RECIPE: Progressive Dinner For February 15

gardenladFebruary 12, 2007

Well, by moving to Thursdays, we missed having a Valentine's Dinner. :>( But at least that's not additional pressure.

Due to time constraints, San has had to drop out. And nobody has stepped in to replace her. So, in order to keep the progression on-track, I have dropped the Drinks category.

Here are this week's assignments:

Appetizer: Dances

1st course: Danain

Soup: VaGirl

Salad: GardenLad

Entry: Fearless Em

Side 1: Annie

Side 2: Woodie

Dessert: Cindy

Coffee: Wizard

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Well, I hope that no one minds if I start with dessert this time :)

This recipe comes from dinner at a NYC restaurant - we ate at the restaurant, met the chef and came home with an autographed copy of his dessert cookbook :)

The serving size says 6-8, but it is rather heavy and sweet, so after a big meal, I would cut in smaller portions and it would serve more people.

Source: Franis Payard - Simply Sensational Desserts 140 Classics for the Home Baker
A serving of this cake is like popping a coconut macaroon filled with chocolate ganache into your mouth. It is so simple that you may not believe how delicious it is until you actually try it.

Coconut Sponge
4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
3-2/3 cups (320 grams) unsweetened dried shredded coconut

10-1/2 ounces (300 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3-1/2 ounces (100 grams) milk chocolate, finely chopped
1-2/3 cups (385 grams) heavy cream

1 cup (86 grams) unsweetened dried shredded coconut, toasted

1. Make the coconut sponge: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 17-1/2 x 12-1/2 inch baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

2. Fill a medium saucepan one-third full with water and bring to a simmer. Whisk together the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the egg mixture is warm to the touch. Transfer the bowl to the mixer stand and beat on high speed until it has tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the coconut just until blended. Pour the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it evenly in the pan with a rubber spatula.

3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top of the cake is light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

4. Run a small sharp knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a wire rack over the cake and invert. Carefully peel off the parchment paper (the cake is extremely delicate). Cool the cake completely.

5. Make the ganache: Put the bittersweet and milk chocolates in a large bowl and set aside. Bring the cream to a boil in a medium saucepan. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Cover the ganache with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the surface, and refrigerate until it is firm enough to pipe, about 4 hours.

6. Assemble the cake: Trim off any uneven edges and cut the cake crosswise into three equal rectangles, each measuring about 5 X 10 inches. Place one of the rectangles on a serving platter. Using a small metal offset spatula, spread a generous layer of ganache over the top of the cake layer. Cover with another cake layer and spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the top and sides of the cake. If not serving immediately, refrigerate the cake. The cake can be made up to 1 day ahead. Bring to room temperature before serving.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 5:43PM
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Well, Cindy, you know what they say?

Life's uncertain: eat dessert first!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 7:38PM
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Hi All --

Ok, for the entree this week we have something nice and spice-laden, to perk up a cold winters day. I have made this before and the note in my cookbook says Very Good! My guess is I probably increased the amount of stewing time for the chicken, as 45 minutes total is on the short end of how long I typically like to cook chicken thighs if stewing... If you increase the amount of cooking time you might also want to increase the amount of water by just a little...

Moroccan Chicken with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Almonds

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cups sliced onions
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups canned diced tomatoes (from 28-ounce can)
1 cup water
3 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
8 chicken thighs with bones, skinned
8 chicken drumsticks, skinned

1 large eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds or slivered almonds, toasted
Chopped fresh cilantro

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large wide pot over medium heat.

Add onions and garlic. Cover and cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add paprika, salt, turmeric, coriander, fennel, pepper, cumin, and ginger; stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes, 1 cup water, and 3 tablespoons lemon juice; bring to boil. Arrange all chicken in single layer in pot; spoon some sauce over. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Turn chicken over, cover, and simmer until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Brush large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Place eggplant and remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in large bowl; toss to coat. Spread eggplant out on prepared baking sheet and bake until soft and brown, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. (Chicken and eggplant can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate separately until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated.)

Stir eggplant and marjoram into chicken. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes to heat through and blend flavors. Season stew to taste with more lemon juice, if desired, and salt and pepper. Transfer chicken to large shallow bowl. Sprinkle with almonds and cilantro.

Makes 8 servings.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 10:03AM
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Oh my word, does that sound good. I'm gonna adapt it to my tagine.

For a salad to go with it:

Orange & Red Onion with Cumin vinagrette


1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbls fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt


6 oranges (navels work best)
1 red leaf lettuce head
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup Kalamata or other black olives, pitted

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, cumin and salt in a small bowl. Season with pepper. This can be made up to three days ahead, covered and stored at room temperature.

Cut peel and pith from oranges. Slice oranges into rounds, reserving 1 tbls juice. Arrange lettuce leaves on a platter (or individual salad plates). Alternate orange and onion slices on top of the lettuce. Garnish with olives.

