Sunday, December 7, 2008

December Potluck

What a FABULOUS evening! I'm so glad all the hubbies could join us and see what we're up to each month. We had a TON of food and ALL of it was DELICIOUS! I can't wait to make some of them myself! Thanks to everyone who contributed. A HUGE thank you to Betsy, who let us take over her home. It was beautiful and so festive!!
. Another big thank you to Christina and Lindsey for the sweet party favors (a Christmas CD and yummy candies!)

Drink (yes that's a great picture of one of them in my hand)


Makes three 6-inch cheeseballs; serves 8 to 10 and all ingredients(except the veggie chipes - Target) were purchased at Crest (awesome grocery store).

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
5 TBLS hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

8 ounces sharp orange cheddar cheese, finely shredded
2 tablespoons store-bought chutney(jam and jelly section at store)
3/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
Water crackers, for serving

6 ounces Roquefort cheese
1 shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons brandy (optional)
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
Vegetable chips (such as Terra Chips Sweets & Beets), for serving

8 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
1/3 cup fresh curly-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 English cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices, for serving

Grown up Ham and Cheese Sandwich bites

1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
8 slices thin white bread , recommended: Pepperidge Farm
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 small green apples
4 to 6 ounces aged Gouda
1 tablespoon Dijon or whole grain mustard, apple butter or chutney
1/2 bunch watercress
8 thin slices prosciutto
Freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring water, vinegar and brown sugar to a boil. Add the onions and remove from the heat. Cover, and set aside until the onions come to room temperature.
Trim the crusts off the bread and cut the bread into thirds, for 3 rectangles per piece. Lightly brush both sides of the bread pieces with olive oil and lay out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until just crisp and lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Cool.
To assemble: Quarter, core, and very thinly slice the apple, (a mandolin is terrific for this). Very thinly slice the cheese into triangles or shards that will fit nicely on the bread.
Place a dab or smear of mustard on the bread. Place a piece of apple, cheese and 1 or 2 sprigs of watercress on each piece of toasted bread. Wrap a small piece of prosciutto around each stack to make a neat package. Top with a little bit of the pickled onions, a drizzle of olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve at room temperature.
Do ahead tips: Toast the bread ahead, and thinly slice the apple, placing them in lemon water to prevent them from turning brown. If you need to assemble the sandwiches ahead, don't add the watercress, and cover them with a very light moistened paper towel


Chopped romaine lettuce and torn spinach leaves
dried cranberries
chopped red pear
feta cheese

For the pecans...melt a little butter in a saucepan, add the pecans and just enough brown sugar to lightly coat them. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium to medium high stirring almost constantly, just until they are well coated and are starting to get caramelized. D
ressing...Newman's Own Family Recipe Italian with sugar in it


Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Pecans
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
2 cups heavy cream

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 1/8-inch thick (I used a mandolin slicer)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Generous sprinkling of crumbled blue cheese
Generous handful of chopped pecans (about 1/2 c. total)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a 9 by 9-inch casserole dish, arrange the potatoes in even layers. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the cream and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on a small bit of blue cheese and pecans. Repeat with the remaining potatoes, cream, and salt and pepper to form 9 or 10 layers, adding the blue cheese and pecans only every 3 layers.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes, remove cover and continue baking for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cream has been absorbed and the potatoes are cooked through and the top is browned.

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Marshmallow Streusel
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
2 cups heavy cream

1-1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice or other holiday spices
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 1/8-inch thick
For the Streusel:
1 stick butter, softened
about 1/3 c. flour
about 1/3 c. brown sugar
1/c chopped pecans
1/2 c. or more mini marshmallows
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Whisk together cream and pumpkin pie spice until smooth.
In a 9 by 9-inch casserole dish, arrange the potatoes in even layers. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the cream mixture. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and cream to form 10 layers.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes, remove cover and continue baking for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the streusel by mixing the butter, flour and sugar with a fork until crumbly, adjust flour and sugar if necessary. Add pecans and marshmallows.
When the potatoes come out of the oven, sprinkle with streusel to form an even layer and return to oven for an additional 10-20 minutes, or until streusel is melted and lightly browned and potatoes have softened.


