November 2010 Gourmet Night

All seven of the gourmet girls met at Lara's on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 for another amazing meal!  We started off the evening with Crab Cakes (Foodnetwork Magazine July/August 2010) by Bridget and Apricot Brie Bites (Keeping Up Cookbook) by Andrea.  Raquel favored us with a beautiful Pomegranate Salad and Lynley baked some delicious Dinner Rolls.  Our main dish was Caribbean Pork with Avocado-Pineapple Salsa, which Lara did an fabulous job with!  LS provided us with two sides: Carribean Rice and Beans AND Roasted Butternut Squash with Cilantro Cream.  To finish off the night, Jodi spoiled us with another one of her amazing deserts: Gingerbread Pudding Cake (Keeping Up Cookbook)!  It was a wonderful evening with friends and food!

 Raquel & Bridget

Laura & Jodi

Lynley, Andrea & Lara

Crab Cakes

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons nonfat milk
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
Dash of hot sauce
1 pound lump crab or crab claw meat, picked over
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive-oil cooking spray

1. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the scallions and bell pepper and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.  Cool slightly.

2. Mix 1/2 cup panko, the egg and milk in a small bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, lemon juice, Old Bay and hot sauce; fold in the crabmeat, panko mixture, scallion-bell pepper mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pink of pepper.  Shape into 8 patties and refrigerate 30 minutes.

3. Coat the crab cakes with the remaining 1/2 cup panko.  heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skill over medium high heat.  Mist the crab cakes with cooking spray and cook, sprayed-side down, 3 to 4 minutes.  Spray the tops, flip and cook 3 to 4 more minutes.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Apricot Brie Bites

1 package Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 (8-ounce) wheel or wedge of brie
finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Cut thawed puff pastry sheets into 4 length-wise columns, then cut the columns into 2 1/2-inch squares.  Place the pastry squares into a greased mini0muffin tin, using fingers to push the dough down into each muffin cup.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 6 to 9 minutes or until the puff pastry is 3/4 done and the pastry is starting to rise and flake into separate layers.  Meanwhile, slice brie into 3/4-inch squares.

Using a small spoon, press the semi-baked pastry dough into the pan to form small pastry bowls.  Place 1/2 teaspoon (or more) of apricot jam in the bottom of each pastry bowl.  Top with a piece of brie, then sprinkle with chopped nuts.  Return to oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese in melted and the edges of the pastries are golden brown.  Transfer hot pastries to a cooling rack and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

(Andrea recommends cooking the puff pastry longer than the recommended 6-9 minutes).

Pomegranate Salad

Stuff You Need
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 head romaine lettuce
1/2 bag washed baby spinach
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (or seedless red grapes cut in 1/2)

2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoons dry mustard or t teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon oregano

 Dinner Rolls
3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1/3 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 cup tepid buttermilk (90 degrees)
1/4 cup sugar or 1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 - 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
Canola oil for greasing

In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water and stir to dissolve.  let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, eggs, salt nad 1 cu of the flour.  Beat on medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.  add the yeast mixture and 1 cup of the flour, and beat for another minute.  Beat in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the bowl sides.

Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on low speed, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks, until a very soft dough forms, about 1 minute.  The dough should be softer than typical bread dough, yet smooth and springy.  

Transfer the dough to an oiled deep bowl and turn the dough once to coat it.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.  Grease two 8-inch round cake pans.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Divide the dough in half and roll each half between your palms into a rope 18 inches long.  Cut each rope into eighteen 1-inch pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball, and place the balls, sides just touching, in the prepared pans.  Cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until puffy, 30-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake the rolls until light golden brown, 18-23 minutes.  Let cool slightly in the pans or transfer to a rack.  Serve warm

Carribean Rice and Beans

Lara adds:  For sure line your pan with foil because the spice coating makes a sticky mess.  I usually broil it for a few minutes on each side to get a nice char and then cover with foil and bake at 450 for 30 minutes or so.  Otherwise I find the center is too rare.

Gingerbread Pudding Cake
(unfortunately we didn't get a picture)

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt

In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Mix in egg, molasses and water.  Stir together dry ingredients, then add to molasses mixture and mix well.  Transfer batter to a greased 8x8 baking dish.

3/4 cup brown sugar 1/ 1/2 cups hot water
5 TBS butter, melted

Sprinkle brown sugar over the top of the batter.  Mix together hot water and melted butter, then gently pour over the top of brown sugar (not not stir).  Bake at 350 degrees until gingerbread is cracked on top, center is set and pudding underneath has thickened, about 45 to 55 minutes.  Scoop into bowls and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

A Fall Frenzy of Food with Friends and Filets

The evening of Tuesday, October 5, 2010 the gourmet girls met at Andrea's for a another wonderful meal.  We started off the evening with Lara's tasty appetizer, Pear and Prosciutto "Carpaccio".  Jodi's Maple Dressing Salad not only tasted delicious, but was also beautiful - lots of color!  Bridget brought Grandma Zoe's Buttermilk Biscuits from Keeping Up Cookbook.  Andrea made our main dish of Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon with Port Wine Sauce.  (She substituted grape juice for the wine and it was delicious)!  She also treated us to some Bacon Smashed Red Potatoes.  Lynley brought some spaghetti squash, and for desert, Raquel made a scrumptious Pumpkin Cake.  Unfortunately LS couldn't make it until the very end.  As always, we enjoyed trying new recipes and catching up with old friends.

