Thanks for visiting, CS followers! I don't even know where to start on how fantastic this meal was, so I'm just going to dive right in...
Cocktail - Whiskey Champagne Cocktail
Whiskey, Prosecco, and a large orange slice. Simple and delicious!
Appetizer - Mini Crab Cakes
Nom nom nom. We could not get enough of these little babies! (We also used a lemon pepper panko to keep with our pepper theme.) They were moist and rich on the inside but crispy and crunchy on the outside. Great served warm or room temperature - this is a go-to brunch idea!
Appetizer Wine - Albarino
I forgot to take a picture of the bottle, so I don't remember what it was, but I do remember it was a Spanish Albarino, which is definitely one of our favorite whites. It was crisp and grassy with a good depth to it that perfectly complemented the lemon in the crab cakes.
Entree - Crab Stuffed Filet Mignon with Whiskey Peppercorn Sauce
Ladies and gentlemen - undo a belt buckle, embrace the calories, and dive right in! Let's break it down. First - the sauce. If you look at the recipe, it's really simple - but keep in mind, if there is anything you learn from this blog, it is that a good sauce will need a minimum of 30-60 minutes to properly reduce. And we did take about 60 minutes to get it to perfection. Also - we didn't use the mushrooms, so this recipe was mushroom-free. (And honestly, I don't think anything was lost for that.) The crab meat stuffing - we cheated. I had all intentions of buying all the ingredients and making it myself - but the store didn't have real lump crab meat and I do not like the idea of crab in a can. However, the store had pre-made "crab meat stuffing" that I guess people use to form their own crab cakes. I picked that up instead and it was unbelievable. So you cut a side pocket in your filet, stuff that baby with packed crab meat stuffing, and then secure a piece of bacon around it. (I would recommend pre-cooking the bacon slightly because it will not be crispy by the time the filet is done.) We followed the instructions and cooked it in a pan (approx. 4 min per side) and then kept warm in the oven while deglazing the skillet and finishing up the sauce. Finger licking good! And such a nice dish to impress - the crab meat really throws it over the top. (And can be made in advance - the sauce, the stuffing, and putting the filets together.)
Side Dish - Roasted Asparagus and Mashed Japanese Sweet Potatoes
That is a picture of a Japanese sweet potato. They are popping up in grocery stores more often, and Jennifer introduced me to them last night. I am a convert and an addict. We mashed them just like regular mashed potatoes, except for 2 sweet potatoes, we only needed about 1 Tbsp butter and a splash of milk. And they were insanely creamy and delicious. They are slightly sweet and almost have an earthy chestnut flavor. It is so hard to explain, except that you must try them now! Oh, and we just threw some asparagus in the oven to roast with EVOO and salt. We really didn't want a crazy side dish to detract from the elaborate filet.
Entree Wine - 2012 Cherry Tart Pinot Noir
So John went to our local Stew Leonard's Wines to do a wine pairing and they were rather perplexed with the idea of steak (think Cabernet) and crab (think sauvignon blanc.) So the guy there decided on a pinot noir, which we obviously stared cross-eyed at in the beginning. But he was so right! On the nose, it was immediate cherries and chocolate and we were concerned that it would be a hard balance on the meal. However, it mellowed into a smooth wine that didn't overpower the crab and didn't get lost in the steak. A fantastic red wine!
Dessert - Chocolate Whiskey Truffle Souffles with Caramel Sauce
O.M.G. Seriously. First off - let's give a huge round of applause to Jennifer for making her own truffles! (If you read the reviews on the website for the recipe, many people recommend just buying some store bought truffles. And honestly, you probably can and it will be just fine.) But these truffles were amazing and the size of golf balls. So the only recommendation I have is to watch how big they are. (If they are the size of golf balls, like ours, half the truffle.) Then follow the recipe exactly and keep your eye on the oven to make sure you don't overcook. Also - save yourself the aggravation and just buy store bought caramel sauce. This was something of a mix between a souffle and a lava cake and it was just divine. We want to retry it now with different flavor profiles - amaretto and almond, creme de cocoa and hazelnuts, etc.
So there you go - an amazing meal that will absolutely go down in your recipe box as a "must make when I need to impress someone" meal!