There Will be Tarts….and Potatoes — Thanksgiving

Again this year our friends RO and SRO invited us for Thanksgiving…a feast for 18.

Yesterday, I picked up C and her friend T from the train.  This morning with some of their help, I’ve been making my dinner contributions for tomorrow.

I started with tarts for desert.  These mini-tartlets are only 2-3 bites each.  This is a recipe from Fine Cooking from long ago.  I made three varieties: pumpkin, pecan and cranberry-pear.                                                                                                               

My desert contribution is complete.  Maybe I’ll whip some whipping cream for the pumpkin tarts tomorrow.

Next, the girls peeled the 6 pounds of potatoes for Melissa Clark’s 

mashed potato casserole.  I made this last Thanksgiving  It was a hit, and an easy way to have mashed potatoes without the last minute work.  Great to bring  when someone else is hosting the feast.

It’s not beautiful in the photo.  The specks are chopped chives.  No crumbs on top, and it hasn’t been baked yet.  It’s waiting in the fridge till tomorrow.  It will finish at SRO’s —  baking for about 30 minutes.  

For today my work is done!

Dessert: Saturday February 11, 2012

We’re going to dinner at our dear friends RH & MH tonight.  I’m bringing a dessert.  Because this is MH’s annual sweethearts’ dinner, my dessert must be Valentine appropriate – chocolate! 

Several years ago, MH had a dinner in honor of her husband’s Valentine birthday.  All the couples had such a good time, MH has kept up the tradition.  It is so nice to do something special in the middle of winter.  Last year on this weekend before Valentine’s Day, we had 50 inches of snow on the ground. Early this morning, snow dusted the grass but disappeared by noon. 

I’m making a recipe I’ve not made before in its entirety.  Melissa Clark created this and it was in her column in the NY Times this past Wednesday — Dark Chocolate-Cherry Ganache Bars.

The base is chocolate shortbread topped with a thin layer of cherry jam and then chocolate ganache.  I’ve made shortbread and I’ve made ganache – chocolate mixed with hot heavy cream.  This is just a different assembly job.

The baked shortbread with the cherry jam spread on top.

Chopped chocolate for the hot cream and a touch of brandy.

Completely assembled with ganache and a sprinkling of flaky salt, fler de sel. Into the refrigerator for the ganache to get firm enough to cut.

The buttery shortbread is very crumbly, a nice contrast with the creamy smooth frosting.  When you get a taste of salt, it’s a surprise!  Very good!!

Enjoyed by all at the dinner with enough left for everyone to take some home.


Dinner with Friends: Saturday January 28, 2012

Last night, we had dear friends over for dinner.  I’ve known SY & FY since college.  Our kids grew up calling each other “cousin”.   We’ve shared many meals.

For this dinner I wanted something easy to make, with simple, unfussy ingredients.  And something somewhat seasonable for a January evening.

Winter Dinner with Friends

Appetizers

 Corn salsa,

Guacamole

with corn chips

Fresh Vegetables:

Mini cucumber spears

Red pepper slices

Cauliflower (blanched)

Small carrots

Dinner

Roast pork loin on apple slices

Scalloped potatoes with beef broth & cheese

Green beans with garlic & lemon olive oil

Green salad with white balsamic vinegar dressing

Dessert

Strawberry sorbet

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Trader Joe’s Bistro cookies

I use the roast pork recipe in Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home.   I love this one because the pork sits on a bed of Golden Delicious apple slices in the oven.  Two dishes cooking in one pan!

 

The apples are flavored by the pork.  Though with so little fat on the meat, the apples aren’t bathed in it but take on the flavors of the herbs and seasonings on the seared meat.

The potatoes appear regularly on my menus.  Again from Julia Child, this time in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I.  Nearly all 2 pounds of potatoes disappeared.  (We sent SY home with what was left.)  Using beef stock rather than milk makes is seem less rich and taste meatier.  I use gruyere cheese, 4 ounces, because I like how its nutty flavor works with the beef broth.  Rather than timing these to come out of the oven when I serve dinner, I make them ahead of time – just a couple of hours.  I like how the flavors come together after they’ve rested.

 

For dessert, I tried a new recipe, the strawberry sorbet.  This recipe is from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters.  EASY!  One pound of frozen fruit, ½ cup of yoghurt, ¼ cup of sugar, water as needed.  These go into a food processor, blend till creamy.  I had to process the strawberries in two batches, otherwise not much blending was happening, just spinning.  I did this a day ahead.  So, before I could serve, it had to soften some. 

Try this one.  It’s easy and tastes good.  Bittman suggests stone fruit, melons, bananas, berries.  Freeze fresh fruit. He even suggests a cherry-chocolate version with 4 ounces of chocolate and 12 ounces of cherries, no need for sugar.  The rule is to keep the solids to 1 pound.  

A good dinner, a fun time with dear friends, catching up and laughing.  A nice way to spend a January evening.