Tag Archives: Fancy Food

Salmon over Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts

Salmon over Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts

It’s done! Here’s hoping your Christmas was happy, safe, delicious, and free of heated political discussions. Now we all turn to spending gift cards and thinking about our New Year’s plans, right?

Matt and I tend to keep things low-key on New Year’s Eve, usually small gatherings and sometimes it’s just us. As much as I love seeing friends on NYE, I’ve found it can also be very fun to have a romantic night with your love, too. Sometimes we’ve gone to nice restaurants, but some years we’ve stayed in and cooked a fancy meal.

Salmon over Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts

This recipe made me think of that. It could not be more perfect for a romantic date. It’s seasonal, mostly light and healthy with a little decadence thrown in for good measure; it’s fancy-sounding and gorgeous to look at – it’ll remind you of dining at a fine restaurant, only more intimate and much less expensive.

It’s so delicious. Salmon and Brussels sprouts may sound like an odd pairing, but it really works. Wonderful contrasts of flavors and textures here, and the best part is that it’s so easy and fast to throw together! I highly recommend this for a date night, whether it be NYE or any random Saturday. Enjoy!

Salmon over Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts

Source: adapted from Tyler Florence Family Meal by Tyler Florence

Ingredients:
4 thin slices of pancetta, chopped
½ lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups heavy cream
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tbs yellow mustard
1 tbs whole-grain mustard
2 salmon fillets
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of gourmet, kettle potato chips
Thyme leaves, for garnish

Directions:
Place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisped. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Add the butter to the pancetta drippings, then the Brussels sprouts. Cook until the sprouts are tender and charred, then add the shallot and garlic. Cook 1 minute more, until softened. Add the cream, thyme sprigs, and both mustards. Stir to combine and cook over medium heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat a smaller skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in some olive oil. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Place the salmon in the hot skillet, skin side down, and cook until crisped, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook the other side another 2-3 minutes, until medium-rare inside. Remove to a plate.
To assemble, spoon half the Brussels sprouts mixture onto a dinner plate and place a salmon fillet on top. Place some potato chips on top of the salmon, then sprinkle the crisped pancetta over all. Garnish with thyme leaves. Repeat on a second plate. Serve immediately.

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over Chipotle Black Bean Puree with Jalapeno Crema

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over chipotle Black Bean Puree with jalapeno crema

Through lived experience I’ve found that when a craving hits, you should just feed the beast and then move on. It’s just going to haunt you until you do. So last week Matt and I booked a vacation – this May is our ten year wedding anniversary (!!!) so the last week in April we’ll be traveling to the Bahamas, visiting both Paradise Island and the Exuma Cays. (I’m SO excited!!)

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over Chipotle Black Bean Puree with Jalapeno Crema

We made dinner reservations to eat at Mesa Grill, at the Atlantis resort, and that, my friends, got me craving this dish. Unfortunately for me, Mesa Grill’s flagship New York location closed down a year or so ago; fortunately for me, there’s a Mesa Grill Cookbook! And yes, this is the recipe I’ve made most often from said book.

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over Black Bean Puree with Jalapeno Crema

This is surprisingly easy, for a fine dining restaurant dish, and it’s a real show-stopper. I’ve made it for dinner parties quite a few times, and my mom has as well. Everyone has raved. And yet, it’s also simple enough for a weeknight meal, believe it or not.

I just love it. The recipe contains three steps, all of which are super easy and two of which can be done ahead of time. Upon making this (yet again!) I realized I had never put it up on the blog – for shame!! Time to correct that little misstep!

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over Chipotle Black Bean Puree with Jalapeno Crema

You just have to make this one soon – it’s so incredibly delicious. And now my craving is sated, and perhaps more importantly, now I won’t be tempted to order it when we dine at Mesa Grill in a few months – and that’s important because at Mesa Grill Atlantis, this dish costs $39 – apiece!!! A little outrageous… I’d rather make it for about $25 total (meaning for two servings) in my own kitchen. Enjoy!

