Guess Who Came for Dinner? My Sister!

I always love dinner guests… especially those who are a relation either by blood or by choice. Weekday dinner guests break up the monotony of the week and allow me to prepare not only good food; but also comfortable, relaxed food, usually served family style, with whatever I have on hand. Using what I have on hand makes it a challenge for me.

So on the night my Sister and Her Partner stopped in for dinner, I scanned the freezer, fridge, cabinet, and garden for supplies and I found the following:

Freezer:
a whole chicken
½ pint homemade strawberry sorbetto (which I was saving to pour white wine over for an adult slushy later in the week)

Fridge:
1 # white button mushrooms
½ # salted butter (I bought this by mistake; I always buy unsalted butter)
½ container heavy cream (leftover from making truffles)
1 dozen eggs
1 pint strawberries (garnish for the slushy)
carrots (staple)
celery (staple)
Gorgonzola
Parmigiano Reggiano (staple)
Romaine
Mayonnaise (staple)
Dijon (staple)

Cabinet:
all-purpose flour
Valhorna cocoa powder (leftover from making truffles)
dark chocolate (leftover from making truffles)
Confectioner’s sugar
brown basmati rice (staple)
dried bay leaves (staple)
olive oil (staple)
kosher salt (staple)
cracked black pepper (staple)
2 shallots (sits on the counter really)
1 onion (counter dweller)
garlic (counter dweller)
lemon (counter dweller)
brandy (grabbed it from the wine cabinet)

Garden:
green beans
thyme
rosemary
chives
sage
flat-leaf parsley

Okay, So I was ready to plan a menu:

Salad:
Chopped Romaine with Creamy Garlic and Lemon Salad Dressing…..think Cesar dressing; but not really, because I have no anchovies in the house… or even better think a Vegetarian Cesar Dressing.

Since I have no bread around either, I decide to make Gorgonzola-Parmigiano Reggiano Frico Chips. For lack of a better way to describe them, a Frico Chip is shredded, hard Italian Cheese you bake until they are as crispy as a chip. They do not normally contain Gorgonzola… but since I have some, might as well make it special.

Entrée:
Herb Pan-Roasted Chicken w Mushrooms and Shallots… Roasted Chicken always says comfortable and relaxed and the mushrooms and shallots elevate it from a simple bird to a fine bird to serve to guests. What I like most about pan roasting is that the chicken, cut into pieces, eliminates the awkwardness of carving a chicken at the table. Everyone can serve themselves.

If you are cutting up your own chicken, which is economical and very easy, make sure to reserve the back (or spine) of the chicken and the wing tips. Freeze them in a plastic bag until you have collected a sufficient amount to make chicken stock later. I promise you the chicken stock that you make at home will taste better, have less salt, and will cost you pennies compared to anything you can buy in the store.

The basmati brown rice will go with the entrée…. the carrots and celery will make a nice base for a pilaf… My everyday rice at home is brown rice in as many varieties that I can get it in: basmati, long grain, short grain, jasmine, and medium grain. I love the nutty, wholesome taste of brown rice and I do not understand why it gets such a bad rap from folks.

The Garden offered green beans to devour, so that is the vegetable.

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As I look over this dinner, I realize that I am very heavy on the vegetables… but that is not a bad thing because I love them all!

To deglaze the roasting pan and make a little sauce, I will use brandy… you could easily use chicken stock or beef stock if you have it around. I did not. I do have a bag filled with chicken parts just waiting for me to make them into stock – but not today; and not this blog.

Dessert:
If someone is coming to dinner, I have to make a dessert. I just have to… it makes the meal end sweetly. Whether it is a simple dessert – like fresh orange slices with rum caramel sauce and mint – or something very decadent… there will be a dessert. Besides, we do not have dessert at home, unless there is a special occasion. My Sister coming to dinner is special. Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes with fresh Strawberries… and a small scoop of Strawberry Sorbetto, which will leave enough for my slushy later in the week.

My Recipe: GORGONZOLA-PARMIGIANO REGGIANO FRICO CHIPS

1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, or Romano, or any hard Italian cheese
¼ c Gorgonzola, crumbled
cracked black pepper

My Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Working on a Silpat or a non-stick pan that is also oven-safe, make small 2” rounds of the shredded cheese and crumble the blue cheese on top on the rounds

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Bake in the oven for 10 – 13 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly in the center and lightly browned and toasted on the edges

Season with cracked black pepper

Allow chips to cool completely on the pan until ready to serve on top of a salad

Chips will harden as they sit, becoming crispy

My Recipe: VEGETARIAN CESAR DRESSING

¼ c mayonnaise
½ lemon, juiced
1 – 2 garlic cloves
1 – 2 T Dijon mustard
1 T shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, or Romano (optional)
kosher salt, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste

My Method:

Using a mortar and pestle, mash garlic, using a little kosher salt, until a smooth paste forms; scrap into a mixing bowl

