Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gourmet report

We had a lovely evening. The food was so yummy! We started with potatoes, cubed, par cooked and hollowed out and then deep fried. They were filled with sour cream and topped with caviar and chives. Honestly, I had never tried caviar before. Ditto another 6 out of the 9 of us. But save for one gal who could not bring herself to try it, we all liked it. I had two of them.

Our first course was a tart made from puff pastry, and then topped with dijon, emmental cheese, a little parm and some sliced tomatoes. It was sprinkled with herbes de provence. Really, really nice.

Next, salad. Wilted spinach salad with mushrooms, bacon and a warm cider mustard dressing. Really good, save for the mushrooms, which I don't care much for.

With the salad we had a wonderful bread. It's first rise took a whole day, and it had two more shorter rises after that. It was chewy and had such depth of flavour.

Then onto the main course. We had a cider marinated pork loin (it was supposed to be hard cider, but the gal misread it). It was very nice, even if the sauce was a bit sweet. The cracklings never happened because the butcher shop that assured the gal they could get the skin on fatback gave her just chunks of plain fat. No skin.

Anyway, with the pork we had roasted brussels sprouts with bacon, apples and pears. That was very nice. The sprouts take on a nutty taste, and the fruit counters the bitterness really well. Then there was the mashed potatoes with garlic, aged cheddar and bacon. Oh. Wow. They were magnificent! Creamy, garlicy, with the tang of cheese and the sweetness of the bacon. Yum!

My green apple sorbet was good, but I would definitely not keep the skins on the next time. Sorbet should just melt in the mouth. This had to be chewed a little.

Then, dessert. Autumn trifle with spiced pastry cream, roasted apples and pears and pumpkin caramel sauce. Very nice.

We were all quite full by evening's end. I think dessert did most of us in.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Gourmet coming up

Some years back we had a group in our church simply called "Gourmet." A few of us (7 or 8 or so) got together every couple of months for a feast. The hostess would set the menu and assign each person her recipe. We'd arrive, dish in hand, and enjoy a wonderful meal together. I hosted a couple of times and it was such fun.

We've started the group again, with a few new faces. And I am hosting the inaugural dinner. I decided, given the time of year, to do a harvest feast. The menu is as follows...

Amuse Bouche (a palate teaser to awaken the taste buds) - Crisp Potato Canapes with Caviar

First Course - Rustic Tomato Emmental Tart

Salad - Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon and Cider Dressing

Bread - Epi de Ble Baguette

Main Dish - Pork Loin in Cider Sauce with Cracklings

Side #1 - White Cheddar and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Side #2 - Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Autumn Fruits

Palate Cleanser - Sorbet de Pommes Vertes

Dessert - Autumn Trifle with Roasted Apples, Pears and Pumpkin-Caramel Sauce

Drinks - Apple Cider and Coffee with Ginger Spice Syrup

We meet next Monday night, and I think everyone is looking forward to it. I am providing the drinks and the palate cleanser, which is a totally optional course that I threw in for fun. Normally there is a soup and salad, but I shifted the person on soup to an amuse bouche course, again for fun. And because I thought the meal would be too heavy with a soup as well as everything else.

I need to check on decorations. I have no clue where to find autumn coloured serviettes, now that Thanksgiving is over. Go figure. But I may be able to score some orange ones. I'll have to look around. This is going to be fun!

Monday, October 5, 2009

More autumn fun

What a wonderful weekend. We went to a local food festival, which wasn't as good as last year, unfortunately. But it was alright. And we had some wonderful "loaded baked potato soup." I must find a comparable recipe!

After that we went to a harvest festival at a local Christian camp. We went last year and it was so much fun. They have an insane hayride through their maple sugar bush. The hills are insane, and at one point the tractor got stuck two thirds of the way up a huge one. We all had such a great time. The kids thought it was great fun to be stuck and to be bumping over hill and dale. We saw some wild turkeys in a field and everything. The games were such fun, and the kids had an absolute blast. I picked up some corn stalks to decorate the house, and a bale of straw to (duh) put under and around our strawberry plants.

Doing things like this makes me feel deliriously happy. It is so much fun to celebrate my favourite season with my family. Given that for many years we never knew if we'd ever have children, to be able to share this with them is such a huge blessing.

Another blessing is my husband, who decided that we should have his parents come by Saturday night so that we could go out for dinner. It's great to celebrate Autumn with the kids, but it's also wonderful to be just the two of us. So we tried a new place downtown. One that is all about local, seasonal foods. It was *okay.* Not stellar, but it wasn't terrible. The salad was absolutely wonderful, however. I would have never thought to put these ingredients together, but it was made with tender greens, dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts, feta and a maple balsamic dressing that was actually tangy rather than oily. It was so good. Feta and maple/balsamic would never have crossed my mind. Now to work on recreating the salad at home. Yum!

I cannot believe it's Thanksgiving in a week. I ordered a "small" turkey. Was told that it would be between 11 and 15lbs or so. Wow. For 2 adults and 2 little kids. We'll feast on leftovers! Not sure what we'll have for dessert, as I am the only real fan of pumpkin pie in the house (and I bought a piece for myself at the Harvest Festival and enjoyed it last night). Maybe cheesecake? We'll see.