Taking it Spanish Style in Provo!

On the evening of Tuesday, August 16, 2011 all seven of the gourmet girls joined together in Andrea's new pad in Provo for a wonderful evening of Spanish-style Tapas and more!  Tapas is the name for a wide variety of appetizers or snacks in Spanish cuisine.  In many cases, tapas can evolve into an entire meal, which is exactly what happened with us!  Since we each have an assigned dish assignment to fill each month, we had tons of delicious food!  Lara was our official appetizer and made yummy Citrus Marinated Olives (Food Network).  LS made a delicious Grilled Bread and Marinated Tomato Salad (Food and Wine).  Bridget baked up some "Quick Wheat Bread " (Keeping Up Cookbook).  And for our official "main course" Andrea made FOUR different Tapas: Manchego Quince Skewers (Tyler Florence), Gambas al Ajillo (Recipe courtesy chef Jose Andres), Crispy Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates, and Wild Mushroom Fricassee (Rachel Ray).  It was a fantastic variety and they were all amazing!  Lynley was our "side dish", Jodi was "extra" and made Patatas Bravas with Chorizo - way to be official with the Spanish theme Jodi!  And our desert-maker extraordinaire, Raquel spoiled us with a White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake!  The only dish we didn't get a picture of was the shrimp.  Oh, and Andrea also made Rosemary Lemonade!  Wow.  A wonderful evening was had by all with amazing food and fantastic friends in Andrea's beautiful new home.
It's a gourmet miracle!  
All seven gourmet girls together at last!
Chef Jodi helping out in the kitchen!
These were Lara's appetizer.  Great flavor!
 This was LS's delicious salad.  Her best salad creation yet!
  Quick Wheat Bread
Keeping Up Cookbook
Bridget was on "rolls/bread" this month.  
Though this did not remotely stick with our Spanish theme, 
this bread was easy, delicious and great with salad!

4 cups wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Mix together dry ingredients.  
3 1/2 cups milk
1/2 white vinegar
2 teaspoons baking soda

Whisk together milk, vinegar and baking soda until light and foamy, then add dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Pour into 2 greased bread pans and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.  Slice and serve warm with jam and butter.

Here is a picture of the plated salad with buttered bread on the side.  YUM!

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

  Crispy Bacon-Wrapped Figs
16 large Medjool dates, pitted
16 roasted almonds (Andrea used Marcona)
Scant 1/4 cup mild goat cheese, crumbled 
8 slices of bacon (about 7 ounces), halved crosswise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut a lengthwise slit in the dates.  Stuff each one with an almond and about 1/2 teaspoon of the goat cheese.  Pinch the dates closed.  Wrap each date securely in a piece of bacon and arrange the dates, seam side down, on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Bake the stuffed dates for about 20 minutes, or until the bacon is browned and crisp; turn each date after 10 minutes.  Serve the stuffed dates warm or at room temperature.

Drizzle with a balsamic vinegar reduction if desired.

The stuffed dates can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated for 1 day.

 Wild Mushroom Fricassee
Recipe courtesy Rachel Ray
This was one of our many tapas prepared by Andrea.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (Andrea used less)
1 tablespoon butter (Andrea used less)
4 Portobello mushroom caps, halved and thinly sliced
16 fresh shiitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped
coarse salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup beef stock or broth (Andrea used vegetable broth)
2 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil and butter.  When butter melts into oil, add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, 10 minutes or until mushrooms are all dark and tender.  Add vinegar to the pan and stir to coat.  The vinegar will cook away in about 1 minute.  Add stock to the pan and scallions.  Toss to combine.  
Andrea served this over Brie cheese and the combination of the two flavors was delicious!
  Lynley was our "side dish" this month.

 This was our "extra" dish for the evening.  
Way to stick with the Spanish theme Jodi!

This was AMAZING.  I can't wait to make it for my family!