Add all of the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl and thoroughly combine

Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly; chill and reserve for service

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My Recipe: HERB PAN-ROASTED CHICKEN w MUSHROOMS and SHALLOTS

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 parts, reserve wings for another time
2 T fresh chopped fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, chives, sage, parsley
1 pint white button mushrooms, quartered
2 shallots, peeled and quartered
2 T olive oil
1 T salted butter, unsalted is fine
1 T kosher salt
½ T fresh cracked black pepper
1 c brandy, or chicken stock, or beef stock

My Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees; heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat

Pat chicken dry and season with fresh herbs, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper; drizzle with olive oil to coat

In hot skillet, sear chicken, skin side down until handsomely browned all over. Do not force chicken up from the pan. If it is still sticking when you try to move it, it is because it is still searing. Once the sear is done, and handsome brown color sets, the chicken will lift easy form the pan to sear the other side

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Working in batches, DO NOT CROWD THE PAN; sear the remaining of the chicken and set aside.

When all the chicken is seared, return it to the pan and place the OVEN-PROOF pan in the preheated oven to roast for 25 – 30 minutes.

Remove pan from the oven, remove chicken, cover, and keep warm; skim away all but 3 T of the pan drippings; add mushrooms and shallots and sauté over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes

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Add the brandy, if using, to the pan and scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan; lower heat to medium and reduce liquid by half; turn off heat

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Add butter to the pan and swirl to melt and blend with the brandy reduction; taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary

Add chicken back to the pan, and any juices that accumulated while resting and spoon sauce over chicken

Serve with shallots and mushrooms on top of chicken with fresh herbs to garnish

My Recipe: BROWN BASMATI RICE AND VEGETABLE PILAF

2 c brown basmati rice
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove
1 dried bay leaf
2 T olive oil
1 T kosher salt
1 t cracked black pepper
3 ½ c water

My Method:

Heat a saucepan w a tight-fitted lid over medium-high heat; add olive oil and sauté vegetable and garlic until fragrant and soft; about 10 minutes

Add rice and stir coated with the olive oil and vegetable-garlic mixture; add bay leaf, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper

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Add water; bring pot to a full boil

Reduce temperature to medium-low; put lid on pot and cook until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender; about 35 – 40 minutes

Fluff pilaf with a fork and serve.

My Recipe: QUICK AND EASY AND SIMPLE GREEN BEANS

1 # fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
1 T salted butter, unsalted is fine
1 T olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste
water

My Method:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 1 T of kosher salt; add green beans and cook for 5 minutes, until bright green color is set

Drain beans and rinse under cold water; set aside

Over medium-high heat, heat olive oil and butter; when butter melts, add well-drained green beans and sauté until beans start to wilt and brown a bit

Season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste

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My Recipe: MINI CHOCLATE LAVA CAKES makes 4

1 stick of salted butter*
½ c chopped really good dark chocolate, spend the money for the best kind
½ c all-purpose flour
1 ½ c confectioner’s sugar, plus more for sprinkling over the top or cakes
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
2 t pure vanilla extract
1 t espresso powder, optional
heavy whipping cream, to garnish
strawberry sorbetto, to garnish
fresh strawberries, to garnish
cooking spray
granulated sugar

My Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Spray four ½ c ramekins with cooking spray; dust each lightly with granulated sugar; set aside

In a sauce pan, melt butter; add chocolate; stir until chocolate is melted and everything is well combined

In a mixing bowl, combine confectioner’s sugar, all-purpose flour, eggs, vanilla extract, and espresso powder, if using; whisk until very smooth; add chocolate mixture and thoroughly combine

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Divide batter between all the four prepared ramekins; set ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the tops are dry and dull

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Allow cakes to rest in the ramekins for about 6 – 7 minutes before taking them out to serve; the cakes should be served warm and the inside will be like a thick, soft-set warm chocolate pudding… like molten lava… hence the name.

Whip the heavy whipping cream with a little Confectioner’s sugar and Valhorna cocoa powder, set aside

To serve, invert the cakes onto a plate and garnish with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar; serve on the plate with the a fanned strawberry, chocolate whipped cream, and a small scoop of strawberry sorbetto.

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*NOTE: If you are using unsalted butter for this recipe, add ¼ t to the recipe at the melted butter stage. It might seem odd; but, if you leave out the salt, the finished cakes will taste very flat and dull.

always in good T.A.S.T.E – cause you gottatastethis!

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About tawannapatrice

...a native south floridian, i am an artisan baker, personal caterer, and sarcastic demented librarian chick who finds life unbearable without immersing yourself in your true passions…
This entry was posted in Desserts, Dressings, Food .T.A.S.T.E., Poultry, Sauces, Vegetables, Vegetarian/Vegan and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Guess Who Came for Dinner? My Sister!

  1. OMG! I love reading these; just to make my mouth water. You are an amazing chef!

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