Sunday, October 14, 2007

Star Trek party

Saturday, October 6, was our Star Trek party! This entry comes so late because life has been absolutely insane lately. I barely have time to turn on the computer at home, let alone finish a whole blog entry. Plus, there were issues with uploading photos, so that added to the delay.

Good company, as always, for a showing of
Voyager, Star Trek (the original series), and The Next Generation. D. was a big help, taking the lead with several dishes. I was overly ambition and planned a menu that wasn't easy in terms of getting the dishes out in a timely fashion. However, the dishes turned out beautifully, so I can say that my (or rather, our) A-game was definitely on.

Our cooking day began with the desserts. Molasses spice cookies (
Bon Appetit Nov. 2006) started off the day's baking:

The cookies were a little flat, but the spicy and rich flavor was quite nice. They're a bit like gingersnaps without the spiciness that's usually associated with ginger. I liked them a lot.

There were the red velvet cupcakes (
Bon Appetit June 2006):

They were topped with a cream cheese frosting. The red food coloring was a bit of a pain to work with, but the recipe was easy and the cupcakes super-moist.

D. made his trademark chocolate chip cookies. They're always fabulous and he definitely has a way with them. He says he uses the recipe on the Nestle chocolate chip bag and adds a little more vanilla, but I think there's a special touch to them that's associated only with him.

The whole wheat dinner rolls (
Bon Appetit November 2007)... these are the rolls being proofed right before baking, while they're cooling, and after they've been pulled apart and put in a bowl:

They were a little too dense, though. The flavor was ok. I was expecting something lighter. Apparently, the secret weapon in these rolls is instant potato flakes. They were supposed to make the texture even fluffier, but I'm not sure that happened in this case.

Last on the baking list was a
lemon angel food cake. It's yet another Barefoot Contessa recipe. I think it turned out beautifully.

I used an aluminum angel food cake pan. The pan is left ungreased so the cake can climb the walls. Once the cake is finished baking, it is placed on a wine bottle to hang, so gravity doesn't collapse the cake. When the cake is cool, it is carefully removed from the pan with a butter knife. A quick glaze of 2 cups of powdered sugar, the juice from one lemon, and some zest was mixed up and drizzled over the cake.

The cake was very light and the lemon flavor subtle. It would be fine on its own, but the glaze was a nice touch. After the party, I took a slice and paired it with macerated strawberries, which was fabulous.

As for the entrees, those turned out fabulously, too. D. used a family recipe for meatballs, which are braised in grape jelly and chili sauce (usually Heinz 57). The sauce is amazing and it's hard to believe that it's grape jelly, which I'm not fond of. This dish is wonderful with a bowl of rice.

We also made carmelized onion flatbreads (
Bon Appetit February 2006), which came out really well. D. did a great job with the onions, which require quite a bit of patience. There was also a carrot orzo (Bon Appetit March 2007), potato pancakes (Bon Appetit January 2006), manchego/pear/fig jam crostini, and ham/Gruyeres/onion quesadillas.

The flatbreads had a creme fraiche drizzle that was really runny during preparation, but baked up really nicely. I like the carrot orzo's subtle flavors of carrot and parmesan cheese. The bland pasta muted it out just enough. D. fried the potatoes crisply and they were topped with creme fraiche and diced red onion.

The crostini was good return for flavor vs. effort. Manchego is a pretty mild cheese with a smooth flavor. It pairs well with the sweet pears and the really sweet fig jam. The quesadillas are inspired from a Trader Joe's frozen pizza. It's the greatest combination ever... smoky ham with the semi-sharp Gruyeres cheese and strong onion.

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