Our Monthly Family Dinner went really well. Mom, Dad, Christine, and Karlie (for a bit - until the Saints game started) joined Carlos and me.
Carlos took care of course #1 and #4. I handled #2 and #3. We had so much fun cooking and chatting. In January, Carlos and I will start having Cooking Challenge dinners again.
Here are the recipes we used.
Course #1 - Asparagus Fans with Mustard Sauce
(Picture from Food Network. Actual picture of Carlos's food to come.)
1 cup crustless 1-inch bread cubes, cut from thickly sliced, firm-textured country
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
16 fat asparagus, tough ends snapped off,stalks peeled
4 large eggs
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons hot water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a pie plate, toss the bread cubes with the olive oil and season with salt. Bake for 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely. Transfer the bread cubes to a sturdy plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin until coarse crumbs form. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.
Meanwhile, bring a large, deep skillet of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and boil until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the asparagus. Transfer the asparagus to a large gratin dish.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the eggs and boil over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Pour off the water and gently shake the saucepan to crack the egg shells. Fill the saucepan with ice water and let the eggs cool for 5 minutes, then drain. Carefully shell the eggs and transfer them to a plate.
In a small saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat until it smells like roasted hazelnuts and the milk solids are lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the brown butter cool slightly.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a simmer over moderate heat. In a blender, combine the egg yolks and the 11/2 tablespoons of hot water; blend for 2 seconds. With the blender on medium speed, gradually add the hot brown butter, a few drops at a time at first and then in a thin stream, until fully incorporated. Add any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then add the lemon juice. Season the hollandaise with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Reheat the asparagus in the oven. One by one, carefully lower the peeled whole eggs into the hot water in the medium saucepan and warm just until heated through, about 1 minute.
Meanwhile, arrange 4 of the asparagus spears on each of 4 plates. Pat the eggs dry and set one on top of each plate of asparagus. Spoon the hollandaise over the eggs and asparagus, sprinkle with the crushed croutons and serve right away.
Course #2 - Scallops Grenobloise
2 slices white bread
2 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil -- or canola oil (divided use)
1 medium lemon
16 large sea scallops, whole -- rinsed under cold water to remove any sand
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons capers -- drained
6 tablespoons unsalted butter -- (3/4 stick)
1/4 cup mushrooms -- (about 3) diced (1/2-inch); white mushrooms
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley -- coarsely chopped, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch dice and toss the bread with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Spread the pieces on a cookie sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned. Set aside.
Peel the lemon, removing the skin and the white pith underneath. Cut between the membranes to remove totally clean segments of lemon flesh. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces until you have about 2 tablespoons diced lemon flesh.
Remove any adductor muscles still attached to the scallops. Sprinkle the scallops with the salt, pepper and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil.
Heat a large, nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot, then add the scallops. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. They should be nicely browned. Arrange 4 scallops on each of 4 serving plates and sprinkle on the lemon pieces, capers and bread cubes.
Heat the butter in a small skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the butter browns lightly (this is called noisette butter). Add the vinegar. Spoon the sauce over the scallops, sprinkle the parsley on top and serve.
Course #3 - Potato Gratin with Cream
8 lg. potatoes, cooked & shredded
1 pt. whipping cream
1 lg. pkg. cheddar cheese, grated
1 lg. onion, diced
Parsley, dried or chopped
Paprika, salt & pepper
In casserole alternate layers of potatoes, cheese, onion and parsley, paprika, salt and pepper. Pour whipping cream over the top. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 12.
Course #4 - Jam Tartines with Fruit Sherbet
Pound cake cut into pieces with assorted jams on top, served with fruit sherbet
Tonight, Carlos and I are having a light dinner at Le Madeleine with Debbie and Bart. The restaurant has one of the best French Onion Soup in the city.