Wedding Shower for the Jodster

One of our girls is tying the knot!  The Gourmet Girls threw a bridal shower for Miss Jodi on Saturday, October 20, 2012 complete with friends, games, gifts, and of course FOOD!  Here are pictures and recipes of everything we served, as well as some fun shots of friends!

 The serving table, complete with awesome memory photos of Jodi!

Marinated Cheeses
This recipe is a Gourmet Girls Classic and might be making
 a re-appearance at Jodi's wedding dinner.

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

(on mini croissants)
Lara made this chicken salad at one of our very first gourmet nights.
It's easy, very light and delicious!

Lara found this darling idea on Pinterest and LS humored us by making them!
(You can click on the link, but you'll quickly see that the ones LS made are far superior!)

Our friend Maureen (aka Mo) made this tasty and beautiful salad!

Yummy Cupcakes
Lynley made these cupcakes which were not only beautiful but scrumptious!
And each was topped with a sheriff's badge! 
(In case you haven't heard; Jodi's fiance is a police officer).


 Chocolate Eclipse Cookies
These are from my friend Grace Rock's cookbook Keeping Up.
Grace brought these to one of my piano recitals several years ago and I fell in love!


 The star of the show!

Brunch at 7 O'Clock pm

The Gourmet Girls met on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 for an autumn brunch dinner! It was so much fun to try all kinds of new breakfast/brunch dishes!  I made Cheese and Tomato Galette and Almond Ciabatta French Toast, both from a fantastic cookbook (entitled GALE GAND'S BRUNCH!), which was a gift from Lara. LS made some delicious Caramelized Banana Bread with Browned Butter Glaze (Our Best Bites). Raquel's scrumptious dish was also from Our Best Bites, Mini Breakfast Quiches/Baked Ham and Egg Cups. Lara's tasty Pastry Wrapped Breakfast Sausages with Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce were from the latest Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites (it's on my Christmas list)! Andrea brought beautiful dishes of fresh berries topped with a Creme Anglaise; Lynley made yummy crepes (Williams Sonona) and Jodi baked some awesome Starbucks Pumpkin Scones.  Everything was absolutely delicious (and low-calorie too)! The best part of the night was our guest of honor, Jodi's fiance, Shane. We all enjoyed getting to know him better and are so excited for their big day! 

 Cheese and Tomato Galette
2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 large egg yolks
4 Tablespoons sour cream

3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (optional) - of course I did 5 slices
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives or 1/4 cup chopped scallions (white and green parts) - I did scallions
3 gratings whole nutmeg or 3 pinches ground nutmeg
6 drops Tabasco or other hot sauce
2 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

To make the crust, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and salt on low speed.  Add the cold butter and mix on low speed until it looks pebbly.  In a small bowl, combine the yolks and sour cream. Pour this into the mixer bowl and mix on low speed until the dough almost comes together and no flour remains at the bottom of the owl.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface and form it into a disk.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour.
On a floured work surface, roll the dough out 1/8 inch thick.  Line a 4-cup-capacity ceramic flan pan or quiche dish with the dough, trimming off any excess.  Chill the dough in the pan while you make the filling.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
To make the filling, whisk together the eggs, cream and milk in a bowl until smooth.  Stir in the three types of cheese, the bacon (if using), and the parsley, chives, nutmeg, and Tabasco.  Pour the filling into the tart shell, and then lay the tomato slices on top of the filling, distributing them evenly.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, checking for doneness by sticking a knife into the custard; the knife should come out clean.  Serve hot or at room temperature, cut into wedges.

 Almond Ciabatta French Toast

3 large eggs
2 pinches salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Eight 1-inch slices round ciabatta
Unsalted butter, for cooking
1 cup sliced almonds

Head a griddle over medium-low heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs well.  Whisk in the salt, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream.  Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish.  Workin in batches if necessary, place the bread in the dish and let it soak for 3 minutes; then turn the slices over and soak on the other side.  Butter your griddle and let the butter bubble.  Just before placing the soaked bread slices on the griddle, place almonds in a single layer (but fairly densely packed) on the griddle, forming an area the size and shape of a bread slice.  Press one side of the bread into the almonds n the griddle, and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Flip the bread to the other side and cook until speckled golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.  Serve hot.

Pastry-Wrapped Breakfast Sausages with Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator
1(12 oz) package uncooked breakfast sausage links, about 14 links
1/2 c shredded cheese of your choice (I used cheddar)
1 egg, lightly beaten with 2t water, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 400. Gently unfold the puff pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface.  Lightly sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour and roll into a 12x12 inch square.  Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to slice into 4 equal strips.

Working with one strip of dough at a time, place 3 sausages, lengthwise down one side of the dough strip. If extra space remains,  trim another sausage to fit so the entire length of the dough strip is covered.  If using cheese sprinkle about 2t shredded cheese next to the sausages.  Starting from the edge where the sausages are, gently roll the dough so it wraps around the sausage and cheese and folds over itself.  Gently press or pinch dough to seal and softly roll to smooth out surface. Repeat with remaining puff pastry strips, sausages, and cheese.

Using a pastry brush, brush tops of rolls with egg wash.  Using a sharp knife, slice rolls into 1  1/2- 2 in pieces.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet (I used silpat) and bake 15-20 min or until light golden brown.  Cool 3-5 min and serve with Maple-Dijon dipping sauce or pure maple syrup for dipping. 

Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce
2 T Dijon mustard
4 T pure maple syrup
4 T mayonnaise

 Fresh Berries with Creme Anglaise


 Jodi and Shane

I do believe this is the first time anyone has packed heat to gourmet, 
so I thought it best to document.

