Sunday, September 14, 2008

Autumn Equinox - September 2008

Diva: Bonnie

Drinks: Colleen

Pear Mojitos

2 parts pear vodka
2 parts pear juice
2 parts club soda
1 part simple syrup
5-10 mint leaves per drink
3 slices asian pear per drink

muttle the pear and mint. add liquid and ice. shake and serve.

Appetizer: Sara
Aged Cheddar with Apple Wedges and Cider Reduction

2 c apple cider
2 tsp chilled butter
8 (1-ounce) slices walnut or other nut bread, toasted and halved
½ pound Shelburne Farms or other aged cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and each cut into 16 slices

Bring cider to a boil in a large saucepan; cook until reduced to ½ cup (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat. Add butter; stir with a whisk until butter melts.

Place 2 bread halves on each of 8 dessert plates. Divide cheese evenly among bread halves. Place 2 apple slices on each bread half. Drizzle 1 tablespoon cider reduction around each serving.

Rosemary- Maple Cashews--An addictive salty- spicy cocktail snack...

4 c raw cashews
2 ½ T pure maple syrup
1 ¼ T extra-virgin olive oil
½ T minced fresh rosemary
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, toss cashews with the maple syrup, olive oil, rosemary and cayenne.
Spread the cashews on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned. Immediately season the cashews with salt and pepper; let cool, tossing occasionally.

Yield: 4 cups
Cooking Tips: The cashews can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Pumpkin Seed Cornmeal Bread

1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
1 ½ c water, at room temperature
1 ¾ c plus 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c cornmeal, plus more for sprinkling
1 T kosher salt
1 1/3 c toasted pumpkin seeds (6 ounces)

Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of the yeast in 1 cup of the water. Stir in 1 ¾ cups of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight in a warm spot. Dissolve the remaining 1 teaspoon of yeast in ¼ cup of the water. Put 1 cup of the cornmeal in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the remaining ¼ cup of water to a boil, then stir it into the cornmeal and let cool. Stir in the salt, both yeast mixtures and the remaining 1 1/3 cups of flour to make a soft dough. Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes. Knead in the pumpkin seeds. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gently fold 4 times. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a round loaf. Set the loaves on the baking sheet and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Set a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500°. Fill a roasting pan with water and set it on the bottom rack. Make 3 slashes in the tops of the loaves; transfer them to the stone and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 450° and bake for 20 minutes longer. Let the loaves cool on a rack for 45 minutes before slicing into eighths.

Salad: Tamara
Arugula Salad with Roasted Grapes

2 c seedless grapes
6 medium shallots, unpeeled
6 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp fresh thyme
3 bunches of arugula or watercress, heavy stems removed (¾ pounds)
2 oz. pecorino cheese, thinly sliced**

Preheat the oven to 375 F and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place grapes on one half prepared baking shet, and shallots on the other half. Roast 20 minutes, or until grapes are shriveled, turning grapes every 10 minutes. Transfer grapes to bowl, and set aside. Roast shallots 20 minutes more, or until tender. Transfer shallots to bowl, and cool 10 minutes.

Cut off root end of each shallot and squeeze pulp into blender. Add oil, vinegar and mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Transfer to bowl, and stir in thyme.

Toss arugula with enough dressing to coat. Divide arugula among 6 plates and top with roasted grapes and pecorino slices. Store remaining dressing in fridge up to 1 week.

**I topped it with sliced almonds instead of the pecorino.

Soup: Mariah

Carrot Soup with Sesame Seeds and Fresh Chives

5 T butter
3½ c chopped peeled carrots
1 c chopped leeks OR green onion tops
½ c chopped celery
6 c low-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
½ c whipping cream
½ c sour cream
1 tsp oriental sesame oil
2 c ½-inch bread cubes (from day-old crustless French bread)
1½ T sesame seeds, toasted
2 T chopped fresh chives

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, leeks, and celery. Cover and cook until vegetables soften slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Whisk cream, sour cream, and ½ teaspoon sesame oil into soup. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter with remaining ½ teaspoon sesame oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add bread cubes and sauté until golden brown and crispy, about 4 minutes.