Ingredients :

2 pounds baking potatoes, boil & mashed
1 1/2 tsps salt
2 tsps ground coriander1/2 tsps freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large egg
2 tablespoons oil, plus more for deep frying
4 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound ground beef

Directions ;

Mix together the mashed potatoes, 1 teaspoon of of the salt, half the pepper, the coriander, nutmeg and egg.
Preheat a wok until hot, add 2 tablespoons of the oil, the shallots & garlic ;saute until soft, add beef & stir to break up clumps: brown until meat is no longer red, about 2 minutes.
Season with remaining salt& pepper cool.
Combine the meat with the potato mixture. Form into the 16 balls and flatten them into cakes 2 inches round by 1 inch thinck.
Pour 2 inches of oil into a preheated wok. Heat to 365 degrees.

9 ounces white chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
*1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (I use Boyajiain natural peppermint flavour)
6 fresh mint leaves, optional
Put the pieces of white chocolate in a bowl, and sit this bowl over a pan over simmering water until it melts, stirring gently with a spatula every now and then. When it's melted, stand the bowl on a cold surface to cool down a little.
In another bowl, and using an electric handheld whisk for ease, whip the cream, egg white and extract together. You want soft peaking rather than a stiff mixture.
Put a big dollop of cream onto the slightly cooled chocolate and mix, and then gently fold the chocolate mixture into the cream.
Divide mixture between 6 small but perfectly formed glasses with a capacity of 60ml/ 1/4-cup each.Chill in the fridge or give them a fast icy zap but sitting them in the deep freeze for 10 or 15 minutes. Decorate top with a mint leaf before serving.

12 oz white chocolate baking bar
1/2 c crushed candy cane
1/4 -1/2 tsp peppermint extract
Melt chocolate over double boiler, add peppermint and candy canes, stir, pour into 9x13 (lined with wax paper). Refridgerate 45 min than crack into pieces like brittle

1 cup seedless raspberry jam
6 tablespoons orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier) or orange juice
1 pound mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
28 soft ladyfingers or 2 (12-ounce) pound cakes, cut into 3 by 1 by 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 (1/2 dry pint) baskets fresh raspberries (about 3 3/4 cups total)
Confectioners' sugar, for serving
Stir the jam and 4 tablespoons of the orange liqueur (or oj) in a small bowl to blend.
Combine the mascarpone and remaining 2 tablespoons of orange liqueur in a large bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Using a large rubber spatula, stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to lighten. Fold the remaining whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.
Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish or other decorative serving dish with half of the ladyfingers. Spread half of the jam mixture over the ladyfingers. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the jam mixture, then cover with half of the fresh raspberries. Repeat layering with the remaining ladyfingers, jam mixture, mascarpone mixture and raspberries. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
Dust with the confectioners' sugar and serve.

1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ounces walnuts (about one heaping cup; don’t use pieces)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, cayenne and salt.
Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Add the walnuts and blanch them for 3 minutes. Drain well and then immediately roll the walnuts in the sugar mixture until thoroughly coated. The sugar will melt slightly. Transfer the walnuts to a baking sheet or pan and bake, stirring occasionally, until they are a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully because the sugar can burn easily. Let cool completely before serving

Sunday, November 16, 2008

November Dinner

Thanks so much to our fabulous hostesses!!! The night was breathtaking, from the ambiance (tea lights every where, a chandelier hanging, and lights in the backyard) to the food (I was SO excited to get to taste truffles!!). Thanks for all your hard work!
. Hostesses: Jennifer, Laura and Holly

...and we can't forget Jillian! Thanks for joining in on the fun!

The back patio, for drinks and appetizers

Italian Bellini's
sparkling grape juice
peach nectar
Pour equal parts (chilled) of each into glass.
And that is it!
Truffled Popcorn
pop some light or non buttered popcorn and drizzle with white truffle oil. (you can purchase oil at crest or the gourmet gallery)

Tomato Pesto Bruschetta

14 slices 1/2" thick bruschetta bread
14 slices of ball mozerella cheese
14 slices of Roman Tomato
basil leaves

14 slices of french bread toasted in 375 oven for about 7 minutes. Then take out and brush with any pesto. layer on one cheese per slice of bread and then put in the 375 oven till cheese is melted. Pull out of oven and layer on with one tomato slice and top with basil leaves. And serve warm.

Herb Oil for Dipping Bread
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
combine all dry ingredients and add wet ingredients as serving.

