Friday, January 04, 2008

We had a party the other day, a New Year's Brunch where the guests were witty and wonderful and hungry. They ate us out of house and home. Everything was gone, which was perfect. I decided instead of making a lot of one thing and have it left over, I made a bit of a lot of things and everyone was sated. I think the two biggest hits were the camelized bacon wrapped sea scallops.

For the scallops:
I took thick slab bacon and dredged it in brown sugar sprinkled with red and black pepper and baked it in the oven at 350 degrees on the broiler pan. At the same time, I roasted several heads of garlic in butter and rosemary salt in the same oven. The smells in the kitchen were incredible!
Beware not to get the bacon too crispy! turn the strips once in the oven and then remove when flat and done. Let cool and then wrap around small sea scallops... I can usually get two scallops wrapped per piece of bacon and then I put them on skewers (about 8 per wooden skewer) and here is where you can make them ahead by one day and place in ziplock bags in your fridge. When ready, grill on gas grill for about 5 minutes, turning frequently and serve. I made 60 and they were gone in minutes.

Click the link for a picture and recipe of the leek tart. This time, to save time, I opted for puff pastry crust, which I bought frozen from the grocery. It got so many raves and was also gone in 60 seconds.

Other items for the brunch included a roast loin of pork grilled with sage infused olive oil, served with a sage aioli and roasted heads of garlic with good locally made breads; a spinach and apple salad with feta; a fruit salad; cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce and Ducktrap Maine smoked salmon with lemon and cilantro on buttered crackers.

I had on hand some small lemon poppy seed muffins and mini cinis (miniature cinnamon rolls from Hannaford) that went fast cause they are so good!! I also made a Louisiana Crunch cake on the morning of the brunch, which was a lot to do seeing as we partied until 2 and then came home.

Monday, December 31, 2007

I have to post these pictures of making the stuffed bosc pears yesterday. I took out my frustrations of the past couple of days on making a dessert that was complicated and involved. I had a great time making it, but it took over 2.5 hours to make enough for 14 people. The peeling, and coring took probably an hour.

The poaching liquid was cool to make, red wine, vanilla beans, cinammon stick, and anise (which I didn't use much of because I am not a licqorice fan.

The stuffing was also fun, it is diced dried apricots and pecans, cooked on the stove with butter and brown sugar to make a candied apricot mixture.
Once I stuffed the pears, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I must make sure to refridgerate the stuffed pears for a bit longer so that the stuffing stays inside the pear when I dunk the whole in chocolate.

So, dunking in really good bittersweet chocolate is a must.

What I don't have a photo of is the final plating. The recipe called for me to make a spicy sabayon sauce made with egg yolks, chile powder, sugar, and a cup of dry white wine. That went into a bowl first, topped with the pears, and then I sprinkled fresh raspberries around the base and added a sprig of fresh mint to the mix.
A friend's brother and sister-in-law were visiting from Ireland and she told me it was the best dessert that she had ever had. She wanted me to come back to Ireland with them as a cook...not a bad gig, I'm sure...but I don't know how to cook in a sheep's udder!
Personally, I think it was a bit much to eat after so much Mexican food (Thanks Peter!!) I was so full, that I had to leave the party almost immediately after dinner.
Now I have to get busy making things for tomorrow.