Sunday, November 4, 2012

Autumn supper club

This year, a group of friends, Jeremy and I started a supper club. Our aspirations were set high - flaming desserts and the like were what we strove for. Saturday night's get-together did not disappoint. Three words for you: blue cheese air.

Our theme and main dish is set by the host; last night's theme was "harvest." It was perfectly appropriate for this early-November night - a lovely gathering of friends around a festive table, lit by candlelight.

Appetizers and a cocktail
Cider-bourbon cocktail

Serves 2

3/4 cup apple cider
1/3 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 (2 1/2-inch-long) thin slices fresh peeled ginger
2 thin slices lady apple, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add cider, bourbon, lemon juice, and ginger; shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.

Ricotta-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates
From Good Deal with Dave Lieberman
1 pound bacon
25 Medjool dates
1/3 cup ricotta cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Cut the bacon in half lengthwise to make twice as many slices. Set aside. To remove the pits from the dates, cut the tips off each end of the dates and insert the flat end of the skewer until it pushes the pit out of the date. Repeat with remaining dates.

Place the ricotta in the bottom corner of a strong plastic bag and seal tightly. Use scissors to cut a small hole in the tip of 1 of the corners. Now use the bag like a piping bag to fill the dates with the cheese.

Wrap the ricotta stuffed dates with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick through the belly of the date. Arrange all the prepared dates on a parchment-lined baking sheet, allowing at least a little space between each one for good browning. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until bacon is browned and crispy. Remove from the baking sheet and gently remove toothpicks. Serve immediately.

Figs with prosciutto and blue cheese air 
10-12 figs
1/2 lb prosciutto
Good balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup milk
4 oz blue cheese
1 teaspoon soy lecithin granules (found in Whole Foods health section)
Microgreens for garnish

Crumble blue cheese and combine with milk in a bowl.  Soak for a couple hours until milk absorbs the cheese flavor.  Strain milk from cheese into another bowl.

Cut figs into quarters. Arrange fig pieces, prosciutto and microgreens on a platter.  Drizzle with balsamic.

Pour soy lecithin into cheese-flavored milk.  Create foam with immersion blender.  Dollop foam over the figs and prosciutto and serve.

Main dish
Roasted game hens with caramelized root vegetables and dried-currant sauce
Adapted from

Serves 6

Caramelized root vegetables
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 medium rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
2 medium turnips, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
2 large parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 medium butternut squash
2 (7.25-ounce) jars whole roasted peeled chestnuts, halved
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange peel
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon juniper berries,* crushed in mortar with pestle
6 (1-pound) Cornish game hens, thawed if frozen, rinsed, patted dry

3 oranges
a handful of thyme sprigs

1/4 cup dried currants

*Available in the spice section of most supermarkets.

For caramelized root vegetables:
Melt butter with oil in very large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add rutabagas and next 4 ingredients; sauté until vegetables are caramelized and tender, stirring often, about 30 minutes. Stir in chestnuts, garlic, and thyme; sauté 5 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring frequently, until heated through before serving.

For hens:
Mix 1/4 cup thyme, shallots, oil, orange peel, garlic, and crushed juniper berries in small bowl for marinade. Rub marinade all over hens. Place hens in large roasting pan; cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Sprinkle hens with salt and pepper. Stuff cavities of hen with 1/2 orange and a few thyme sprigs. Roast until hens are cooked through and juices run clear when thighs are pierced with fork, about 40-50 minutes. Remove from oven.

Pour pan juices from hens into small saucepan; add dried currants and remaining 1 tablespoon thyme. Boil until liquid is reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes (sauce will be thin). Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Place 1 hen half on each plate. Divide caramelized vegetables among plates. Spoon sauce over hens and serve.

Balsamic-roasted Brussels sprouts
From Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust

1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core
4 ounces pancetta, sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ cup good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon syrupy balsamic vinegar (see note)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan, including some of the loose leaves, which get crispy when they’re roasted. Cut the pancetta into ½-inch dice and add to the pan. Add the olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and toss with your hands. Spread out the mixture in a single layer.

Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re tender and nicely browned and the pancetta is cooked. Toss once during roasting. Remove from the oven, drizzle immediately with the balsamic vinegar, and toss again. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Note: You can buy aged balsamic vinegar that’s syrupy—and very expensive—or you can boil good balsamic vinegar until reduced to half its volume and it will become syrupy as well.

Sweet potato casserole
From my mom

4 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (4 medium-sized)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine above ingredients thoroughly  making sure to cool potatoes slightly before adding eggs. Place in a greased baking dish and sprinkle with topping (I halved the topping). Bake for 30 minutes.

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Blend together brown sugar, nuts and butter. Add in flour and stir to combine.

Old-Fashioned Apple (and Pear) Crisp
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun

Serves 10

2.5 pounds Anjou Pears
2.5 pounds McIntosh or Macoun apples
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the topping:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 14 by 2-inch oval baking dish.

Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar, and spices. Pour into the dish.

To make the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.

Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm.

It was a wonderful evening with good food and friends with numerous bottles of wine and stories shared. Happy election week ahead...

No comments:

Post a Comment