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over Chipotle Black Bean Puree with Jalapeno Crema

{One Year Ago: A Guest Post – Creole Meatball Po’Boys; Bacon and Hazelnut Buttermilk Caramels}
{Two Years Ago: Chipotle Chilaquiles}

Source: adapted from The Mesa Grill Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
BLACK BEAN PUREE:
Canola oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt

SALMON:
1/3 cup honey
1 tbs ancho chile powder
1 tbs Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 (about 8 oz.) skin-on salmon fillets
2 tbs canola oil
Cilantro or scallions, for garnish

JALAPENO CREMA:
½ cup sour cream
1 large or 2 small jalapeno chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded if desired, and chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:
First make the BLACK BEAN PUREE. In a medium sauté pan preheated over medium-high, drizzle in some canola oil, then add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor. Wipe out the skillet. Add the black beans to the food processor, along with the chipotle chile(s), cumin, and salt to taste. Fill the black beans can up about halfway with water, then add that to the food processor. Puree until very smooth. If it’s too thick, add a touch more water. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Transfer the bean puree back to the skillet you wiped out and place over medium-low heat for a few minutes, just to warm up the beans. Turn the heat to low to keep warm but not scorch them while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Note: the beans can be made ahead and reheated just before serving.
Now make the SALMON. In a small bowl, add the honey, ancho chile powder, Dijon mustard, plus a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth.
Season the flesh sides of each salmon fillet with salt and black pepper. Add the canola oil to a large skillet or cast-iron pan and set it over high heat. When the skillet is very hot, add the salmon fillets skin side down. Let them cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, until a crust forms and they will lift from the skillet with no sticking issues whatsoever. In the last minute of cooking on this side, brush each fillet with some of the honey glaze. Flip the salmon fillets and cook flesh side down for at least 2 minutes, and up to 2 minutes beyond that. 2 minutes flesh side down will get you rare to medium-rare salmon, so go longer if you want it more done in the center.
Remove the salmon fillets to a plate and brush more glaze on the flesh side of each fillet.
To make the JALAPENO CREMA, place the roasted jalapenos and sour cream in a small or mini food processor, season to taste with salt and pepper and puree until smooth.
To assemble the dish: on each of 4 large dinner plates, spoon a mound of black bean puree and spread it out all chefy-like with the back of a spoon. Center a salmon fillet over the spread of bean puree, then dot the jalapeno crema all around the salmon and bean puree. Garnish with cilantro sprigs or snipped scallions if desired. Serve immediately.

Duck Confit Over Bulgur Wheat with Mango “Gin-Ger” Sauce

Duck Confit over Bulgur Wheat with Mango "Gin-Ger" Sauce

Yesterday I showed you an amazing DIY shortcut to making your own duck confit, and I figure it would be rather uncouth of me to not turn around and give you a recipe for utilizing said duck confit. So here I am.

This recipe… this is one of those where you sit down, take your first bite and then go, “Holy %$#! did that really come out of my kitchen?! Did I just MAKE this?” And then you realize that yes, yes you did just make this stellar, amazing meal that you’d happily fork over at least $35 to eat in a fancy restaurant. And honestly, it wasn’t even that difficult to pull off!

Duck Confit over Bulgur Wheat with Mango "Gin-Ger" Sauce

This meal is truly superlative and guaranteed to impress. This is what you make your significant other’s parents who think you aren’t good enough for their precious little snowflake. This is how you blow away your foodiest of foodie friends. This is how you seal the deal for a second date.

Duck Confit over Bulgur Wheat with Mango "Gin-Ger" Sauce

I seriously could not believe this came out of my kitchen. It is spectacular. The flavors are beautiful and cohesive, and the duck confit, that you made yourself, is such a star here. The slight gamey flavor of the bird plays beautifully with the sweet mango sauce and the nutty chew of the bulgur wheat. It’s just AMAZING.

Duck Confit over Bulgur Wheat with Mango "Gin-Ger" Sauce

Make it this weekend. Thank me later. The end.

{One Year Ago: Red Wine Beef and Swiss Chard Stew}

Source: slightly adapted from Harold Dieterle’s Kitchen Notebook by Harold Dieterle

Ingredients:
4 pieces of duck confit, leg and thigh attached
½ cup bulgur wheat
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 ¼ cups sherry vinegar
½ cup sugar
¼ cup gin
1 cup diced mango, half pureed until smooth
4 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2-3 tbs peeled, grated fresh ginger
½ cup chopped fresh celery
½ cup chopped roasted Brazil nuts
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs minced shallot

Directions:
First, cook the bulgur wheat: put the wheat in a medium, heatproof bowl. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, then pour it over the wheat. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper, stir, and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 20 minutes. Fluff the wheat with a fork and strain off any excess water. Allow it to cool to room temperature while you prepare the rest of the dish.
To make the mango sauce: cook 2 cups of vinegar and the sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the gin and mango puree. Simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then fold in the diced mango, butter, and ginger.
Warm the duck legs if they have been chilled.
Add the celery, Brazil nuts, remaining ¼ cup vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and shallot to the bulgur wheat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and gently toss.
To serve, spoon the bulgur wheat onto 4 dinner plates. Lay 1 duck confit piece over the wheat, then finish with mango sauce to taste.

