Gourmet Girls 2012 Kick-Off!

The Gourmet Girls are back!  We took December off due to the busy holiday season and kicked off 2012 at Miss Jodi's place with a wonderful meal on the evening of January 10.  Unfortunately Andrea was unable to make it, so we went sans appetizer.  Lynley made some fantastic Spinach and Pear Salads (Williams Sonoma) and Lara whipped up some yummy Cheesy Italian Monkey Bread (unfortunately we didn't get a picture).  The main dish was barbequed Miso-Glazed Salmon; way to hit a home run Jodi!  I've already re-created it for my entire family and everyone loved it.  On the side we had Broccoli & Bow Ties by Bridget (Barefoot Contessa Family Style) and for desert LS delighted us with Mint Mango Sorbet and Macaroons!  It was a great meal and great to catch up with all of the "GGs"!
Jodi's lovely table

Lynley, LS, Jodi and Lara

Raquel, LS, Jodi, Lara and Bridget

Spinach and Pear Salad

For the Vinegar-Mustard Dressing:
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon walnut oil or olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Chutney Dressing:
1/4 cup store-bought mango or peach chutney
1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) low-fat plain yogurt

8 cups loosely packed spinach leaves (see note)
2 pears such as Bosac or Bartlett

Carefully rinse the spinach leaves, and gently spin or pat dry.  Place in a large bowl.  Peel, halve, and core the pears.  Cut each pear half crosswise into thin slices, cutting all the way through but keeping each half intact.

To assemble the salad, drizzle the vinegar-mustard dressing over the spinach leaves and toss to coat the spinach evenly.  Divide the spinach among individual plates.  Arrange the pear halves, fanning the slices slightly, on top of the spinach.  Spoon the chutney dressing over each pear half.  Serve immediately.

Broccoli & Bow Ties

Kosher salt
8 cups broccoli florets (4 heads)
1/2 pound farfalle (bow tie) pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup toasted pignoli (pine) nuts
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Remove the broccoli from the water with a slotted spoon or sieve.  Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In the same water, cook the bow-tie pasta according the the package directions, about 12 minutes.  Drain well and add to the broccoli.

Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat the butter and oil and cook the garlic and lemon zest over medium-low heat for 1 minute.  Off the heat, add 2 teaspoons salt, the pepper, and lemon juice nad pour this over the broccoli and pasta.  Toss well.  Season to taste, sprinkle wiht the pignolis and cheese, if using, and serve.

NOTE: I often add cooked chicken to this and have it as a main dish.  You get your protein, veggies and carbs all in one!

Mint Mango Sorbet and Macaroons

Raquel was "extra" this month so instead of creating something edible, she created something darling and useful!  She made each of us bookmarks out of the corners of envelopes!

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