Caesar Salad Dressing
(this is the recipe I MADE, but it spilled in my car so it wasn't served)
1 clove garlic chopped finely
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 1/2 T Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 tsp dry mustard
5-6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
1 "coddled" Egg (1 minute in boiling water, then cooled, peeled and added in entirety)
Mix all ingredients and chill.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
coarse salt and pepper
5 garlic cloves, peel on
1 cup half-and-half
pasta, for serving (I use Pappardelle)
Shave grated gouda cheese, cooked and crumbled bacon (for the top)

Preheat oven to 375. Using a large, sharp knife,trim the squash ends, then halve the squash crosswise to separate the bulb from the neck. Peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut both pieces in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out seeds; discard.

Cut squash into 2-inch chunks. Transfer to a small rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil and sage. Season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter garlic around squash. Roast until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Remove and discard skin from garlic.

Tansfer squash and garlic to a food processor. Puree. With motor running, add half and half through the feed tube; process until smooth. Add 1 to 2 cups water. Continue to process until smooth, adding water to thin if necessary. Season again generously with salt. (To freeze, see below).

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour sauce over pasta; toss to coat. Add some pasta water to thin sauce if necessary. Serve with desired toppings. Once you've tossed the pasta with the sauce, serve it topped with any or all of the following: Toasted Walnuts, additional parmesan cheese, Torn fresh sage leaves.
To Freeze: Cool sauce to room temperature to airtight containers, leaving 1 inch of space. Freeze up to 3 months. When ready to use, place plastic containers upside down under hot tap water to help release frozen blocks of sauce. Place blocks in a large saucepan. Cover and reheat over medium-low,adding water to thin if necessary.
Winter Vegetables

-yellow squash
-bread crumbs (you can make your own or use store-bought)
-rubbed sage
-garlic salt
-parmesan cheese
-olive oil
Cut the vegetables into rounds. Add about 1 T. olive oil into frying pan. Add to oil the herbs (personal preference on exact amount) until fragrant. Add the vegetables and sauté for a few minutes. Then sprinkle the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic salt, and about 1 t. butter on top. Toss and continue to sauté. Then repeat process above so that the vegetables have a good coating of crumbs as they cook. Salt and pepper to taste.

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
4 egg yokes
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)

In a saucepan combine the milk, cream and 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whip the egg yokes with the remaining sugar using an electric mixer until the eggs have become thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm milk and cream mixtures into the egg mixture and stir. Add this mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes. Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the warm custard mixture through the strainer. Stir in the vanilla and hazelnut spread until it dissolves. Chill mixture completely before pouring into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions to freeze.

Gingered Candied Orange

Section Section an orange and make sure, with out tearing the orange, most of the white part (pith) is peeled off. Leave the orange out to dry for about 4-5 hours to get a hard shell.

Take 1 part water to 1 part sugar, add one teaspoon of vinegar, and put cut pieces of ginger in the mixture. Lay out aluminum foil to lay on after the dipping. Heat to soft crack stage and then dip the whole orange or half the orange in the sugar mixture and let harden on the foil. Garnish with candied orange peels After peeling the orange cut peel into thin strips and boil in a mixutre of 1 part sugar and 1 part water but don't come to the crack stage. Stay before th soft ball stage. You can also dip these these in melted chocolate after drying from being candied.

Strawberry and Brie Bruschetta

12 slices French bread, cut 1/2 inch thick

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

12 slices (about 12 ounces) Brie cheese

1 1/2 pounds (about 4 to 5 cups) sliced stemmed California strawberries

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.Spread 1 side of each bread slice with butter; arrange, butter side up, on large baking sheet.In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle 1 teaspoon over each slice of bread. Reserve remaining sugar mixture. Toast bread in oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Top each with 1 slice cheese; return to oven. Bake an additional 4 to 6 minutes or until cheese is melted.Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine strawberries, vanilla extract and remaining sugar mixture; toss lightly.Place two bruschetta on each serving plate. Spoon 1/3 cup strawberry mixture over each; sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately.Makes 6 servingsTip: To toast almonds, spread in even layer on baking sheet. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring once or twice for even browning


