RECIPE: Progressive Dinner For April 5

gardenladApril 1, 2007

Well, we're starting a new cycle this week. With some new people (welcome Katiec and Shelley). And Em has left us, due to time constraints. But hopefully we'll have her back soon.

Meanwhile, here are the assignments for this week:

Cocktails & Munchies: Katiec

Appetizers: GardenLad

First course: Shelley

Soup: Annie

Salad: Woodie

Entree: Cindy

Side 1: Wizard

Side 2: Dances

Dessert: Danain

Coffee &: VaGirl

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How about if we do a good old ham dinner this week since it will be made in a lot of households this weekend for the holidays.

Baked as you like, or with a traditional glaze:


Roasting Time - * 15 minutes per pound at 325 F. (internal temp: 140°)


1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
3/4 cup orange juice
Whole cloves
Pineapple slices and/or maraschino cherries (optional)

Score top of ham using diagonal cuts about 1 inch apart and about 1 inch into meat. Insert 1 clove into each square (or less if desired). Place in roasting pan and set in preheated oven. Stir together the brown sugar, mustard and orange juice. Brush all over top of ham. Roast according to above time, basting with pan juices and additional glaze every 20 minutes. If desired, place pineapple slices with cherries in center, secured with toothpicks, on top for final hour or so of roasting. Remove from oven; let rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 8:46PM
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Great idea Cindy.

So many great Spring desserts came to mind but I kept getting drawn to this simple, creamy:

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese; softened
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Dash nutmeg
1 cup strawberries; sliced
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
9-inch graham cracker crust

Combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg until well blended. Mash or puree strawberry slices, stir into cream cheese mixture. Whip cream with powdered sugar until stiff peaks form; fold into cream cheese mixture. Spoon into crust. Chill several hours or overnight. Garnish with additional sliced strawberries. **Replace strawberries with blueberries for Blueberry Cream Pie.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 9:04AM
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When I do ham, I like to add sides that can go into the oven. I have added a little brown sugar and I have also used a variety of beans.

Three-Bean Baked Beans

5 bacon slices
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup dark molasses (sometimes I add a little brown sugar also) depends on your taste.
1/3 cup (or more) water
1 bay leaf
1 15- to 16-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1 15- to 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium heat until crisp. Using tongs, transfer to paper towels to drain. Crumble bacon and reserve.

Add onion to drippings in pot and sauté until almost tender, about 5 minutes.

Add dry mustard and thyme and stir 1 minute. Mix in ketchup, vinegar, molasses, 1/3 cup water, bay leaf and all beans. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover pot and bake bean mixture 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water if mixture seems dry. Mix bacon into beans. Bake 15 minutes longer. Discard bay leaf. Mix in hot pepper sauce and serve.

Serves 4 to 6.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 10:16AM
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Whenever we have ham, we HAVE to have mashed potatoes and creamed peas. I am sure my mother would have preferred something other than mashed, something that could be made ahead. But the sheer amount of scalloped potatoes needed to feed the brood for a holiday dinner would have been impossible to manage.

Mashed was easier because they were done on the stove top, but what for gravy when ham was the meat? Creamed peas! Not thick pasty creamed peas, but a soupier version. A thin-ish white sauce with peas in it.

Mashed Potatoes
This is more of a method. I can finally make good mash! I rinse the potatoes well, poke with a fork, and bake in the microwave (using the potato setting, it always works well). You can boil them whole if you like, but it takes longer. They have to boil until you can insert a knift into them and pull it out without the least bit if cling. If they cling even for a minute they are underdone.

Put the potatoes through a ricer. You don't even have to peel them, after squeezing you can pull the peel right off the plunger, then plop in the next potato. Because I have diminished hand strength I cut my potatoes in half and place them cut side toward the plate. DH squeezes them whole, then pounds his chest and grunts like a caveman. To each his (or her) own.

For about 6 large-ish potatoes, I place a cup of skim milk into a glass measuring cup and microwave until steaming. I add some butter chunks (maybe 1/4 of a stick)and salt and pepper to the riced potatoes and fold with a spoon. Then I add 1/3 of the milk and fold in. Then the next 1/3, fold, then fold in the final third.

