RECIPE: Progressive Dinner for February 8

gardenladFebruary 5, 2007

Here are this week's assignments:

Drinks: Danain

App: VAGirl

1st: GardenLad

Soup: Em

Salad: San

Entree: Annie

Side 1: Woodie

Side 2: Cindy

Dessert: Wizard

Coffee: Dances

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I have many things in mind but I'm waiting for Annie to post the Entree. I like to build a menu around the main dish, don't you?


    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 9:08AM
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Do you think Annie's buried under snow? I believe she had a blizzard over the weekend.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 9:52AM
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Hope she's okay. I'll bet she's used to it up there.
We're really, really cold here with snow on the way but our hearts are still nice and warm from our Colt's big win and the celebrations yesterday with their homecoming:)


    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 10:21AM
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I won $1.00 from Ken on the Colts!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 11:07AM
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Please, guys, let's not turn this into yet another Superbowl recap. Some of us didn't even watch the game, let alone care about the aftermath.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 1:09PM
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OK, no Superbowl recap here. (grin)

Thanks, Marilyn, for the good thoughts. Yes, we got a good old fashioned blizzard complete with a 70+ car pile up on the expressway into Grand Rapids, and windchills at the farm on Sunday of 30 below zero. Even the tank heaters couldn't keep the ice off the stock tanks.

So, we need a good solid entree to go with this weather. This is one of my all time favorite ways to make pork. I use my own home pressed apple cider but I'm sure the commercial stuff would work just as well. It's from Cooking Light but I'd sure never have guessed it was "healthy" if I didn't know. The apple cider reduction just makes the dish. I usually used dried herbs, not having any fresh on hand in Michigan in January. LOL


3 cups apple cider
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup salt
1 tbls black peppercorns
1 tbls coriander seeds
1 2 lb. Pork loin, trimmed
2 cups cider
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh sage
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until salt dissolves. Remove from heat, cool, and pour into a Ziploc bag or container big enough to hold the pork loin. Add pork, seal and let marinate 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350, bring 2 cups cider to a boil over medium high heat. Boil until cider is thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Set aside. Remove pork from bag or container and discard brine. Place pork on broiler pan or baking dish and lightly coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and bake about 1 hour, until pork is done, basting twice with the reduced cider in the last 20 minutes of baking. Remove from oven, baste with remaining cider reduction. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Serves 8


    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 3:00PM
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Woodie, good for you! (You should have bet more;)
Annie, I love Michigan in the Summer! I'm glad your good.

Okay, keeping with pork and something warm:

1 tablespoon pine nuts
6 oz. (Crimini) mushrooms
1/4 pound ground sausage
1 small shallot; minced
1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 clove garlic; minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoon chopped pimiento (optional)

Toast pine nuts in a medium skillet, watching closely over low heat until lightly brown. Remove from skillet to cool. Slice 2 mushrooms for garnish and chop remaining into very small pieces; set aside. Brown sausage in the skillet, breaking apart into small pieces; cook until no longer pink. Stir in shallot and the chopped mushrooms along with olive oil and cook over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender. Stir in garlic until fragrant then add parsley and a sprinkle of salt and pepper; remove from skillet from heat and stir in bread crumbs, pimiento and toasted pine nuts.

Sauté mushroom slices until tender. Meanwhile, spoon mixture into

and top with sautéed mushroom slice. (Will work nicely using regular spoons.)


    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 3:19PM
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Annie, yout pork roast sounds great for this time of year and the cold weather we've been having.

Marilyn, the mushroom! You always come up with just the perfect idea!

OK....Dessert.... I had a hard time deciding. First it was going to be Country Pear Cobbler but then I remembered a recipe that I haven't made in probably 3-4 years. I had to hunt a bit to find it but here it is....

Harvest Chocolate Bread Pudding

1 loaf egg bread, preferably challah or brioche (should weigh about 1 lb.)
2 C. whole milk
2 C. heavy cream
8 egg yolks
1 C. sugar
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, cut into pieces

Remove and discard all the crusts from the bread and cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Put the bread into a large bowl and set aside.

In a large saucepan, scald the milk and cream, without letting it boil.

While the milk is heating, put the egg yolks into a bowl. Whisking constantly, mix in the sugar until well combined.

When a small ring of bubbles has appeared around the edge of the milk, remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. Whisking constantly to prevent curdling, whisk two cups of the hot chocolate milk into the yolks, one cup at a time. Then whisk the yolks back into the rest of the milk.

Strain the chocolate milk-yolk mixture over the bread cubes and soak one hour or until the cubes have absorbed the liquid (there will be extra liquid). Transfer into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake at 375°F. for approximately 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the pudding comes out clean.

