Monday, October 29, 2012

October 28, 2012 - NY Strip

Okay... it's 8am on Monday morning, the wind is whipping around my condo, but I'm not concerned about this bitch called Sandy.  I've stocked up on books, candles, dog food for Ozzy, and vodka for me.  (Vodka tastes just fine at room temperature.)  However, if there is no post next week, you know that we're still out of power and I totally blew this storm off when I should have been preparing better for what they are calling "the storm of the century."  Eh... life's a risk, right?  Anyways... let's talk steak night!
Cocktail - Benedictine Manhattan
Bourbon, benedictine, vermouth, bitters.  A classic Manhattan (which yes, we've made plenty times before) leaves out the benedictine and uses whiskey.  However, we try to tie the flavors of our cocktail into the flavors of our dessert (has anyone else noticed that attempt?), so we went back to the steakhouse old faithful.  My promise to you - there will be vodka next week. 
Appetizer - Lobster Bisque
Ok, so Stew's had lobster on sale for $3.99/lb.  That made this appetizer a no brainer!  Jennifer followed the recipe almost exactly, except using much less tomato paste, and not thickening it to a super-rich chowder.  She used homemade lobster stock from cooking 3 lobsters, and it was absolutely divine!  The lighter version she made compared to the thick alternatives was perfection.  Silky and smooth with a decadent lobster and fresh veggies taste!  This would be a perfect cold weather lunch as well.
Appetizer Wine - 2009 Macari Riesling
The Macari vineyards can be found on the North Fork of Long Island.  (Possibly upstate NY, too, since it says Finger Lakes on the bottle.  Hmmm.)  They are one of 40+ vineyards on a small stretch in the scenic oceanfront area, and if you're ever slightly local, I highly recommend making the wine trail trip!  This nice and dry riesling had a bouquet of tropical fruits and citrus.  The palate includes honeysuckle and peach with a crisp acidity to balance the meal.  This is not your typical sweet riesling.  It was the perfect accompaniment to the bisque
Entree - New York Strip Steak w/ Bearnaise Sauce
Ok, so the above recipe is for bearnaise sauce.  The steaks were grilled on med-high heat at 4 min per side for medium rare.  Let me put this in perspective for you.  If I had to choose my last meal, it would be bearnaise sauce and a loaf of bread to dunk it in.  I'm a bearnaise sauce freak... seriously... I have made meals of just that and a baguette before, and I will do it again.  This blender recipe is classic, delicious, and simple.  The vinegar cooks the eggs, but if you're nervous, they sell bearnaise sauce powder mixes in the spice aisle - those work just as well in a pinch.
Side Dish - Roasted Brussels Sprouts
It doesn't get any simpler than this recipe.  Roasting these little green nuggets give them a sweet caramelization that is bound to turn any "sprout hater" into a fan. 
Side Dish - Potatoes Lyonnaise
A classic steakhouse side dish, it seems everywhere has their own version of this recipe.  However, its rather simple - sliced potatoes, caramelized onions, butter.  We wanted a potato side dish that we hadn't done before and wouldn't overpower the deliciousness of the sauce.  I would suggest some changes to this recipe, though.  First... no need to melt a stick of butter in the bottom of the pan.  There was way too much butter and it was only on the bottom!  I'd suggest using pats of butter and using them on each layer, so that when it melts, each layer gets the buttery goodness.  Also, cook time is off.  We ended up baking almost 30 minutes, and then broiled the last few for the golden goodness.  Another idea - some gruyere cheese in the layers to turn this into a "gratin" dish.  Yum!
Side Dish - Garlic Bread
Please believe me when I say that we have attempted to make every garlic bread recipe under the sun ourselves.  NOTHING has compared to this store-bought bread that I can only find at Stew Leonards.  (If you know where else carries it, please let me know!)  The ratio of butter to garlic and the crispy and soft ratio is just incredible.  We very rarely tout store-bought items, because we'd like to think that anyone bought at the store can be made at home even better - but on this, we wave the white flag. 
Final Plate
Entree Wine - 2009 Adelsheim Pinot Noir
Wine Enthusiast - 91/100
Okay, so you'd think we'd go with a rich Cabernet, right?  We thought so, too.  But many reviews said that with the bearnaise, you wanted a lighter red, or perhaps even a Chardonnay.  Unfortunately, due to the impending "Frankenstorm", we weren't about to brave the crowds and hit up Harry's, so we went with the reviews and stuck with a Pinot Noir from the stockpile.  It was a great choice!  This rich red had arrays of pomegranate and candied cherries on the nose with flavors of brown spices and raspberry on the palate.  It with smooth and silky with polished tannins.  Surprisingly, a very good complement to our steak!
Dessert - Manhattan Mousse
Remember what I said about tying the cocktail to the dessert?  This was, hands down, our favorite mousse to date.  However, I want to point out that it doesn't really have the texture of the mousse, but almost a thicker fudge.  (Or I made it wrong, which is definitely another possibility.)  It was super rich and had a nice bite from the whiskey that wasn't overpowering.  (Dark rum could be another alternative.)  We topped it with the macerated berries, and it was perfection!  A perfect finish to a lovely meal.
So there you go - another steakhouse night!  (And always a favorite for us!)  Although, I'd like to point out that our Baby Back Ribs post has now jumped ahead of our Filet Mignon post for the #1 read Culinary Sunday.  I may have to start stockpiling on some southern cooking recipes.  (Trust me, I don't mind!)  We're going to a little healthier next week with a lovely fish dish that I know everyone will enjoy, and no one will expect!  For all our New England friends out there, stay safe over the next couple days!
Next Week - Fish