The last step is to whip the mixture with a whisk until they are light and fluffy. If they need more liquid, add hot water. Not a single lump this way, and finally my family will eat my mashed potatoes!

My mothers mashed potatoes often involved a minimum of ten pounds of potatoes, peeled and cubed then boiled in several pots until cooked through. Then mash in the pots with a pound of butter each, whole milk, handfuls of salt and pepper. It was impossible to mash all the way to the bottom of the pot with a hand mixer (so I guess we had whipped potatoes, then) so they were lumpy. We liked them that way. DH and DD shudder at the thought of lumps, and I cannot with any conscience use that much butter, salt, and WHOLE MILK to feed my family.

Creamed peas
-1 can Green Giant sweetlet peas, including liquid (yes, the brand matters)
-1 measure milk (fill the pea can with milk). I use skim, mom would use at minimum 2%. We don't notice any difference. Use whatever you have.
-1 tsp corn starch
-1 tsp sugar (if you are rebellious and decide to use another brand of tiny peas)

Pour the peas with their liquid into a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the sugar if using, and stir to dissolve. Whisk the corn starch into the milk, then pour into the hot peas. Bring the mixture to a bubble, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Watch carefully that it doesn't boil over, or you will have a mess like no other to contend with.

Allow to cook and bubble for a few minutes to cook the starch and thicken the sauce. You should have a thin white sauce with peas in it, basically. If you are too rough with the sauce, it will be greener (from gutless peas, as my father would say), so we try to stir carefully with a wooden spoon, rather than a whisk once the milk mixture is added to the peas.

Spoon over hot mashed potatoes, as you would gravy.

If you have a large group you can double this, or use the large can of peas. You will want to add more corn starch in that case.

I know it seems like a lot of starch. Beans, peas, potatoes. But that is what we would serve LOL.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 11:25AM
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A seafood appetiser seems appropriate as a lead-in to the ham.

I developed the following for a friend. Most seafood sausages contain scallops, and he's allergic to them. So I wanted a version that he could enjoy. Each of the seafood ingredients is there for a specific reason.

Seafood sausages sound much more complex than they are. They are time consuming to make, because you have to fuss around cutting cling film and wrapping & tying the mixture. You could skip that step, however, and pan fry patties in some butter if you prefer. But the presentation isn't nearly as dramatic. If you do pan fry them be leary of overcooking.

Seafood Sausage with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled
1/2 lb raw tilapia, trimmed
6 oz crab meat, cooked
12 oz crafish tailes, cooked
1 tsp fennel seed, coarsely ground
1 tbls dry tarragon
2 tbls parsley, minced
3/4 tsp white pepper, ground
2 egg whites
2 tbls cream
1 recipe red pepper sauce

Cut tilapia in small pieces. Toss tilapia with shrimp, crabmeat, tarragon, parsley, fennel seed and pepper so that spices are evenly distributed. Run through medium plate in grinder.

Mix in the crayfish evenly. Lightly beat egg whites with cream, and incorporate into seafood mixture.

Lay seafood mixture out on a rectangle of plastic film, using about 4 tablespoons for eacy sausage. Roughly shape into a log about 3 inches long. Wrap film tightly around seafood. Twist one end and tie off. Twist other end, compressing mixture as much as possible, and tie off.

Poach sausages in water, stock or wine about 12 minutes. Use immediately, or hold in a cold water bath until ready to use.

If held over, gently rewarm them in butter in a skillet.

Makes 16-18 sausages. BTW, poached sausages freeze very well, so you can make these long ahead of time if necessary.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

3 lge red or yellow peppers
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup stock (veggie or chicken)
3 tbls balsomic vinegar
2 tbls EVOO
Salt & Pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne

Roast peppers over a bed of charcoal until skins are charred and peeling. Scrape charred skin off peppers. Core peppers and scrape out the seeds, working over a strainer and bowl to catch the juices.

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Bring to simmer and reduce by about 25% to thicken and smooth the sauce.

Plating: Ladle a puddle of sauce onto a saucer. Lay one or two warm sausages in the puddle. Garnish with deep-fried basel leaves.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 10:07AM
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Gardenlad, I thought that appy looked familiar.You did that appetizer for the March 15 dinner, (not that it matters much).


