The Season’s Last Hurrah!

I realized that I let the summer slip away without hosting a big blow out celebration.  So, last-minute, I invited some of our favorite people over for bouillabaisse.  Here’s a peek at our evening.

We always say:  search your home for treasures to use in decorating.  The flowers are in pails from used citronella candles.  I cleaned them up and antiqued them with a little gold paint.  The flowers?  Wegmans!  Can  you beat $20 for 2 dozen long stems?

The lights evoke  childhood memories of catching fire flies in mason jars at dusk.

Menu

Gougéres
Champagne Jean-Noël Haton Brut Blanc de Balnc Millésime 2005

The Grand Aioli
2014 Underwood Rosé
Caves des Grands Crus Blancs Pouilly-Fuissé 2014

Boullabaisse
Croutons with red pepper rouille
Clarendelle Blanc 2012
Le Sot de L’Ange La Boutanche Rosé

Cheese Plate:  Coulommiers, Comté and Stilton
Peller Estates Ice Wine Riesling 2013

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Here are the recipes for gougères and easy aioli.  I relied on a recipe from Tyler Florence as a start for my bouillabaisse.  Here it is:  bouillabaisse.  Believe me I didn’t follow his recipe step by step — too complicated.  The chocolate pots de creme recipe is Martha Stewart’s — you will never go wrong with her!  Here is her recipe:  pots de creme.

final_300dpiThe Divas “Dish” on Mimi’s Dishes.   Don’t be intimidated by gougères.  Once you master the dough it’s a snap!  I’ve always wanted to do an authentic “grand aioli” which is an informal meal that includes poached fish.  I thought a version of it would be fun … sitting around the table with wine before the main event.  I don’t make my fish stock for bouillibaisse, I use seafood stock — just as good, a lot less work.  I use triple the amount of vegetables that the recipe calls for and I have a heavy hand with fresh fennel, fennel seeds and Pernod.  I like a very strong expression of the vegetables and aromatics in the broth.  I purée half of the vegetables and stir them into the strained broth.  Experiment!  Have fun!  It’s just food, not brain surgery … years later I’m still tweaking it.  The red pepper rouille was easy and delicious with the meal.   No picture of the cheese plate — sorry.  Coulommiers is French brie — creamy, nutty, wonderful with wine.  Comté is a nice mild French hard cheese and Stilton isn’t French but my husband loves it, so I serve it.  First attempt at pots de creme — they tasted better than that picture looks (thank goodness!)

Sue.  I was so sorry to miss Mimi’s party — it’s been a busy busy summer with family and friends of the family visiting almost every weekend!!  Anyway,  I love Mimi’s bouillabaisse and have had it many times.  It’s the best I’ve ever tasted.  Good thing she makes it — too many complicated steps for me to tackle.  I don’t have the patience.  And boy those gougéres look good — with champagne!  My husband says if he could drink nothing but champagne, he would.

Mimi’s version of Summer Pasta with Ricotta

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Rich, creamy and diva – licious!

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What a difference homemade ricotta cheese makes in this dish!

final_300dpiDivas Dish on Mimi’s Dish  When I saw Sue’s menu for Guy’s Golf Weekend I decided that I had to make the pasta as well.  I found the recipe on-line … and it included homemade ricotta!!  Get the Recipe Here!  Now I’m spoiled, no more store-bought ricotta for our house.  You can’t believe how easy it is to make.  Sue:  Yes, it’s easy, creamy, delicious and light.   But, I would make the ricotta the day before so that I can focus on my company rather than making cheese — less time in the kitchen, more time to enjoy conversation and have a few laughs.

Johnny and his Albany Buddies — Guy’s Golf Weekend (take 2)

This is totally a guys’ golfing weekend … 18 holes Friday, 27 holes Saturday and 18 holes Sunday.  They actually played fewer holes and took it easy this summer because there was a tournament going on.  Their favorite hole is a par 5 on the blue course.  Here it is.IMG_0065

What’s a mother to do?    Serve the drinks and cook the food.

Friday Night

Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil  Get the Recipe Here!

Tomato and Onion Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette  Get the Recipe Here — sort of!

Raspberry – Ricotta Cake  Get the Recipe Here!

final_300dpiDivas Dish on Sue’s Dishes  No surprise, I didn’t stick precisely to these recipes.  Rather than using pasta water, I threw in 1/2 stick of butter and just a little pasta water.  I mixed summer squash and green squash to add a little color and did not make my ricotta.  I also just tossed the pasta with fresh basil rather than making basil garlic paste.  For the salad, I made citrus vinaigrette — who has time to roast lemons?!?  I thought the picture in the magazine of the salad was irresistible and had to make some variation of it.  For the ricotta cake I used fresh raspberries — the cake is dense — frozen berries would have added moisture.  So, I served a mixed berry compote to moisten the cake.   Mimi: I really wanted to make this pasta and googled it.  I had no idea it called for homemade ricotta cheese.  Check out my posting to see the results — diva-licious!