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 21, 2012 - Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Good Morning, culinary friends!  It was a fantastic weekend, and it included the fabulous annual John&Jennifer Halloween party!  So because of that, our Sunday dinner was focused more around "what does one want to make to help the hangover and requires little to no time in the kitchen."  (Let's be honest... we ALL have days like that.)  So here you go - a simple and easy menu that you'll enjoy!
Cocktail - Whiskey Apple Martini
Apple cider and Jack Daniels.  And some freshly grated nutmeg.  I told you we were going simple.  However, delicious!  (And yes, this is week 3 without vodka... possibly week 4... it's coming, I promise!)
Entree - Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Okay, the above recipe is for cooking method only.  We used a bone-in roast and let it simmer for 10 hours on low.  The meat shredded like a dream.  We used beef broth as instructed, and then once we shredded, we used two different BBQ sauces and baked it.  The baking part is critical!  It's what gives it good texture!
BBQ Sauce 1 - Big Al's K.C. Sauce
K.C. stands for Kansas City, which some would say their sauce has some nice sweet and sticky molasses but still a good bite.  A very good BBQ sauce - this may be what I use in the future whenever a sauce is called for and I don't want to use something from the bottle.  This was Jennifer's favorite.
BBQ Sauce 2 - Raspberry BBQ Sauce
I know the original recipe says blackberry, but I only had raspberry preserves in the fridge, and this weekend was about NOT going to the grocery store five times for forgotten ingredients.  This was sweet with a fabulous fruity kick.  This was John's favorite. 
I'm not telling you my favorite.  :-)  Make them yourselves and be the judge.
2 Sauces that we tried, but failed:
I substituted sriracha sauce for hot sauce due to what was in my fridge.  Big mistake.  Way to spicy and the flavor was completely thrown off.  Trashed.
Chef error.  I didn't have a serrano pepper, and I figured that would be too spicy for us anyways, so I added a pinch of red pepper flakes.  However, didn't realize the cap from my red pepper flakes was missing, and about a tablespoon fell in.  I scooped as much as I could out, but still - way too much heat.  (Although Jennifer did drizzle over her sandwich and said that in small doses, it was fabulous.)
Side Dish - Apple Slaw
Super.  Don't change a thing.  Just let the slaw sit for a while, because the red onion needs a few minutes to mellow out.  It's amazing how on the first bite, you get flavors of sweet, vinegar, onion, and apple.  Great slaw.
Side Dish - Sweet Potato Chips
So if you are local to the area, most likely you know Stew Leonards.  Stew's is a grocery store near us that specializes originally in dairy and now in pretty much everything else.  They make fabulous homemade potato chips!  Perfect side dish. 
Side Dish - Pickles
Also found at Stew Leonard's, these are the pickles we used for making deep fried pickles back on the Baby Back Rib night.  These are tart and crisp - a perfect pickle!
Side Dish - Cornbread Biscuits
Followed the back of the Bisquick box for a regular biscuit and then added a can of creamed corn to it.  It was just ok.  Needs sugar. 
Final Plate
Wine - None
We stuck with cocktails.  And then just ginger ale.  Sorry, guys.  We drank enough last night.
Dessert - Leftovers
Fabulous cupcakes courtesy of Maryann
Adorable cake pops courtesy of Carolyn
Party Pic
Okay, so to make up for what seems more like a quasi-Culinary Sunday, due to lack of wine, appetizer, and real dessert, we're going all out for you next week!  We're bringing back what seems to be the crowd favorite... STEAK!  
Next Week - Steakhouse

