I decided to set the table in a French style this time by using a table cloth and I cut some flowers from the yard. I also changed up my usual white plate (used only for better pictures) to a french blue plate. It really makes things a bit more special by making these small changes.
Fresh Figs with Lavender Goat Cheese and Prosciutto
I didn't have any good ideas for the appetizer so I left it up to the market. I figured I would see what looked good and go from there. The produce department had these really good looking figs, with a different name (which I can't think of), and there was a sign that said good when wrapped with prosciutto. That's all I needed to start the ball rolling. I came across some lavender and honey goat cheese in the cheese department and I got some really good prosciutto. So I cut the figs in half and filled the centers with the lavender goat cheese then wrapped in prosciutto. When I was ready to serve I put a little olive oil in a non-stick pan and place in the bundles of joy. I turned them as they cooked to caramelize the prosciutto slightly and warm the centers. I removed them to a serving plate and deglazed with a little balsamic vinegar and let it reduce for a second then add a tablespoon of butter and swirled it in to melt off the heat. I poured the balsamic glaze over the figs and walla. It was really yummy.
Cast Iron Roast Chicken
I recently watched an Anthony Bourdain show again where "my guy" Thomas Keller was on his show showing how he makes a basic roast chicken. It's different than the recipe in his "Ad Hoc At Home" cookbook. Also different than what I would normally do. I normally would add herbs or lemon to the cavity and some butter or oil on the skin and it's always good but he was showing how he just uses salt and pepper in the cavity and on the skin and that's it. He roasts it at about 425-450 for 25 minutes then turns down the temperature to 400 until the temperature of the chicken is at 160 degrees. He did his chicken in a medium sized skillet. I wanted to use my cast iron pan. I love when rutabaga or turnips are under a chicken while it roasts so I added that to the pan first. Of course you truss the chicken before roasting to keep it all together. What a great way to do it. It was juicy and the skin was crispy too.
This was the whole reason I bought the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook in the first place. I saw Thomas Keller do this recipe on a show (I think Martha) and it looked easy but impressive, and it is. You start by slicing russet potatoes very thin using a mandolin (or a meat slicer, which is what I used), and dropping the slices into milk seasoned with salt and pepper. Butter a loaf pan that stands about 3 inches tall. Start layering in the potatoes and every two layers add a bit of butter and salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil tightly and bake for 1 hour and 50 minutes at 375 or until the potatoes are very tender. Remove from the oven and weigh it down and let it come to room temperature. Chill at least 6 hours or overnight. Cut slices and cook in a non-stick skillet on it's side in canola oil. As it browns you start to see all the layers of potato get crisp on the outside and it's almost creamy on the inside. Brown on two sides and plate. Top with butter and fresh cut chives. This was good for days to follow and along side an egg for breakfast.
Crunchy Brussels Sprout Leaves with Pancetta
I started by cutting off the end a little to allow the layers to "fall off, with a little help form a knife" and when it gets down to the centers I just cut it into quarters. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and cut thick sliced pancetta cut into a small dice. Brown the pancetta and leaving the fat in the pan (remove some fat if there is too much) add the Brussels sprouts. Toss and cook for maybe 4-5 minutes over med-high heat, season with a little salt and pepper. Delicious!
Apple Fritters with Bourbon Ice Cream
This was in the October 2010 Bon Appetit magazine. We got the magazine in the mailbox just the day before and Tony commented on these fritters with the ice cream when he saw it, so I thought...there is the dessert for Friday Night...
The fritters remind me of a donut batter made with flour, sugar, spices, buttermilk, eggs and baking powder. The apples are sauteed ahead with butter and sugar then sparkling apple cider, apple cider vinegar and cinnamon are added. You combine the apples and the batter and deep fry for about 4 minutes until cooked through. Toss with cinnamon-sugar right out of the oil. The ice cream has 5 Tbsp of Bourbon in the whole recipe so it's subtle but really the right amount of flavor. It was great as we head into Fall. The best part was Tony stopped on the way home and bought a new liqueur that he's been seeing in drink recipes and he made me a drink that combined cinnamon and sparkling apple cider. It paired perfectly with what I made for dessert, I think he read my mind.