Serve warm with bourbon-flavored whipped cream and a dusting of sugar.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Note.... I've made this with good grocery store bread and it was fine. But...there was a recipe for challah on the cooking forum that would put this right over the top.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 3:46PM
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Heavy duty cold winter weather here right now too (Annie a 70 car pile-up? yikes!)

I love pork and think that I have more sides for it than any other dish! Here's one that I just made recently, I think that it would go nicely with the flavors used in Annie's recipe.

Cabbage Au Gratin

1/4 cup butter
1 small head cabbage or 1/2 med-large head, shredded
2 T flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup (4 oz) grated sharp Cheddar Cheese
crushed crackers or breadcrumbs (I like to use ritz crackers)
extra shredded cheese for top

Saute cabbage in butter in covered saucepan, cook until wilted, about 5-10 minutes.
Add flour, stir until smooth. Add milk, cook over medium-low heat until thickened.
Add salt, pepper and 1 cup cheese, stir until cheese is melted.
Pour into buttered casserole dish, top with cracker or bread crumbs and additional cheese.
Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes, or until bubbly.
Serves 4-6


    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 4:03PM
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Ok, I think a black bean soup would go well with this meal, and I have one that is super duper easy and super duper good... Its a dump it all in a pot sort of recipe that really tastes like more...

Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup (Cooking Light)

2 15 ounce cans black beans
1 15 ounce can chicken broth
1 cup salsa (I use my own home-canned Annie's Salsa!)
1 Tbs chile powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano (mexican if possible)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a pot, cook for 10-15 minutes. Puree half, then garnish with cheddar cheese, more fresh cilantro, and sour cream if you're a fan...


    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 4:32PM
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Sounds like a delicious meal in the works! Mar, next time I will definitely bet more money on the Colts! GL, you'd better pray that the Yankees don't go to the World Series this year or you won't be able to read any of my posts!

I was thinking of color and texture as well as complementary flavors to go with the pork and the cabbage and I hope this starch dish works for your taste.


Using a variety of small potatoes gives visual interest to this sweet and sharp flavored side dish.

Nonstick cooking spray
2 1/2 lb. tiny new potatoes, small Yukon Golds and/or Fingerlings
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 Tablespoons molasses
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnut pieces
Fresh Chives to garnish

Preheat oven to 450. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Scrub and quarter potatoes or halve any large quarters. Arrange in pan.

In a small bowl combine oil, molasses, vinegar, thyme and salt. Drizzle mixture over potatoes. Toss gently to coat. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Add nuts and stir to mix. Bake 15 to 20 minutes more or until tender.

Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with chives.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 5:20PM
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Well, I was beginning to wonder if anyone was still with us.

Annie that pork sounds perfect; it's already on our list to make this weekend.

Meanwhile, for a first course, here's my take on mini-hot browns.

Hot Browns are a Kentucky tradition, first served at the Brown Hotel, in Louisville, back in the late 1920s. Through the years there have been modifications and changes. But I use the original recipe, except instead of white bread I prefer using the oatmeal bread from the King Arthur flour bag. Hot Browns are normally served as an open-faced sandwich, using a full slice of bread flanked by a second piece cut into two trianges. Downsizing is something I've never seen except when I make them this way.

The following makes six first course servings:

Six thick (at least 1/4," 5/16" is even better) slices chicken breast from the deli.

Six slices bread, toasted.

Six mushroom caps, carved and sauted just until liquid runs.

Four slices bacon, cut into lardings and cooked until crisp.

For the Morney Sauce:

1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 tbls butter
2 tbls flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 tbls parsley, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Large pinch nutmeg
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tbls butter

Saute the onion in butter until translucent. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, another minute. Add cream (works best if preheated), parsley, nutmeg, salt & pepper. Bring to slow boil and cook, stirring, until fairly thick.

Remove from heat. Temper the egg yolks and stir into sauce. Stir in Parmesan and butter.

Assembly: Using a 2-1/2-3" round cookie cutter (I use a fluted one, for this) cut rounds out of the bread. Using the same cutter, cut 1 round from each chicken slice. Then go down a size and use a round cutter to make 6 smaller circles. Finally, use a 3/4" PVC or copper tube to cut 18 small buttons from the chicken.

Arrange the bread cut-outs on a cookie sheet. Put the larger slice of chicken on top, lining it up with any fancy edges. The center the smaller circle on the first one, and finish with three buttons, centered and slightly overlapping.