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 14, 2012 - Coq au Vin

Bonjour!  It's been a little while since we flexed our French cooking muscles (after all, I did promise to shelve it for a while), but this week we decided to go back to one of our favorite cuisines!  And the meal was spectacular!

Cocktail - The French 75 Cocktail

There is a little debate over the French 75.  It can be made with either cognac or gin, and there seems to be controversy over which ingredient is the "true original."  We made this with cognac.  Drop in a couple sugar cubes, add some cognac, add some lemon juice, and top with champagne!  It's that simple!  (Second batch, we added a tiny bit of Grand Marnier... even better!)  This is the perfect champagne cocktail for those who don't necessarily enjoy the bubbly stuff on its own.  However, it sneaks up on you.  Big time.  (And that is why this post is in the evening and not the morning... had to nurse a wicked hangover.)

Appetizer - French Onion Soup

This is a great basic recipe, but Jennifer made some fantastic modifications.  First, she used less beef broth, and more red wine.  (The bottle is open, after all.)  Then, she added some "better than buillon" beef base for more richness.  She also included a little sherry.  (Yum!)  The soup was spectacular!  Now here's the secret for out of this world French Onion Soup - croutons!  When you use an entire slice of baguette, it gets soggy and then you're fighting with it while eating.  If you use hard croutons, you'll make sure to get a piece of bread in every bite, and they'll absorb the soup while still staying crunchy!  Perfection!

Appetizer Wine - Hugel Gentil 2010

Wine Spectator - 87/100

This French white took us by surprise.  On the initial palate, its crisp, acidic, with a slight fruit and some mineral and stone to it.  In fact, we actually called it "nondescript".  There was no overpowering flavor or scent that we could really put our finger on.  However, once we then paired it with the food, this nondescript wine was perfect!  It brought out all the flavors in the soup and was the perfect backdrop!

Entree - Coq au Vin

There are millions of coq au vin recipes out there, so we figured we'd take one from the true pioneer of French cooking - Julia Child!  And it was out of this world.  So simple, so easy, so delicious!  We followed the recipe to a T (although probably simmered the chicken a bit longer, we just let it sit in there and get "fall off the bone" tender).  The chicken was tender, delicious, and full of dynamite flavor!  What a perfect autumn dish.  (And we did boil the bacon as instructed.  Not sure if it made a difference, but if anyone knows why she does it that way, I'd love to know.)  For the chicken, we did use 1 whole chicken, chopped into parts.  (You can buy whole chicken cut up, or if you have a favorite local grocer - the butcher will usually cut one up for you - Thanks, Stew Leonards!)

