Intimate Harvest Dinner (4 course menu)

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Every so often, I like to try out a new menu.   I decided since fall was upon us, I’d try a menu from my new cookbook.  I revised many of the recipes, and recorded them below.

Sean and Olivia joined Mark and I for a quiet evening and four course dinner for four.  

MENU

Butternut Squash Soup w/ Maple Corn Drop Biscuits

Crab Cakes with Plum “Vinaigrette”

Raspberry Walnut Salad with Oregonzola

Coconut tart

 
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Butternut Squash Soup

2 Tbsp butter

small onion, chopped

1/4 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp curry powder

2 Tbsp flour

1 c quality chicken stock

1 cup apple juice (I use cider)

1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled seeded and cut in 1 in.pieces

1/2 c heavy cream

salt and white pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp Apple Jack Brandy

 for garnish:

8 thin wedges of Golden Ddelicious apple

1 Tbsp walnut oil

1 Tbsp finely chopped walnuts

In lg. saucepan, melt butter on med heat.  Add onion and pinch of Kosher salt, cook until translucent–not brown.  Add thyme and curry, cook one minute longer.  Sprinkle flour over onion mixture, whisk till smooth.  Cook 3 minutes. Slowly, add stock and apple juice, then squash.  Raise heat to high and bring to boil.   Cook until squash is very tender, 20-30 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool briefly.

Transfer mixture to blender ( i use a stick blender) in small batches–no more than half full.  YOUR   MIXTURE CAN BLOW UP IF YOU FILL TOO HIGH AND START ON HIGH SPPED!  I take out the little plastic/glass round on top of the lid and cover with towels for better prevention of splattering hot liquid all over myself.  Hold your lid on tightly with your towel or pot holder, then turn blender on LOW and start blending, increase speed bit by pit until pureed. Strain soup through a sieve.

Return soup to heat.  Add cream and taste to correct the seasonings.   Just before serving, whisk in apple brandy.  To serve, ladle into bowls, place two thin apple slices on top of each serving, cover with chopped walnuts and swirl a bit of the walnut oil over top.

Makes about 4 cups.

REVIEWS ON SOUP:

I’m not a huge fan of butternut squash soup, but I liked this one.  It was rich, warm, and creamy.

I think Sean had seconds.  Olivia, Mark, and Sean all enjoyed the soup. 

 
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MAPLE CORN DROP BISCUITS

Ingredients:
1 cup ground yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup maple syrup (use grade B if you can)
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut up

Directions:
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Put cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Stir to mix well.

Measure maple syrup in a glass cup measure. Add milk to the 2/3 cup mark.

Add butter to the flour mixture and cut in with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers, until mixture looks like fine granules.

Add the milk mixture and stir with a fork until a very soft dough forms.

Drop 1/4 cupfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until pale golden brown. Cool, loosely covered with a dish towel, on a wire rack.

 NOTE: Biscuits are best served hot out of the oven with fresh butter!  Mmmm.  We all enjoyed these.

They are biscuits, so they are a crumbly.  Just looking at the photo makes me want to bake another batch today!

 
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CRAB CAKES w/ PLUM VINAIGRETTE

2 cups fine dry white bread crumbs (fresh made preferred)

1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning, divided

1 lb crab meat (Dungeness if you can get it)

6 Tbsp red bell pepper,finely chopped

6 Tbsp yellow bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 small onion, finely minced

2 Tbsp freshly minced parsley

2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

1-2 dashes tobasco sauce

1/2 c mayonnaise

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

 

Vinaigrette:

1cup plum sauce (Asian section of market)

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1-2 dash Tobasco sauce

 

2-4 Tbsp butter to fry crab cakes (I worked in two batches with 2 Tbso each)

2 scallions thinly sliced, on diagonal for garnish

Combine bread crumbs and 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning in wide shallow bowl. Set aside.

Flake crab into a lg bowl.  Measure 2 Tbsp each of red and yellow bell peppers, set aside.  Add the remaining peppers to the crab with the onion, parsley, lemon juice, tobasco, mayonnaise, salt, and the remaining 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning: Stir to combine.

Divide crab mixture into 8 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a ball.  Roll balls in seasoned bread crumbs, then flatten into 1/2″ thick disks.  Cover with plastic wrap and Chill well.  Best to refrigerate these now for several hours.  I made them up the night before. 

For vinaigrette, stir together the plum sauce, rice vinegar, and tobasco.  Set aside.

Just before serving, lin lg skillet over medium heat, melt butter until it sizzles.  Gently add crab cakes.  Saute until golden on both sides, 3-4 minutes per side.  Serve hot in a bit of plum vinaigrette (I recommend you allow your guests to spoon out their own–some people prefer their crab cakes without a sauce.)  Sprinkle with the reserved red and yellow bell peppers and the sliced scallions.

