December Delight

Wednesday, December 16th was the evening of our December Delight! It was a Christmas miracle we were able to find a night in December all six of us could get together! We dined at Miss Jodi's and as you can see, her table was decorated with a beautiful holiday flair! We started out with Sausage Cups from Andrea - more like a sausage wanton - delish! Then Lynley treated us with a salad. We enjoyed Kneaders bread from Raquel, Mustard-Roasted Potatoes (Barefoot Contessa at Home) by Bridget and our delicious main course, Prime Rib with Fresh Herb Rub by Jodi. We finished off the night with a Mint Chocolate Cake from Lara. As always, everything was just perfect and we enjoyed our night together catching up as friends. Next gourmet night was scheduled for Friday, January 8, 2010 at Lynley's.

Classic Lynley

Miss Raquel's power went out unexpectedly, so she was unable to make her rolls. Instead she favored us with a fresh loaf of 12-grain from Kneaders! No one complained!

Prime Rib with Fresh Herb Rub

1 TBS chopped garlic
2 TBS chopped fresh basil
2 TBS chopped fresh oregano
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
2 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
4 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 TBS Lawry's seasoning salt
1 TBS black pepper

Combine garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, and rosemary into a food processor or blender, then add olive oil. Lawry's seasoning salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Rub over the entire Prime Rib, wrap and keep refrigerated overnight. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake for 1/2 hour then turn the oven down to 325 degrees. Roast for 15 minutes per pound.

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
1 yellow onions
3 TBS good olive oil
2 TBS whole-grain mustard
kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the potatoes in halves or quarters, depending on their size, and place them n a sheet pan. Remove the ends of the onions, peel them, and cut them in half. Slice them crosswise in 1/3 inch-thick slices to make half-rounds. toss the onions nad potatoes together on the sheet pan. Add the olive oil, mustard, 2 tsp salt, and the pepper and toss them together (I brushed on). Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the potatoes are lightly browned on the outside and tender on the inside. Toss the potatoes from time to time with a metal spatula so they brown evenly. Serve hot sprinkled wiht the chopped parsley and a little extra salt.

One of the cool things about visiting Miss Jodi's at Christmas
are seeing her beautiful nativities from all over the world!
Nativity from Madagascar

Nativity from Peru

Nativity from Taiwan

A Fancy Fall Feast!

The gourmet girls met on Tuesday night, November 10, 2009 for another wonderful feast of delicious food! Bridget was very excited to break out all of her new fancy china for it's inaugural usage after receiving it for her wedding! We started the evening with appetizers by Lynley, Blue Cheese Tartlets, a recipe from a Williams Sonoma cookbook. Next was Jodi's excellent Pistachio and Pear Salad with Cilantro and Feta dressing (a recipe from a friend) and Lara's divine Beer Bread (another recipe from a friend). We might have devoured the entire loaf! By then the hens were finally cooked. (Tip: when buying frozen hens - I purchased mine at Snider's Meats in Holladay - allow two full days for them to thaw in your fridge. Mine were not quite thawed when I put them in the oven and took about an hour and twenty minutes to bake, including turning the oven up to 425 after an hour and turning the hens over once). I think the wait was well worth it however, because the hens were delicious! (Not hard to make, not too expensive - $3.79/hen, and a fun change from chicken or turkey). They were accompanied by Raquel's tasty Wild Rice Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans (a recipe from this month's Martha Stewart Magazine). And as if we were not completely stuffed by now, Andrea broke out her Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce and Whipped cream, a recipe from Thanksgiving Point. It was the perfect meal! The drink was a frozen concentrate Blueberry and Pomegranate juice, mixed with three cans of Sprite. Yummy! As always, we had a wonderful time catching up as friends!

The whole group (we're getting pretty good at the self-timer!) Andrea, Bridget, Jodi, Lynley, Raquel & Lara

Bridget, Jodi, Lynley, Raquel & Lara

Bridget, Jodi & Andrea

Raquel, Lara & Lynley

Blue Cheese Tartlets
The robust flavor of spinach or Swiss chard is more than a match for the tang of blue cheese in these bite-sized tarts. The pine nuts add a mellow richness to balance the assertive flavors of the cheese.
About 3/4 recipe (8 oz) Tart Pastry dough or purchased puff pastry
3 oz spinach or Swiss chard, trimmed
1 egg
2/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup shredded Emmentaler cheese
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 oz Roquefort cheese, crumbled
2 TBS pine nuts