Coq au Vin Cooking Wine - 2010 Josephine Dubois Bourgogne Grande Reserve

First and only rule of cooking with wine.  Use a wine that is something you would drink.  This French burgundy is a fantastic wine to not only cook with, but drink as well!

Side Dish - Brown Braised Onions

This recipe is in the entree recipe.  Fantastic!  Highlight of the dish.  (We used the red wine leftover from cooking the chicken.)  Can't wait to make these as a side dish for other meals!
Side Dish - Mushrooms
This recipe is also in the main entree recipe.  Simple and fabulous, and a wonderful side.
Side Dish - Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans
Simple and self-explanatory.  We wanted a simple veggie and starch so it didn't compete with the rich sauce.
Final Plate
Entree Wine - 2009 Vincent Girardin Bourgogne
Wine Spectator - 87/100
Okay, I have a confession.  So William at Harry's Wine asked us if we would prefer a Pinot Noir or a French Burgundy with the meal.  Jennifer said "burgundy all the way!"  So when he hands us this bottle, I kept quiet, but the whole time kept thinking "it says Pinot Noir!"  Well, apparently - French Burgundy is made from Pinot Noir grapes.  But its different than your typical Pinot Noir found in Oregon.  (Just shows how much I don't know about wine.)  Anyways - fantastic wine!  There's fabulous flavors of dark fruit and berries with a nice structured finish and soft tannins.  A beautiful drinking wine!
Dessert - Bread Pudding Souffle with Whiskey Sauce
This recipe is from Commander's Palace in New Orleans, LA.  You should already know that New Orleans is one of my favorite places in the US to visit, and mostly because their food is simply amazing.  And when I got to enjoy lunch there on my last visit, there was no way I was going to miss out on their signature dessert.  And once I had my first bite, I understood why.  (It could also be the 25 cent martinis... yes, 25 cent martinis at lunch.)  This was incredible!  We followed the recipe exactly and it was amazing.  The sauce is rather strong - if you're not a big drinker, half the whiskey.  (I used Crown Royale, by the way.)  Also - we found it rather sweet.  Next time, we'll half the sugar overall.  Regardless - make this.  Now.  You won't regret it.
Dessert Wine - 2005 Chateau Filhot Sauternes
Okay - this is a wonderful dessert wine.  However, its very sweet, and therefore was difficult to drink with the dessert that was already sweet for our tastes.  To match the dessert, we probably would have been better off with a whiskey.  However, this is a fabulous wine, and we will use it for another dessert.  Flavor profile - Rich and complex with crystallized orange, honey, and slight hazelnut.
Next week is the famous John and Jennifer Halloween Party.  Therefore, Sunday will be spent nursing a hangover, cleaning up, and catching up on DVR'd TV shows.  However, we won't leave you empty handed.  Next Sunday will be about breaking out the Crock Pot and making something simple and delicious that involves almost zero effort.
Next Week - Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Random Facts About Our Little Blog

Okay, so I'm killing some time before meeting up with John and Jennifer to go to Harry's to pick wine for tomorrow, so I figured I would post some of the fun facts I've learned about our blog while going through the "stats" that I have access to.  I'll also post some FAQ that have shown up in our email.  (I really could be doing laundry right now, but where's the fun in that?)

-  As of 11:45am ET, we have 2470 hits

-  The top 3 most viewed posts are:  Filet Mignon (4/15), Lobster Thermidor (5/13), and Jennifer's Birthday (6/17)

-  Tied in fourth place are the posts for Chicken (1/29) and Baby Back Ribs (9/23)

-  Our top referring sites are:,,, and

-  The top 3 countries that view our blog are:  United States, Russia, Germany (for the record, none of us are aware of any friends or family that live in Russia, so we're really excited about that...  must be all the vodka we blog about!)

-  Two of the most surprising countries that follow our blog:  United Arab Emirates and Malaysia

-  72% of you use Windows, 11% use your iPhone, and 9% use a Mac to view us


Do you cook like this every day?
Absolutely not.  John and Jennifer may cook more often during the week than I do, but I pretty much live off PB&J, pasta, and whatever I have leftover from lunch at the office.  Not cooking like this every day makes Sundays more fun.