1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 bars (8 ounces total) bittersweet chocolate baking bars, broken in 1/4-inch pieces (recommended: Ghirardelli)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoaa
few drops of any flavoring, chopped nut of any kind, or unsweetened baking chocolate powder.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and butter. In a medium sized skillet, bring 1/2 inch of water to a slow simmer. Set the saucepan in the skillet over low heat. Stir mixture just until chocolate has completely melted. At this pointRemove from heat. Pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow bowl. Cool, cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.Pour the cocoa into a pie plate. Line an airtight container with waxed paper. Dip a melon baller or small spoon into a glass of warm water and quickly scrape across the surface of the chilled truffle mixture to form a rough 1-inch ball. Drop the ball into the cocoa. Repeat with the remaining truffle mixture. Gently shake the pie plate to coat truffles evenly. Transfer truffles to the prepared container, separating layers with additional waxed paper. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 3 months.Yield: 30 truffles

Monday, October 20, 2008

October Dinner

Another FABULOUS night with our Culinary Crew. Hostesses Jennifer Roberts, Bekah Lee and Arie Crane treated us with an autumn feast! Does anyone else TOTALLY look forward to these nights!!! Ladies it was amazing! (but you did escape without a picture of the 3 of you together)

Blood Orange Spritzers w/Pomegranate Sugar
2 ¼ cups cold freshly squeezed, frozen, or bottled blood-orange juice
2 bottles cold ginger ale
Pomegranate rimming sugar

Dampen a new, clean sponge and place on level surface. First, place top of goblets onto sponge and then dip them in the sugar. (Note from CCrew: Recipe recommended that we let them dry for ½ hour to 1 hour; now, we feel we would do these just before serving so sugar does not get so hard.)

Pour 3 tablespoons juice into each goblet, and top off with ginger ale. Makes 12.

Apricot-Cranberry Brie en Croûte
½ pkg. puff pastry sheets
1 egg
1 Tablespoon water
½ cup apricot preserves (used Smuckers Simply Fruit)
½ cup dried cranberry, softened
1 (13.2 ounce) round Brie cheese
Butter or Entertaining crackers

Thaw pastry sheet at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix egg and water.

Unfold pastry sheet on lightly floured surgace. Roll into 14-inch square. Cut off corners to make a circle. Spread preserves to within 1 inch of pastry edge. Sprinkle cranberries (and may add sliced almonds or chopped pecans if desired) over preserves. Top with cheese. Brush edge of circle with egg mixture. Bring all edges of puff pastry over edge of cheese (opposite sides over cheese). Trim remaining pastry. Press edges to seal. Place seam side down on baking sheet – lined with parchment paper. Decorate top with pastry scraps if desired. Brush with egg mixture.

Bake 20 minutes or until golden. Let stand 1 hour. Serve with crackers.

Smoked Salmon and Dill on Pumpernickel Squares
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 ounces smoked salmon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 bunch fresh dill, sprigs picked from stems
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Loaf of small, hors d’oeuvres-size pumpernickel bread (or a regular-size loaf of pumpernickel, slices cut into 2-inch squares)
2 small radishes, sliced paper thin

Place cream cheese, smoked salmon, all but ¼ cup of the dill sprigs, 2 tablespoons of cream, and Tabasco sauce in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment. Blend until smooth and pink with green flecks of dill, adding the reserved tablespoon of cream if the spread seems very stiff.

Chill spread for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days. (If, when you removed the spread from the refrigerator, it is at first too stiff to pipe, let it sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes.

Place spread in pastry bag fitted with a round, star or shell-shaped tip and pipe mixture onto pumpernickel squares. (A re-sealable plastic bag with a corner snipped off can also do the work of a pastry bag).

Garnish hors d’oevres with one or two slices of radish and a sprig of dill. Makes about 30 hors d’oeuvres. Serves 8-10.

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
2 lb. bacon, slices cut into 3 sections
3 cans drained water chestnuts

Wrap a piece of bacon (which has been cut in thirds) around each water chestnut. Hold bacon together with a toothpick (or put fold on the bottom). Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes or until brown. Drain off grease. Mix:

8 oz. Hellmann's mayonnaise
12 oz. chili sauce (we used ½ tsp. Spiracha Thai chili sauce- add to your liking)
2 c. brown sugar
Pour over chestnuts. Bake again at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Pumpkin-Coconut Bisque
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
2 1⁄2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1 tablespoon sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk ( We preferred to use more to sweeten the soup – around 3.5 cups)
Ground nutmeg
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Saute until golden, about 10 minutes. Add pumpkin, broth, sugar, allspice, crushed red pepper, ginger and coconut milk. Bring to boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer until flavors blend, about 30 minutes

