This month was very fun for me, why?? Cause it was at my house AND we got to look at ourselves in the March edition of Baltimore Magazine!!! Check out the online article right here! So I chose this cookbook because someone I know is obsessed with Claire Robinson… She loves cooking french food, has a funny little french bulldog and spends her Sunday afternoons drinking beer and watching golf. I wonder who has that obsession?? So I was in the bookstore one day and laid my eyes upon this cookbook and Claire’s. I must admit I do enjoy some Food network cookbooks in my collection (Ina & Tyler) so looking at her recipes made me equally happy. And lucky for me, that certain someone bought both books for me for Valentine’s Day!!!
So last Saturday night was a busy one! We had seven of us (six of the crew + 1 special guest!) But wow were these recipes good. Like 90% of them! And we had a nice cocktail too, a clementine one that Beth so graciously prepared for us!
So Alayne had appetizer and chose a asparagus pesto over polenta. In my mind this sounded like a really tasty recipe, but when we got to eating it, it left a little something to be desired! Look at these beautiful skinny asparagii (??) from Trader Joe’s.
We blanched the asparagus and threw it in the food processor with parmesan cheese and pine nuts.
Then we made the polenta and spread it out on a baking sheet to cool.
Since I don’t have circle cookie cutters, we improvised! Hearts it was! I mean its still the month of Valentine’s day!
Isn’t Alayne’s heart just darling?? And heres the finished product. The pesto had a bright interesting taste (the lemon zest helped with that too), but the polenta was too mushy for my palate. I don’t remember what the recipe said we could do to doctor up the polenta. But in our discussions we thought they could have used a trip to the broiler or a deep frying!
Maria, our newest overachiever, made these drinking snacks in advance, aka cheese straws! Boy oh boy were they salty. I loved em!
Then Renee got to her soup, potato with leeks soup, to be exact. Sauteed some leeks and bacon and then boiled the potatoes, heated up some chicken stock, brought out the immersion blender, and….
Voila! I really liked this soup, because we did not add that many potatoes, it had a lightness to it. And the cheddar cheese and marscapone (no sour cream in da house!) additions were great.
Then Joanne got to her salad. Ever since I saw this recipe in the book I knew I wanted to eat it. Because Joanne loves me so much and knows I love strawberries she went with it! Strawberries, arugula, fennel and almonds. The dressing used was kinda crazy – just reduced vinegar and boy did that stink up the kitchen! But it was only for a little while so it was all good.
Beautiful! And the wine we paired with it was awesome too, a french one that had notes of anise in it that I picked up from Viniferous so it really paired great with the salad. Bob the owner of that store is just great and I am so glad two important parts of this meal came from local shops! (also the catfish from the Common Market!)
Then we got to entree time. Maria made the brussel sprout gratin and that was probably the best decision of the night. This gratin was insanely good.
Lovely sprouts and shredded mozzerella cheese from Wegmans.
After she made the bechamel, it went right on top of the sprouts.
And after broiling for a while, we topped it with hazelnuts! Isn’t her pink dish just the bees knees??? I can’t wait til I have a kitchen and dining room of my own so I can fill it with lovely serving ware such as that!
And here was the entree composed. I made the blackened catfish – see more details on my blog how I put that together! I think the two recipes went very well together, mostly because both tasted so darn good! I am totally making both recipes again, like totally. 😛
Lastly for dessert, Julie made two dishes! First one was pretty cool – a chai spiced chocolate mixture to put onto smores!
We used the broiler on my stove for the very first time! (who knew its in the drawer underneath the oven where I keep some of my pans…)
And Julie also made a prosecco jelly and topped it with fresh whipped cream. Oh my word this was good. I still have some leftover and plan on eating it on Saturday night with Beffy, Kelly and Laurita!
All in all, even some may view Food network chefs as “hokey” I think Claire did a good job with this cookbook. The whole five ingredient thing did work pretty well, but I’m sure I’m going to use the ‘extras’ she lists on the side of each recipe. Can’t wait for next month – French Laundry at Joanne’s house and I have the composed cheese course!