Sunday, November 13, 2016

November 6, 2016

We met at my house and all 4 musketeers were present. 

Cocktail - Angie, Mid Winter Mule
Appetizer - Angelica, Crab Ceviche
Salad - Mary, Wedge
Main Dish - Crawfish Etouffee
Dessert - Tonya, Bananas Foster

A mid winter mule featuring cinnamon syrup was our cocktail for the evening.  While I could not taste the cinnamon flavor, the drink was strong enough that you did not mind.  The ginger beer or ginger ale is necessary to cut through the spirits.  Or not!

Next we moved on to Angelica's crab ceviche with tortilla chips.  Rather than using imitation crab, Angelica used a crab cake that she baked and flaked.  She also used a jalapeno pepper rather than Serrano peppers.   The dip tasted fresh with all the raw vegetables and had quite a kick.  The lime juice tempers the heat nicely. 

I think this wedge salad prepared by Mary is the most delicious salad that I have EVER TASTED.  She added crumbled bacon and that is the ingredient that made this salad addictive.  The bacon was stored in a baggie and I called it "crack in a Ziploc".  Anyway, let me reiterate, YOU MUST ADD BACON TO THIS SALAD. The dressing is creamy, salty and tangy, the lettuce is crisp and the BACON, onions and tomatoes add nice texture. 

Our main dish, that we prepared together, was crawfish etouffee.  Tonya, having graduated from LSU and thus a Cajun expert, was on the most critical roux duty.  She did an excellent job!  I bought 3 packages of frozen crawfish tails and we used it all.  I have always been intimidated by etouffee but no more!  The most complicated part of this dish is the stirring of the roux.  Once that is complete you add the other ingredients, except for the tails, and simmer.  The vegetables stay a little crisp and it is creamy and not too spicy.  You can spice it up with hot sauce to taste.

The final dish of the evening was Tonya's bananas foster.  Bananas are sauteed and slightly caramelized and lite aflame for a dramatic finish!!  Unless you use banana flavored rum.  While delicious, flavored rum does not have the same, high alcohol content of normal rum and thus, will not catch fire. Either way, this dessert is divine with a sweet, caramel like sauce and bananas that are served over vanilla ice cream.  You could also serve left overs over waffles or pancakes.  Or, eating straight out of the pan with a big spoon.

Friday, November 4, 2016

October 23, 2016

We met at Mary's for a Thai theme!  All were present and there were zero "others".  :-)

Mary - cocktail, pineapply goodness (same as at her party in July)
Tonya - appetizer, Thai Pizza
Angie - salad, Thai Chopped Salad
Angelica - dessert, Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecake

We began our evening with Mary's famous cocktail and Tonya's Thai Pizza.  The pizza had extra red onions and carrots and Tonya used naan bread rather than Pita.  The peanut sauce is a traditional sweet sauce with a bit of a kick.  The crust was chewy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside and the vegetable toppings, chicken and sauce paired perfectly.  This would make an excellent main course.

For the salad, I prepared a Thai salad.  I shaved all the vegetables using this new tool which also does an excellent job of peeling.  The dressing is sweet and you can really taste the sesame oil.  The cashews add a nice crunch.  I had never used baby kale before and you can find it with the bags of salad and spinach.

This salad would be excellent with chicken, shrimp or beef and turned into a main course.  A tip for left over salads:  put the dressing on the bottom of your container and layer the salad on top.  The next day you mix it and this will keep the greens from wilting or getting soggy.

Our main dish was Hot and Sour Prawn Soup from a cookbook that Mary bought in Thailand.  It had some unique ingredients!

1 bowl water
1 stalk lemongrass - smashed and chopped in half
1 slice galangal - thin sliced
2 kafir lime leaves - torn
2-3 small chilies - smashed
mushrooms - sliced
onions - chopped
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tbs lime juice
1 tsp chili jam

Heat water until boiling.  Add lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves and chilies.  Cook 2-3 minutes.  Add onions and mushrooms, cook 30 seconds.  Add sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and chili jam.  Add shrimp and cook a few minutes until shrimp are cooked through.  Garnish with  green onions and cilantro.

Above are the directions per the recipe.  Essentially you are making a flavorful broth full of items that you will not eat (lemongrass, galnangal, leaves and chilies).  We used double or triple the amount noted of the aromatics and let it cook several minutes.  Then we added the mushrooms and onions and let that cook for a few minutes.  The spices followed and we adjusted accordingly.  Last the shrimp are added.  I loved this soup.  It was salty and a little spicy and we were all surprised at how it started with water and not a broth since it was so full of flavor.  The lemongrass is the strongest note, in my opinion.  Very good and the new ingredients were not that scary at all once you figured out how to handle them.

For dessert, Angelica baked a delicious pumpkin cheesecake.  The Cheesecake was creamy and sweet with the chocolate and pecans.  It has a more mild pumpkin taste than pie and was the perfect way to gently move into fall and Thanksgiving type foods.   Personal touches that Angelica added were: 

Used personal size pie crusts for individual desserts

Brushed the graham cracker crust using melted chocolate

Toasted the pecans