I didn't make it through to the third FoodBuzz Challenge. It is ok. I kept my blog post true to who I am and looking back, the hanging chicken and chicken livers didn't make the most appetizing pictures. I will not change one thing about how I blog though. I knew going into that one that it either would hit a note or not. I knew that the food itself wouldn't stand up on its own. So, here is my elegant dinner which was great. I have to say that this perhaps was the hardest challenge of them all so far. What made it so hard? Not deciding what to make. Not the cooking. Not the elegant. I have told you that living in New England and being a foodie has been a challenge in itself. What made this FB Challenge so difficult is that no one we know in New England wants to eat my food. The three people that we know that like food were all busy.
Not one tweet back. NOT ONE. I know that I feel like no one can see a thing I tweet anyhow because NO ONE ever answers me, but an INVITATION for dinner?
I wrote to our foodie friend, Al.
New Englanders are a tough crowd. They don't like different types of food very much. They are in their own little comfort zone and you can't entice them out of it. Had I been in California there would have been plenty of people that would have come to dinner. I even got Facebook answers like these when I posted my plight on there:
Huh. At any rate I wasn't going to not do this because I couldn't get people to eat my food. This dinner was going to be fantastic. I found a recipe that I wanted to make to highlight that entertaining does not need to be stressful (unless you have to beg people to come to your elegant party). It is by one of my favorites, Paula Wolfert. It is called Pork and Wild Mushroom Daube. I made this dish the day before as instructed. I then had the next day free to make the other courses and to clean the house and set the table.
We had a wedding to go to the night before our dinner so we started in the afternoon and could finish before we left for the wedding. The daube had to sit overnight in the refrig which was a good thing.
It was simple to layer this amazing dish and then stick it away. That is pork skin that lines that clay dish.
We browned the pork and then the vegetables and then ignited the dish as instructed (ok, I made Dr. Food do this like three times because I couldn't get the picture.
I got it all in the dish and we were done for the night. Off to the wedding.
So, in the morning I was still worrying about who would come to dinner. We had ok's from neighbors (wives weren't coming but they offered up their husbands as if they were sacrificial lamb). I felt great that people were coming to humor me. No problem. My shill said that he would fill in if I couldn't get anyone else.
Our friend...um....I forgot his name. Dr. Food knows him from somewhere. He is really touchy if you make fun of the plaid shirt. He is from Maine. They don't have the best sense of humors.
So back to cooking in the morning.
I decided on an artichoke heart dish called Artichokes a la Provencale (also a Paula Wolfert recipe) that went well with our crudities. I think I may have gotten carried away cleaning them because I just ended up with the hearts. The still tasted great. We had a carrot salad and tomato salad as well.
I also made a potato dish called a Tartiflette
So, the table was set and I was holding my breath to see if the doorbell would ring and if people would actually show up. They did and even helped.
Appetizers were simple. Two French cheese that we picked up were Pico Goat Cheese and St. Andre which is a crowd pleaser.
I also made a spread called Anchoiade (Anchovy and Vegetable Dip).
The guest were polite and ate some. I think they were starving though. I loved this spread and you really need to make it for your next party.
How happy do these people look to be at my table? They love me and my cooking. They beg for invitations. Uh, yeah...
The cruditie plate (Artichokes a la Provencale, Carrot Salad, Tomato Salad, and Cucumber Salad)
The Wild Mushroom Daube (really, you have to make this. I am never disappointed by a Wolfert recipe).
Oh, California friends you would have loved this dinner. You would have probably licked the plates at my elegant party and then we would have drank more wine.
This Tartiflette recipe was excellent. I loved loved loved it.
Last but not least was the Tarte fine aux Pommes (This never got brown enough). You know I always tell you the truth. It tasted great but we just couldn't get it to darken up more than this.