Mixed Green Salad with Pluots, Pomegrante & Pecans
10 Cups of fresh, washed and dried mixed baby salad greens
½- ¾ Cup fennel, chopped or sliced and cut to about 1 ½ -inch size.
1 Cup fresh pomegranate seeds
3 pluots, sliced
Sweet & Salty nuts (*see recipe) & shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish

½ Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons (up to 1/3 cup) Red Wine Vinegar (C. Crew Note: If you like a tarter flavor use
the greater amount of vinegar; less for a more mild flavor)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons green onion, chopped
½ teaspoon salt (used Kosher)
2 teaspoons poppy seeds.

Combine dressing ingredients in blender or with hand blender until smooth. In a large bowl, mix lettuce, and fennel and toss with dressing so leaves are just lightly coated. Serve on individual plates with about 1 cup of dressed greens, a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, 3-4 pluots placed on top of greens and a small pile of nuts in center. Garnish with shaved parmesan. Serves 8-10
Sweet and Salty Nuts
1 pound pecan halves (about 4 ½ cups)
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light-color corn syrup
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Coarse raw sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using about 2 tablespoonsbutter, generously butter a cookie sheet with sides; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the nuts, granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and pepper until well combined; spread into prepared pan.

Bake about 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven. Sprinkle generously with raw sugar; toss to coat. Transfer mixture to a large piece of foil. Cool completely. Break apart to serve. Makes 5-6 cups.

To store: Place nuts in an airtight container; store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

Vanilla Cider Pork with Pears
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and quartered
1-lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed, sliced into twelve 1-inch thick medallions, seasoned
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup fresh apple cider
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (CC note: Flavor was actually more intense with vanilla extract than
w/vanilla bean – so used Pure Vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears and sauté until lightly browned; remove from pan. Set aside.

Lightly season pork with salt and a bit of pepper, then dredge in flour. Sauté medallions for 2 minutes on each side in the same pan the pears were sautéed in; remove from pan.
Combine broth, cider and cream; add to the pan to deglaze. Bring to a boil, then add vanilla. Boil until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Return pears and pork to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Boil until thick, about 4 minutes. Add rosemary and thyme. Season with salt and pepper before serving (as desired). Garnish with long chives.

Roasted Garlic & Chive Mashed Potatoes
½ - 1 head of garlic (Can use roasted garlic puree – Williams Sonoma has a good one.)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 ½ pounds red-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
2 Tablespoons sour cream
¼ cup chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut top ¼ inch off head of garlic to expose tops of cloves. Place in small baking dish. Spoon oil over; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until garlic cloves are tender, about 45 minutes. Squeeze garlic cloves from skins and mash in small bowl. (CC Note: Used ½ head of garlic).

Cook potatoes in heavy, large pot of boiloing salted water until very tender, about 18 minutes. Drain; return to pot. Stir potatoes over low heat to allow excess water to evaporate. Add whipping cream, butter, sour cream, and raosted garlic and mash together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (CC Note - Tips for smooth, creamy potatoes: Add just enough water that is room temperature above cut potatoes before boiling; warm whipping cream before adding to potatoes; use a food mill when potatoes are warm.) Stir in chives and serve. Serves 6.

Ginger Crème Brulee


* 1 extra-large egg
* 4 extra-large egg yolks
* 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
* 3 cups heavy cream
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (we used imitation per allergies!)
* 1/8 tsp almond extract
1 tsp jarred minced ginger (add to taste)


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla, almond extract and ginger and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Garnish with whipped cream and chopped caramelized ginger.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

September Dinner

What a fabulous night!!! Christina Berg and Lindsey Esplin did an incredible job with the decor and food! We all loved the Asian/lime theme!! Thanks ladies for pampering us!!
.Our beautiful hostess'

Yummy caramels in the goody box!!

