Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dinner With Friends From Afar

On my birthday, July 11th, Sindhu wished me Happy Birthday via Facebook.  I responded with a thank you, but when will you be back in Knoxville for a visit?  Her response was we are here now, when will you two be back?  They had arrived after we left for Eastern Europe.  Oh no, we can't miss them.  Luckily they would still be here on our return, so we could have them over for dinner.  We couldn't wait to see them.  It has been about 1 1/2 years since we where in Doha, Qatar for a visit, when we stayed for a few days during our return trip from India.  We had so much to get caught up on, happenings, kids, and travel.  I woke up early to begin preparing for their visit, but first I had a run to do.  I began preparation last week for my third marathon, so I didn't want to miss any training.  Anyway, as I was a half mile into my run, laying lifeless on the side of the Greenway was this delicate butterfly.  I stopped momentarily and looked at it, telling myself if it was still there on my return I would pick it up and carry it home to use as part of my centerpiece decoration.  Low and behold, there it was, undamaged.  No one had stepped on it, no dog had trampled it.  I took it as a sign it needed to be on my table this evening, and so it was, positioned right on top of my hydrangeas that I had cut just that morning from my yard.  I busied myself all day preparing for their arrival.  The table on the porch had been set.  The patio pillows were fluffed and even Lucy was excited we were having dinner guests.  Everything had been prepared and was waiting to be taken from the freezer or placed in the oven at the appropriate time.  The door bell rang right on time and it was Thomas, who due to a meeting, had to meet Sindhu here instead of going home and them coming together.  We sat and chatted waiting on her arrival when suddenly the doorbell rings. Lucy began barking and was excited someone else was here to see her as Sindhu arrives bearing a gift of my favorite item from Qatar, Arabian Delights Choc-Dates with Almonds.  I have a very strong liking to these.  After the hello's and hugs, yes we southerners always hug since it is the way of the South, we make our way to the porch.  As the sun was winding down, we began with drinks and appetizers.  The cocktail was very tasteful, made with ruby red grapefruit juice, pomegranate juice and vodka.  Now with those ingredients, you know its good.  The appetizer was Shrimp Ceviche.  I had only had this recently while in Texas visiting one of my daughters, Abby Gail.  We were on the San Antonio Riverwalk and we stopped at an outdoor restaurant to have drinks and appetizers.  She wanted this dish.  I said, "sure, I've never had it but it sounded good,"  and it was.  I decided it was a good choice for our friends.  The only thing was, once I tasted this recipe, it was sooooo much better than the one we had ordered.  I didn't think that would be possible.  I immediately called Abby and told her about the ingredients.   This girl loves her some Shrimp Ceviche.  She will definitely be making this concoction in the near future.  
I soon heated the oven for the main entree.  The Beef Croustades with Boursin Cheese and mushrooms cooked while at the same time I roasted the asparagus.   In no time at all, our dinner was ready and I was hungry.  With Sindhu's help, we plated the food and carried it out to the porch.  We found our seats, while Stone poured the wine, beginning another meal celebrating with friends.  What a great way to continue observing my Birthday Month.  As the sky darkened, we slowly polished off the meal and dessert was served.   Soon our evening was coming to an end.  I was sad knowing it will be some time before we see them again.   Stone and I walked them out to their cars, said our goodbye's, gave them a hug and sent them on there way.  Who knows, maybe we will surprise them with another visit to Doha, Qatar.  Besides, I may get the urge to photograph more public bathrooms.  Seriously, you should see them, fit for Royalty. 