Counterfeit Duck Confit

Counterfeit Duck Confit

I recently read a most excellent book entitled French Women Don’t Get Fat. Its perfectly genius ideas, many of which I have successfully incorporated into my lifestyle resulting in a weight loss of around 40 pounds (though I don’t know exactly because French women do not weigh themselves!) make me yearn to visit Paris again. Since that isn’t really on the horizon for a multitude of boring reasons (work, finances, yada yada), I’ve made do with delving into French cuisine at home.

Counterfeit Duck Confit

Much of French cuisine is ubiquitous enough that even a girl growing up in Dallas, Texas in the ‘80’s is familiar, but one thing I never even knew about, let alone tasted until adulthood, is duck confit.

Duck confit. It’s the most delicious, superlative, food-gasmic thing, ever. What is it, exactly? It’s duck legs cooked slowly in their own fat. The result is perfectly crispy, crackly skin encasing fall-off-the-bone dark duck meat. The actual cooking is a bit of a production and requires one to buy copious amounts of duck fat, an item that can be difficult to locate for some, and then sometimes insultingly expensive when finally found.

Counterfeit Duck Confit

Luckily for us all, David Lebovitz has gifted us a way to make duck confit in our own kitchens in a quarter of the time and without having to hunt down and purchase that pesky duck fat.* In his version, the duck sits overnight in the refrigerator in a combination of salt, spices and gin, then cooks in a low and slow oven, for only 2 ½ hours, in the fat it renders itself. The result? You can’t tell the difference. You can’t! David is really onto something here. I’m thoroughly impressed by his method, and so grateful to now have this trick in my arsenal. Enjoy, everyone!

Counterfeit Duck Confit

*Disclaimer: I love duck fat. I adore it! So please don’t think I’m maligning it here. It’s just that I’m also spoiled in that I can find it in my regular grocery store. I don’t assume everyone can find it so easily, and calling for duck fat can make a recipe prohibitive for some. If duck fat is easy for you to find, consider using it for potatoes, Chex mix, or cookies!

One Year Ago: Bacon Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Source: My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:
4 whole duck legs (thigh and leg attached)
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs gin
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 bay leaves

Directions:
Prick the duck skin all over with the tines of a fork, making sure to pierce all the way through the skin.
Mix the salt, gin, nutmeg, and allspice together in a small bowl. Find a baking dish that will fit the duck legs very snugly, with no room around them. For me, it was my standard 8×8” baker. Rub the duck legs all over with the salt mixture. Place the garlic halves and bay leaves on the bottom of the baking dish and lay the duck legs, flesh side down, on top of them. Make sure the garlic cloves are completely buried underneath. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.
To cook the duck, wipe the duck gently with a paper towel to remove excess salt, then put the duck back in the dish, skin side up. Place the baking dish in a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 300 F. Bake the duck legs for 2 ½ hours, taking them out twice during baking and basting them with any duck fat pooling around them.
To finish the duck, remove from the oven, then increase the oven temperature to 375 F and bake the duck for 15 to 20 minutes, until the skin is deeply browned and very crispy.

Steak Tartare #SundaySupper

Steak Tartare

Welcome to another Sunday Supper!! This week our theme is Year End Cravings – so what have I been craving lately? Among other things, beef tartare. Tartare is not ever going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you love it, you love it.

Steak Tartare from Bar Americain

I first sampled it in a lovely restaurant in Paris – actually, Matt ordered it and I ate off his plate like any good wife would, lol. It was a sight: coarsely ground beef mounded on a plate with a raw egg yolk nestled into a well in the top of the beef, and all the traditional mix-ins on the side (capers, cornichons, mustard, etc.)

Steak Tartare Bar Americain

As an aside, I *really* wish I’d had my camera ready to capture the look on Matt’s face when the plate arrived, seeing as at the time he wasn’t 100% sure what tartare even was.

