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.