Serves 4

REVIEWS: I liked a bit of the plum vinaigrette, but it is overwhelming, so a little goes a long way.  Olivia and Sean said it wasn’t necessary.  Mark ate his crab cakes so fast, I don’t know if he noticed 🙂  I’ll make these again.

 

I served a mixed lettuce salad with a walnut oil and raspberry vinaigrette and red grapes. I garnished with carmelized walnuts. I served crumbled  Oregonzola on the side–Mark and Olivia didn’t care for the “stinky” cheese.  Sean ate it, and I still have the leftovers in my fridge, and will snack on it with Italian bread and mosto cotto.

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COCONUT TART

The consensus on this tart–VERY SWEET!  That said, if you are having more guests, and you cut this into slivers, it tastes great!  Olivia compared it to a Mounds candy bar.  I agree.  Mark and Olivia ate theirs up, I ate half of mine (I would have preferred a sliver), and Sean took a bite or two and said, “Sorry, mom, too sweet”.  

The rich dark chocolate pastry is very good.  Sean and I think I could have left out the strawberry preserves–Mark and Olivia liked it. 

Pastry:

1 cup flour

1/3 c cocoa powder

pinch of salt

9 Tbsp butter, softened

3 Tbsp sugar

1 egg, beaten

Sift together, cocoa powder and salt.  Set aside.  Using a mixer, or by hand, cream butter and sugar until lightly fluffy–about 3 minutes.

Add flour mixture, stir until combined.  Add half of egg, stir until incorporated into chocolate mixture.  Then, add remaining half, stir until incorporated.  Roll into a ball, and flatten into a disk.  wrap tightly and refirgerate at least 30 minutes or overnight (I left mine overnight with the crab cakes).

allow pastry disk to stand at room temperature for a t least 5 minutes before working.  On lightly floured surface (I would say moderate amount not light), knead to softenn slightly. Dough will be sticky.  Roll between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap to a diamter of about 10″.  remove top sheet of wrap.  Using bottom sheet, invert onto tart pan and gently peel away plstic wrap.  gently press pastry into corners and sides of pan (If not using a glass tart, use a removable bottom tart pan). Trim top edge with rolling pin.  Place pastry pan on a larger tray and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line pastry shell with parchment cartouche and weight down with dried beans or pie weights.  Press weights or beans out to edge to hold sides up.   Bake about 10 minutes, remove pie weights or beans and parchment, then bake about 4-5 minutes more until bottom of pastry looks dry. Cool on a rack.

FOR FILLING:

6 Tbsp strawberry jam (or seedless raspberry)

14 oz shredded coconut

1 (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp coconut extract (if you don’t have coconut extract try adding an extra 1/2 tsp vanilla instead)

Spread jam evenly over the bottom of pastry shell.  Stir together the coconut, condensed milk, and extracts.  Spread evenly over jam.  Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on rack (If you want it more golden go a few more minutes.

Cut into small wedges and serve with fanned strawberries.

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As sweet as the tart is, I still think it would work well as a side dessert on a Thanksgiving or Christmas buffet.  Slice super thin 🙂

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11 thoughts on “Intimate Harvest Dinner (4 course menu)

  1. Wow, talk about a LOT of thought into this little event. I’d love to have that much patience; it makes the little things that much more special.

  2. MELISSA: The biscuits are very unusual–a little sweet too. Gosh, I love them hot with butter in the middle!

    DARKBLOOM: Sometimes while I’m in the middle of doing something like this, I question my sanity ;)I think cooking and gardening has taught me to be patient. Thanks for dropping by !

  3. What a wonderful menu, Angelnina. Your table looks so warm and inviting, too. I’m sure your family enjoyed your efforts and loving attention. I’m going to try to squash soup. I love butternut squash and have two in my pantry right now. Thanks for the blender warning!

  4. You always set the most thoughtful table! I love the dishes and decor… the food looks fabulous!

    Would that pastry be good for a custard pie? I like that it’s ingredients are ones I always have. 🙂

  5. MAVEN: ..and you and I are lucky because we live so close to Dungeness crabs!

    MARIE: I hate it when I read food blogs before I’ve eaten 😉 I hope you found something wonderful to eat.
    RUBYSLIPPERS: Yes, I had a blender full of hot Mexican chocolate blow up on me once and it was on my ceiling and and everything else in the kitchen! I hope you like butternut squash soup. I like it chopped up and baked with apples, butter, and cinnamon. Thank you.
    WeeZY: I didn’t want to tell you there was curry in it because I was afraid you wouldn’t try it 😛 Glad you liked it.
    SARAH: Yes, isn’t fall the best? The other night, Mark built a fire and then I KNEW it was fall!
    KIM: Well, to be honest, I don’t always set a lovely table. Sometimes I simply tell everybody to grab their plates and get in line.
    I think the pastry would work great for a chocolate custard pie! let me know if you do it.

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