Steak Tartare Bar Americain

This version combines the beef itself with many of the traditional tartare mix-ins, so there is less work for the diner. And what can I say other than it was one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten. Like I said earlier, I love tartare, I’ve had it many times, and this is truly one of the best versions I’ve tasted.

Steak Tartare Bar Americain

A few things to note before making it at home: you need the freshest, most high-quality beef you can find. Don’t grab something shrink-wrapped in the case, talk to the butcher and tell him or her what you’re making. Secondly, this is not a make-ahead dish, you’ll want to serve it immediately. As written, this will serve four people.

If you are a tartare lover, then you must try this recipe. Unbelievably delicious. Enjoy!

Steak Tartare #SundaySupper

And don’t forget to check out what the rest of my #SundaySupper peeps have been craving!

{Two Years Ago: Butternut Squash Latkes with Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce, Cornmeal Pancakes with Cranberry Maple Butter}

Source: ever so slightly adapted from The Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
MUSTARD SAUCE:
1 large egg yolk
2 anchovies in oil, patted dry
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs whole grain mustard
2 tbs red wine vinegar
¾ cup or so olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper

TARTARE:
1 ¼ lbs. filet mignon
2 tbs Dijon mustard
3 tbs olive oil
1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 large shallot, finely diced
6 cornichons, finely diced
2 tbs brined capers, drained
3 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and black pepper

GARLIC TOAST:
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup or so olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
4-6 (1/4-inch) slices semolina Italian bread

Directions:
First make the MUSTARD SAUCE: combine the egg yolk, anchovies, both mustards, and the vinegar in a blender and blend until smooth.
With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil, drop by drop at first, and blend until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day before serving.
To make the TARTARE: put the beef on a plate and stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes as this will make dicing the beef easier.
Whisk together the mustard and oil in a large bowl. Add the jalapeno, shallot, cornichons, and capers. Mix to combine.
Remove the meat from the freezer and cut into ¼-inch dice. Put the steak in the bowl with the jalapeno mixture, add the scallions and parsley, and fold gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the GARLIC TOASTS: preheat the broiler to HIGH. Combine the garlic and oil in a small bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Brush one side of each slice of bread liberally with the garlic oil, then broil the bread until lightly golden brown on one side. If your slices are very long, cut each in half.
To assemble, spoon some steak tartare onto the toasts and drizzle mustard sauce over each one. Serve immediately.

Comfort Food Cravings

Quench Your Thirst Cravings

Seafood Cravings

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Cravings

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Savory Gorgonzola, Walnut, and Sage Cheesecake

Savory Gorgonzola, Walnut and Sage Cheesecake

If you should ever find yourself looking for an extremely elegant and beyond delicious appetizer you could set out at a holiday (or other) party that will feed a small army, then you are in the right place. If you ever need an appetizer to blow people away, you’ve come to the right place. This is it.

Savory Gorgonzola, Walnut and Sage Cheesecake

First of all, people will go, “Wow, you made a savory cheesecake?”. Secondly, well, you will completely blow them away with this dish. I would know. My darling husband and a decent handful of close friends plus some acquaintances are floating their way back to Earth right now because I served this to them.

Suffice it to say, everyone went crazy over it. It’s rich, filling, tangy, creamy, and unique. Also, it’s better the second day, so this is perfect make-ahead food for a party. And honestly, I can’t say enough good things about it!

savory gorgonzola, walnut and sage cheesecake

I’ve definitely done my part dabbling in dessert cheesecakes, but this was my first savory cheesecake. It’s something I’ve been curious about for awhile now, but I really had no idea if I would like it at all. I approached the whole endeavor with a bit of uncertainty, but I’m most assuredly now a savory cheesecake convert. I was thoroughly impressed with the whole thing.

Savory Gorgonzola, Walnut and Sage Cheesecake

The crostini toasts are optional. I found it fun to smear the cheesecake on the little toasts, but it’s also delicious just eaten with a fork. (Or with your fingers when you’re pretty sure no one’s looking.). Enjoy!

