A weekend of yummy delights

Loving boyfriend and I spent most of the weekend entertaining friends for casual get-togethers so this was a weekend with lots of cooking involved (my favorite kind!).

Golden Halibut Pie. Okay - this is not a light recipe (so mom, might want to stay away from this one) but it sure is good...it's incredibly rich and creamy, topped with crispy browned phyllo dough, and Loving Boyfriend cooked it all by himself as a treat for me on Friday night (awwwww, how sweet!). It came out of our Challenge cookbook, and it's called Golden Fish Pie. We used halibut and have some suggestions for how we would modify it a bit for the next time. I'll send out the recipe tomorrow b/c I left it at home.

On Saturday, U of O football was up against the #1 team - USC. Since we were too 'cool' (or maybe just too old) to stand in line for hours to get free student tickets, we decided to camp out at home and watch the game with a few friends. Besides, the food is better there anyway!

Loving boyfriend was in charge of the country-style pork ribs with homemade BBQ sauce and I must give him kudos because they came out incredible and fell off the bones right into your mouth. We also needed to use up veggies from the CSA box, so we made a
cucumber/dill/shallot salad with a rice vinegar/sugar/red pepper flake vinaigrette and sauteed squash with onions. But the dessert 'took the cake,' so to speak. This recipe is out of Gourmet magazine, and it's awesome. It's supposed to be made with whiskey, but we had brandy on hand and so used that instead.

Chocolate Brandy Bundt Cake

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli) + 3 tbsp. for dusting pan
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/2 cup brandy
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch peices
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Butter pan and dust with cocoa; knocking excess out. Heat coffee, whiskey, butter, and remaining cup of cocoa powder in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat; whisking until butter is melted. Remove from heat and add sugar, whisking until dissolved. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and cool 5 minutes.

While cooling, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Whisk together eggs and vanilla in a third bowl, then whisk into cooled chocolate mixture until combined well.
Add flour and whisk until just combined (will be thin and bubbly). Pour batter into bundt pan and bake until wooden skewer or pick inserted into center comes out clean (about 40-50 minutes).

Cook completely in pan on rack (about 2 hours), then remove from pan onto rack.

The cake is even better the second day, when you can really begin to taste the alcohol (at room temp - wrap tightly in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out). We served it with vanilla ice cream, or you could do whipped cream too, and it really seemed to bring things together. They say you can keep it (chilled) for up to 5 days. I wouldn't call it exactly chocolatey, more cocoa flavored, but still very good.

On Sunday, we had friends over for a BBQ and to play games. We BBQ'd up some fresh salmon
fillets, made a minted melon salad (part of the Challenge), grilled portabello mushrooms with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes, a nice green salad and this beautifully colored beet dip.

This is a Russian/Balkan/Turkey recipe called Pkhali, or beets with walnut garlic sauce.

Pkhali, from Cooking Light magazine, and adapted to my tastebuds

1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 clove garlic, peeled
4 cups beets, (to be roasted and chopped)

Roast the beets in a tightly covered pan with a splash of water at 400F. This will take about an hour. When tender, cut the ends off, slip the beets out of their skins and chop them roughly. Combine the all of the ingredients ingredients into a food processor, and process until smooth. This is for the dip version of the dish (like we made, and served with whole wheat toasted pita bread triangles). You can also serve it as a side dish by finely chopping the beets, then processing the first 7 ingredients until smooth, and adding this mixture to the beets in a large bowl. Several people who weren't sure they liked beets - or hated pickled beets - devoured it.

For dessert? Fresh gingerbread with lemon icing. Watch for this recipe soon too. MMMmmmm...

One of the highlights of the evening, however, was a new game that one of our friends introduced us to: Sardines. No game could top a game with food in the name! You turn off all the lights in the house, making it pitch-black. We drew cards before we began to see who would be the "hider," and that person makes their way to a hiding spot and lies in wait for the other people to come blindly along so that they can grab them. Once grabbed, you have to hide with them and the game goes on until everyone is caught. It's rather creepy wandering around in the dark (even in your own house!) waiting to run into someone's body. The game was great, until the last person was still wandering around, and all of us were crouched in this dark corner of our guest room...

...then somebody farted.

Must have been all that good food.

4 comments from you:

vlb5757 said...

Michelle (see I got it right this time-lol!) I loved your pictures of the food and the one with the beets is so striking! I have never been much of a beet eater but maybe now is the time. The story about the loving boyfriend cooking for you is sweet. I have been married for 26 years and the best thing hubby does for me is make me the perfect cup of coffee on a Sunday morning so I can watch the Sunday Morning Show on CBS. I have to hear that trumphet sound to start my Sunday. Life has it's little pleasures!

Beth - The Zen Foodist said...

That cake looks amazing! Yum!

michelle said...

Hi Vickie!
Yeah, beets are one of those things that you either like the earthy flavor of, or you don't. Congrats on being married so long, and to such a nice guy! That sounds like a much more peaceful weekend morning than my own: Samson (my puppy) likes to start barking at us at about 6:30 AM to get us up to play. We're trying to break him of it, but it's a long, slow road!

Hi Beth! Thanks for stopping by - do try the cake, it's yummy!

vlb5757 said...

Hey, Michelle! I was in Kansas City Kansas at a restaurant and ordered a cold plate with diced beets and apples. OMG! That was so good. I had never had beets before and I loved them. I have no idea what that was called. So now I will have to try a new beet recipe.

The nice guy cooked our steak and asparagus on the grill tonight while I did a blog entry. He even nuked us a little potato each. He is truly a gem and I would be totally lost without him. We have 4 dogs and two cats. I never get to sleep past 6 so I feel your puppy pain. It will get better! He is a cutie. I loved the pictures of cute puppy to HUGE puppy. lol!