It was spring and the “Thoroughbroads” were ready for lunch at Kristin’s. Her meals and tablescapes always reminded us that we were in the home of quite an artist. The front door always held a wreath that was decorated to reflect a holiday or a season. When you walked in the house you were greeted with a scent from the season and a drink that reflected the same. We would sit in the gathering room and catch up until we all arrived. We then moved to the dining room to enjoy a great meal that showcased our hostess’ artistic and cooking talents. Her house was full of color, but a soft palette. It was the first place I saw someone set a table with mismatched colorful china plates, napkins and glasses that represented the colors of the flowers in the centerpiece. I loved it and have mimicked it many times, for I was hooked.
There is nothing like enjoying the company of smart women who have opinions on what is going on in the world and over a fine meal, it is even better. The subject of the day was the controversy in Cincinnati over a photography exhibit by Robert Mapplethorpe at the Contemporary Arts Center there.
Famous for his floral photos, he was also infamous for photos of his alternative lifestyle. We all had an opinion about the 7 portraits named the “Dirty Pictures” that were to be included in the showing. Not all of us were aware of how shocking these photos turned out to be, but most of us felt that the possibility of the shutdown of the National Endowment for the Arts over this display and other unusual depictions of art by other artists should not be decided by government officials. The art exhibit made national news due to a Citizens for Community Values group who brought suit and got an indictment against the center and its art director for pandering obscenity. (Mr. Barrie, and the arts center he directed, were later acquitted in a much-publicized trial six months after the indictment.)
At our luncheon, a few of us decided to go to Cincinnati and view the exhibit as a sign of support for the arts. We all were students in the ‘60’s so peaceful protest was in our DNA. As it turned out, we were not alone. The controversy actually brought more visitors to the center than probably would have come without it. Our group enjoyed the florals…they were magnificent. It was really amazing how he could take one bloom and make it stunningly sexy and provocative. The so called “Dirty Pictures” were placed in a private room curtained and roped off with plenty of warning signs about and no one under 21 was allowed in. A few of us did venture in and a few of us ventured out just as fast, for the subject matter was quite unnerving. Remember there were only 7 photos on view all in black and white. If you could ignore the subject matter, the actual photography itself was striking.
Art is personal not only for the artist but the viewer. From time to time in history Michelangelo’s David has had a fig leaf strategically placed on the statue in Italy, all based on the norms at the time. The “broads” that went to Cincinnati left feeling they had done their duty to support art of every kind…even though we stopped for iced vodka and caviar, instead of tea, at the Omni Netherland hotel bar before heading home.
Jezebel Over Cream Cheese
10 oz Pineapple Preserves
10 oz Apple Jelly
1 Tbsp horse radish
1 Tbsp Coleman mustard
Mix & pour over room temp cream cheese block and serve with lightly salted crackers
Pacific Rim Beef Salad
2lbs boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1 ½ in. thick
¾ cup soy sauce
¾ cup sugar, divided
1 Tbsp plus 1 ½ Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
3 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup vegetable oil, divided
1 lb fresh spinach, stems removed and leaves torn into bite sizes
4 oz fresh bean sprouts
6 center cut red onion slices, separated into rings
¼ cup each of catsup and rice wine vinegar
½ tsp hot pepper sauce
2 tsp dark roasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
Fresh button mushrooms
Trim excess fat from steaks, combine soy sauce, ½ cup sugar, ginger & garlic and stir to dissolve sugar. Place steak and marinade in zip lock bag and coat, leave in refrigerator for 2-4 hours. Remove steak, pat dry. Reserve 2 Tbsp of marinade. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in large heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add steak and sear 4-6 minutes turning once or until rare. Let steak sit for 10 minutes before carving into slivers. Combine spinach, bean sprouts, & onion in large bowl. Combine catsup, vinegar, pepper sauce, remaining sugar, remaining vegetable oil, remaining ¼ cup sugar and the marinade saved in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil. Pour this hot dressing over the spinach combo and toss. Place the mixture on a large platter and arrange the meat slices on top, sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with the button mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Serves 6. You can add hard boiled egg wedges if desired.
Strawberry Shortcake Shells
5 egg whites
1 ½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup sifted cake flour
¾ tsp vanilla extract
Vegetable cooking spray
Brandied Strawberry Sauce (recipe below)
Sweetened whipped cream
8 strawberry fans (recipe below)
Beat egg whites at room temp until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt beat until soft peaks form. Add sugar- 2Tbsp at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle in half of flour at a time over this mixture and fold in carefully then fold in vanilla. Coat eight 4-5 in baking shells or use large muffin tins and spoon in evenly the batter to within ¼ inch of top edges. Bake at 375 for 9-12 min until the cakes spring back to the touch.
To serve spoon about 3 Tbsp of Brandied Strawberry Sauce on top of each dessert plate then place shells or muffins on top and top with whipped cream and strawberries.
Brandied Strawberry Sauce
2 10 oz packages of frozen strawberries thawed and sliced
2 tsp corn starch
½ cup currant jelly
2 Tbsp brandy
Drain strawberries, reserve ½ cup juice. Press strawberries through a sieve and discard pulp and set sieved strawberries aside. Combine cornstarch and ½ cup reserved strawberry juice stir until smooth, set aside. Melt jelly over low heat in a saucepan add the cornstarch mixture and cook stirring constantly over medium heat until it c comes to a boil then stir in strawberries from sieve and brandy. Yield 1 ½ cups