When Briggs and I dreamed up Cook the Books we were not only excited about exploring cookbooks and creating great food, but we also knew this meant a good excuse to make a big dinner extravaganza with, and for, our partners. We met up at our office-of-sorts and decided on a menu. A menu way too giant for 5 people, but with opportunities to try a lot of recipes and have leftovers.
- Cheez-it-ish Crackers ( )
- Lime and Honey Beet Salad on arugula ( )
- Go-with-Everything Celery Root Puree (pg. 354)
- Herb-speckled Spaetzle (pg. 372)
- Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port (pg. 254)
- Chicken-in-a-Pot (pg. 206)
- Chocolate and Vanilla Eclairs (pg. 473)
- Citrus-Berry Terrine (p.399)
- French 75s (again, but this time with Meyer Lemon juice)
Briggs made a French-themed playlist for the evening that I think they’ll share with you later. We drank, we ate, we laughed, and we spoke faux-French.
The conversations were funny, as always. Talk was fast and loud. We started with tales of time spent in Yellowstone and Yosemite, but got to steampunk and Portlandia – Dream of the 1890’s (do watch this if you haven’t, it is great!). We might have discussed the possible merits of knowing the Myers-Briggs Type (*) of a sperm donor. Back to faux-French. Wondered if it is ok to speak faux-French. Decided it is (sort of) ok as the French are not an oppressed people. (If you disagree- it was really my thought and does not reflect on the sensibilities of my co-host.) Told silly stories of my 20-year-old-frat-boy-alter-ego that we are now referring to as Rusty Brown. Announced that we are hilarious and ate more eclairs.
Which is to say, it was an awesome night. The house rocked with laughter and good food was everywhere.
Briggs reviewed the food they made today over at OhBriggsy (short ribs, honey lime beet salad, celery root purée, and eclairs).
The cheez-it-ish crackers turned out perfect for a nibble with our champagne based pre-dinner cocktails. I did as she suggested and rolled them in wax paper and prepared them as slice and bake crackers. My dough was a tad dry (likely because I was doing it by hand) so I added a tablespoon or so of milk. Worked perfect!
The spaetzle was perhaps an odd side dish for the meal we chose, but I really wanted to try it out. I knew it would be messy and I would otherwise write it off and never try it. I’m glad I did. It was indeed messy, but in the end not too bad. I found the sticky dough difficult to push through a grater and ended up using a slotted spoon. The bits of spaetzle I got were a bit bigger as a result, but they turned out great! Now that I know how it works I won’t be so hesitant. Next time I’ll do the last cook a bit longer to allow them to get a few crispy spots, but that is just a preference.
The chicken-in-a-pot (cover recipe) was surprising simple for such a cool presentation. The chicken was super moist and the vegetables in the pot perfectly cooked. I probably could have added a titch more salt (because you get your ass kicked off Top Chef for that nonsense!), but still fantastic as it was. As a major cooking-foods-tinkerer, it was nerve-wracking to not be able to pick up the lid to peek at it while cooking, but Dorie’s timing was perfect. The Ladyfriend pried open the lid at the table and we all oohed and aahed.
The item I was the most curious and unsure about was probably the quickest and easiest. The citrus-berry terrine. AKA Fancy French Jello. Don’t knock it until you try it. If the foodie French can embrace gelatin, so can you. The picture looked so fresh to me that I had to have it. Now. I wasn’t about to buy berries in January but was a bit worried about how my frozen berries (from the garden in summer) would hold up in such a dessert. It worked perfectly! I thawed and drained the berries and allowed them to dry on paper towels before folding into the mix. Perfect. I’m making it again and I might just bust out the 50’s jello mold next time.
So, we cooked with Dorie. We posed like Dorie. January’s Cook the Book Dinner Party – complete!