Sunday, March 27, 2011

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

No, it was not Sidney Poitier (or Ashton Kutcher). Matt's dad and Karen came to join us for dinner as part of our Christmas gift to them! As our special guests, they deserved a special meal, and what this means is (1) making menu decisions; and (2) planning out exactly how to execute each course and when. So maybe it will seem a bit backwards to you all that I made dessert first but that seemed to be the best way to do it. The reason this was the best way to do it is because I knew that all day on the day-of, I would be slow roasting a chicken... and nothing ruins an apple tart/galette more than the tart smelling like chicken...gross.

all set up for our dinner!

Ok so let me back up a minute and give you all the menu for the evening. Then you can pick and choose what you want to make and scroll down right to it!

Appetizer: Stuffed Mushrooms

Salad: Wedge Salad

Main Course: Braised Garlic Chicken (and potatoes)

Dessert: Apple Galette

As far as timing went, I did the following things the night before the dinner:
Made the buttermilk blue cheese dressing for the salad, as it can be kept in the fridge for up to a week
Stemmed the mushrooms
Made the apple galette

And now for the recipes/photos!

Appetizer: Stuffed Mushrooms
From Smitten Kitchen
(I halved the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but here are her measurements)
8 ounces bacon slices
1 cup chopped onion
1 10-ounce package chopped frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 3/4 pounds button mushrooms (about 48; each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter), stemmed

I made the mushrooms first and planned to reheat them right before our guests arrived...
mushroom filling mixture
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cook bacon in big pan until extra crispy. Transfer bacon onto a plate with paper towels and sop up excess fat by placing a paper towel on top and pressing down. Crumble bacon. Discard all but 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons bacon fat from pan.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the reserved fat in the same pan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute until tender. Put onion in a bowl and set aside.  Once onion has cooled, mix in bacon, spinach, feta, cream cheese, and crushed red pepper.

Line 2 large baking sheets with foil. Toss mushrooms in the rest of the bacon fat in large bowl to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Place mushrooms, rounded side down on baking sheets. Bake mushrooms until centers fill with liquid, about 25 minutes. Turn the mushrooms over and bake until brown and liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes longer. Turn mushrooms over again and fill with about 1 tbs of filling. (Filled mushrooms can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Bake mushrooms until heated through, about 10 minutes.
fresh out of the oven!

Salad: Wedge Salad
From Smitten Kitchen
I made the dressing the night before...made the bacon and washed/cut the lettuce the day-of
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces crumbled firm blue cheese (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
<3 food processor!

Blend buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Add blue cheese and pulse until cheese is incorporated but not too much because you want the dressing to have blue cheese chunks in it for texture. Transfer to a bowl and stir in chives.

Serve on iceberg lettuce with little pieces of bacon (yum!)
I gave each guest a quarter of the head of lettuce
tastes best if you use fresh bacon recently cooked!

Main Course: Braised Garlic Chicken (with added potatoes)
From Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking
1 chicken, 3-4 lb, cut into serving pieces, trimmed of excess skin and fat
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbs canola oil
4 heads of garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled
1/4 cup dry white wine such as chardonnay or sauvignon blanc
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme
do not peel the garlic
Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil. working in batches if necessary, add the chicken and cook, turning frequently, until well browned, 7-10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pour off all but 2 tbs of the fat in the pan. Add the garlic cloves and saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

STOVE TOP: Transfer the chicken to a French oven. Sprinkle with the thyme and add the garlic mixture.  Cover and cook until the chicken is tender and opaque throughout, about 45 minutes. 

OVEN: Transfer French oven to the oven. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender and opaque throughout, 3 hours on the low-heat (175 degrees).

Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a saucepan and strain the pan juices. Press on the garlic cloves to extract as much liquid and pulp as possible. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter and top with the sauce. Serve at once.

Chef notes:  This came out tasting a bit too dry and I think that next time I would either (1) cook for less time, (2) cook at a lower temperature, or (3) add about 1/2 cup of chicken broth to add more moisture to the oven.  Other note: YES I forgot to take a picture (easy to do once the company has arrived) but I assure you that I will make this again and update this blog with a photo!

Dessert: Apple Galette
From Smitten Kitchen
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water

save peels and cores!
2 pounds apples (the recipe suggests Golden Delicious but I opted for Granny Smith), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced (I had WAY too many apples left over...I probably only needed about 1-1.5 apples and bought 3!  I saved the slices in my fridge to make this again!!)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons sugar
food processor makes slicing easy as pie...hah! ;)
1/2 cup sugar

I did the following the night before:
MIX flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough has the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until the mixture looks like a bunch of peas.

Pour in a little of the water, stir, then pour in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands. If it appears too dry, add one more tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick circle and refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let sit for a couple of minutes before you start working with it. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick.

Put dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet to go galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400°F.

Place apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge. Keep going until you reach the middle. Fold the dough over the edge of the apples (see picture) and overlap the edges at 1-inch intervals.  Chef's note: apparently in the original recipe by a French chef, there is applesauce underneath the apples.  I did not do it this way so I guess I will just have to make it again and try it that way!  I am so glad I have leftover apples to make this again!

BRUSH melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge and the other 2 tablespoons over apples.

BAKE in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), rotating every 15 minutes.

I waited until the day-of to do the following:
MAKE glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in about 1/4 cup water; simmer for at least 25 minutes.  This did not really work for me (or for many of the other people who tried this recipe and posted comments)... it was far too liquidly to be a syrup.  I remedied this by using powdered sugar to thicken it up a bit and then just took a spoon with slits in it to dribble the glaze over the galette.

Et Voila!

REMOVE tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.

I dribbled the glaze over the galette and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar that I had stored from when I made snickerdoodles.

Slice and serve with vanilla gelato!
Our beautiful daffodils from our guests... freshly picked by Matt's dad! They also brought a lovely bottle of red! :)

1 comment:

  1. wowowow i'm so impressed, lynn!!! that all looks amazing. when are you having ME over for dinner?!?!