Whisk reserved orange juice into vinaigrette. Pour over salad.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 12:11PM
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Em, your Morrocan Chicken sounds fabulous! And Cindy, that dessert would be a great start to any meal, LOL. Chocolate and coconut are tip top in my book!

Here's my side dish contribution with thanks to Linda in Tennessee who posted this several years ago.

Linda in Tennessee's
4 servings
1/2 cup broken very fine egg noodles
1/2 cup butter
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken /or beef stock

Break the noodles into 1-inch lengths. Melt 1/4 cup butter in pan. add noodles and cook till golden brown, stirring often, over low heat. (it won't take long) Add rice and keep stirring untill all is covered with butter. Add stock ,cover and cook on very low heat for about 20 minutes or til rice is tender and liquid is absorbed) you can always tell if you see holes between the rice. Add remaining 1/4 cup butter and cover again and cook till butter has melted. Stir and serve.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 12:16PM
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The mix of vegetables and spices so far made me think of salty, briney flavours like black olives and capers.

So, tapanade! With my own twist, of course.

Olive Butter

1 cup mixed olives (kalamata and green varieties)
1-2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbsp greek style plain yogurt
1 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 tsp salted capers, rinsed and drained
1 wedge lemon

Use a knife to smash the olives so you can remove the pits. Toss olives into a food processor with the garlic and capers, and pulse until coarsely chopped. Squeeze the lemon wedge over the olive mixture, watching out not to get pits in there! Add the tahini and yogurt, stirring a bit with a spatula to combine. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and let process until the mixture is somewhat smooth and lightens a bit from the oil.

Spoon into a dish and chill until ready to serve.

This tastes wonderful smeared on warm, crusty bread or smeared very thinly on seeded flatbreads. I have also made hummous and glopped this on top, so that it sort of mixes as you dip.

If you find kalamata olives too strong, you can sub some mild black olives. You can also stir this into some softened cream cheese to make it milder.

Another presentation: top toasted bagette slices with a smear of creamy goat cheese. Place a dollop of the olive butter on the cheese. Garnish with a slice of grape/cherry tomato or a paper thin slice of persian cucumber and a chive tip.

This recipe does NOT make a lot. There is a reason for this. It is meant to be eaten in one sitting by a group of people. I eat it in one sitting by myself (scandalous). If I made more, I would eat more ;). Double the recipe if you want more than about a half cup after processing.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 6:17PM
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I thought I would try to keep with the overall flavor here and offer this soup:


1 cup chickpeas, soaked in water overnight, then drained
8 cups water (I usually use half water/half chicken stock)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 medium sized onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small hot pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped coriander leaves (health food store) 2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground mustard seeds
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh)

Place chickpeas and water in a saucepan and bring to boil.
Cover and cook over medium heat for 1 hour.
In the meantime, heat oil in a frying pan; then stir-fry onions, garlic, and hot pepper until they begin to brown.
Add frying pan contents with the remaining ingredients to the chickpeas.
Cover and cook over medium heat for 1 hour or until chickpeas are well-cooked.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 8:27AM
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I wanted to post my toasted ravioli for the first course but my computer crashed and I don't have that recipe and picture on my laptop. So I have to go with an old recipe, good for Valentines Day anyway:

Oysters Rockefeller
(I have a picture of these but I'm unable to post it.)

2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic; minced
1/2 cup Panko (or regular bread crumbs)
1 shallot; minced
1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
dash of Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons parmesan
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 dozen oysters (2/3 pound shucked)
Kosher or rock salt
lemon wedges for garnish

Pre-heat oven to 450°. Melt butter in a skillet and sauté garlic briefly to infuse the butter. Place Panko in a bowl and add half of the garlic butter; set aside. To the remaining garlic butter in skillet, add shallots and spinach, cook for about 3 minutes until the spinach wilts. Deglaze the pan with the wine and season with salt and pepper; add a dash of Tabasco. Allow the mixture to cook down for a few minutes. Add parmesan and parsley to Panko and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the spinach mixture on each oyster followed by a spoonful of the bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle a baking pan amply with the kosher or rock salt and arrange the oysters on top to steady them. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden. Serve with lemon wedges.
*Recipe inspired by recipe from Tyler Florence.

Ive made a quicker version of these without the spinach. Place a few oysters in shell and dash with Tabasco. Combine Panko with a little butter, parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper and sprinkle over oysters. Bake just until crumbs are golden.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 8:47AM
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Here's a little something to go with your after dinner coffee. My coffee of choice would be a high quality Sumatra.

