Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dinner For Friends

Friday night I had the opportunity to make dinner for a few friends to celebrate two of their birthdays. I always like to try out a new thing or two when I cook for friends as they are generally a forgiving group if something doesn't turn out right.

I presented a few menu options to my friends and they picked this one:
Fettuccine Bolognese with Homemade Egg Pasta
Chopped Salad
Garlic Bread
Lemon Creme Brulee with Fresh Blueberries

I wanted to make a classic Bolognese sauce so I turned to Italian Classics from Cook's Illustrated.

You can look up the recipe, but basically the sauce is made up of equal parts minced carrot, onion and celery (4 tablespoons of each) with equal parts ground beef, pork and veal (a half-pound each). This gets browned then you add milk and let it simmer until it is gone, then add white wine and let it simmer until it is gone, then add tomatoes and simmer for what seems like forever. All in all it was simmering for about 8 hours. I served this over some homemade

Check out my mad knife skillzs.

And the finished product.

The chopped salad I made is a copy of the Pagliaccio salad from Pagliacci's Pizza here in town. About a year ago I asked them is they would share the recipe for the dressing. The person who responded to my request said that they could tell me what was in it, but not the amounts. After a little tinkering I have created a reasonable facsimile. Here's the recipe I came up with.

Chopped Salad with
Dijon-Tarragon Dressing
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup mozzarella cheese
4 ounce salami, diced
1 recipe Dijon-tarragon dressing

Toss together all ingredients with enough dressing to coat.

Dijon-Tarragon Dressing

1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon
1 2/3 cup olive oil

Add all the ingredient except the oil to the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop. Turn processor on and add oil in a steady stream until incorporated. Keep at room temperature for 2 hours. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

I bought a par baked foccaia bread (I was feeling too lazy for bread baking, especially after the fresh pasta making) and made an olive oil and herb topping with minced garlic, rosemary, sage, basil salt and pepper. This smelled divine as it was cooking (and received a very picky four-year old's thumbs up, high praise indeed).

I used the recipe for creme brulee from Cook's Illustrated but, knowing that I was going to pair it with the fresh blueberries from the CSA box this week, I added the zest of a lemon and a little squeeze of lemon juice to the cream as it was steeping (because I love lemon with blueberries).


Since I had some extra egg whites (since the Creme Brulee only uses yolks) I did the only responsible thing. I made Meringues. But not just Meringues, Five-Spice Cocoa Meringues.

I started with the recipe from Epicurious for Cocoa Meringue Kisses but with a few tweaks. I added about two teaspoons of five-spice powder and since I didn't have cream of tarter, I used lemon juice instead and since I used lemon juice instead of cream of tarter I added about a tablespoon extra of sugar. I toyed with adding some cayenne to the mix but since a four-year old was to be one of the guests I didn't think that was a great idea (but I do think it would have been fantastic). I baked them for 35 minutes. They were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Here they are.
Again, yum.

Dinner (and dessert) was all great! And of course the company was delightful. I'm always so glad to be able to share my gifts with people in my life (and judging from the raves, they are happy for that too).

I'm so glad that I had the forethought to make lots of extra sauce so that I can eat it again (perhaps tonight). And, oh my, I just remembered that I have extra creme brulee in the fridge. Gotta go!

No comments:

Post a Comment