Saturday Night

Country Style Drumsticks

Baby Greens with Feta Cheese

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
12 drumsticks
yellow, red and orange bell peppers cut in strips
1 onion cut in strips
4 oz fresh mushrooms
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 dry white wine

  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan at medium high and brown drumsticks
  • Remove drumsticks from pan, add vegetables and sauté until crisp tender
  • Return drumsticks to pan and season with basil, oregano, salt and pepper
  • Add chicken broth and white wine, cover and simmer 20-25 minutes until chicken is tender

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Divas Dish on Sue’s Dish.  I used a lot more broth and wine than the recipe calls for — maybe double it.  We like to sop up the juice with fresh bread.  I also served mashed potatoes to make this a meal that sticks to your ribs … after 27 holes of golf that’s a necessity!  Mimi:  This kind of reminds me of coq au vin.  I’d try it but peppers aren’t my cup of tea.

 

Mimi Takes a Stab at Chicken Kebabs

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Before we went on a mini-vacation this summer, I didn’t feel like cooking and wanted a new, interesting and easy twist on chicken.  Here’s what I found in Food & Wine Magazine:  chicken thigh kebabs with chile-yogurt sauce.  Click here for the recipe:  kebabs.

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The Divas “Dish” on Mimi’s dish.  This was as I expected, easy and good.  The sauce is what makes the dish and Sue would probably not enjoy it because she doesn’t like spicy food.  I’d make this with chicken breast tenders the next time rather than thighs.  Sue:  I don’t mind a hint of heat but, Mimi’s right, I don’t like very spicy food.  Chicken thighs are my favorite cut of meat because they are the most tender cut of the chicken.

Mimi Makes a “Better Bean Salad”

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It’s like Christmas morning for me every time I see the new issue of Bon Appétit Magazine in my mail box.  I immediately set myself to finding sides to jazz up mid-week meals.  This salad is in the August 2015 issue, click here to try it yourself:  Better Bean Salad.

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The Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.  OK, so here’s what I had to eliminate or substitute in this recipe:  kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass stalk, a variety of beans.  I eliminated the kaffir lime leaves and used lemon grass paste and just green beans.  This was still a diva-licious dish.  This dressing is so flavorful, I’m going to make it as a “relish” for fish, chicken and pork in the future.  Sue:  The string beans were obviously blanched perfectly … just look at that color.  How can you go wrong with peanuts, ginger and lime, what flavor!! This is perfect for our Asian salmon, but maybe not for mid-week … this isn’t a salad you just throw together.

 

Mimi’s Mid-Week Attempt at Creativity

My dinners were getting a little “ho-hum” so, I scoured months of Bon Appétit and Food & Wine magazines to introduce a little variety.  I found this salad in Bon Appétit July 2014 — a nice refreshing summer blend.  (Go here for the recipe:  Summer Salad)

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Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.  If you checked out the recipe in Bon Appétit you will notice mine looks absolutely nothing like theirs.  I couldn’t find fava beans.  We love Great Northern White Beans and I substituted them.  Pea shoots are impossible to find within 100 miles of Buck Hill Falls!  Finally, surprising to me, Wegmans had not a single head of Bibb lettuce.  Still a great salad!!!  Sue:  Snow peas or blanched sugar snap peas would also work great in this dish.  I love them because they taste great cold and have nice crunch.  I would probably substitute cannellini beans because I always have them in my pantry.  Wegmans didn’t have Bibb lettuce?  That’s insane, I can’t believe it.

 

I rarely make scallops;  I don’t really like them.  In an adventurous mood, I decided to give this dish a try.  Click here for the recipe in Food & Wine Magazine:  Cilantro Scallops.

 

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final_300dpiDivas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.  When you marinate the scallops, don’t leave them in the marinade more than 15 minutes — it’s not a ceviche, you grill these!  We probably could have used a hotter flame to develop a nice golden brown crust on them.  I thought it would be good to serve the scallops on tortillas  that were  “crisped up” under the broiler.  After squeezing the lime juice on the scallops, just pile 1/2 of a scallop and some avocado on a wedge of the tortilla and create one delectable bite!  Sue:  I only like scallops pan seared.  It’s hard to get them just right on the grill … unless, of course,  you have a barbecue addiction like Bobby Flay!

Guest Diva — Karen

When you’re invited to dinner at Karen and Harold’s you can count on having a great time – their recent party went well into the early morning hours, as always! Really, truly no one wants to leave. And Harold is so generous if you admire the wine, he insists you take a bottle home with you.  The evening always has a theme and without fail is beautiful. Karen is a design expert and her home and entertaining style reflect her wonderful talent. Here’s a peek at a recent party we attended.

We were so enthralled … the setting …  the guests … the wine …  the dog, I only remembered to take one picture of the food.

 

Karen's killer gazpacho.

Karen’s killer gazpacho.

 

But anyway here’s what we ate.

lobster

Our lobster wasn’t smiling …

corn

corn on the cob slathered with butter!

angel

Get it? Angel food…

cake

….cake

Cartoons courtesy of Cliparts.co (click below)
Lobster cartoon
Corn on the cob cartoon
Angel cartoon
Cake cartoon