Where do you find these recipes?
It started as thinking up certain meals that we absolutely wanted to make.  Then when searching for recipes, we came across other recipes that appealed to us, so we saved them.  Now, I have a stockpile of over 100+ recipes.  Sometimes its based off a meal we have elsewhere, or something we see on TV, or whatever is on sale at the grocery store.

How long does a typical Sunday meal take?
If prep work can be done in advance, we'll do some at our own homes early on.  (Sauces, things like that.)  Otherwise, we usually start around 5:30pm with our cocktail and then leisurely make our way through the meal.  Dessert is over and dishes in the wash by 10pm, latest.

What is up with this obsession with Steak Frites?
Make the damn Steak Frites and find out.  Crispy french fries, thinly cut pieces of succulent steak, roasted garlic butter, parmesan - how can you go wrong???

Other than the Steak Frites, what are your favorite meals?
Once again, I want to reiterate that Steak Frites was the favorite.  (Okay, I'll get off my high horse now... but the Caramelized Endive Soup from that menu was also one of our favorites.)  After that, I would say the French night when we made Duck a l'Orange, and the Filet Mignon post with the blue cheese and port wine sauce.  Favorite desserts are across the board - but if we had to narrow down, it would be either panna cotta or chocolate mousse.

What meal was your least favorite?
Thai.  Sorry.  Some things are better left for other people to cook and us to enjoy.

What was your favorite cocktail?
The Sidecar Martini from Giada, the Cherry Cognac Martini, or the Amaretto Sour with Prosecco

What are your favorite wines?
We're equal opportunity wine drinkers, but all 3 of us have come to an agreement that we fancy French whites and savor Spanish reds.

Do you really cook every week, or do you save some previous recipes to post at later dates?
Give or take a day, we cook every Sunday.  Whether we are sick, tired, grumpy, or just plain lazy.  The mindset is something like "have another glass of wine, you'll feel better."

Do you guys drink like this every night?
Only on days ending in a Y. 

Do you often have company for dinner?
We switch it up.  Usually once or twice a month, we'll have other people join us, but we really enjoy it the most when its just the three of us being lazy and leisurely.

What's your best kitchen accomplishment?
Pulling off Tapas night. 

What's your worst kitchen disaster?
We don't have too many disasters.  I almost lit a dinner guest on fire when trying to flambe, and that wasn't good.  I have a tendency to grab for hot baking sheets without oven mitts, and have some minor war wounds from that.  Jenn's cool as a cucumber... she's the "fixer" when something doesn't go right.  Me - I've had moments like in the movie "Julie&Julia" where nothing will work (whipping egg whites is my enemy) and I will collapse to the floor, huff and puff and just have a minor meltdown.  Then I have another cocktail, and life is good again.

Is there any recipe in particular that you are dying to make but holding off on?
Nope!  That's the point of this blog.  If we want to make it, no matter how exotic or challenging it looks, we go for it! 

So anyways... there are some fun facts and some of the questions that we get emailed.  I thought I'd share.  Talk to you all Monday!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 7, 2012 - Oktoberfest