Top these towers with the sauce, dividing it equally. Sprinkle additional Parsesan over each tower. Pop under the broier until they get suntanned, about 3 minutes.

Center a sauteed mushroom on each hot brown and decorate with bacon lardings.

All of this is a whole lot less complicated than it sounds. All the components can be prepared ahead of time, in fact, then assembled at the last minute.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 6:41PM
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ah--this crew has always liked to segue into what's going on in their lives and sometimes toss in food so we aren't accused of being off-topic! stuff like that just happens when we've been hanging around together for such a long time:)

i'm happy for you and your team, marilyn! congrats to all! and of COURSE i'm delighted to know that poor annie and nancy weren't buried under a ton of that white stuff! it's been SO cold here the last few days i don't think the clouds can open up long enough to let loose with any more of that pretty stuff...

like many of the others, i was kind of waiting to see what the main course was before i suggested the salad. and i think things are coming together nicely! you guys have put together some great sounding things! but i still haven't gotten back to half of what i wanted to try from the first menu! so having said that, here is my contribution for this week and then i'll be bowing out for awhile. i'm doing some overtime at work and want some time to get caught up, all the way around. with the stronger flavors you guys have suggested for this dinner, i didn't want a relatively whimpy iceburg salad. even though we always skip the eggs, we think there is plenty of flavor here to stand up to the rest of the menu (and thanx again to ruthanna!). hope you'll enjoy it!

Source: Ruthanna

1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
1 lb. young spinach leaves, washed and stemmed
6 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/ 4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, slivered
Finely grated rind of
1/ 2 lemon
1 hard cooked egg
Freshly ground black pepper

Wash mushrooms and combine with spinach. Chill. Mix oil, lemon juice, salt, cheese and garlic. Chop up egg and sprinkle over salad. Add lemon rind to salad and grind pepper on top. Pour dressing over salad right before serving and toss.

Note: Best if dressing is made about an hour ahead of time and garlic pieces removed before pouring on salad. Crumbled bacon pieces can be added before serving

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 8:41PM
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I was waiting to hear more of the menu (and what was for dessert) before thinking about a "coffee nosh". I wanted something to help use up that open container of apple cider, but took mostly pantry ingredients in case the weather has been too bad to get out for groceries. I hope this isn't too heavy after that bread pudding! It doesn't rise that high (only a little over an inch - 3 cm to be exact LOL) so if you cut it into 1 - 2 inch squares it sort of counts as a cookie, doesn't it? ;)

Apple Cider Gingerbread (recipe 140873 on Recipezaar posted by LMIllerRN, adjusted some wording etc. to reflect how I made it for testing)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup apple cider (or apple juice)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp crystallized ginger, minced (I left this out)
My addition - 1/4 cup crumbled pecans

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together the flour, brown sugar, ground ginger, and baking soda.

Make a well in the center and add the apple cider, oil, molasses, vinegar, and ginger (if using).

Stir just until the batter is smooth.

Use a rubber spatula to scrape batter into sprayed pan and smooth out to get an even surface. Sprinkle on pecans (if using).

Bake for 30-35 minutes in a round cake pan until toothpick comes out clean. I baked mine in a convection oven using a glass pyrex 8x8 dish - so I corrected the temp to 300F and it tested done in 25 minutes.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 10:05PM
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Sorry to hear you're leaving us, San. But things happen. Hopefully we can find somebody to fill-in. If not, I'll have to rearrange the courses.

Maybe one of the folks who've been following our dinner, and picking up recipes, will become an active player---hint, hint, hint.

Marilyn, those mushrooms sound great! But what are we drinking with them?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 6:13AM
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San, we have been doing this for a few years now haven't we? (Since June, 2001 for!) I sure appreciate all the "friends" I have made here. I'm sorry about the overtime for you:)

Any kind of dry wine is good with the mushrooms. I prefer red (Merlot or Cabernet) but I always have white for my friends who don't like red or even beer!


    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 8:11AM
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I have a problem with Merlot, in that it's so inconsistent, vineyard to vineyard and even bottle to bottle. One time it's the best wine you ever drank, the next time vinegar would go down better. Price seems to have no effect on this.

I'll try them with an Australian Shiraz, which we always have on hand anyway.

I love those appetiser spoons. Do you remember where you got them?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 9:23AM
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I do find that Merlot is very different vintage to vintage, and vineyard to vineyard but that is what I like. I just constantly try different ones. We have found one that is incredible, Franciscan (Napa Valley) 2002 or 2003. I also really enjoy a good Zin. Australian Shiraz is not for me but I'm sure one would be good with the mushrooms and sausage.