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Meyer lemons are available mid-November through early spring in specialty food stores. You will need 2 to 3 medium-sized lemons. Regular lemons can be substituted.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest, freshly grated
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
3 cups confectioners sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
Decorating sugar, silver dragees (small silver balls), optional

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine butter and sugar in bowl; beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, ricotta, lemon extract, zest and juice; blend well.
3. Add 1 cup flour, baking powder and salt; blend to combine. Add remaining flour in two parts, blending to combine, until a dough forms.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until very light golden. Let cookies rest on baking sheet for a few minutes and transfer to wire cooling rack.
5. While cookies cool, prepare glaze by creaming together butter and sugar. Continue to mix, gradually adding juice until desired consistency. Decorate cooled cookies adding dragees or decorating sugar, if desired, before icing sets. Yield: 4 dozen cookies


    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 11:15AM
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OK, I'm still needing a side dish, and I discovered that we don't have a bread course, so here it is, one of my favorite recipes from Readinglady. I make the dough in my bread machine, then remove, shape and bake. I never use the dough relaxer either, and this dough is silky, tender and easy to work with.

Mona Shabelman's Braided Onion Loaf

Serving Size : 16
Categories : Breads ABM

3/4 cup water -- (6 ounces)
1/2 cup milk -- (4 ounces)
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour -- (18 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar -- (1 3/4 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt -- (3/4 tsp. micro salt)
1 teaspoon yeast -- (instant)
1/4 cup butter -- or oil (2 ounces)
1 egg
2 tablespoons dough relaxer

1/4 cup butter -- (2 ounces) melted
2 cups finely chopped onions -- (8 ounces) OR 1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) instant minced onions
1 tablespoon garlic -- minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese -- (1 1/4 ounces) grated

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water -- (or bread shine)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds -- (or poppy or caraway or mixed seeds)

Manual Method: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all of the dough ingredients, stirring till the mixture starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it's smooth and supple. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Mixer Method: Combine the ingredients as directed in the previous paragraph, using a flat beater paddle or beaters, then switching to the dough hook(s) and kneading for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till it's puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk.

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for manual or dough, and press Start. Take a look at the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, and adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, as necessary, to produce a smooth, supple dough. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.

Filling: In a medium-sized saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until the onions are soft and golden brown. Remove the pan from the stove, allow it to cool to lukewarm, then stir in the paprika and cheese. Set it aside.

Assembly: Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled or lightly floured work surface. Roll it into an 18 x 12-inch rectangle, and cut it lengthwise into three 18 x 4-inch strips. Place a row of filling down the middle of each strip. Fold the strips over, use the heel of your hand to seal the edges, then roll into logs, sealing the ends. This is a very extensible (stretchy) dough; the logs will try to become VERY long as you roll them, but try to keep them within a few inches of their original length.

Braid the logs and place the braid on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover lightly and allow the loaf to rise for 1 hour. Beat the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and brush the loaf all over with the egg wash. Sprinkle it with the seeds of your choice.

Bake the braid in a preheated 375°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until it's deep brown and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thick part of the bread (but not into the filling) registers 200°F or higher. Remove the bread from the oven, and allow it to cool somewhat before serving. Yield: 1 large loaf.

Note: This could easily be made into two smaller loaves. When you make your original cuts in the dough, simply make one additional crosswise cut, so you have six 9 x 4-inch rectangles (instead of three 18 x 4-inch). Proceed as directed above, making two loaves. You may want to reduce the baking time slightly.

"This makes one giant (18-inch) braid, or make two smaller loaves, if you like. Soft and tender, rather than crisp and chewy, it's a nice addition to a dinner breadbasket."


    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 12:43PM
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A nice dinner with out good rolls or bread is missing something IMHO. Maybe it's just my Midwest roots or whatever, but I always like to serve it at nice dinners.

I will always remember my DD and DB using up the last bit of gravy on a slice of bread, if the potatoes were all gone. Farmers..... and not an extra ounce on their bodies.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 1:30PM
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Annie, I'm not that much of a baker. What, please, is dough relaxer?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 1:45PM
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GardenLad, leave it out. I never use it. In fact, I've never used it!

Most of the ingredients lists say something like "Non-fat dry milk, diastatic malt, natural sourdough concentrate, baking powder and canola oil (anti-caking agent)".

If you've ever gotten a really "tough" dough that won't keep its shape after being stretched or rolled or whatever, this stuff is supposed to "relax" it and make it easy to handle. If I have dough that "fights" with me I just plop a bowl over top it and leave it for 10 minutes to relax, that works just as well for me. I can guarantee you that Grandma never had "dough relaxer" available to her.

Also note that the above recipe can be made in the bread machine, by mixer or by hand. That's what makes the directions seem so long.

Nancy, my brother used to eat bread and gravy all the time. He still orders hot beef sandwiches in restaurants "without the beef". (grin) Being the farm girl I am, I thought Em's chicken recipe just begged for a piece of good bread to sop up the sauce.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 2:16PM
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