Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dinner Party

Friday evening brought friends Emilia and Howie to the Brady B&B to share in some cocktails, tasty vittles, and a bit of my lemon meringue ice cream. Emilia is the invaluable right-hand woman who helped bring my book, The World Is a Kitchen, to reality. This was a long overdue thank you and a chance to catch up and see pictures of their recent trip to Kenya.

Something new from the kitchen was in order, so I scoured my recipe file and came up with three appetizer recipes to try. I even bought a new tri-level serving dish for the occasion. I wanted it to look a good as I thought it would taste. In my estimation two of the recipes fell a bit short, although I didn’t hear any complaints from anyone. Well, I’m not sure they had time to complain, because I kept the food coming most of the night.

We started with some lemon drops, made with our own Meyer lemons. The appetizers comprised the 3 new recipes. On the menu was Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs, Endive with Stilton, Pears & Pecans, and gougeres. I was able to make each item, or components of each item ahead of time, and just assemble and bake when the time came. This was followed by Fiery Cajun Shrimp and some good crusty bread. The best thing about this meal is that I spread a plastic tablecloth on our dining table, and we eat with our hands, peeling the spicy shrimp and throwing the shells on the table. It’s fun and clean-up is as easy as rolling up the plastic cover and dumping it in the garbage. It was hit this time as it was at our big dinner party last summer. We ended the meal with cappuccinos and lemon meringue ice cream. Mmmmm.

So in the recipe department we have the 3 apps. The fig recipe cost about $16 and was just so-so. It was also a bit time-consuming to prepare. I was unable to find fresh figs, which could possibly make it a better dish, so I will try it again when fig season comes around. The endive dish was a big hit. The strong flavor of the Stilton, with the sweet softness of the caramelized pears was only made better by the crunch of the pecans. This was a definite keeper. And the gougers, well…they weren’t quite right. They didn’t rise as they should have, and the flavor was nothing to write home about, and yet I know that this pate choux/cheese mixture is time-honored and well used. So I believe I must have done something wrong. Any suggestions?

Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs

4 large whole fresh figs quartered or 16 small mission figs
4 oz Chevre
3-oz proscuitto
3 T honey
¼ t pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut slit in fig and fill with quarter to half teaspoon of goat cheese. Tear proscuitto pieces in half longwise. Wrap each fig with half slice, tucking ends underneath. Place figs on prepared sheet. Combine honey with pumpkin pie spice and drizzle over figs. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Note: I made these ahead of time and kept them refrigerated, drizzling and baking them right before serving.


Endive with Stilton, Pears & Pecans

3 T butter
2 T sugar
2 pear, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T red wine vinegar
1 t salt
1 t fresh ground pepper
¼ c olive oil
½ cup Stilton, crumbled
25 endive spears
½ cup pecan halves or 25 pieces, toasted

In large sauté pan, over medium heat, add the butter and sugar. Add the diced pear and cook until well caramelized, approximately 8-10 minutes. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the garlic, red wine vinegar, salt, fresh pepper and olive oil. Add the Stilton.

Layout the endive spears, top with a bit of the cheese mixture, then the pear mixture, then the pecan. Plate and serve.

Note: you may substitute any other blue cheese for the Stilton and rough chopped pecans for the pecan halves.

Gougeres

½ c butter
1 c water
1 c flour
5 eggs
1 c grated gruyere
½ c grated parmesan
2 t Djon mutard
1 t fresh ground pepper

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In heavy medium saucepan, heat butter and water to simmer. Turn heat to low, add the flour and stir vigorously until mixture forms a ball that pulls away from the pan sides (about 1 minute). Remove pan from heat. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Mix into a smooth paste. Stir in both cheese, mustard, and pepper. Drop mixture by heaping tablespoonful onto 2 buttered baking sheets. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, cut slits into sides of pugs and return to oven, lowering the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake an additional ten minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

The lemon meringue ice cream recipe will be coming soon.

1 comment:

Alison said...

Yum! Can't wait to try the pear, stilton & pecan recipe! I just ordered 21 new varieties of cheese for our gourmet market and there are several variations of stilton & bleu on the list. Thanks for sharing!