple and passion fruit! The best part about it is, you can use a variety of canned fruits or syrups that you keep in the pantry, you don't even have to have fresh fruit!

Ahh... La Diva has been properly cooled and headache is fading. Yay, mission accomplished!

A study of the terrible teenage palate!

I'd like to say that my darling niece Boo would love to be in a tub of Cheetos but the little lass is SO PICKY that she'd complain that they were the puffs, NOT THE FRIED and would refuse!

Darlings, darlings, darlings! La Diva has missed her dear blogging buddies and has been on "holiday" for the last week and working VERY HARD as a Miami tour guide, taxi, on-call chef and ATM to her darling teenage niece Boo and her just as lovely 18-year-old friend Kitty! Sigh...but La Diva is TIRED. I know, I know, some of you out there even have your own teenage creatures to deal with yourselves 24-7 and feel NO PITY but La Diva is

SO NOT USED TO THEM!
ARGH!


When one is living in close quarters with teenagers one discovers some nasty teenage habits: Like what they eat! La Diva had a small inkling but in reality had no idea how BAD the teenage palate really is!


Neon red and not a color found in nature, FLAMING HOT CHEETOS are number one on Boo's list of fave food staples! blech! Apparently, these chemical crunchies are highly addictive to kids and are the bane of teachers everywhere. Click here to listen to the NPR report from a few years back. (Mmmmm....extruded cheese flavored snacks!)


Ahhh, lovely little fishy-shaped cheddar crackers, I was not yet born when Pepperidge Farm introduced them in 1962. Back in the day, when La Diva was a teen herself, I would have these as a treat and they were bought by my parents in a 6 oz. package. In that small pouch, SIX PEOPLE could partake in 55 fishies at 140 calories per serving with five grams of fat. Boo insisted on getting the BUCKET SIZE of fish crackers at a whopping 33.5 ounces! That is more than TWO POUNDS OF CHEDDAR CRACKER CRAP!!!

If the serving size is the same, approximately one ounce, then the carton should be enough for 33 people!! In less than a week, she managed to put a healthy dent into it and then took the rest with her on the plane when she left! La Diva can't imagine the havoc that ingesting almost 168 grams of fat will cause on her cute niece's thighs (and her veins!) in a few more years when time will not be so forgiving!

Besides for parties, why would you need TWO POUNDS OF JUNK FOOD all in one handy container?

Kitty couldn't LIVE without her ranch dressing and insisted that she needed it with everything! When we were going to eat leftovers from the restaurant the night before, she said she couldn't eat them as she had no Ranch dressing! She went to the convenience store to get some and lo and behold, found they had none and could not understand why. La Diva told her she's SOL!!!

Ok, La Diva KNOWS she sounds like a cranky old lady when she says this but since when is it not considered rude for guests tell you what they will and won't eat? La Diva was starting to feel like the tail was wagging the dog after a few of these demands, er, conversations.


Here's a ranch dressing fountain, like ANYONE NEEDS FREE-FLOWING CHEMICAL CRAP on tap! yikes! Here are the chemicals, oops, I mean ingredients from the Original Hidden Valley Ranch bottle:

Vegetable Oil (Canola and/or Soybean Oil) Water, Egg Yolk, Sugar, less than 2% of Buttermilk, Salt, Lactic Acid, Vinegar, Modified Food Starch, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate, Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Phosphoric Acid, Monosodium Glutamate, Xanthan Gum, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Spices, Disodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid and Calcium Disodium Edta As Preservatives. YUM YUM!!!

Ok, we ALL KNOW that kids can be picky when it comes to eating and teenagers have hollow legs and will eat you out of house and home. But what La Diva wants to know is:

WHEN DID THE HUGE "SNACK" PORTIONS COME INTO PLAY?

and

WHY DO THE KIDS NEED TO CONSTANTLY BE EATING?


There was a time when one could not get a bag of Starburst chews or a bucket o' cheddar crackers besides at Halloween. In fact, La Diva never even had the dough to buy such huge amounts of junk food when she was a kid. (although ONE TIME during summer vacation my sister and I snuck up to the grocery store and bought a can of frosting and ate most of it!)

And further.....we were not allowed (SHOCK, HORROR!) to even eat such a large amount of "snack" food. We hardly ever had snacks in our home, cookies and chips were considered special treats and fruit was de rigueur for lunch. We ate when we were hungry and could have a snack (aka fruit) but we were certainly not allowed to constantly "graze" on pounds of junk food!


The odd thing was, my sister, the PARENT, never said a word. If I dared to say anything, her defensive quip was: "They are on vacation." The problem that La Diva sees in that philosophy that so many times as adults we get tend to get overly sentimental about food from times past and then at 40-years-old and 40 pounds overweight, you hark back fondly to your childhood vacations in Miami when you were allowed to eat pounds of cheddar crackers and ranch dressing and do so every time you go to Miami as an adult just like old times. Not good.

No longer content with just a packet of Starburst candies, teenagers MUST buy the chews in huge bags that La Diva only bought for Halloween treats!

What happened? Did parents just give up? Do kids today have too much disposable income and freedom? Have parents lost control? Are kids today super-spoiled and over-indulged? And, most importantly, how does La Diva handle these incidents when seeing her lovely niece engage in this self-destructive behavior that will surely lead to cottage cheese thighs, a lifetime of bad food choices and hysterical crying in myriad department store dressing rooms?

Comments?