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Spring Sensations April 4, 2016

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On April 2, we celebrated the advent of Spring at Per and Andrea’s home.

Cynthia brought the appetizers: spicy lamb meatballs with spiced yogurt dipping sauce, and ham roll-ups with Havarti cheese, asparagus, and garlic mayonnaise.

Gwen created a lovely variation on Waldorf Salad with composed plates of apples, raisins, nuts, and bacon bits in a secret dressing.

Per imbued his main course with the flavor of fresh tarragon. Tarragon chicken, whipped potatoes with tarragon and parsley, and crisp-tender green beans. Delish!

Mary and Larry had slaved over a hot stove to create rich vanilla custard and homemade lemon curd, using the freshest of eggs, cream, and butter. We were assured the lemons were sustainably wild-harvested. These were layered in our dessert bowls and topped with raspberries and ribbons of basil. The flavor combination was rich, tangy, and altogether devastating.

Sadly, Linda, Steve, and Kathi were not present. We look forward to their renewed participation in the near future.

Photo credits go to Ellen!

Christmas in Eastern Europe January 2, 2016

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We were really in Texas but our theme was Eastern European food. Hostess Linda and her travel pal Cynthia were anxious to use the paprika they had bought in Hungary last summer! Here’s how our Christmas celebration meal shaped up:

Cynthia brought the appetizers: Liptauer with Rye Toast and Pickled Red Onions. Liptauer is a Hungarian cheese spread heavily flavored with sweet paprika and a touch of the hot kind.

Steve and Kathi brought a warming soup with complex layers of flavors.

Per and Andrea and Katarina, Andrea’s mom, contributed a salad focused on sweet peppers and it was a lovely, crisp interval for the taste buds.

Linda provided the main course, traditional Paprikash Chicken with Spaetzle. This dish was creamy and satisfying, with an addictive flavor. Linda also offered lots of wine, hot cider and eggnog.

Mary and Larry completed the table with a selection of marvelous breads, butter and sparkling wine

Gwen outdid herself making individual Spanische Windtorte for dessert. Not only were they beautiful to look at, the taste was out of this world.

Italian-American Evening November 13, 2015

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By guest blogger Steve

On October 24th we met at Steve and Kathi’s new home. The theme chosen was “What would Tony Soprano eat?” This was a tribute to the uniquely American take on Italian Food.

Kathi went all out decorating in a motif that included basil in tomato cans, mob monikers for each guest, and “Volaré” playing in the background.

The Antipasto was a full table spread; Linda provided a generous assortment of meats, cheese, and olives.

Gwen also prepared Antipasto and a homemade Focaccia Bread that set the standard for the night.

Per prepared a Frisée salad that provided a great break before the rest of the meal.

The Gibsons’ main dish was Eggplant Parmigiano with homemade sauce and a side of broccolini.

Cynthia topped off the evening with Tony Soprano’s favorite pineapple ricotta pie. This was washed down with Linda’s homemade Limoncello – che bella!

A special thanks from Steve and Kathi for the generous house warming gift.

People’s Choice July 5, 2015

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It was the Fourth of July so clearly, a picnic was in order. The full title of Mary and Larry’s theme was “Friendly Fun, Decidedly Delicious, People’s Choice of Daring or Old Favorite, with plenty of red, white and blue mixed in.” The menu did not disappoint.

Steve and Kathy made a wonderful selection of appetizers inspired by a recent visit to the South. There was roasted red pepper dip, homemade crackers with anchovy, a dip made with a secret recipe, almond milk cheese, homemade pickled cucumber slices, olives, and more.

Mary treated us to lime and strawberry flavored water to quench our thirst, while Larry served Lambrusco with a frozen blueberry and raspberry fizzing away in each glass.

Larry outdid himself with barbecued brisket cooked long and lovingly on the grill, with another secret recipe used for the barbecue sauce. It had shrirhaca in it but by the time we were eating it, the flavors and spices had melded to perfection.

Cynthia made Super Potato Salad, a Gourmet Magazine “best” recipe from many years ago. It had lots of ingredients including smoky bacon and chopped bread and butter pickles.

Larry and Mary made up a platter of crudités to accompany the brisket and potato salad. This was in lieu of Gwen’s fabulous coleslaw – sadly absent from the table as Gwen had become ill and couldn’t attend. She and Linda were both missed.

We finished the meal with a red, white, and blue Swedish Princess cake stuffed with strawberries and floating in whipped cream.

Our next dinner will be in October at Steve and Kathy’s. If anyone wants to arrange a Restaurant Week outing in August, I’m sure many of us would love to attend. See you next time!

Everything Cold May 31, 2015

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Another delicious gourmet night, this time chez Gwen! The theme for the evening was “everything cold.”

  • Per made the appetizer: shrimp and avocado marinated in lime juice and served on toast points, topped with chili sauce.
  • Linda made a fabulous cold cantaloupe and raspberry soup garnished with mint.
  • Cynthia made a delicious rice salad with lots of veggies.
  • Gwen made an outstanding salmon terrine with alternating layers of cream cheese with dill and cream cheese with lemon.
  • Larry and Mary made an exotic and refreshing dessert: mango-basil sorbet with whipped coconut cream and blueberries.

Lots of delicious cold wines accompanied the meal as well as artisan bread and European butter.

Thanks to all for a wonderful evening! See you on July 4th for a boom-town barbecue.