Maple Dressing Salad

1 large bag baby greens
2 cups blueberries
2 cups strawberries
1 purple onion
2 cups of crumbled blue cheese
2-3 sliced apples or pears (Jodi used pears)
2 cups of your choice (Jodi used pecans)

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 TBS white wine vigegar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Grandma Zoe's Buttermilk Biscuits

2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup buttermilk (or more)

Mix all dry ingredients together.  Cut in shortening with a fork until small crumbs are formed.  Add buttermilk and stir until well combined, adding an additional teaspoon or so of buttermilk if any flour remains in bottom of bowl.  Scoop dough onto a generously floured surface.

With floured hands, give dough a few kneads and folds until smooth.  Pat dough into a 1 1/2 inch thick circle and cut 8 to 1- biscuits with a round biscuit cutter.  Shake off excess flour and place on lightly greased baking sheet, biscuits touching each other.  Bake at 400 degrees until lightly brown, 18 to 22 minutes.  I brushed a little melted butter on top of each biscuit right when they came out of the oven.

( I promise it looked and tasted much better than this picture makes it look!)

Lynley's Spaghetti Squash

Raquel's Pumpkin Cake

1 yellow cake mix  (reserve 1 cup)
1 egg
1 cube butter or margarine
Mix cake mix (minus 1 cup) with egg and butter/margarine.  Cut in like a pie crust until crumbly.  Press into the bottom of a 9x13 dish.

For the filling, mix the following ingredients together and pour on top of crust:
1 big can pumpkin
2 whipped eggs
1/2 cup evaporated milk

For the topping, mix the following ingredients and sprinkle over the top:
1 cup reserved cake mix
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 TBS butter or margarine

Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes.  Served with whipped cream.

Interestingly enough, Bridget has a very similar recipe!  For a variation on the filling:
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 tsp cinammon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

For nut-lovers, you can also add chopped walnuts or pecans to the crumble topping.

Fall Gourmet Goodness

The gourmet girls met for yet another evening of fine cuisine.  Friday, September 17 we convened at Laura Steven's for a wonderful meal.  Raquel started us off with her amazing Mini Chicken B'Steeyas appetizer (Martha Stewart).   Lara's Green Salad with Vinaigrette was light and flavorful.  Jodi favored us with her "labor of love" Cracked Wheat & Molasses Bread from Keeping Up Cookbook.  Our main dish was Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples and Applejack Cream.  LS also served some mashed sweet potatoes on the side.  Lynley brought yummy Twice-Baked Potatoes and for desert there were Spicy Chocolate Truffles (Williams-Sonoma) and Fresh Orange Pound Cakes with an Orange Glaze (an Emeril Lagasse recipe from Foodnetwork).  It was another home-run with an array of delicious food and fun with friends!

Our chef hard at work in the kitchen!

Lara, Jodi & Bridget

 Lynley, LS and Raquel

Notice the new blog format.  Each of the recipes from the evening's meal are in a separate post.  We will tag each recipe post and create a directory by category in an effort to make your recipe searching easier.  Also notice our new search bar on the sidebar to the right, which is very handy for locating just what you're looking for.

Also, I just posted the recipe for Lara's crepes from last month.

Green Salad with Vinaigrette

1/2 lb Butter lettuce or mixed salad greens
2 TBS red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
6 TBS olive oil

In a small mixing bowl combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Whisk until well blended.  Add the oil steadily while continuing to whisk.  Taste and add more salt and pepper as necessary.  (You can also adjust the amount of vinegar and oil to your liking).  Cover and refrigerate until time to serve.  Can be used on green salads, tomato salads, and to dip steamed artichokes in.  Experiment with all of your veggies!  Serves 6.

Lara tossed the lettuce with the dressing and in a separate bowl tossed fresh tomatoes from her garden with the dressing.
Cracked Wheat & Molasses Bread

Jodi found this recipe in Keeping Up Cookbook.