Ps having a tough time with my course choice, as it is hard to come up with a starter, when there is already an appy, salad and soup course...but I'm working on it. lol.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 11:20AM
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Whoops! I reckon it's getting to be time I hard-copied everything so I can see at a glance what was done.

I'll post a different one for this dinner. Just have to decide what it should be.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 12:09PM
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LOL - I'm having that problem too. In a previous week I had to look through the menus to make sure that I wasn't posting a duplicate - especially hard to remember for apps and sides :)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 2:26PM
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So, OK. Here is take two on the appetizer.

Heinz Beck has been called the best chef in Rome, and his 3 stars tend to support that praise. One of the things hes done is redefine party food, with his diminutive food jewels, many of which can, literally, be balanced on the tip of a finger.

Many of his edible artworks cannot readily be recreated in the home kitchen, cuz they require ingredients or equipment not feasible. But several of them can be, if youve got a little patience. Among them:

Squid, Tomato & Puntarelle Crostini

Puntarelle is a somewhat bitter green related to chicory. If unavailable, substitute celery.

3 large squid
12-13 oz cherry tomatoes
3 ½ oz puntarelle or celery
Firm textured white or wheat bread (I use homemade oat bread)
7-8 sprigs fresh marjoram
1 lemon
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 small piece hot red pepper
1 sprig flat leaf parsley, torn
1 sprig fresh thyme

Wash, dry and trim the squid, eliminating the tentacles (reserve for another use, of course). Cut the bodies open, then cut into strips an inch or so wide. Transfer the strips to a nonreactive dish along with the garlic, hot red pepper, parsley, the juice of ¼ lemon and a few tablespoons olive oil. Allow to marinate about 2 hours.

Make a small x-shaped incision in the skin of the tomatoes at their base. Immerse in boiling water for a few seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to an ice bath. Peel, quarter, and eliminate the seeds.

Put the tomato pulp in a nonreactive bowl and season with a few teaspoons of olive oil, salt, and chopped thyme. Allow to rest for 30 minutes then drain and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Dehydrate in a low oven for roughly 4 hours. Allow to cool and finely chop.

Wash, dry, and trim the puntarelle removing any fibrous portions. Cut into thin strips, transfer to a bowl and season with an emulsion of olive oil, lemon juice and salt.*

Trim the crusts from the bread and cut into ten 1 x ¾-inch rectangles. Toast lightly.

Drains the marinate from the ribbons of squid and grill them briefly. Top each piece of bread with a ribbon of squid, bent in an S shape and held with a toothpick. Top each piece of squid with some of the dried tomatoes, strips of puntarelle, and marjoram leaves.

*If using celery, which is likely, first peel away the outer stringy layer. Then, using your vegetable peeler, cut ribbons of celery. Then slice those, lengthwise, into squarish strings.

Note: The squid is likely to shrink when you grill it, which is why you want to start with it wider than the ¾ inch of the crostini.

For more of Becks incredible creations, and to see what this one actually looks like, check our his book "Finger Food."

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 5:29PM
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Ohsure..give me the hard one right off the bat.

Since we're having ham I guess I'll post what I'm actually serving before...

Pend d'Oreille Winery Pinot Gris and my Stuffed Mushrooms:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Stuffed Mushrooms

Recipe By : Katie
Serving Size : 12 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
12 large mushroom caps
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup pecans -- finely chopped
2 cloves garlic -- minced
1 1/2 tablespoons basil -- chopped
2 tablespoons dry white wine
salt and paprika
grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Brush mushroom caps with butter or olive oil.
Chop mushroom stems and saute in butter. Add bread crumbs, nuts, garlic, and herbs. Season with salt and paprika and bind with wine, using more wine if necessary.

Fill mushroom caps and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little paprika. Broil about 5 minutes. They can also be baked.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 9:49PM
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I chose this salad but then almost changed my mind since Katie's mushrooms also have pecans - but then I figured by the time we eat her mushrooms and travel to Gardenlad's, Shelly's and Annie's houses we'll be ready for some nuts again! So here is my choice for salad:


2 heads red leaf lettuce or spinach
1 cup pecan halves salted and roasted
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 red onion thinly sliced
1 apple thinly sliced

1 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons seedless raspberry jam
1/ teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Any fruit that is in season can be added - for example raspberries.