Beijing-Style Jiao Zi
(I didn't give quantities for these because chinese food really is made to your taste. I like lots more vegetables in my jiao zi; my husband likes more meat. The quantities really depend on your preferences.)
ground meat (pork or chicken; these had the more mild-tasting chicken)
finely chopped Napa cabbage, regular cabbage, spinach, or other Chinese vegetables
finely chopped green onion
chopped ginger
1 egg
sesame oil
salt pepper
wonton wrappers
Mix the ground meat, the chopped vegetables, the green onion, and the ginger in a bowl. Beat the egg and add it; sprinkle cornstarch over the entire mixture and combine thoroughly. Add salt, pepper, and sesame oil to taste. To form the jiao zi, place the wonton wrapper in the center of one hand and dollop a heaping teaspoonful of filling into the middle of the wrapper. Use a finger dipped in water to smear water around the outer edges of the wrapper. Fold the bottom center of the wrapper up to the top center of the wrapper and pinch the two together. Then crimp the edges of the wrapper towards this pinched center. Press all edges to make sure that there are no gaps through which the filling can escape. Boil a large pot of water. Add some dumplings (be sure not to crowd them). When the water boils, add a cup of cold water. When the water boils again, add another cup of cold water. When the water boils a third time, the jiao zi are cooked through. To fry the jiao zi, try to remove as much water as possible from the boiled jiao zi. Heat oil (I use canola oil) in a skillet. Add the jiao zi and fry the bottoms until they are crisp.

Egg Drop Soup

8 cups chicken broth

1 can of corn

5 eggs

chopped green onion (optional)

sesame oil (optional)

white pepper (optional)

cornstarch + water mixture for thickening

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the undrained can of corn. When the mixture reboils, slowly add the cornstarch dissolved in cold water, stirring constantly, until thickened to the consistency you like. Taste the soup at this point and add salt if necessary. In a separate bowl, whip the eggs slightly. Slowly add the beaten eggs into the boiling broth, stirring constantly. Add chopped green onions, sesame oil, and white pepper to taste.

Thai Lettuce Wraps

one head lettuce (Boston Bibb or butter lettuce is better but iceberg works if you can't find the others)

1 pound lean ground beef

minced garlic to taste

1 T soy sauce

1/4 C hoisin sauce

2 t minced pickled ginger

1 T rice wine vinegar

1 T Asian chile pepper sauce (or more or less, depending on how spicy you want it)

chopped green onions

1 t sesame oil

Wash the lettuce and separate leaves onto individual plates. Brown the ground beef. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chile pepper sauce to the beef. Stir and cook until heated through. Add the green onions and sesame oil and cook until the green onions begin to wilt. Spoon the meat mixture into the center of each lettuce leaf. Curl the lettuce around the filling to form a wrap.

Pad Thai

12 oz package of rice noodles

cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces

4 eggs

2 T white wine vinegar

4 T fish sauce

6 T white sugar

1/4 T crushed red pepper (or more or less, depending on how spicy you want it)

lime juice to taste

2 C bean sprouts

1/4 C finely chopped peanuts

chopped green onions

In a large pot, boil water. Add the rice noodles. When the water returns to a boil, boil the noodles for 1 minute, then cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the noodles sit for 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse them with cold water. Meanwhile, mix the vinegar, the fish sauce, the sugar, the crushed red pepper, and the lime juice together and set aside. Beat the eggs. Add some oil to a wok or other large skillet and cook the eggs. When the eggs are cooked through, add the chicken and the cooked noodles. Pour the sauce over everything and stir to combine while heating through. Add the bean sprouts, peanuts, and green onions and cook for a few more minutes until green onions begin to wilt. Garnish with more chopped peanuts, raw bean sprouts, and a lime twist.

Coconut Lime Tropical Pound Cake

Sunday, August 24, 2008

August 23rd

This is the beginning of one fun group! Megan and I had SO MUCH FUN planning and putting on this dinner! We can't wait for our next Culinary Crew gathering! Thanks Jennifer for all your help and for the use of your beautiful home. Hope everyone enjoyed the food and company as much as we did!
. Megan & Kristen - August hosts

Almost everyone from the Crew

Decorating is half the fun!

Virgin Mojitos
serves 1

10 fresh mint leaves
1 tsp. Raw sugar
2 Tbsp Fresh squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp Simple syrup
1/2 cup chilled Ginger Ale
In a glass, muddle/crush the mint, then add sugar, lime juice and syrup. Top with Ginger Ale. Garnish with a fresh lime wheel and a sprig of mint.