If using tart pastry, prepare the dough and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you are ready to roll it out. If using commercial puff pastry, defrost in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Plunge the spinach into the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Immediately drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to halt the cooking. Drain again, pressing against the greens to force out as much water as possible. Set aside.
Break the egg into a bowl. Add the cream, Emmentaler cheese, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Beat with a fork until completely blended. Coarsely chop the spinach and add it to the bowl. Stir well.
On a lightly floured board, roll the dough out as thinly as possible. Sprinkle the Roquefort cheese evenly over the dough. With a fluted pastry cutter about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out 18 dough rounds. Use the rounds to line 18 individual tartlet pans, the cups in tartlet trays, or miniature muffin pans. If using individual pans, arrange them on a large baking sheet. Fill each pastry-lined pan with some of the egg mixture and scatter a few pine nuts on top. Bake until the filling sets and the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Pistachio and Pear Salad with Cilantro and Feta Dressing
Mixed greens
Manchego cheese
2 2 inch strips - 1/4 inch wide lime zest - I used nearly half of a lime
2 1/2 TBS lime juice
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 hot green chile chopped and seeded
1 1/2 TBS cilantro
2/3 cup olive oil
5 TBS feta crumbled
1/2 tsp salt

Cornish Hens with Cornbread Stuffing
For the stuffing:
1 stick butter
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 cups medium-diced celery (3 stalks)
3 TBS chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
5 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread
1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
For the hens:
6 fresh Cornish hens (1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups sliced yellow onions (2 onions)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 TBS unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the over to 400 degrees. For the stuffing, melt the butter in a medium saute pan, add the onion, and cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, until translucent. Off the heat, add the celery, parsley, cornbread, and chicken stock and mix well. Set aside.
For the hens, rinse them inside and out, removing any pin feathers, and pat the outsides dry. In a roasting pan that's just large enough to hold the hens loosely, first toss in the onions and then place the hens on top, breast side up. Sprinkle the insides of the hens with salt and pepper and loosely fill the cavities with the stuffing. (If there is stuffing left over, bake it in a separate pan until heated through.) Tie the legs of each hen together and tuck the wings under the bodies. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 50 to 60 minutes, until the skin is browned and the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Serve a whole hen per person.

Wild Rice Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans
This dish is best the day it's made but can be prepared a few hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature until you're ready to serve.
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
1 cup wild rice
3 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
2 TBS chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot, and cook stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add rice, and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, and bring to a biol. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until rice is tender and starting to burst, 45 to 50 minutes. Drain any excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl.
2. White rice cooks, preheat over to 400 degrees. Arrange pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast until browned and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool. Coarsely chop pecans.
3. Add toasted pecans, cranberries, raisins and parsley to rice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Beer Bread
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix together (I recommend doing this by hand for a better texture):
3 cups SELF-RISING flour
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Add in:
1 12 oz bottle beer (I recommend Miller Genuine Draft but you can experiment if you want)
Pour Batter into greased bread loaf pan and put in oven.
Bake 15 minutes and then open oven and baste/pour over with 1/3 cube of butter.
Bake final 15 minutes and remove bread from oven. Baste/pour final 1/3 cube of butter. Let cook in pan slightly before slicing but serve warm!
You can certainly under bake a bit . . and you can lighten up on the butter - use 1/2 cube total.

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce
(Thanksgiving Point)

October 2009 Gourmet

The ladies gathered once again for a fabulous fall fanfare of food and fun, marking Raquel's inaugural hosting of gourmet. The votes have been cast and it is unanimous: Raquel is IN! :) Her Coq au Vin was DIVINE and her house was the perfect fall gathering place. We started the evening with Bruschetta with Sauteed Sweet Peppers and Creamy Gorgonzola (Barefoot Contessa) by Jodi. Andrea's Squaw Bread was a hit! Bridget brought the salad; side dish was Parsnip Whipped Potatoes by Lara, and Lynley dazzled us with Chocolate Fondue for desert!

Raquel baked her chicken in a cast iron Dutch Oven. This was the hot topic of conversation for the evening! Raquel LOVES her pot by Le Creuset. Hers is a beautiful 7 quart in what I like to call "Tiffany Blue", although the color is listed by the manufacturer as "Caribbean". Lara also loves her cast iron pot, which she brought her potatoes in, made by Staub. So of course I ran right out and purchased a new 5 quart Le Creuset in red! These pots are enamled cast iron. They are known for their superb heat retention and distribution and are best to use with stews or meats. The lids fit tight so they retain moisture and the porcelain interior makes them easy to clean (so this is what the sales woman at Williams-Sonoma told me). I think I just might have to use my new pot for the main dish at my house next month!

The self-timer put to use!!