Savory Gorgonzola, Walnut and Sage Cheesecake

Sources: adapted from Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein and The Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild

Ingredients:
CRUST:
1 ¾ cups fresh bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan
6 tbs unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of kosher salt

CHEESECAKE:
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
4 oz. sour cream
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
4 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream
6 oz. crumbled gorgonzola
2 tbs minced fresh sage
4 oz. walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 French baguette, sliced (optional)

Directions:
For the crust, preheat your oven to 350 F. Mix all crust ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-10” diameter well-greased springform cake pan. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust while preparing the filling. Maintain oven temperature.
For the filling, add the cream cheese and sour cream to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together until the mixture is fluffy. Add the salt and pepper, and with the mixer on medium-low, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the heavy cream and mix until just combined, then add the gorgonzola, sage and walnuts. Mix gently until combined. Shut off the mixer.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust, then wrap the bottom of the cheesecake pan well with aluminum foil. Place the pan in a roasting pan or large, high-sided baking dish. Carefully pour hot water into the pan so that the top of the water level barely comes halfway up the cheesecake. Bake in the preheated oven for 70-90 minutes, until the cheesecake is lightly browned on top, slightly puffed and set on the sides and the center moves slightly when shaken. Remove from the oven, transfer to a rack and cool completely. Serve chilled or at room temperature. To serve, either slice and eat with a fork, or use a butter knife or cheese knife to smear a portion onto the baguette slices.

Eataly’s Porchetta

Eataly's Porchetta

I am so thrilled to share today’s post with you! This is a special, fancy-pants recipe befitting your holiday tables come Thursday. I had a blast cooking and serving it, and it is such a pleasure to eat, too. I think it would be amazing for a main event at your Christmas dinner table!

Eataly's Porchetta

If you’re unfamiliar, Eataly is an enormous Italian foods emporium that was founded back in Italy, but thanks to the likes of Mario Batali and Lydia Bastianich, I have access to one about twenty minutes away from my apartment. Eataly is a sight. Part grocery store, part take-out restaurant, part sit-down restaurant, part wine bar, part bookstore, and part cooking supply store, this monstrosity is usually quite crowded but always worth fighting your way through. The food is delicious and you can spend hours shopping. The next time you visit New York, put this at the top of your to-see list!

Eataly's Porchetta

Eataly is famous for their porchetta, a traditional Italian pork dish that was originally made by hacking off the part of the pig that is the loin with the pork belly attached. It served dozens. Eataly realized the inherent impracticalities for us home cooks, and simplified the process. You simply ask your butcher for a boneless pork loin, plus a slab of butterflied pork belly, each cut the same length. You wrap the pork loin with the belly, securing with kitchen twine, and the end effect is the same. Just much more doable, both on the shopping and the cooking end.

Eataly's Porchetta

And it’s so delicious, I can’t even tell you. You can leave the rub a little rustic and chunky, as I did, or you can grind it down fine in a spice grinder. If you’re not a pepper person, I’d recommend going to the fine grind.

Eataly's Porchetta

This is one of those memorable meals everyone will still be talking about months, possibly even years later. It’s an impressive sight when served, and the taste and texture measure up to its stellar looks. It’s one of those special meals we don’t have every day, or even every month. It’s one to savor, and linger over with a glass of wine. It’s one to share with those you love most dearly, or to celebrate those you don’t see often enough. I hope you all enjoy this one!

Eataly's Porchetta

{Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Muffins, Almond Pancakes, Chocolate Anise Biscotti}

Source: slightly adapted from Meat: Everything You Need to Know by Pat LaFrieda

Ingredients:
¼ cup fennel seeds
¼ cup black peppercorns
¼ cup kosher salt
1 (8-inch long) center cut boneless pork loin (about 3 ½ lbs.)
1 (8-inch) pork belly, butterflied in half horizontally (have your butcher do this)
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste

Directions:
Working in batches, grind the fennel seeds and black peppercorns in a spice grinder until as coarse or as fine as you like. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the salt.
Lay the pork belly flat on a cutting board, skin side down. Generously spread the fennel rub all over the side facing up. Place the pork loin on the belly so that the long side of the loin is lined up with one of the 8-inch sides of the belly. Roll the belly and loin together so the belly meets up again and covers the pork loin. Tie it tightly at one end with kitchen twine, then tie it again at the opposite end. Now make ties at 1-inch intervals between the two ends. Rub the tied porchetta all over with olive oil, and sprinkle all over with kosher salt. Wrap the porchetta tightly in plastic wrap, then put it in a resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate for 24 hours, or at least overnight.
When ready to roast the porchetta, preheat your oven to 400 F.
Place the porchetta on a rack in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet and roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 135 F, about 2 to 2 ½ hours. Remove the porchetta from the oven and adjust the oven temperature to the HIGH Broiler setting. Return the porchetta to the oven and broil until the skin is golden and crispy, about 8 minutes. Use tongs to turn the porchetta every 2 minutes. Let the porchetta rest about 15 minutes before slicing.
To serve, slice the porchetta however thick or thin you want. I’d recommend leaving the kitchen twine on, even as you slice it as this will help hold the porchetta together.
Leftovers reheat beautifully in a 350 F oven, about 10-15 minutes for slices, either on their own or used in sandwiches!