Edamame, Parmesan, and Almond Salad with Crostini
1/2 cup whole almonds (about 3 ounces)
2 cups cooked edamame shelled
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup Parmesan or aged provolone cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
Coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
Very thin sliced crostini, cut on the bias
Preheat oven to 375. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven until golden brown and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool completely. Chop very coarsely; set aside. Prepare edamame beans as directed. Rinse with cold water. Squeeze beans from skins (you should have about 2 cups). Whisk oil, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add almonds, beans, cheese, and mint; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or let stand at room temperature up to 1 hour. Salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 day. Serve with crostini. (Baguette, cut in ½” slices on the diagonal and toasted lightly.)

Chicken Tikkas with Cilantro Mint Chutney

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon dry ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon garam masala (Indian spice mix)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes

Stir together all ingredients except chicken in a medium bowl, then add chicken, stirring to coat. Marinate, covered and chilled, 30 minutes to 1 hour. While grill is heating, thread the chicken onto each skewer. Cook the chicken turning once, until browned and just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes total. Note: Soak the skewers in water before threading.

Cilantro Mint Chutney

2 cups packed fresh cilantro sprigs

1 cup packed fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup chopped white onion

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon chopped fresh small green chiles, such as serrano or Thai

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Purée all ingredients in a blender, leaving some texture.

Chopped Spinach and Avocado Salad in Bacon Cup
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Blend all ingredients together. Generously salt and pepper to taste


6 oz baby spinach leaves
2 medium-size apples, thinly sliced
1 cup very thinly sliced red onion
2 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, cubed

Bacon Cup (click HERE for an in depth tutorial on the bacon cups)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Flip a large muffin tin over. Cover with foil. Wrap the bacon around the molds on all sides to form a basket. Place a pan under the tin to catch all of the grease to prevent flames! Cook until crisp, about 30-40 minutes. Note: the bacon shrinks considerably when cooked. Large tins are necessary. Practice different ways of wrapping the bacon and squeeze it tight with your hands to help it stick together before cooking. The thicker the slice of bacon, the better it cooks.

Chilled Strawberry Soup

1 lb strawberries, chopped (3 cups)

1 cup gingerale

2 T freshly squeezed orange juice

2 to 3 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup vanilla yogurt

Servings: Makes about 4 bowls/8 cups. Toss strawberries with gingerale, orange juice, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Let macerate, chilled and covered, 1 hour. Purée mixture in a blender until smooth, then set aside 1 cup purée. Blend remaining mixture with yogurt and sugar to taste. Serve soup drizzled with reserved purée.

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Relish & Coconut Couscous

Mahi Mahi Marinade
serves 4
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
salt & pepper

Wisk ingredients together and coat fish. Marinade in refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Adjust marinade according to amount of fish.

Pineapple Relish
serves 20
1 red onion, diced small
1 large gold pineapple peeled, diced small
1 1/2 red peppers, diced small
1 1/2 yellow peppers, diced small
1/2 bunch scallions, chopped
2 jalepenos, minced
2 limes, juiced
1 1/2 oz rice wine vinegar
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar (or more to taste)
kosher salt, to taste

Combine ingredients and let sit for a few hours to blend flavors. Best served at room temperature.

Coconut Couscous

1 C coconut milk
½ C chicken broth (don't use reduced sodium)
1 ¼ C couscous
2 Tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp thinly sliced green onions with tops

Bring broth and coconut milk to boil. Add couscous. Stir and cover, remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and generously salt to your liking. Add cilantro and green onion. Serve immediately.

Orange Chocolate Mousse

4 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped in small pieces

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup orange juice

3 Tablespoons of cocoa powder

2 eggs, separated

2 Tablespoons cointreau (or 1/2 tsp of orange extract)

1/3 cup of whipping cream

1 egg white

2 Tablespoons of sugar

In a microwavable bowl, melt orange juice and butter until boiling. Add the chocolate and stir until smooth. Microwave at 10 second intervals if necessary to melt more. When smooth, stir in cocoa powder. Whisk in egg yolks and cointreau. Allow to cool. 2. In a chilled bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 3. Beat all the egg whites in a DRY, chilled bowl until soft peaks form. Add the sugar; beat until smooth and glossy. 4. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the eggs whites into the cooled chocolate mixture. Before they are completely incorporated, fold in the whipped cream. Spoon the mixture into individual serving dishes or a large serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve in hollowed out orange or with orange segments and whipped cream. Note: this recipe tastes significantly better with the higher quality chocolate and cocoa