Lynley, Andrea & Bridget

Jodi, Raquel, Lynley, Lara & Bridget

Bridget's Salad
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery seed
1 cup sugar
1/2 small yellow onion, cut into small cubes
1/3 triangle of gorgonzola cheese

mixed baby greens
green onions
sliced almonds

Chocolate Fondue
2 cups heavy cream
1 pound premium semisweet chocolate (recommended: Lindt or Callebaut)
1 TBS pure vanilla extract
Strawberries, bananas, pineapple, brownies, marshmallow, cookies, or any other dipping item of your choice.

Put approximately 4 inches of water in the saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Place the mixing bowl on top and pour in the heavy cream; let heat. Meanwhile, break up or chop chocolate into small pieces. When the cream feels hot to the touch, add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla and brandy.

Pour into the fondue pot and light the handy fuel underneath; keep the flame low as not to burn the fondue. Arrange strawberries, bananas, pineapple, brownies, marshmallow, cookies or any of your favorite items on a platter and enjoy.

Fondue in Action!

September Gourmet

We had another amazing evening with a little bit of a French flair at Lara's house. We started out with two appetizers by Bridget- Savory Palmiers and an Onion Dip with Parmesan and Thyme Crackers. Our friend Maridee substituted for Raquel and brought an amazing Winter Pear Salad with lemon poppy seed dressing. Lynley impressed us with fabulous Popovers and Andrea brought a very rich Potato Gratin. The main dish was from Lara- Boeuf Bourguignon. We topped off the evening with a Luscious Lemonade Layer Cake from Jodi. Once again we ate a lot and laughed a lot. Great night! For the recipes that have a link, just click on the picture of the dish and it will take you there!
Savory Palmiers
(Ina Garten 'Back to Basics')
1 pkg frozen puff pastry
1/4 c pesto
1/2 c crumbled goat cheese
1/4 finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1/4 toasted pine nuts
kosher salt

Lightly flour a board and carefully unfold one sheet of puff pastry. Roll the pastry lightly with a rolling pin until it is 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches. Spread the sheet of puff pastry with half the pesto, then sprinkle with half the goat cheese, half of the sun-dried tomatoes, and half the pine nuts. Sprinkle with 1/4 t salt.

Working from the short ends, fold each end halfway to the center. Then fold each side again toward the center until the folded edges almost touch. Fold one side over the other and press lightly. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat for the second sheet of puff pastry using the remaining ingredients. Cover both rolls with plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 min. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the prepared rolls of puff pastry into 1/4 inch-thick slices and place them faceup 2 inches apart on sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 60 hors d'oeuvres

Jodi, Lynley, Maridee, and Bridget

Parmesan & Thyme Crackers
(Ina Garten 'Back to Basics')
1/4 lb butter, at room temp
4 oz freshly grated Parmsan cheese (about 1 c)
1 t minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 flour

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 min. With the mixer on low speed, add the Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper and combine. With the mixer still on low, add the flour and combine until the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 min. If the dough is too dry, add 1 t water.

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9 inch log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 min or for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log into 3/8 inch-thick rounds with a small, sharp knife and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temp. Makes 24 crackers.

Onion Dip
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 c diced onions
salt and pepper as needed
1 1/2 c sour cream
3/4 c mayo
1/4 t garlic powder

Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Add the oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and season with a pinch of salt. Saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are a deep, rich brown, about 20 min. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl, and then add the cooled onions. Refrigerate for an hour. Stir and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, before serving. Makes about 3 cups.

Winter Pear Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c lemon juice
2 t chopped purpole onion
1 t Dijon mustard
2/3 c oil
1 T poppy seeds
1 lg head romaine lettuce
1 c shredded Swiss cheese
1 c cashews
1/4 c craisins
1 apple, cubed
1 pear, cubed
Mix the dressing and our over when ready to serve

Lara and Jodi


3 t butter, melted
3 eggs
1 c whole milk
1 c flour
1/4 t salt
butter, jam, apple butter, and/or preserves for serving

Have ready a standard 6-c or miniature 12-c popover pan, a 12-c muffin pan, or 12 individual 3 1/2 inch souffle dishes. Lightly grease the pan or dishes with 2 T f of the melted butter. If using individual cups or dishes, place them, not touching, on a baking sheet.

In a deep bowl , whisk together the eggs, milk, and the remaining 1 T melted butter until foamy. Beat in the flour and salt until smooth. Do not over-mix. The batter should be thin. Fill each prepared cup two-thirds full with the batter.

