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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Lotta Good Eating Going on Here!

Our friend Steve retired.  Lucky guy!  He and Phil and I have been on a board together for close to 20 years.  So, naturally I thought this was great excuse for a party.  Yes, my friends, you are so right, pretty much anything is a great excuse for a party.  Particularly when it's a party I get to cook for!  Not only did we have a party, we had some pretty darned good eats during the weeks after the party... 

Let's start with the party menu: 
Watermelon with lime, 5*
Pimento cheese, 5*
Gazpacho, 5*
Ginger salad, 5*
Emeril's big boy meatballs and sauce, 5*
Mascarpone tart with honey, oranges and pistachios, 5*

Then, during the next couple of weeks we had:
Sausages with potatoes and artichoke hearts in tomato broth, 5*

Can you believe I forgot to take a photo??????

Steak picadillo soft tacos, 4*

Cinnamon whiskey chicken, 4*

BBQ eggplant sandwiches, 4*

Kiwi and mango coconut custard tart, 2*

Pork mango tacos, 3*

Pork tenderloin chipotle wraps, 4*

Chiles rellenos, 4*
Black beans, 2*

Salsa cruda with avocado crema, 2*

Lamb chops w rhubarb salsa, 4*

Soy glazed salmon, 3*

Chicken apricot salad, 5*

Yet another missing photo...

Fish with pine nut vinaigrette, 3*

Potatoes au Gratin 5*

Last missing photo...

Persian Salad 3*

Wok seared duck salad 4*

Well then, what did we think of all of this good eating???

I posted about the watermelon a couple of weeks ago.  Once I run out of the magic dust, I'll be making more!

The pimento cheese is an old favorite.  Seems like when we first started making it, it was well known only in the south.  Now, I'm frequently seeing recipes for it.  Some have cream cheese, some several different cheeses.  We prefer plain old Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar, mayo and pimentos.  With just a bit of chipotle chili powder thrown in for good measure.

Gazpacho can be found in several posts.  Most recently last weekend.  It remains one of my favorite summer soups!

Ginger salad.  I just can't believe that I forgot about this recipe.  Hunting for something we'd made that would go with dinner, I pulled it up and thought, yup, this is it.  Now, I need to make sure I don't forget it again!

Emeril's Big Boy Meatballs and Sauce.  Maybe the best meatballs I've ever had.  This will now be my go-to recipe.  And, the sauce was fabulous.  We made meatball sandwiches for lunch and had leftovers for dinner.  And, I'm still not tired of it!  The recipe is from Emeril's Sizzling Skillets.  Every recipe I've made from this cookbook has been top notch.

Mascarpone tart with honey, oranges and pistachios was one of the prettiest desserts I've ever made.  And, probably one of the best.  Instead of the regular pie crust called for in the recipe I used a pate sablee from Daniel Boulud's cookbook.  The crust is a bear to work with.  I was SO glad nobody could see the 15 patches!  But, it did complement the filling perfectly.  One of my friends asked if I'd ever tried cardamom mango ice cream after she saw the photo of this.  No, but I do believe that's on my list now!!  I found this recipe on Epicurious.

Sausages with potatoes and artichoke hearts in tomato broth really should be a fall/winter kind of recipe.  But, we inhaled it anyway.  It's hearty and full of wonderful flavor.

Steak picadillo soft tacos came on to the menu thanks to the trimmings from a beef tenderloin.  they'd been in the freezer long enough and I wanted to find a way to use them up.  And, what a way this was!  These things were just plain perfect.

The cinnamon whiskey chicken recipe was in Cuisine at Home.  I thought the mix of flavors was novel.  And, I was right.  The rub was great but the sauce stole the show.  This was a total winner.

I rather goofed on the BBQ Eggplant sandwiches.  Rather than drain all the fat I plopped the eggplant in.  So, the sandwiches were pretty oily.  Next time I'll do a better job.  Oh, and I cheated big time and sliced up one of Emeril's wonderful meatballs and added one to each of our sandwiches...  YUM!

Pork Mango Tacos - These were a Cooking Light recipe.  They were quite blah.  The mango got lost in the shuffle.  Not a make again. 

The pork tenderloin from the tacos was absolutely a make again.  I sliced some up and made some killer wraps with the leftovers.  First, I put some Chipotle Tabasco and some chipotle chili powder in some mayo and slathered that on the wraps.  Then, I layered on pork, sliced avocado, sliced tomato and shredded cheddar.  It made for a lovely lunch.

Chiles Rellenos.  I spotted some glorious peppers at Johnny's Market.  See, there's no way I could pass those up.  And, Connie loves Chiles Rellenos.  Last time I made them I put meat in the filling.  This time I went totally traditional and used just cheese.  I'd just read an article in Cooks Illustrated about substitutions for Oaxaca cheese in quesadillas.  They said half shredded mozzarella (not fresh) and half shredded provolone would be the best.  All I can say is it worked perfectly.

Along side we had black beans from Southwestern Grill.  They were ok but had a bit of a harsh edge to them.  All in all I've had better.

We also had the salsa cruda that's coming up on the Weekend in a French Kitchen from Daniel Boulud.  Another totally average dish.  One I'll not make again. 

Then, there was the mango, kiwi, coconut tart.  This was the loser of the bunch.  We split a slice and the rest of it went into the disposal.  The coconut made the topping grainy.  The flavors of the fruit were muted.  It's unfortunately the third recipe I've tried from Daniel Boulud's cookbook that's being featured in Weekend in a French Kitchen.  I'm loving the other cookbook but am seriously considering not doing anything else from this.

Chicken apricot salad.  Amazing particularly for such an easy dish to put together.  Five minutes and that included going outside and picking the basil!   This one came from Cooks Illustrated or Cooks Country.

Lamb chops with rhubarb relish.  This is from Sandra Lee's latest cookbook.  For the most part I've not found many recipes that trip my trigger.  This one did.  And, it did deliver.

Fish, beets and green beans with pine nut vinaigrette.  Ok, but nothing to write home about.  I'll probably make the vinaigrette again.  But, not the rest of the dish...

Potatoes au gratin.  These were a recipe I almost didn't make because it sounded a little weird.  But, it was fabulous!!!

Persian Salad was your basic summer salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, white onions and a mix of herbs and spices.  It was ok.  Not one that I'll make again because there are simply too many really fabulous versions of this salad...

Wok seared duck salad came from Emerils Sizzling Skillets.  We've just had winner after winner from this cookbook.  This was fresh and delightful.  The flavors absolutely danced on our tongues.  And, I'm saying that after thinking while making the dressing, "It'll be a miracle if this tastes decent..." 

Final score?  Out of 19 new recipes 12 are solid keepers.  And the others I won't make again.  There are just too many wonderful recipes out there to be tested!  I wonder if my friends find the same percentages with the recipes they make?

Since there's no way I can manage to do all these recipes in one post, I'll split this up...

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