Guten Morgen, meine Freunde!  I'm going to be honest with you... this was kind of a half-assed Culinary Sunday.  For starters, we cooked on Monday.  (Oh, the horror!)  It was just that J&J still had out-of-town company so we opted to hold off a day until it could just be the three of us.  It had been over a month since it was the "original" Culinary Sunday group, and we were looking forward to being alone with our food and booze.  We also goofed a little because I forgot to bring the spinach with me, and therefore we had no spinach salad with hot bacon dressing for an appetizer.  So due to lack of an appetizer, we drank an extra cocktail instead.  (And that will explain why the picture quality leaves something to be desired.)  Anyways... it was still a fantastic meal, and one that we actually have been cooking for a few years now... so I know you'll still love it!
Cocktail - Gingerbread Martini
Welcome back, vodka!  Vodka, gingerbread liqueur, a dash of lemon polar seltzer.  Definitely one of our seasonal favorites.  (You should be able to find the gingerbread liqueur around this time of the year at the larger liquor stores.)
Entree - Jagerschnitzel with Bacon Gravy
Yeah, the picture is not too good.  But who cares?  This is one of our favorite fall dishes!  Thinly pounded pork chops are coated in a crispy mixture of crushed saltines and panko... then fried up and covered with a rich gravy and crumbled bacon?  (We left out the mushrooms because I'm just not a fan, sorry.)  This is kind of like the German's answer to Country Fried Steak or something.  Regardless... this is super easy (think easy weeknight family meal, people!) and super delicious!
Side Dish - Spaetzle
(See picture above)
Spaetzle is a classic German dumpling dish.  It's just a flavored dough that is pushed through a spaetzle maker (in a pinch, use a colander, its the same thing practically) into boiling broth or water.  Then once cooked, its fried in butter and served.  It's the perfect "backdrop" to any meal, because you can change up the flavors and it absorbs sauce terrifically.  I highly recommend giving it a shot some time!
Side Dish - Red Cabbage Salad with Warm Pancetta-Balsamic Dressing
This is not your average red cabbage dish!  It is not braised or out of a can and mushy.  It is served rather raw, so it holds its crispness, and then tossed with almonds, dried fruits, bacon, and then drizzled with a hot balsamic dressing.  (Drizzled, not drenched, folks.)  It is the perfect accompaniment to almost any cold-weather dish!  (And leftovers make a great lunch!)
Side Dish - Whiskey Braised Applesauce
Whiskey, apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger.. that easy!  (I'm convinced that ginger is going to become my new "secret" ingredient in almost any dish.)  We followed the recipe exactly, blended it up, and served.  It is a fantastic applesauce!  (Obviously, not very child-friendly... we're talking a full cup of whiskey!)  I would suggest reducing the brown sugar, though.  We found 1 cup to be rather sweet.
Entree Wine - 1999 Echelon Pinot Noir
Rating - Not Found
Shame on us.  Another week that we never made it to Harry's!!!  So instead we reached into the stockpile and pulled out this Pinot.  It was ok.  It smelled very much like a port and was rather heavy and smoky on the palate, but it worked well with the food.  We absolutely promise, scouts-honor, that we will be back with our trusted connoisseurs next week.
Dessert - Black Forest Cake
Family Recipe
Okay, so this is the gist.  You make two small dark chocolate cakes.  Then you cut them in half, and start putting filling in between the layers.  Jennifer wasn't exactly giving away secrets, but here's some of the things I picked up.  There were layers of black cherry preserves, the cake was sprinkled with kirsch, and then layers of whipped cream that included dutch cocoa, kirsch, and who knows what else.  Final product - delicious!  Rich and exploding with different flavors.
Aperitif - Coffee Trash
And this is why I have a headache this morning.  Coffee trash is simply put - grain alcohol and coffee.  I believe its originated from Jennifer's side of the family, but I could be wrong.  Strongly brewed coffee, a shot of pure alcohol, and a spoonful of sugar.  So good, but so bad.
Anyways... it may have been slightly "off" compared to our usual evenings, but still a wonderful meal.  I promise we will be back to normal next week.
Next Week - Coq au Vin (a la Julia Child!)