Group Shot!

I always include a picture of the table setting before the meal, but I thought I would mix it up and include an "aftermath" shot as well!

If by chance you happen to notice the improved quality of the pictures of tonight's meal, you have my wonderful husband, Rob to thank.  Anniversary gift = awesome new camera! Thanks babe!

Playing throughout the evening was a new CD I picked up at Daynes Music that morning, a piano duo called Anderson + Roe.  Check it out!

Stay tuned for pictures and recipes from Jodi's recent bridal shower, as well as her upcoming wedding dinner, where all of the appetizers will be provided by the Gourmet Girls!

A New French Kitchen

All seven of the gourmet girls dined together on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 for yet another delicious meal.  We met at Ms. Lara's in her beautifully remodeled kitchen! Jodi favored us with Black Bean and Mango Salsa from Our Best Bites (she said it was super easy).  Andrea brought these yummy Quick Brazilian Cheese Rolls (Pao de Queijo) and I did the Cape Cod Chopped  Salad from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. Lara's main dish was Easy Provencal Lamb from Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?  Our side was Cauliflower with Dijon Sauce by Raquel and our "extra," LS, brought Eggplant Parmesan.  For dessert, Lynley baked some delicious Cowboy Cookies and served them with ice cream. This might be the first time I didn't snap a shot of the table, but I was so distracted by the fabulous kitchen I just forgot!

 The Gourmet Girls in Lara's new kitchen!
Back: Andrea, LS, Raquel, Bridget, Jodi
Front: Lynley and Lara

Black Bean and Mango Salsa
Our Best Bites, page 13
1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium mango,peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup diced red onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium avocado, diced

1. In a large bowl, combine the black beans, mango, red onion, and cilantro.
2. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, vinegar, sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Stir to dissolve the sugar and then pour over black bean mixture. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
3. When ready to serve, gently fold in the diced avocado. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Good news for those with Celiac; these are GLUTEN FREE!

 Cape Cod Chopped Salad
This picture is a little blurry and I think I put on too much dressing, but this was a good salad!
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, page 78

8 ounces thick-cut bacon, such as Niman Ranch
8 ounces baby arugula
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced (I didn't peel mine)
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled

3 tablespoons good apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup good olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place a baking rack (I used a cooling rack) on a sheet pan and lay the bacon slices on the rack.  Roast the bacon for about 20 minutes, until nicely browned.  Allow to cool.
In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, apple walnuts, cranberries and blue cheese.
For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, orange zest, orange juice, mustard, maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a bowl.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
Chop the bacon in large pieces and add it to the salad.  Toss the salad with just enough dressing to moisten.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt nad toss well.  Serve immediately.

I was going to bake my bacon as per Raquel's suggestion and then when I opened up the recipe, I saw that Ina Garten bakes her bacon as well.  I'll never go back.  It was so nice and crispy and all of the grease and fat just dripped off onto the sheet pan!
Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?, page 134
(I found this recipe online also, so I've included the link).

These cookies were delicious.  
Lynley served them hot with ice-cream but they would be great alone too!

Let's Put Another Shrimp on the Barbee!

The Gourmet Girls met on the evening of Friday, August 24, 2012 at Miss Raquel's for a lovely meal together.  Raquel's table was darling and colorful, as usual, with a table runner she made the night before no less. I tried two new appetizers - one I found on Lara's Pinterest page, Avodado, Cream Cheese, and Salsa Stuffed Pastries, and the other a Barefoot Contessa Recipe from How Easy Is That?, Herbed Ricotta Bruschettas (I also found the recipe on  Lara made a delicious Kitchen Sink Chopped Salad with Creamy Balsamic Dressing. Raquel grilled up some Shrimp with Honey-Ginger Barbeque Sauce and served it over the Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice from Our Best Bites (a favorite in my family - super easy and delicious). For our "side" LS did Caprese Salads with fresh heirloom tomatoes and basil from her garden and a balsamic reduction (tip: you can buy the mozzarella pre-sliced at Costco). For dessert, Jodi made a delicious Almond Butter Cake. Unfortunately Andrea and Lynley weren't able to join us this time.  Stay tuned for next month's Provincial Lamb at Lara's.

Bridget, LS, Raquel, Jodi and Lara

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

(The recipe is for a sheet cake, but Jodi did 3 rounds and layered it with frosting)

Together Again

All seven of the gourmet girls met together on Tuesday, June 26, 2012 for a wonderful meal at Laura Steven's home.  We started out the evening with Spinach and Feta Pita Bake by Raquel.  I can't wait to make these myself; they were awesome!  Lara brought a delicious Greek salad with Absolutely Fabulous Greek/House Dressing.  Jodi made darling little Popovers.  Laura's main dish was Greek Lamb with Yogurt Mint Sauce and Andrea brought Spanaki Me Sparaggia Ograten: Spinach & Asparagus Bake as a side.  Lynley's "extra" was everyone's summer favorite: Fresh Berries with Whipping Cream.  And to finish off the night, I made a knock off chocolate "Nothing Bundt Cake" (obviously not in line with the mostly Greek theme).  I figured we could all use another easy go-to chocolate cake.  As always, we had a fabulous time together eating so much good food and catching up.

2 eggs 
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Combine eggs, milk, flour salt. Beat 1 1/2 minutes. Fill 6 to 8 well greased 5 oz custard cups, popover pans or muffin tins.  Place into a cold oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes.

Fresh Berries with Whipping Cream