I have loads of those spoons. They are really nice with a curl of smoked salmon topped with creme fresh and a dill sprig. I got them at The World Market (Cost Plus) for maybe $1 each. I saw them at Sur La Table for about $3.50 each I think. I enjoy them with the mushrooms but I wouldn't put as much in them next time...they were rather hard to eat. Good thing it was just Paul and I.

I'm going to try the Pork, Annie. I always brine pork but yours sounds better with the apple cider.

The sweets sound incredible too and Cindy, I have a recipe almost identical to yours for the cabbage that I have not made in years. I know yours is good too.

Woodie, those potatoes sound very interesting and very elegant.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 10:41AM
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Okay, here we have -

Crostini With Figs And Nuts

1 package (8 oz) California dried figs (I use fresh when in season)
¾ cup nuts, very coarsely chopped
~12 oz. soft cream cheese (may need less with fresh figs)
Clover Honey

Snip stems from figs and cut figs into small pieces.

Toast nuts in 300* degree oven for 5 to 6 minutes, just until fragrant but not

Combine figs, nuts and cheese in food processor or mixer and process just until blended.

Heat baguette to freshen.

Cut baguette into thin diagonal slices.

Spread each slice with fig mixture.

Drizzle with honey.

Serve at room temperature.

Makes 2 cups spread (about 36 appetizers).

I hope you will enjoy!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 12:43PM
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vagardengirl, that sounds really good, I'd like that a lot, I think.

Marilyn, if you like sweet/fruit with meat, you'll like this pork roast. I make it this way a lot, it's nice and moist even with nearly all the fat trimmed and, well, it's "fruity". (grin) I think apples and pork are a great natural pairing.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 4:54PM
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About the spoons, I have seen plain white soup spoons like that in asian grocery stores, and they are usually one or two for a dollar. I have a lot of them (although mine have patterns, but they did have plain white) because I like to eat soup with them, and use them for scoops when cooking. They usually have plastic and ceramic versions.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 7:28PM
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Annie1992, once I saw your post I thought this would pair well with the pork. I love apple, apricot, cranberry, or fig with pork! ;) The crostini with figs is clean in flavor and so quick to I hope you will try it and enjoy!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 8:27PM
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Okay, this was bugging me. I had the appetizer and couldn't figure out why Joe keeps spelling it appetiser (with "s"), even the spell check red line comes up under it that way. I discovered this:

American: appetizer, -zing
British: appetiser, -sing, appetizer, -zing

Are you British Joe?

(I guess I need another home project like another room addition. Looks like I don't have enough to do.)


    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 8:56AM
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Who's this Joe fella?

If you're asking me, no, I'm not British. I just can't spell good, is all. That's why I married a copyeditor. :>)

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 9:04AM
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OMG! I got you mixed up with gardenguru, gardenlad! I always get peoples user name and real name mixed up:( Drives me crazy keeping track of everyone. I'm sorry.

Marilyn, Mar, Danain

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 9:52AM
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Hey, at least you've got me in good company. ;>) But if you need to know who and what I am, ask Annie offline. That should end any confusion.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 3:25PM
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I don't have fresh rosemary and sage for the Apple Cider Brined Pork Roast. Can I substitute dried? Would it be the same amount or more or less? TIA!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 4:25PM
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Dried herbs substitute for fresh on a 1:3 ratio. That is, a teaspoon of dried is equal to a tablespoon of fresh.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 6:35PM
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Thanks Gardenlad :-)

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 6:45PM
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Marilyn, I tried to answer your email, but it just bounces back to me "undeliverable". Do you have a different email I need to try?


    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 9:47PM
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Annie, Cindy mailed you. We all want to know the secret now, LOL!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 7:38AM
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Wonderful recipes this week, thanks to everybody! I plan to try each and every single one, but not all at the same time :-) We're having DS and DDIL come to visit next week and I look forward to cooking for them (we'll get to meet new granddaughter, Barbara, for the first time - she's 2 months old!)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 11:13AM
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Made Annie's apple cider brined pork, tonight, and only have two words: Ummmmmmm, Good! Tender and juicy.

I reckon the marinade could be cut in half, though, for a piece of meat that size, with no harm suffered.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 8:38PM
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Annie, I made your pork roast last week and we loved it!

I have to tell you that I didn't have apple cider so I used apple juice. I was a little worried about the reduced sauce being too sweet for our taste so after I removed the roast from the pan (roasted to 135 degrees and the temperature rose to 147 during standing time) I poured the reduced apple juice into the drippings along with some brandy and freshly ground black pepper...yum!

Thank you for the recipe.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 1:22PM
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