Anchoiade - (Provençal Anchovy Vegetable Spread)
Gourmet - February 1994
1/3 cup blanched whole almonds
a 2-ounce can flat anchovies, rinsed and patted dry
3 garlic cloves
1 shallot, quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence or dried Italian seasoning, crumbled
1 tomato, seeded and chopped fine (about 3/4 cup)
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine (about 3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
French bread toasts as an accompaniment
In a food processor grind fine almonds with anchovies and garlic. With motor running add shallot, oil, vinegar, and herbes de Provence and blend well. Add tomato, bell pepper, and parsley and pulse motor until just combined, being careful not to purée smooth. Anchoïade may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.
Serve anchoïade at room temperature on toasts.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped white onions
1/3 lb chopped Ventrèche, or smoked bacon (I used smoked bacon from Vermont. I couldn't find the one called for here.)
2 1/4 lbs cubed white potatoes
½ cup white wine
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 lb sliced Reblochon cheese
Preheat an oven to 350F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add the Ventrèche and cook, stirring, for an additional 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, white wine, salt, and pepper; bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and cook for 8 minutes.
Transfer the half of the potatoes to an oven-safe baking dish. Cover the potatoes with half of the Reblochon, and then repeat the layers once, ending with the last of the Reblochon on the top of the casserole. Bake for 25 minutes, until it is hot and bubbling.
Makes 6 servings.
Pork and Wild Mushroom Daube
Recipe by Paula Wolfert
3 pounds well-marbled boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces (see Note)
One 750-milliliter bottle Viognier
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot
Bouquet garni: 6 sprigs each of parsley, thyme and winter savory plus 2 bay leaves and 1 leafy celery top, tied with twine
Spice bundle: 1/2 teaspoon lavender flowers, 12 crushed peppercorns and 10 crushed juniper berries, tied in cheesecloth
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 ounces dried porcini (1 cup)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons brandy
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 ounces fresh pork skin with a thin layer of fat, cut into 2-by-1/2-inch strips
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled
10 crushed juniper berries
Reserved bouquet garni
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds oyster and cremini mushrooms, halved if large
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
MARINATE THE PORK Put the pork in a large bowl. Add the wine, onion, carrot, bouquet garni, spice bundle and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, pour the pork into a colander set over a bowl. Discard the onion and carrot. Squeeze the spice bundle over the meat, then discard the bundle. Reserve the pork, bouquet garni and the marinade.
MAKE THE DAUBE In a bowl, soak the porcini in 1 cup of hot water until softened, about 20 minutes. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Add half of the pork to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until well-browned all over; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining pork.
Return all of the pork to the skillet and sprinkle with the flour. Stir over moderate heat until the flour has dissolved, about 1 minute. Add the brandy and carefully ignite it with a long match; shake the skillet until the flames die down. Return the pork to the plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet along with the onion and carrot. Season with salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Lift the porcini from the soaking liquid and coarsely chop them; reserve the soaking liquid. Add the porcini to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes, stirring.
Preheat the oven to 250°. Line the bottom of a 4 1/2-quart enameled cast-iron casserole with the pork skin, fat side down. Spoon 1/3 of the pork over the skin followed by 1/3 of the vegetable mixture and 1/3 of the garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with some of the juniper berries. Repeat this layering 2 more times.
Return the skillet to moderately high heat. Pour in the reserved porcini soaking liquid, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom. Add the reserved pork marinade and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Boil until reduced to 2 cups. Pour this liquid over the daube.
Tuck the reserved bouquet garni into the daube. Add enough water to the casserole to just cover the meat and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Place a round of parchment paper directly on the surface of the meat and cover with the lid. Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake until the meat is tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
Let cool to room temperature. Discard the parchment paper, bouquet garni and any bits of juniper berry. Refrigerate the daube overnight.
MAKE THE GARNISH Preheat the oven to 250°. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the oyster and cremini mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms start to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley.
Scrape the fat from the surface of the daube and discard it. Mix the mushrooms into the daube and bring to a simmer over high heat, stirring frequently.
Bake the daube for about 1 1/2 hours, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced slightly and the meat is very tender. Stir in the vinegar, season with salt and pepper and serve.