CULINARY THRILL SEEKING: Creative holiday ideas with walnuts, Creoles and Ashore beach adventures

Published 1:36 am Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tradition is tops. A little creativity just adds to the memories. This week’s Culinary Thrill Seeking features a trio of creative inspirations.

‘Our Table’

Renee Muller writes that friendships were tested when she brought basil-infused olives to Purim instead of her usual “Irresistible Toffee.” But now you, too can create a batch that will make you legendary. Her book is “Our Table: Time-Tested Recipes. Memorable Meals.

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Raised in Switzerland, taught in traditional Northern Italian Style, Muller moved to the United States and on a whim won a contest that landed her a column in a weekly Jewish magazine. Her family loves kettle corn, she loves lemon meringue pie so much she deconstructed it into art work of lemony curd and crunchy pillows and serves in stemmed glasses and her main dishes are amazing, too. She has the passion and she encourages creativity.

A photo of walnut honey brittle caught my attention, as did her story of how she had to make multiple batches for the photo shoot as it kept getting eaten up. This recipe looked so easy, I hopped out of my chair and headed to the kitchen. I found both walnuts and pumpkin seeds, some local honey passed on to me because the owner knew I’d take the time melt the crystals out of it and packets of brown sugar. In no time I was toasting nuts, stirring them into the melted sweetness and pouring it out on parchment paper. I didn’t “stick” to her proportions (see what I did there?) so I got a chewy, not brittle, concoction that was still irresistible. I also kept returning for more and ate it for breakfast, lunch and snack. It will be easy to make it again to with her true recipe.

Be Creative — Be Creole

The above is a motto at Southern Creole Foods ( I Creole Bistro), where Caribbean Oxtail Stew is what I want to try next. “A Culinary Haven” what’s printed on the menu at this restaurant, 3485 Washington Boulevard. Everybody was friendly. I had a business meeting there and eyeballed orders full of red beans and rice, sausage and chicken and waffles going by. Chef Sean M. Perrodin personally brought by samples of gumbo and seafood cornbread. I approved both. This menu has a lot of style and the promise of Creole style paella is something else that will draw me back for another meal.

Creative woman

Debbie Borel Ploeger invited neighbors to a “Haughty Pauty” where guests dressed in formal attire to distribute goodies to Halloween trick-or-treaters. Little ones were offered punch cocktails by an elegant butler and served candies on a silver platter. The driveway featured a glowing party table set with ghastly surprises. Very clever.

Her creativity is at work on Bolivar Peninsula. See where she’ll help plan time in the Crystal Beach area with guided beachcomber “hunts,” a workshop on art from found treasures, kayaking or shrimp boat excursions, bonfires, crabbing, etc. Sounds intense. Call her at 409-926-2914.

* That walnut recipe put me in the mind of Martha Troxell, an area creative cook and foodie.

Readers, share your creative ideas with me at