Here are some of Holly Boles Davis’ favorite recipes from Menu Venue Events catering.

BRINED CEDAR-PLANK

SALMON WITH FRESH DILL

Requires one cedar plank for grilling, about 6x10 inches

For the brine:

3 cups water

1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup kosher salt

1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

2 bay leaves

2 cups ice

One 3-pound salmon fillet, skin on

For the salmon:

Coarsely ground pepper

Eight thin lemon slices

One bunch fresh dill sprigs

Prepare plank by soaking it in water for at least 1 hour.

Combine 3 cups water, brown sugar, salt, Old Bay seasoning, 1 tablespoon dill and bay leaves in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking to dissolve sugar and salt; cook 3 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in ice. Pour cooled brine into a baking dish. Add salmon, skin side up, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

Prepare grill by setting one side of the grill to high and the other side to medium. Place soaked plank over hot heat until it smolders and crackles, around 3 minutes. Transfer plant to side with a grill on medium heat.

Place salmon, skin side down on plank, season with pepper; arrange lemon slices and dill sprigs on salmon.

Cover, cook until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork, 8 to 12 minutes. Check periodically to make sure the plank hasn’t caught fire. If the plank catches fire, spritz it with water.

SPINACH AND BOWTIE SALAD WITH CITRUS VINAIGRETTE DRESSING

8 ounces bowtie pasta noodles

4 cups spinach leaves

½ cup cranberries

California Pine Nuts

One 4-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained

¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, optional

Combine all ingredients together and whisk until well incorporated. Drizzle 2-3 teaspoons over your salad.

Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

While pasta is boiling, prepare the dressing in a jar. Combine all dressing ingredients. Cover and shake to combine. Chill until ready to use.

In a large bowl, toss together pasta, spinach, cranberries, nuts, mandarin oranges and cilantro. Just before serving, pour dressing over salad, toss and serve.

COCONUT CREAM CAKE

5 eggs, separated

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

½ cup canola oil

1 teaspoon coconut extract

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 ¼ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups coconut

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the icing:

Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese

2/3 cup butter, softened

One box confectioners sugar

1 ¼ teaspoons of coconut extract

2 cups flaked coconut, toasted

Place egg whites in large bowl, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In another large bowl, beat the sugar, butter and oil until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well, then adding in extracts.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture and then add buttermilk and beat well. Finish with stirring in of the coconut.

Add cream of tartar to egg whites; beat until stiff. Gently fold into batter.

Divide cake mixture between three greased and floured 9-inch round pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks for complete cooling.

For icing, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy; add confectioner sugar and extracts, beat until smooth.

Place first cake layer on a serving plate; spread with half of a cup of frosting and sprinkle with 1/3 cup coconut. Repeat with top two remaining layers. Spread the remaining frosting over entire cake and sprinkle with remaining coconut.

Cool and store in refrigerator.

CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CAKE

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups boiling water

1 cup butter, softened

2 ½ cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine cocoa and boiling water, stir until smooth. Set aside.

In mixing bowl, beat butter at medium speed for about 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually stir in sugar, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine both cocoa and butter mixtures on low speed, being careful to not over beat. Stir in vanilla.

Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool pans on wire rack for 10 minutes before finishing cooling.

CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO ICING

1 ½ cups butter (3 sticks) softened

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

5 cups confectioner’s sugar

½ teaspoon espresso powder

½ cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add cocoa, confectioner’s sugar, espresso powder and mix until blended. Stir in vanilla.

Place first cake layer on a serving plate, spread with half of icing. Repeat with top two remaining layers.

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