Place pecans on cookie sheet, salt and roast - 8-10 minutes

Make dressing ahead (up to 1 day)

Combine and toss - I would plate these salads individually and save a bit of the sliced onion and apples and arrange them nicely on the top and sprinkle a few extra pecans and some cheese on top.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 12:12PM
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Well...after much deliberation I think this starter will fit in quite nice with the rest of the menu, which is looking pretty darn good by the way.

Shrimp-Stuffed Avocado

Prepare everything , and add the avocado at the very last moment. Serves 4

4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp chili sauce
1 1/2 tbsp wine vinegar
dash of worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients for the sauce and store covered in the fridge. Will keep for a few days.

2 med avocados, not overripe
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1/3 to 1/2 lb baby shrimp, cooked
pimento strips
ripe olives
butter or romaine lettuce
thin lemon wedges

Halve the avocados lengthwise and discard the pits. Scoop out the flesh and leave the shells intact. Immediately cube the avocado and dip in the lime or lemon juice. Add cubes to the sauce, then add the shrimp and divide evenly among the four half avocado shells. Place the stuffed shells on lettuce leaves and garnish with pimento and ripe olive and serve with a lemon wedge on the side. This will keep, covered well with plastic wrap for an hour or so but try to serve immediately.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 1:09PM
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I'm sorry I'm late here, but I have out of town guests and haven't had the chance to visit much this week!

I thought about suggesting candied nuts for my selection...but with the pecan salad I will offer:

Candied Citrus Peel

Orange or *Grapefruit Rind
Granulated Sugar

*Grapefruit has thicker skin than other citrus and offers an easier product to work with.
Cooking citrus peel in boiling water helps loosen the white pithy part and makes it easier to remove.

Scrub the outside rinds thoroughly.
Place rind in cold water and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
Drain and repeat this process two more times.
Drain, rinse with cold water, and scrape away the pithy white part of the peel.
Slice into strips (I like matchstick size strips).
For each cup of rind, prepare a sugar syrup of 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water.
Put rind in syrup and cook slowly until syrup is completely absorbed - several hours.
Stir occasionally and watch carefully near the end of the process to prevent scorching.
Cool the peel and coat the strips with granulated sugar.
Dry overnight on a rack before serving.
You can serve these coated in the sugar or dipped in chocolate.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 12:00PM
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I'm late too, I've spent the day with the Monkey Princess and her Bruvver, and GardenLad was kind enough to prod me that I needed to get busy and make the soup!

Because I think winter squash (or sweet potatoes) go so well with ham, this one would be perfect. I got the recipe from someone on the Cooking Forum a long time ago, back before I was wise enough to note the name of the poster, so to whoever posted this recipe, thank you!

Butternut Squash Bisque

Makes 10 servings

2 ounces butter
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup leek, cleaned and chopped
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup Chablis
1 quart water or squash stock (see note)
1 pint heavy cream
1/3 cup maple syrup, B or C grade
salt and pepper to taste
angostura bitters to taste
nutmeg to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter then toss with the squash, leeks and carrot. Throw them on a sheet pan and roast in a 400 degree oven for, say, 25 minutes.

Transfer to a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add garlic and bay leaf then deglaze with wine. Reduce slightly, add water. Bring to a simmer.

Once squash is soft (about 10 minutes) remove the pot from heat and purée mixture with beurre mixer, blender, or food processor. Add cream, maple syrup and seasonings.

Notes: Make your squash stock by boiling the skins in the water while roasting the chunks to add more butternut flavor to the party! You will need enough water to cover plus an inch (may require more or less).

The key to this soup is adding fresh nutmeg just before service. It adds a fresh dimension to the finished dish.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 9:53PM
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So, I just posted this week's menu to the summary. People, I need to tell you, just seeing it all written down in one place I gained 30 pounds.

But worth it. This is one of the best we've done, and would really make a spectacular Easter dinner.

Good job, everyone.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 1:08PM
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