 

Retro / Metro Dinner Party April 26, 2015

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For April, we drew our inspiration from the fancy dinner parties of the 60s or 70s (“Retro”), with the option to drag old, familiar recipes into the 21st Century (“Metro”). As a special treat, Cynthia’s mom, Ann, hosted the party in her house, so we packed up our ingredients and traveled outside the Plano area for a change.

  • Appetizers were pure Retro: Ann provided chicken liver pâté with cracker selection, and shrimp with Thousand Island dressing.
  • Steve gave us a luxurious Metro soup course, chilled Heirloom Tomato Soup with Tropical Lobster Relish.
  • Gwen brought a very Retro salad: tomato aspic served with avocado and hearts of palm, and some of the aspics were made Metro with the addition of Sriracha sauce. Hot-cha-cha-cha!
  • For the main course, Cynthia made Retro Beef Wellington with Madagascar green peppercorn sauce.
  • Mary made Julia Child’s Retro Potatoes Gratin Dauphinois. For the Metro twist, she used Gruyère cheese.
  • Linda made Metro green beans with bacon vinaigrette.
  • Larry brought fabulous Retro yeast rolls and yummy French butter.
  • Per’s dessert was a fresh and dried fruits salad with cinnamon cream, topped with homemade sugar cookies cut in the shape of a bear and a star.

Lots of fine wine was contributed to the meal and everyone had a lovely time.

Jörg’s Café Vienna March 7, 2015

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Quick road trip for the group … we enjoyed lots of fine schnitzel, roast pork, and wurst. The winning dessert was either the bread pudding with brandy cream sauce “made by angels,” or the homemade tiramisu, also heavily brandied.

Creativity February 7, 2015

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Per and Andrea hosted the club in February, which we only figured out after the fact was our tenth anniversary dinner as a club. Per asked us all to step outside our comfort zones to find and use an ingredient that we had previously not used in cooking. The challenge caused quite a buzz, as we dashed through supermarkets and cookbooks to figure out what we could try!

Here was the final menu, and I think I will let the photos speak for themselves. Many apologies to Ellen for not having a photo of her delicious salad!

Cynthia: California rolls sushi
Linda: Celery root soup
Ellen: Waldorf salad
Per: Magret de canard à l’orange
Larry and Jeanne: Rutabaga, parsnip, and carrot mash
Gwen: Lace Almond cookie cup filled with white chocolate mousse drizzled with Italian balsamic syrup and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

Everything Royal – Christmas 2014 January 10, 2015

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We had a wonderful, warm Christmas celebration in December. Linda had decorated her beautiful home to the nines, and clever gourmet-themed gifts for our Chinese exchange game piled up by the fireplace as guests arrived.

The hostesses were Linda and Gwen, and they set a theme of “Everything Royal.”

Mary and Larry started us off with stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and coated with a Crown Royal glaze.

The Soup King Steve gave us a soup from a recipe by Paul Bocuse, because he is king of the French chefs.

Linda and Gwen presented a stupendous main dish – Crown Rib Standing Roast with Sausage, Fruit and Nut Stuffing. It was amazing! Truly fit for royalty.

Per made dainty, swirled Duchesse potatoes to go with the main course.

The meal was rounded off with Cynthia’s Raspberry Charlotte, invented by a royal chef for Queen Charlotte of England in the late 1700s.

It was a fine evening with terrific food, fabulous friends, and fun presents to go home with. For the crowning glory (see what I did there?) Linda made us all some homemade Irish Creme Whisky to enjoy at home. It is potent!

 

 

Mediterranean Breezes August 31, 2014

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Being that July weather tends to be 110 in the shade, I (Cynthia) decided to do an all cold foods theme revolving around the Côte d’Azur and the Mediterranean. Our dinner was held on July 19, 2014.

For the appetizer, Per brought whole steamed artichokes served at room temperature with an oil, garlic, and lemon dip. He peeled off the leaves and arranged them on the platter like a huge sunflower. Linda contributed some authentic brie from Provence and assorted crackers.

Gwen made a cold tomato and melon soup garnished with basil and crispy pancetta. It tasted refreshing and the pancetta was an enriching touch.

My main course was Salade Niçoise. This is the traditional composed salad specialty from Nice in the South of France. I piled the plates with troll-caught sustainable tuna, eggs, green beans, authentic Niçoise olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, sweet peppers, and mesclun. The dressing was based on lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic, and shallots. On the side I served Jacques Pepin’s French potato salad made with boiled red potatoes, garlic, and chopped green onions dressed with white wine, olive oil, and plenty of Dijon mustard for a spicy kick.

Steve brought a stunning homemade bread properly called Fougasse aux Herbes de Provence (French Flat Bread with Herbes de Provence). It was delicious and very impressive-looking. He served it with compound butter made with chive oil, parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.

For dessert, Mary treated us to Crema Catalana. According to her notes, a debate still rages as to whether crème brûlée or this crema came first, and who copied it from whom – the French, English or Spanish! All I can say is, this dessert was easily as delicious as crème brulée but the custard was more tender and the citrus and spice added a delicate layer of flavor that put it over the top. Here’s Mary’s recipe: http://laylita.com/recipes/2009/03/19/crema-catalana/

Linda brought a delightful selection of outstanding French wines to complement the meal. After dinner, some of us had espresso.

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