Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Dinner With Friends


We had friends, Steve and Leann, over for dinner tonight.

(picture from our wedding)

Trying to come up with a menu, we thought we'd go with one of our favorites, an all-appetizer dinner.
Matt has this weird thing: when he starts eating, he only has so much time before he's full. It doesn't matter how much he eats, and there's no set time limit. To put it simply, Matt never eats appetizers, because by the time the meal comes, he's close to full. Which ruins dinner.

Because of this, we like to put together a meal made up of 'little bites'.

Tonight's menu:

Cream of Parsley Soup
Asparagus with a Lemon-Caper dipping sauce
Cannelinni Puree Encroute
Salad with Avocado, Granny Smith Apple, and Pecans
Mini Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomato and Basil Pizzas
Mini Meatballs in a Saffron Sauce
Plantains with Peanuts
Salmon Cups with a Dill Cream
Chocolate Fudge Cake with Buttercream Frosting and Ganache
I also made a kickin' citrus-ade by hand-juicing between 12-18 limes, lemons and an orange, a simple syrup and sparkling water.

We more or less made the soup up; homemade veggie broth, onions, celery and parsley, pureed, then add cream.

Asparagus with Lemon-Tarragon Dipping Sauce (which we served in wine glasses, sauce in the bottom)
Dipping Sauce:
3/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. mayonnaise
3 Tbl. chopped red onion
2 Tbl. lemon juice
1 Tbl. plus 1 tsp. capers, drained and chopped
2 tsp. chopped lemon zest
2 tsp. dried tarragon
2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper

48 asparagus spears, cut into 4-inch lengths
3 c. ice
6 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

To make the dipping sauce: Mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, onion, lemon juice, capers, lemon zest, tarragon, onion powder, sugar, and pepper together using a whisk. Mix well. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
Cook the asparagus in a steamer basket over boiling water until tender when pierced with a fork, 6 to 8 minutes. Mix the ice, water, and kosher salt together in a large bowl. Remove the asparagus from the steamer and refresh it by plunging it into the ice water. Let sit until cold. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to dry. Refrigerate. Serve chilled with the dipping sauce.
Do-ahed tips: The dipping sauce can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated. The asparagus can be prepared 1 day in advance and refrigerated. Serve as directed.

from Cocktail Food: 50 Finger Foods with Attitude


Active time: 30 min Start to finish: 9 3/4 hr

Click here to find out more!
For dressing
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For bean purée
1/2 lb dried small white beans such as navy or pea
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 slices firm white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Accompaniment: toasted baguette slices (croûtes)

Special equipment: a food mill fitted with large-holed disk

Make dressing: Blanch garlic in a small saucepan of boiling water 3 minutes, then drain and finely chop. Transfer garlic to a bowl and whisk in mustard and vinegar. Add 3 tablespoons oil in a stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

Make bean purée: Soak beans in water to cover by 2 inches in a large bowl at least 8 hours, then drain. Simmer beans with thyme in fresh water to cover by 2 inches in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan, partially covered, until very tender, about 1 1/4 hours (some beans will fall apart). Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid and drain beans, discarding thyme.

Crumble bread into a large bowl and stir in cream. Force beans through food mill into moistened bread, then stir in oil. Add reserved cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time for a spreadable consistency. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Serve warm with vinaigrette spooned over purée.

Cooks' notes:

• Beans can soak up to 1 day.

• Pur
e may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap. Bring to room temperature, then reheat over low heat, stirring. Add water if necessary for a spreadable consistency and reseason with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings.
March 2001


Redolent of garlic and saffron, these tiny meatballs are a sure hit at any tapas party.

Click here to find out more!
8 ounces ground pork
8 ounces ground veal
4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 1/2-inch-thick slice French bread, crust removed, soaked in water 3 minutes and squeezed dry
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
All purpose flour

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads

Mix pork, veal, 1 tablespoon parsley, half of garlic, egg, bread, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl to blend. Shape meat mixture into 1-inch balls. Dust meatballs with flour. Set aside.

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and sauté until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to plate. Add onion to skillet; reduce heat to medium and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in paprika, then 1 cup broth and wine. Return meatballs with any accumulated juices to skillet. Bring to simmer. Cover and cook until meatballs are tender, about 25 minutes. Uncover; add 2 tablespoons parsley, remaining garlic, and saffron. Simmer until sauce thickens, turning meatballs occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer, thinning with broth if necessary.)

Salad's kind of obvious...

Pizza was basic dough, with goat cheese, chopped sundried tomatoes, and fresh basil. Tiny and yummy.

Fried Plantains with Peanut Salsa

5 Tbl. chopped green onions, green part only
2 Tbl. sesame oil
1 Tbl. honey
2 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
3/4 c. unsalted roasted peanuts
2 Tbl. peanut oil
3 medium-ripe plantains (should be soft to the touch), peeled and cut on the diagonal, into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 ts. kosher salt

Mix 3 Tbl. of the green onions, sesame oil, honey, lime juice, and ginger together in a small bowl.
Chop the peanuts finely using a food processor. Add the green onion mixture and pulse once or twice just until mixed. Do not overprocess. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and serve within 3 hours. Do not refrigerate.
Heat the peanut oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Season both sides of the plantains with the kosher salt. Saute until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet to absorb any extra oil.
to assemble: Place 1 tsp. of the peanut salsa on each plantain. Garnish with the remaining 2 Tbl. of green onions and serve.
do-ahead tip: The plantains can be sauteed up to 3 hours in a advance and reheated in a 400 degree oven until warm. Do not refrigerate. Assemble as directed.
from Cocktail Food: 50 Finger Foods with Attitude

Salmon Cups with Dill Cream
Filo cups, filled with a dilled cream sauce, and topped with smoked salmon. So tiny. So cute.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Ganache Glaze
Recipe courtesy Sara Campbell

Recipe Summary

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

3 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
3 eggs
2 2/3 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/8 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 pounds sweet butter, soft
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil 3 (10-inch) cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. Alternately, oil the pans and then flour them.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the brown sugar and oil. Turn on the mixer to a low speed and mix in the eggs. Let the sugar, oil, and eggs mix while sifting together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Set this mixture aside.
In another small bowl, mix the vanilla into the milk and set this aside as well. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the cocoa and whisk it until it is smooth. To the egg mixture, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture beginning and ending with flour. With the mixer off, scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. With the mixture at a low speed add the cocoa. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pour this mixture into the prepared cake pans. Bake the cake for approximately 15 minutes or until tester comes out clean. When cake layers have cooled, remove from pans and refrigerate until cold.
To make the frosting: In an electric mixing bowl place the soft butter and beat it on a low speed while adding powdered sugar. When all the sugar is mixed in, turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the vanilla and salt and let the mixer beat for 5 to 7 minutes on a medium speed. Fill and frost the cake and refrigerate it for 10 to 20 minutes to set up the frosting.
To make the ganache: In a heatproof bowl, place the chocolate chips and the corn syrup. Bring the heavy cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk it until smooth then set it aside.Pour ganache over the top of the cake and, with a cake spatula, smooth the top of the cake and allow ganache to spill over the sides. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or longer.
Serve the cake cold or allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

And now? We're exhausted. The kitchen is dirty, dishes are dirty, but not as bad as it could be.
And I don't care. It can wait till tomorrow!

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