Special of the Day: Lunch on the Town…at Café Paris

05 Feb Special of the Day: Lunch on the Town…at Café Paris

Lunch at Café Paris

Lunch at Café Paris

And now, for your noontime dining pleasure, Special of the Day will feature Lunch on the Town, showcasing fun new places downtown to try on your lunch hour, with recipes to make and serve at home, too.

First up in the lineup is Café Paris: Homestyle cooking with an international flare at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, 1400 1st Avenue North. Professional food photographer, blogger and recipe developer Rhonda Adkins has reopened the Café at Paris Gibson Square two days a week for two lunch seatings (11:30 and 12:30) , serving a set menu including a main dish, a side and a delicious dessert for $15. Call the Square to make your reservations at 406.727.8255.

Fortunate enough to have been included in the soft opening last week, my friend Jamie and I were pleasantly surprised to be served almost immediately upon arrival. Speedy service makes this a perfect choice for people working downtown with only an hour break for lunch. Fast, fresh and fabulous, the plate we were presented with was a work of art itself, bursting with bright colors and flavors galore.

Last week’s menu included Vietnamese Beef Pho (hearty Asian noodle soup with beef and vegetables), Shrimp Spring Roll, and light and fluffy Coconut Cream Sheet Cake. Adkins was kind enough to share recipes for the Shrimp Spring Roll and Coconut Cream Sheet Cake, so you can whip them up and enjoy them at home, too.

Adkins is a self-taught cook who expanded her culinary knowledge overseas while in the Air Force, keeping journals of the food she ate along the way. Adkins jokes that she “ate her way through Europe”, recreating dishes that evoked sweet memories of places she had been. After retiring from the Air Force, Adkins began blogging, photographing food and developing recipes.

Her Downtown Chicks friends Tracy Houck, Director of Paris Gibson Square and Trina Knoche, President of the Paris Gibson Board of Directors, were instrumental in convincing Adkins to reopen the Café after Adkins catered an Urban Art Tour dinner and Christmas Collection lunch service.

Sending best wishes for all the success in the world to Café Paris in this week’s Special of the day: Lunch on the Town…at Café Paris and recipes for Shrimp and Basil Spring Rolls and Coconut Cream Sheet Cake.  Happy lunching!

Recipes by Rhonda Adkins.

Photos by Sydne George.

Shrimp Spring Rolls

Shrimp Spring Rolls

Shrimp and Basil Spring Rolls

Recipe by Rhonda Adkins

(makes 25 spring rolls)

Think salad in a roll. Spring rolls are a healthy and very packable dish (we love them for lunch).  They are also great for serving at a party.

25 rice spring roll wrappers

Approximately 40 medium pre-cooked and shelled shrimp, halved

25 fresh whole herb leaves (basil, cilantro or mint)

20 cups fresh vegetables, grated or julienned (I like to use coleslaw mix)

1 cup Asian dressing (recipe follows)

Sweet Chili sauce for dipping (optional)

In a very large bowl toss the vegetables with the Asian dressing until lightly coated through.

Fill a wide bowl (wider than the rice paper) with very warm water. Take one rice paper wrapper and immerse it in the warm water until softened about 15 seconds (be careful to not over soak the wrapper or it will be difficult to work with).

Place the wrapper on a clean flat surface like the counter top, place an herb leaf on the lower 1/3 of the wrapper closest to you.  Lay 1 shrimp half in the middle of the herb leaf and place a shrimp half on each side of the herb leaf for a total of 3 shrimp halves.  Place approximately ¾ cup vegetables on top of the shrimp.

Beginning with the edge closest to you, fold it up and over the vegetables, next fold each side over, then tuck and roll burrito style.

Place on a parchment lined sheet being careful not to let the rolls touch each other.  If you are making ahead, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Makes 25 rolls.

Asian Dressing

I use this dressing for my Asian salads also, I just add some toasted sesames for a nice crunch.

¼ cup finely diced green onion (white part only)

1 clove garlic minced

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ seasoned rice wine vinegar

½ tablespoon sesame oil

½ tablespoon vegetable oil

Place all the ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake to mix, or whisk together in a small bowl.

Coconut Cream Cake

Coconut Cream Cake

Coconut Cream Sheet Cake

This is one of the moistest cake that you will ever have. Sweet, creamy and coconutty it was the big hit at Café Paris.

1 box white cake mix

3 eggs

1 cup milk

½ cup vegetable oil

1 small box instant vanilla pudding

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (15 ounce) can cream of coconut

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)

1 (8 ounce) container extra creamy Cool Whip

1 (12 ounce) bag sweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease and flour a jelly roll pan or sheet pan (I use Baker’s Joy Spray).

In a large bowl mix together the cake mix, eggs, milk, oil, pudding and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour evenly into prepared sheet pan.  Bake 20 minutes or until done (toothpick comes out clean).

While the cake is baking, whisk together the cream of coconut and the sweetened condensed milk (I like to do this in a large measuring cup).

With the end of a wooden spoon poke holes throughout the warm cake, about 2 inches apart.  Slowly pour the coconut/milk mixture over the cake allowing the mixture to soak through.  Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate a minimum of two hours, preferably overnight.

Top the cake with the whipped topping and sprinkle with the coconut flakes.

Serves 20 to 24.

Note: this can also be done in a 9×13 pan, allow another 10 minutes or so of cooking time.

Café Paris February Menu:

February 5 & 6

Macaroni and Cheese made with gourmet cheeses

Apple and Walnut Garden Salad

Chocolate Cake

February 12 & 13

Italian Wedding Soup

Crostini Fromaggio


Drink Special: Pink Lemonade

February 19 & 20

Ham & Sun Dried Tomato Sandwich

Pasta Salad

Raspberry Bars

February 26 & 27

Taco Soup

Quesadilla wedges

Chips & Salsa


Drink Special: Limeade

Visit Rhonda Adkins’ food blog at: The Kitchen Witch  (http://www.thekitchenwitchblog.com/)

Visit her photography site at: Rhonda Adkins Photography (http://www.rhondaadkinsphotography.com/)

Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at sydnegeorge@hotmail.com . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.


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