Sunday, January 31, 2010

Winter Dinner Party Recipes

Yesterday we were supposed to be hosting a dinner party for seventeen people. Unfortunately the snow storm saw to it that we were left to gorge ourselves alone on the foodstuffs for four different appetizers and a four course meal for yes, seventeen people! At the very least I figured I would post our menu and a few of the recipes here in hopes that some may try a couple of them out and enjoy them!

Dirty Martinis with Jalapeno Stuffed Olives
Bourbon Infused with White Tangerine Tea served with an Orange Zest

or Prince Michele Cabernet Franc

Spinach and White Bean Dip Served with Fresh Winter Vegetables

Petite Roasted Potato Wedges served with Garlic, Scallion and Chive Greek Yogurt

Pan Fried Tofu in a Cayenne Peanut Oil served with Persimmon Chutney

Lemon Lavender Goat Cheese with Red Pear and Baguette

White Wine

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Tarragon Pot Pies made with Chicken or Oyster Mushrooms

Salad of Mesculun greens, figs, Night Sky chevre, toasted walnuts and edible flowers
Peach Kuchen

A Few Recipes...
Shannon's Spinach and White Bean Dip
4 oz fresh baby spinach
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
1 shallot, diced
4 med-large cloves garlic, minced
5 pitted kalamata olives cut in half
1 15oz can white beans
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
Saute fresh baby spinach in olive oil and the juice of 3 lemon wedges until just wilted through.
Rinse and drain one 15oz can white beans and puree in a food processor with juice from remaining lemon wedges. If lemon is large you may need to leave out one or two wedges to keep it from being overly tart. Add the sauteed spinach, a couple good pinches of the salt and about 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper along with all the remaining ingredients and run through the food processor again. Serve with cauliflower, raw fennel, radishes, and bread.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
There are dozens of ways to make delicious butternut squash soup. For this soup, I started with a couple of different recipes and blended them together. The spices and saute times came from the recipe for Molly Katzen's Curried Apple Soup from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest cook book. I substitute butternut squash for the apples and veggie broth for the water as well as sometimes adding thyme and marjoram. I also have used powered ginger instead of fresh. I have made my butternut squash soup with and without the addition of apples and it is good either way. Serve this soup with a drizzle of plain yogurt, or eat it unadorned. I actually think I prefer this without the apples (but my husband disagrees), and served heated with a little whole milk for a creamier, less tangy taste. I eat this with warm, buttery baguette.
1 large Butternut Squash
2 tbs olive oil, plus more to coat the squash for roasting.
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and chopped, optional
If using the apples I also add 1-2 tbsp honey
3 large garlic cloves, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 tbs. powdered ginger
( or minced fresh.. if using fresh I'd go with out the milk at the end)
2 tsp salt
2tsp dry mustard
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
(cardamom is expensive, but it makes all the difference!)
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne
Pre-heat oven to 350. Cut one large Butternut Squash in half length wise and scoop out the stringy/seeded portion. Lightly coast a baking tray and fleshy side of the squash with olive oil. Place squash flesh side (flat side) down on the baking tray and bake for about 35 minutes or until a fork easy pierces through the skin and into the flesh. Remove from oven and let cool until it can be easily handled.
Meanwhile, saute the onions in the olive oil with the salt until they are translucent- about 5 minutes. Then add the apples (if desired), garlic, and all the spices and saute for another 5 minutes. The extra sauteing with the spices prior to adding the liquid help improve the depth of flavor. Pour in the broth and lemon juice and start to simmer. Scoop out the the squash from the skin and add it to the liquid. Let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and once it's cool enough to handle run through a blender in batches.
Warning.... turmeric will stain easily so be careful not to splash the soup on your counter tops, clothes etc. That's it. If you add milk do so just when you reheat before serving. If you add yogurt, drizzle it atop the individual bowls of soup immediately before serving.
The Tarragon Pot Pies
The pot pie recipe I used, (and love) is Martha Stewart's Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie. It uses Phyllo dough for the top and a rue for a little thickness while cutting way down on the fat. This is one recipe I follow to the letter it is so good. It calls for a whole chicken to be cut into eight pieces and then poached to create the needed chicken broth as well as the tender chicken. For a vegetarian version, we used vegetable broth and oyster mushrooms in place of the chicken. Check out the recipe here.

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