We met at Mary's house on May 20, 2012. All Gourmet Gals were in attendance, including Mary's guest, Sue.
Appetizer: Tonya, Antipasto Kabobs
Salad: Janet, Feta, Strawberry and Almond Salad
Sides: Angie, Scalloped Tomatoes and Collard Greens
Main dish: Mary, Emeril's Seafood Mac-n-Cheese
Dessert: Carol, Berry Tart
Cocktail: Jennifer, Limoncelle and Proscecco Cooler with Raspberries and Mint
Jennifer started us off with a tangy and bubbly cocktail called Limoncelle and Proscecco Cooler. She garnished it with fresh raspberries and mint. It was both visually lovely and refreshing.
For our appetizer, Tonya brought a beautiful platter of Antipasto Kabobs. There were tortellini, cherry tomatoes, marinated mozzarella balls, salami, pepperoni and olives. In between the kabob components were parsley sprigs and the plate was also garnished with parsley. The salty olives and meats played well with the mild cheese and tomatoes.
Janet brought a summer salad with a sweet and tangy dressing. The strawberries, feta and smoked almonds in the salad gave it both a freshness and nice crunch. I really enjoyed the dressing and it would be tasty on other salads that call for a sweet dressing.
Since the main course of Emiril's Seafood Mac-n-Cheese was rich, I wanted the side dishes to be vegetables. I prepared Scalloped Tomatoes and Collard Greens. The scalloped tomatoes were cooked more than called for and became one layer of sweet tomatoes. There are homemade croutons mixed with the tomatoes, along with fresh basil. Some of the reviews of the recipe said that the croutons became soggy bread chunks and I did notice that as soon as the tomatoes hit the croutons, they broke down. It may have been the bread I used but I still cannot imagine any toasted bread standing up to watery tomatoes. Since I increased the cooking time the croutons did blend in with the tomatoes. However, next time I think I will sprinkle bread crumbs on top and skip the croutons all together.
The collards greens were simple to make and flavorful and nicely complimented the mac-n-cheese. In the mac-n-cheese we used both shrimp and lobster. Mary steamed 4 lobsters and picked out the meat, which was not a simple task. We also used shrimp that we cut in half. Onions and garlic were sauteed and a white sauce was made and then the cooked macaroni and cheeses were added. All was baked in the oven with a buttery topping of Panko bread crumbs. It turned out creamy and decadent. The noodles were firm and there was a piece of seafood in every bite. The recipe was both comfort food and fancy enough to make it company worthy!
We concluded our meal with Carol's Berry Tart. The berries were beautifully arranged, standing up, and covered with a sweet glaze. The filling was mildly sweet and did not distract from the berries. The crust was flaky and delicate. All three components of the tart; the crust, filling and topping came together in a delicious dessert that was not heavy. It definitely was a show stopper and I could imagine modifying the recipe and using different berries or even combing berries like raspberries and black berries or strawberries and blueberries.
Damian Mandola and Johnny Carrabba
For One 8 or 9 inch tart Tart
1 1/4 cups Flour
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
6 ounces butter
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons softened cream cheese
Combine flour, sugar and salt, cut in butter with flat blade of mixer. Blend well. Add vinegar and softened cream cheese and blend. Shape dough into a round. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill. If pastry is at room temperature, it will be too soft to roll out. If frozen, too hard to roll out.
Line tart pan with pastry dough. Use foil with pie weights or beans to line pastry and blind bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
Note: Even chilled, this dough is really soft. I did roll it out, but had to put in the tart pan and pat it together because it came apart.
3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons softened butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup almond powder*
1/3 cup powdered sugar*
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
* Almond powder: Grind blanched almonds (whole, slivered, or whatever you have around) in Cuisinart until finely ground. Add equal amount of powdered sugar and grind again until powdered.
(Central Market sells almond flour (this is just the ground almonds) in the bulk section. You would still need to mix it with the equal part of powdered sugar.)
1. Beat egg yolks with wire whip in mixer until pale yellow.
2. In separate bowl, cream butter and sugar with flat blade of mixer. Blend in yolks. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well.
3. Put filling in partially baked pastry. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool to room temperature. (My tart was browned before 20 minutes).
4. Top with fresh fruit, such as raspberries or blueberries, ideally arranged in concentric circles.
5. Glaze - 1/2 jar currant jelly (red or black) melted on burner with 1 tablespoon Kirsh. Brush glaze gently on with silicone pastry brush. (I used seedless raspberry jam).
6. Chill till serving. Tarts only last 1 - 2 days. (but probably will be gone in an hour!!)