Monday, October 1, 2012

September 30, 2012 - Farmer's Market

Happy Monday!!!  We are officially in October!  (Which means Oktoberfest, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.)  This weekend was really special, because we had our largest group to date.  We had a party of 12 that included family and friends (from Norway!) and the group included children.  (That made our desserts a little difficult, I'll be honest.  How often have we done a dessert that did not include alcohol?)  Anyways... it was a fantastic time! The afternoon was spent at a local farm playing in corn mazes and apple picking, and the evening was spent cooking up a feast.  Once again, we did it kind of smorgasbord style, but we had plenty of amazing dishes sure to impress any taste palate.
Cocktail - Apple Cidercar
Apple cider, brandy, cointreau, lemon juice.  Two weeks without vodka.  That must be a first.  Great cocktail, but goes down real easy, so be careful.
Appetizer - Vegetarian Empanadas
So good!  You'd never know there were so many vegetables!  Great appetizer, great flavors, great use of frozen empanada shells!
Appetizer - Butternut Squash Chowder with Pears and Ginger
We did this more of a bisque-style instead of a chowder for ease purposes.  We bought most of the ingredients pre-chopped (don't judge... sometimes you just have to take the easy route!) and therefore they weren't very bite-sized.  So instead of spending an hour finely chopping everything, we just blended it up, and it was equally delicious!  Personally, I think it could have used more ginger, but that's a personal preference.
Entree - Pork Chops Stuffed with Smoked Gouda and Bacon
Ooey-gooey, melty, smoky goodness!  Cooked exactly as written and these were amazing!  The only thing we did was create an apple cider-sauce to put over them for those that needed a little moisture, but not necessary.  However, one chop was way too much for one person.  Next time, perhaps butterfly a pork tenderloin or roast, stuff that, and then roll it up and grill it?  This way you can cut smaller medallion size portions.  On the flip side, its having the bone that helps keep it moist.  You be the judge.
Entree - Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
We had vegetarians in the crowd, and we didn't want to disappoint them!  This was a great dish, even considering that we excluded the seitan.  (Seriously... I think only one person at the table even knew what that was.)  My only recommendation would be to use less stock.  This was really "soup-y" no matter how much it reduced, and perhaps the seitan would have absorbed the leftover liquids, so use your judgement.  Delicious way to eat your vegetables.
Side Dish - Pumpkin Garlic Knots
I'm a garlic knot fanatic.  Pumpkin, not so much.  So when Jennifer found this recipe, I was a little hesitant.  They were awesome!  The pumpkin flavor was very mild, and the knots were the perfect texture.  (Honestly, if you hadn't told me the recipe, I would never have assumed pumpkin was in there.)  The only changes we made was to just toss them in a bowl of garlic oil and then top with nutmeg and parmesan.
Side Dish - Wild Rice Stuffing with Pearl Onions, Dried Cherries, and Apricots
Super!  Easy to follow, easy to make, and delicious.  Definitely a Thanksgiving-quality side dish!
Side Dish - Kale Salad with Pine Nuts, Currants, and Parmesan
Simple and perfect.  Raw kale was a surprising twist for me, personally.  (After all, I didn't even know what kale was before we started this little blog.)  And therefore, I think this would be equally good with baby spinach.  However, the kale lovers in the group insisted that the bitterness of the greens with the dressing and currants was perfection.
Final Plate
Dessert - Chocolate Mousse with Fresh Berries
Confession time.  This wasn't the original dessert we had planned.  We were originally going to make a lemon mousse.  However, the homemade lemon curd didn't really "look right" and we made the judgement call not to give the group salmonella so had to pull a last minute hail mary.  So... we melted a bag of chocolate chips into some cream, and then folded it into whipped cream to make lovely chocolate mousse.  We then topped with tons of fresh berries and a chocolate covered banana piece!  It's chocolate - its always good!
Wine - House Wines
Sorry, folks.  We stuck with whatever was lying around the house this week.  Way too many people, too many dishes, and too much chaos to make it over to Harry's.  (We will be back next week... it's a promise!)
Overall, another superb meal!  We were so happy to have a great group of friends and family join us.  (And special shout out to Nick, who was an incredible sous chef this weekend.)  However, I'm really looking forward to next week.  We're going back to my German roots and celebrating Oktoberfest in style!  (Side note - did you know that Germany is #3 on the list of where most of our readers come from... after the good old US of A, and then Russia???)
Next Week - Oktoberfest