Place the pan(s) on the center rack of a cold oven and immediately turn the temperature to 375. Bake the popovers until they are puffed high, deep golden brown, and dry to the touch, 35-45 min for standard-size popovers. Do not open the oven door for the first 30 min of baking, or the popovers may not rise fully.

Remove the pan(s) from the oven and immediately pierce the side of each popover with the tip of a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Let stand for 5 min. Run the knife around the rim of each dup and invert into a napkin-lined basket. Serve the popovers immediately with the spread of your choice. Makes 6 large or 12 small popovers

Gratin Dauphinois

Boeuf Bourguignon
(Traditionally served over potatoes, but served over noodles this time)

Andrea and Bridget

Luscious Lemonade Layer Cake

1 1/3 c sugar
6 T butter, softened
1 T grated lemon rind
3 T lemonade concentrate
2 t vanilla
2 eggs
2 eggs whites
2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/4 c buttermilk
Combine all ingredients except powdered sugar and blend well. Add powdered sugar and beat at a low speed until blended. Do not overbeat.

2 T butter, softened
2 t grated lemon rind
2 t thawed lemonade concentrate
1/2 t vanilla
8 oz light cream cheese
3 1/2 c powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Place first five ingredients in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs and egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift dry ingredients together and add to batter alternately with buttermillk. Pour into 2 (9 inch) greased cake pans. Bake for 20 min. Cool in plan 10 min and then remove to cool.

Chill frosted cake for 1 hour.

August Gourmet

It was another successful evening with the Gourmet Girls! Andrea had everything beautifully set up for the perfect evening in her backyard. We started out with Raquel's snow peas stuffed with crab. We also had a red lettuce and orange salad from Lara followed by Jodi's chive biscuits. Lynley brought a side of orange-honey carrots. Andrea went out of her way to make a seared elk loin with blueberry sauce, literally out of her way trying to procure the meat! It was excellent and the first time most of us have tried elk meat. We finished off the evening with Bridget's fresh lemon mousse. Everything was perfect tonight and would recommend all of the recipes! If the recipe is not typed out, just click on the picture for a link.
Andrea and Bridget
The full plate
Lara and Jodi
Snow Peas with Crab Meat Filling

50 to 60 tender young snow peas
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, room temp
1 (4 oz) pkg frozen snow crab meat, thawed, drained and picked over
1 red bell pepper, minced and patted dry
juice of 1/2 lemon
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Blanche the snow peas in lightly salted boiling water for 30 sec. Cool in ice water and drain well. Combine the remaining ingredients for the crab meat filling in a mixing bowl. With the sharp end of the paring knife, split the snow peas on the curved side of the pod. Using a small spatula, stuff some of the filling into each split snow pea.

We don't even know who this person is. She appears to be some sort of gourmet impostor...
Red Lettuce salad with Candied Almonds and Orange Dressing

1 lg head red leaf lettuce
1 med sweet onion
2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced or 1 (11oz can mandarin oranges, drained)
1 small jicama, peeled and cut into julienne strips
4 oz sliced almonds
3 T sugar

Place first four salad ingredients in a salad bowl; chill. In a small skillet sprinkle the sugar over the almonds and cook over med heat until almonds are coated and sugar dissolved. (They brown quickly; do not overcook). Place in a small bowl and allow to cool.

1/2 t grated orange peel
1/3 c fresh orange juice
2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 c oil
2 T sugar
1 T Good Season's dry Italian dressing mix

Mix dressing in a shaker jar and pour over chilled salad. Sprinkle the almonds on top and toss.
Chive Biscuits
Bridget and Raquel
She just showed up and we didn't have the heart to turn her away. Costco rolls at gourmet night?

Orange-honey Glazed Carrots (Barefoot Contessa)

2 lbs carrots, peeled (3 bunches)
2 T unsalted butter
2 T honey
kosher salt
1 t minced fresh ginger
1 t grated orange zest
1/2 c orange juice
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

Cut the carrots diagonally in 1" thick slices, about 5 cups of carrots. Place 1/2 c water, butter, honey, 2 t salt, and the ginger in a lg saute pan and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, cover, and simmer over med-low for 5 min. Remove the lid and continue to cook for 10-15 min, until all the water has evaporated.

Add the orange juice to the pan, tossing with the carrots. Simmer uncovered for about 5 min, until the carrots are al dente and the sauce glazes the carrots. Add the pepper and another teaspoon of salt to taste.

Serves 4 to 6

Seared Elk Loin with Blueberry Sauce
(We, by we I mean Andrea, just made the elk and substituted blueberries for the huckleberries)

Lynley and Jodi
Fresh Lemon Mousse