Cornish Game Hens with Sausage Red Wine Sauce over Polenta #SundaySupper

Cornish Game Hens with Sausage Red Wine Sauce over Polenta

Welcome to Sunday Supper! Our theme this week is Libational Recipes, a fun one indeed. Who doesn’t love cooking with an alcoholic beverage of some sort? I certainly do.

So in choosing which recipe to feature today, I wanted to keep with the December-appropriate theme I’m doing all month long, so today I’m posting a dish appropriate for a small but elegant Christmas dinner gathering, or perhaps a small holiday dinner party. Game hens are so adorable, and I think it looks so lovely and fancy to give everyone their own little baby chicken on their plate.

Cornish Game Hens with Sausage Red Wine Sauce over Polenta

Then the adorable game hens swim in this velvety, luscious, rich red wine sauce with savory sausage and sweet red grapes for the whole sweet-salty yin-yang thing we all love. All atop a mound of creamy, cheesy polenta. It’s really a beautiful dish. One I hope you all enjoy!

Cornish Game Hens with Sausage Red Wine Sauce over Polenta

Source: slightly adapted from Tyler’s Ultimate by Tyler Florence

{One Year Ago: Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Muffins with a Cream Cheese Glaze}

Ingredients:

GAME HENS:
4 (1-1 ½ lb.) Cornish game hens
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
2 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature

SAUCE:
Olive oil
½ lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups halved red seedless grapes
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

POLENTA:
5 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups instant polenta
¼ cup heavy cream
1 ½ tbs unsalted butter
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish (optional)

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Grease a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Season the outside and cavities of the game hens with salt and pepper. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together, then tie the wings flat against the body. Dot the butter all over the game hens, then carefully transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Roast about 45 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of one breast registers 165 F.
Start the sauce as soon as you get the birds into the oven. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, then crumble in the sausage. Cook until no traces of pink remain. Dust the flour over the sausage and stir to combine. Add the wine and stir quickly to scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Then stir in the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and keep it at a simmer for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is thick and velvety. Add in the grapes right before you’re ready to serve. If the grapes make the sauce too thin, boil it on high heat, stirring frequently, for a few minutes to thicken it up.
Make the polenta: bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large stockpot. Sprinkle in the polenta and whisk quickly to combine and make sure there are no lumps. It will thicken up in minutes. As soon as it thickens, turn the heat to low. Add in the cream, butter, cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, cut the strings off the game hens. Mound a few spoonfuls of polenta onto 4 dinner plates. Rest a bird on top of each, then generously spoon the sauce over the birds. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Libations

Savory and Sweet Libational Dishes

Libational Desserts

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Vegetarian Pâté with Chestnuts and Porcini

Vegetarian Pate with Chestnuts and Porcini 6665

Pâté seems to be the perfect elegant party food, especially around the holidays. It appears to be most likely featured in the December issue of popular food magazines, and even cookbook entries tend to extoll its December-y seasonal virtues.

Vegetarian Pate with Chestnuts and Porcini 6643

Pâté is traditionally made with cooked and pureed chicken livers, but today I wanted to share a vegetarian (vegan, actually!) version. Firstly, because your vegetarian friends and guests cannot eat the chicken livers, and secondly because many of your carnivore friends and guests probably won’t eat the chicken livers either.

Vegetarian Pate with Chestnuts and Porcini 6654

Chicken livers have gained of lot of foodie ground in the past decade or so, but they are still fully capable of dividing an otherwise peaceful room of people. Personally, I find them delicious and will eat them in whatever form except for over- or undercooked; but I am not everyone.

This particular pâté will solve all your problems. It’s still completely delicious, completely sophisticated and completely seasonal, but no one will lodge any complaints. (Except maybe your chicken liver loving friends… Nah, they’ll take one bite and get right over it!)