July Gourmet BBQ

On the evening of July 6, 2011 five of the gourmet girls enjoyed a wonderful BBQ  together at Lara's new place.  We were scheduled to dine at Andrea's but due to sick children, we improvised. Lara was gracious enough to offer her home at the last minute and I had time to throw together a marinade for some meat I had recently tried.  The recipe is out of Our Best Bites, my new favorite cookbook, which I now cook out of several times per week!  
We started off the evening with a delicious appetizer by Lara, Asparagus Tart.  LS surprised us with two salads, Cherry, Mango & Avocado Green Salad AND  Potato and Feta Salad.  She also brought some yummy watermelon! Jodi favored us with our "side" of Mango Quinoa Salad, found on the Best Bites blog (but not in the cookbook).  Our main was Orange Tai Beef  Skewers and we enjoyed dipping Herb-Rosemary Focaccia Loaves in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  We finished off the night with a delicious American Flag Tart by Raquel. 
 The Ladies!

 Asparagus Tart
1 piece of Puff Pastry (store bought is fine)
1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 bundle skinny asparagus
1 T olive oil
sea salt
crushed black pepper

Thaw the puff pastry either by placing it in the fridge overnight or by laying it on the counter, on a piece of parchment paper for about an hour. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Trim the ends of the asparagus by 1 inch to get rid of the woody stalk.  Once thawed, unfold the flaps and slightly roll out the dough to get rid of the seams.  Transfer the puff pastry dough while still on the parchment paper to a baking sheet.  Sprinkle half the Swiss and Parmesan on the puff pastry.  Line the asparagus on top of the cheese.  Scatter the rest of the cheese on top of the asparagus and drizzle with the olive oil.  Bake for 20 minutes until the pastry dough as puffed and the asparagus is roasted and cooked through.  Sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper before serving.

 Cherry, Mango and Avocado Green Salad
8 cups mixed salad greens, divided
1 ripe mango, peeled and chopped
1 small, ripe avocado, chopped
1/2 cup pitted, sliced Stemilt cherries
1/4 cup of sliced almonds

Minted Honey Vinaigrette
In a small jar, combine about 1/4 cup red wine vinaigrette, a very finely-chopped clove of garlic, the zest and juice of a lemon, a finely-chopped sprig each of fresh parsley and fresh mint, and a tablespoon of honey.  Add salt and ground black pepper to taste and about 1/4 cup sunflower oil.  Close the jar, and shake it up.

 Potato and Feta Salad
Boil about 10 red potatoes and cool
1/2 cup basil and 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
OR 1/2 cup mint, finely chopped
3/4 cup feta
3/4 cup pitted Kalmata olives
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons course sea salt
1 Tablespoon course black pepper
Juice of 2 lemons

Mash and season to taste.

Click on the link about for step-by-step instructions on the Our Best Bites blog, or find on page 121 in your cookbook.  I made these a few weeks ago using flank steak, and I thought they were a little tough, so I bought tri-tip this time and they were delicious!

The cookbook suggests serving these with Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice.  Although we didn't serve this on the evening of July 6th, I thought I would put in a plug and a picture here.  It's delicious!  A great summer rice to have with a BBQ.  It's nice and creamy, but not too overwhelming of a coconut taste.

Another fantastic recipe from Our Best Bites.  If you have the cookbook, it's listed as "Herb-Rosemary Focaccia Loaves" and is on page 36.  I've also included the link to their blog.  Dip in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  We just tore pieces off of the loaf "Macaroni Grill Style", but I suppose you could cut it. My loaves actually looked pretty similar to the picture on the Best Bites blog, but I forgot to take a picture until the 2nd loaf was half-eaten, so this was my best effort of a picture at this point!  I've made it twice more since this night and it has been a hit every time!  Last time I doubled the batch for my family of 7 adults and 2 bread-eating children and there was plenty.

 Can't have a summer BBQ without watermelon!  Thanks LS!

The perfect July desert and it tasted every bit as good as it looks!  YUM!