Bring soup almost to simmer over medium heat. Ladle into bowls. Mound croutons in center of each. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chives and serve.

Side Dish: Ashley
Fall Rice Pilaf

This was all done without measuring; to taste
Equal parts wild and brown rice, cooked separately and mixed together(about 6 cups cooked).

Sauté 1 large yellow onion until soft; add 2 garlic cloves, minced and about 1 tsp each of cinnamon, cumin and ginger. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add to rice mixture. Add about 1/4 tsp eack of salt and pepper

In a separate bowl, combine 2 diced, skin on apples (I used winesap) with about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and the above spices (enough to lightly coat apples, to taste). Add to rice mixture. Add dried cranberries and walnuts to taste. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Entrée: Aven

Stuffed Summer Squash
Makes 16 servings

8 small summer squash
butter or olive oil
1 med onion, finely chopped
1 large bell pepper, finely chopped
2 peaches, peeled & finely chopped
½ bunch parsley, minced
2 c cooked ground beef or sausage
(veggie version – 2 c cooked lentils)
2-4 c bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh. Brush inside of squash with butter or oil and sprinkle with salt. Saute onion and pepper in oil or butter. In a large bowl mix remaining ingredients thoroughly. Depending on the size of your squash add more or less bread crumbs. Pack each squash with filling and place in an oiled baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until squash is soft when poked with a fork.

Dessert: Lovina

Flourless Chocolate Torte

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, plus ½ T for greasing
1 pound semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ c orange liquor
1 tsp instant coffee
8 large eggs
¼ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
To make in a torte fashion: Using ½ tablespoon butter grease a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with a parchment round. Cover pan underneath and along sides with foil and set in a roasting pan.

To make in a cupcake fashion: line small cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Set aside. (This is what I did!)

Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil.
Combine the chocolate, butter, and orange liquor in a bowl set over simmering water or in the top of a double boiler. Melt the mixture, stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes; reserve.
Meanwhile combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until frothy and almost doubled in volume, about 5 to 10 minutes. Fold 1/3 of egg mixture into chocolate mixture using a rubber spatula. Repeat this process 2 more times - until all of egg mixture has been folded into chocolate mixture.
Pour batter into prepared pan. (If using a springform pan, you will need to pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the sides.) Bake until cake has risen slightly and edges are just beginning to set, about 40 to 45 minutes for springform pan or about 20 minutes for small cupcakes. Remove cake and cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove foil, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Alternatively, remove cake from oven and place in freezer to cool quickly.

Remove cake from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. Remove springform pan sides, invert cake onto a large plate, and peel away the parchment paper from bottom. Reinvert cake on another large plate or serving platter. If serving cake alone, you can garnish with confectioners' sugar or cocoa powder immediately before serving.

Poached Pears with Ginger and Port

4 ½-inch piece fresh gingerroot
9 c water
6 firm-ripe Bartlett, Anjou, or Comice pears, with stems intact
1½ c sugar
¾ c Tawny Port
1/3 c fresh lemon juice
¾ c mascarpone cheese
2 T heavy whipping cream
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
dash cardamon

Peel gingerroot and slice thin; cut the slices into thin strips. In a saucepan large enough to hold pears lying on their sides, bring 9 cups water to boil with gingerroot, sugar, Port, and lemon juice, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

Peel pears, leaving stems intact, and cut a thin slice from bottom of each if necessary to enable pears to stand upright when served. Arrange pears on their sides in poaching liquid, adding water as necessary to just cover. Simmer pears, turning them occasionally, until tender, 20 to 40 minutes depending on ripeness. Carefully transfer pears with a slotted spoon to a bowl and boil poaching liquid until reduced and slightly syrupy.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mascarpone, whipping cream, cardamon, sugar, and orange zest.

Pour sauce over pears. Pears may be made 1 day ahead and cooled in sauce before being chilled, covered. Serve pears warm or chilled, with dollops of the mascarpone whipping cream.

WildCard: Stacey
Homemade Maple-flavored Syrup

1 c water
1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 c light corn syrup

Put all ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add 1 tablesppon of maple flavor. Store in the fridge

Lottery: Erin
Served with caramels

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