Vegetarian Pate with Chestnuts and Porcini 6662

This cocktail party favorite is very easy to throw together, and since it must chill before you serve it, it automatically falls into the make-ahead category, which we all know is ideal for hosting a party. Everyone will adore this one, promise. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Pate with Chestnuts and Porcini 6670

Source: Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

{One Year Ago: Recipe Round-Up: 75 Comfort Foods}

Ingredients:
5 tbs olive oil, divided
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, smashed and peeled
5 oz. (about 2 cups) thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
2 tbs brandy
¾ cup roasted, unsalted cashews
1/3 cup jarred roasted chestnuts
1 tbs finely ground dried porcini mushrooms
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
¼ tsp ground turmeric
Toasted bread slices, for serving
Cornichons, for serving
Radishes, stemmed and halved, for serving

Directions:
Set a medium high-sided skillet over medium heat for a couple minutes, then add 2 tbs olive oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
Shut off the heat and carefully add the brandy. Swirl the brandy around gently, then turn the heat back on. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom, then shut the heat off again and transfer the contents of the skillet to your food processor. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Add the cashews, chestnuts, dried porcini powder, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, turmeric, and the remaining 3 tbs oil. Process until very smooth, scraping down the bowl a few times to get every last speck of nuts of spices incorporated. Be patient, as this may take a few minutes.
Once the mixture is completely smooth, scrape the pate into a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Serve with the toasted bread slices, cornichons, and radishes.

Lobster, Charred Corn, and Avocado Sandwiches

Lobster, Charred Corn and Avocado Sandwiches 176

About one week out of every summer, I feel like the luckiest person on earth. Why? Because my grocery store gets these small, roughly-one-pound live lobsters and puts them on sale for around $6 per pound. Yeah. You read that correctly. It’s crazy. Matt and I can dine on lobsters for less than $15 total.

We never know which week of the summer this blessed event will occur, so you have to be vigilant and alert. And sometimes, like last year, you’ll be on vacation during that week and want to cry about it. But not this year! (Whew…)

Lobster, charred corn and avocado sandwiches 158

This year, we walked into the grocery store after a long, beautiful day at the beach with a shopping list for burger makings, and that quickly got tossed as we exuberantly exited the grocery store with our $6 lobsters, some garlic, herbs and butter. We had a leisurely, romantic dinner of boiled lobster, drawn garlic-herb butter and chilled Chardonnay.

The next day, I went out and bought two more of those low-price lobsters for this amazing, glorious sandwich. Some fresh sweet corn, ripe avocados, eggy Briochoe rolls, and we were in business.

This is one of the richer summer sandwiches I’ve eaten in my lifetime, but also one of the more delicious. Due to the (usual) price of lobster, I’m guessing it isn’t a sandwich most of us can have every day; I certainly can’t anyway. So once a year, I’ll thoroughly enjoy it and not feel the least bit bad. And you could always sub in jumbo shrimp for the lobster. Enjoy!

Lobster, Charred Corn and avocado sandwiches 168

{One Year Ago: Duck Fat Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Heirloom Tomato Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette}
{Two Years Ago: DrPepper Can Chicken}

Source: adapted from Barbecue Addiction by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
2 (1-1 1/4 lb.) live lobsters
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 large ear of corn
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/2 small jalapeno or serrano chile
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
2 tbs sour cream
2 tbs chopped red onion
A handful of cilantro leaves, chopped, plus extra for garnish
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Few dashes of Tabasco sauce
2 Brioche buns, split and toasted

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lobsters and boil for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove with tongs to a shallow bowl or high-sided plate and let cool. When you can handle them, crack the meat out of the claws and tail. Cut the tail meat into chunks. If not continuing the recipe immediately, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Peel the husks and silk off the corn and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off. Add the butter to a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn, garlic clove, and chile and saute just until softened and toasted, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Transfer the garlic clove and chile to a cutting board and the corn to a large bowl.
Once cooled a little bit, mince the garlic and chile. Add to the bowl with the corn. Also add to the bowl the avocado, sour cream, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash and stir the whole thing together with a fork. You want it combined but still chunky.
Now assemble the sandwich. Dollop a hunk of avocado mixture onto the bottom bun and spread to the edges. Nestle a generous amount of lobster meat, both claw and tail, on top of the avocado. Mound a few dollops of avocado over the lobster, garnish with a few leaves of cilantro, then close the sandwich. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 sandwiches.