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Our Biannual Dinner with Linda and David

Twice a year we have dinner with our friends Linda and David.  July at their house to celebrate Linda’s and my birthday, and the week between Christmas and New Year for our holiday festivities.  It’s great.  They love food just as much as we do.  We all go over the top just a bit when figuring out what to cook – always something we wouldn’t do unless they (or we) were coming to dinner.  It’s a lot of fun.

This year, we decided to do a prime rib and individual Yorkshire puddings.  I was going to do Trevor’s popovers, but changed my mind at the last minute.  Actually, I chickened out.  I hadn’t made a popover or Yorkshire pudding in a bazillion years and didn’t want to publicly screw them up.

We started with a 4-bone rib roast.

I don’t remember the last time I did a prime rib other than at some hotel or another where I was working.  I actually may have never cooked one at home before.  And I did mention that there were only four of us, right?!?

The roast went into the oven and the hors d’oeuvres were started.

We started with a baked brie with roasted figs in a citrus glaze.  This was an impulse buy at Wegmans when we were shopping for dinner items.  Victor saw the figs and went wild.  We then picked up a wedge of brie and a star was born. It looked like cheesecake with topping before it went inti the oven.

It was ridiculously good.

And we had crab on cucumber slices.

These were really good, too.

Crab Salad on Cucumber Rounds

  • 8 ounces crabmeat
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp minced red onion
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cucumber, sliced

Mix first 5 ingredients together.  Add salt and pepper, if desired.

Place on cucumber slaices.  Top with paprika.

We also had a hot artichoke and spinach dip, but I missed getting a picture.

Artichoke and Spinach Dip

  • 1 cans  Artichoke Hearts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 box  frozen Spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup  Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup  Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix ingredients well and transfer to shallow baking dish.  Broil until bubbly and browned.

And Dauphine potatoes!

These are fun.  One of the hotels I worked in years ago served these all the time.  When I win the lottery I want a commercial kitchen in the house – with a real deep fat fryer!

This recipe comes from Gourmet Magazine.

Dauphine Potatoes

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet (baking) potatoes (about 3)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying the potatoes
  • coarse salt for sprinkling the croquettes if desired

Bake the potatoes in a preheated 425°F. oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are soft, halve them lengthwise, and scoop the potato out of the shells with a spoon, reserving the shells for another use. Force the scooped-out potato through a ricer or a food mill fitted with the medium disk into a large bowl. (There should be about 2 cups riced potato.)

In a saucepan combine 1/2 cup water, the butter, the salt, and the nutmeg, bring the mixture to a boil, and stir in the flour all at once. Reduce the heat to moderate and beat the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes, or until the paste pulls away from the side of the pan and forms a ball. Remove the pan from the heat, add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition, and beat the mixture until it is smooth and shiny.

Add the potatoes and beat the mixture until it is combined well. The potato mixture may be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. In a deep fryer or large kettle heat 2 inches of the oil until it registers 340°F. on a deep-fat thermometer. Transfer the potato mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip and pipe eight 2 1/2-inch lengths, cutting them with kitchen shears or a small knife, directly into the oil. Fry the croquettes, turning them with a slotted spoon, for 3 minutes, or until they are crisp, golden, and cooked through, transfer them as they are fried to paper towels to drain, and sprinkle them with the salt. Make more croquettes in batches with the remaining potato mixture and transfer the drained croquettes to a rack set in a jelly-roll pan (to prevent them from becoming soggy). The croquettes may be made 2 hours in advance, kept covered loosely with paper towels at room temperature, and reheated on the rack in a preheated 400°F. oven for 5 minutes, or until they are heated through and crisp. If not making the croquettes in advance, keep them warm in a preheated 300°F. oven.

The zucchini boats were just hollowed out zucchini with a carrot puree – cooked carrots, honey, dill, and S&P.  Baked at 350° for 20 minutes.

A simple salad…

And the Yorkshire Puddings…

These were a lot of fun – and gave me the confidence to make the popovers relatively soon.

Yorkshire Puddings

  • 4 large, fresh eggs, measured in a jug
  • Equal quantity of milk to eggs
  • Equal quantity of all purpose/plain flour to eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp beef drippings
  1. Heat oven to 450°.
  2. Pour the eggs and milk into a large mixing bowl and add the pinch of salt. Whisk thoroughly with an electric hand beater or hand whisk. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Gradually sieve the same volume of flour (as the eggs) into the milk and egg mixture, again using an electric hand beater or hand-whisk to create a lump free batter resembling thick cream, if there are any lumps pass the batter through a fine sieve.
  4. Leave the batter to rest in the kitchen for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer if possible – up to several hours.
  5. Place 1 tsp drippings in a Yorkshire pudding tin or muffin tin and heat in the oven until the fat is smoking. Give the batter another good whisk adding 2 tbsps of cold water and fill a third of each section of the tin with batter and return quickly to the oven.
  6. Leave to cook until golden brown approx 20 minutes.

And then we had dessert.

Okay.  I freely admit that I must have been on drugs when I made these.  My thought process was to make 4 individual Baked Alaskas.  Another thing I haven’t made in 30 or so years.  The key word to note here is individual.  Right.

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed (or other neutral) oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line sheetpan with parchment paper.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

I started off with what looked like a small cake round.

And then it just went out of control.

I drizzled Blood Orange Syrup on the cake because I needed an excuse to open the syrup we bought down in DC at Cowgirl Creamery.

That “small cake round” was really pretty big.  It took a lot of ice cream to properly cover it.

And then the meringue.

Meringue

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Whip egg whites until foamy. Add vanilla and cream of tartar.

Slowly add sugar and whip until still and glossy – about 5 minutes.

The final step is to brown the meringue in a hot oven.  One could use a blow torch, but I don’t have one.

We split two of them between four of us – and even that was too much!  (Okay – I could have eaten a whole one myself, but I’m a dessert/ice cream pig. And another great thing is we now have more desserts just for us!)

I actually did learn a few lessons with this meal – especially the all-important portioning.  I really did forget just how big those desserts would grow.  I could have made them on cupcake bottoms and they probably would have been just right.

But we had a wonderful time – and that’s the most important thing.

And now we get to think about what to get Linda for her birthday…  July is not that far away!

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