Sunday, April 12, 2009

The semi-annual dinner party, Jan 31, 2009

I had a dinner party the night before the Super Bowl. The friends who joined me each had their own Super Bowl party, so, it was a weekend of gluttony. Below is what we had.

Chorizo stuffed dates
Foie gras with cherry preserves, on bread or petit-fours type crackers.

The wines:
Bubbly to start.
A red with dinner.
A dessert wine from Virginia.

All wines came from the little local wine boutique, which has since closed (March 31) due to the horrible economy.

Braised Short Ribs with Chocolate and Rosemary (Epicurious)

1/4 cup diced pancetta (Italian bacon; about 1 1/2 ounces)
6 pounds bone-in short ribs
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrots
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dry red wine
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups chopped drained canned diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 very large fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons shaved or grated bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary


Heat heavy large pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and sauté until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown ribs in drippings in pot over medium-high heat until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to plate. Add onions and next 4 ingredients to pot. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add wine. Boil uncovered until liquid is reduced by half, scraping up browned bits, about 5 minutes.

Add broth, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and pancetta. Return ribs to pot, cover partially, and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and simmer until rib meat is tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours longer.

Transfer ribs to plate; discard bay leaf. Spoon fat from surface of sauce. Boil sauce until beginning to thicken, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add chocolate, cocoa powder, and rosemary; stir until chocolate melts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return ribs to pot.

Simmer to rewarm, about 5 minutes.

Creamy Potato and Parsnip Gratin
8 Potatoes
8 Parsnips
1 Clove garlic, halved
1 ts Thyme
Salt and pepper
2 c Approx. whipping cream

Peel and thinly slice potatoes and parsnips. Generously butter 13x9 inch casserole dish; rub with garlic. Arrange single layer of potatoes in dish. Sprinkle lightly with a little of the thyme, salt and pepper. Cover with layer of parsnips. Sprinkle with seasonings. Repeat layer with remaining vegetables. Pour in enough cream to come three-quarters up side of dish. Place on baking sheet and bake, covered, in 375 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes longer or until top is brown and crusty and potatoes are cooked through.

Lemon Cream and Raspberry Phyllo Napoleons (Epicurious)

6 fresh phyllo pastry sheets or frozen, thawed
6 teaspoons (generous) sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup purchased lemon curd
2 1/2-pint baskets fresh raspberries or 2 cups frozen unsweetened, thawed, drained
Powdered sugar

For Phyllo Squares:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets. Stack phyllo sheets on work surface. Trim to 10 1/2-inch square (reserve scraps for another use). Place 1 phyllo square on work surface (cover remaining phyllo with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel). Sprinkle with 1 generous teaspoon sugar. Top with second phyllo square. Brush lightly with melted unsalted butter. Sprinkle with 1 generous teaspoon sugar. Top with third phyllo square. Sprinkle with 1 generous teaspoon sugar. Cut phyllo stack into 9 equal stacked squares. Arrange stacked phyllo squares an prepared baking sheet. Repeat layering and cutting with remaining 3 phyllo sheets, sugar and butter making total of 18 stacked phyllo squares. Bake until phyllo is golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to racks and cool completely.

For Lemon Cream:Beat cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered sugar and vanilla in large bowl until medium peaks form. Whisk lemon curd in another medium bowl until smooth. Add to cream mixture. Beat to stiff peaks.

Spread 1 generous tablespoon lemon cream on each of 6 stacked phyllo squares. Top each with 6 raspberries. Layer each with 6 raspberries. Layer each with 1 phyllo square, 1 more tablespoon lemon cream and 6 raspberries (save any remaining lemon cream for another use). Top each with 1 phyllo square. Sift powdered sugar over desserts. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover loosely and refrigerate).

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