Lynley's Twice-Baked Potatoes
Spicy Chocolate Truffles

Heavy Cream, 3/4 cup
Unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons at room temperature
Semisweet (plain) chocolate, 12 oz finely chopped
Unsweetened chocolate, 1 oz  finely chopped
Pure vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon
Unsweetened coco powder, 3 tablespoons
Sugar, 2 tablespoons
Ground red chile, 1 teaspoon
Ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon

1. Make the truffle filling.  In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream and butter until the butter melts.  Remove from the heat, add the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates, and let stand until softened, about 1 minute.  Add the vanilla and stir until smooth.  Scrape the truffle mixture into a large bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface, and refrigerate until firm throughout, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

2. Shape the truffles.  On a dinner plate, using a fork, stir together the cocoa powder, sugar, chile, and cinnamon.  To form each truffle, scoop up a tablespoon of the cold filling, quickly roll it between your palms into a rough ball, and roll the ball in the cocoa mixture to coat evenly.  as the truffles are formed, place them on a lined baking sheet.  The truffles may be served right away, or covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.  For best results, bring to room temperature before serving.

Warning: These truffles have a real kick!  If you don't like spicy, omit the chile powder.

Gourmet Girls Go On Tour

Last night, Tuesday, September 7th, five of the gourmet girls had the opportunity  to give a small presentation at Andrea's ward Relief Society night.  Andrea was generous enough to have matching aprons made for all of us.  I think we looked pretty legit!  :)  We had so much fun explaining the format of our group to the ladies who attended.  We shared favorite recipes, favorite gourmet memories, told them about the blog, and of course had food to sample!  Andrea made Liege Waffles on the spot!  We also displayed a cornucopia of table settings and displayed some of the cookbooks we like to use. We loved getting to know the ladies of the Holladay 27th Ward!


 Jodi preparing the Liege Waffles


The Cooking Station


Lynley Preparing Watermelon Bites


Watermelon Bites
These were originally made by Laura Stevens at our August 2010 gourmet night.  They are small pieces of watermelon, topped with honey goat cheese, pistachio nuts and a piece of arugula.


 Favorite Chocolate "Go-To" Cake
We actually haven't made this for an official gourmet night, but it is a new favorite of all of ours.  It is in the new "Keeping Up" Cookbook.

Lynley originally brought this tasty appetizer to our October 2008 gourmet night.
Marinated Cheeses
Lara brought this to our very first gourmet night! 
I make them quite often and everyone loves them!
8 oz cheddar cheese
8 oz cream cheese
Cut into small squares and alternate in glass dish.
Mix ingredients well, pour over cheeses and marinate overnight.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
3 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
3 TBS green onions, minced
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (2 oz) jar pimentos
Serve with crackers or toasts

Here are some shots of our table settings


Display Table of Cookbooks
the Gourmet Girls like to use

Let's Get Crackin'!

On the evening of Tuesday, August 31, 2010 all seven of the gourmet girls gathered around Lynley's table for a decadent crab feast!  We started off the evening with Lemon Margaritas (w/o the alcohol) and LS's delicious appetizer: watermelon with goat cheese and hazelnuts.  Coincidentally Andrea's Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad had many of the same ingredients.  Raquel treated us to Red Lobster's Cheddar Biscuits and our side by Jodi was Ina Garten's Corn Confetti.  Our main dish of course was King Crab Legs and Lara treated us to some authentic French Crepes for desert(made by a Frenchman himself)!  Bridget sent a "to-go" treat of Sticky Vanilla Popcorn.  Lynley was prepared with bibs, buckets for the disposal of crab legss, crackers and tiny crab forks.

Our hostess hard at work!


Lemon Margaritas


LS's Fancy  Appetizer 
Watermelon bites topped with honey goat cheese,
pistachio nuts and a piece of arugula




King Crab Legs! 
Lynley boiled them for 4 minutes.  Because they were so long, she turned them around 1/2 way through.  She cooked 8 lbs for the seven of us, which allowed each of us two crab legs.  So generous!  She shopped around a little and found Costco to have the best price. 


Lara's Delicious Crepes

1/4 cup sugar
3 drops vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
2 TBS melted butter
pinch of salt

Mix everything but the flour first, then slowly add the flour.  Mix it until blended.  IT should be thick but not too thick.  Turn the stove on to about a 7 (you can adjust up or down as necessary as you cook).  Spray or butter a crepe pan.  Pour into the buttered pan to cover the bottom of the pan thinly while rotating your hand to get coverage.  When it's done sprinkle some sugar on it while it's hot.  Makes 6 crepes.  BON APPETIT!

Sticky Vanilla Popcorn
1 cube butter
1/2 cup sugar
A little less than 1/2 cup Karo syrup
1 tsp vanilla powder

Pop popcorn and set aside.  Melt butter in saucepan on stove.  Add sugar, Karo syrup, and vanilla powder, stirring continuously.  Let boil for one minute.  Stir in popcorn and enjoy!  I popped 3/4 cup of kernels and it seemed just the right amount to be thoroughly covered, but not too gooey.  I dump the popped corn into another bowl after it has popped to remove uncooked kernels.