In The Pink Drink

Yield 8 Servings

6 cups ruby red grapefruit juice
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup vodka
fresh mint sprigs

I make this a day ahead.  In a tupperware container pour ruby red grapefruit juice, pomegranate juice, vodka.  Mix well.  Place in freezer. About 30 minutes prior to drinking take out of freezer.   Scrap it to loosen a little and just let it set out and melt a little. Serve a little slushy.  YUM!!! Recipe adapted from:

Shrimp Ceviche

Yield 4 Servings

1 pound 51-60 count peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
1 avocado diced
1 (10 ounce) container grape tomato's, sliced in half
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled cucumber
1/4 cup thinly slice green onion
1- 1/2 Tablespoons seeded and minced jalapeño 
Lime wedges for garnish
Tortilla Chips for serving

In a bowl, combine shrimp and 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup lime juice.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight, stirring at least 2-3 times.
In a bowl, mix together oil, paprika, sugar, lemon zest, salt, lime zest and remaining 2 Tablespoons each lime juice and lemon juice.
Just before serving, drain excess liquid off of shrimp mixture.  Add cilantro, tomato, onion, cucumber, oil mixture, avocado, and jalapeño; toss to combine.  Serve immediately, garnished with lime wedges.  Serve with tortilla chips, if desired. Recipe adapted from:

Da Bomb Deviled Eggs

Makes 12 halves

6 hard boiled eggs
3 Tablespoon Helmans Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Tablespoon Honey Mustard
salt and pepper to taste
garnish with Paprika

With a fork, mix the cooked yolk and remaining ingredients together.  With a spoon fill the egg white halves with mixture.  Sprinkle with paprika.  Recipe adapted from:

Individual Beef Croustades with Boursin & Mushrooms

Serves 6

For the mushroom filling:
1 pound fresh white button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned
2 medium shallots
1 clove garlic, cut in half
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter 
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the croustades:
6 filet mignons, 6 ounces each and about 1 3/4" thick
Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cakes (5.2 ounces each) Peppercorn Boursin Cheese, slightly softened at room temperature
1 box phyllo dough, thawed in the refrigerator overnight.
1/4 pound (1/2 cup) melted butter, may need more
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh chives

For the filling:
Trim the mushroom stems close to the caps.  Put the mushrooms, shallots and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not pureed; scrape the bowl as needed.  Transfer the mixture in to a pan that has been heating with the butter and oil over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally,until the mushrooms are very soft and fragrant, 3-5 minutes.  Don't let them brown.  Add the parsley; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.  I then use my ricer and put a little in at a time and squeeze out excess liquid.  You can just drain it and then put into paper towel and squeeze if you do not have a ricer.  The ricer just really gets all the liquid out.  Put into refrigerator until cold.  The filling can be refrigerated for up to a week.

For the croustades:
Sear the filets: Season the Filet Mignon generously on all sides with salt.  Heat the butter and oil in a 10" skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat until very hot and sizzling.

Put three of the filets in the pan and sear on one side until well browned, 1-2 minutes. Turn and brown the other side.  Then quickly sear along the sides, using tongs to turn, about another 1 minute per side.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.  Repeat with the remaining filets.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To assemble: Mash the Boursin with a fork in a small bowl until spreadable.  Remove the phyllo from the package and cover them with a damp dishtowel while you work to keep them from drying out.  Lay a single phyllo sheet on a clean, dry surface.  With a pastry brush, lightly paint an even coat of the melted butter over the entire surface of the square. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of the chives.  Continue doing this with a total of 5 sheets, angling each sheet.
Making 5 layer, omitting the chives from the last layer, with the corners of the phyllo pointing in different directions, starlike.  Blot one filet dry with a paper towel, set it in the center of the star, and sprinkle it with salt.  Spread about 2 Tablespoons of the Boursin Cheese on the filet and top that with 2 generous Tablespoons of the mushroom filling.

Pick a starting point and work your way around the filet, gathering the edges of the phyllo star together, beggar's purse style.  Lightly pinch together the gathered phyllo close to the surface of the meat to hold it in place.  Pull the corners open slightly as if making a paper flower.  Brush the whole exposed surface lightly with more butter, being sure that the bottom is buttered as well.  Transfer to a heavy baking sheet.  Repeat the "packaging"  for the remaining filets.  If you're working ahead, chill the filets uncovered on the baking sheet until ready to bake, up to 8 hours.

To Bake:  Take the croustades out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you're ready to bake them.  Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400'.  Bake the croustades, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes to ensure evening browning, until an instant-read thermometer inserted through the side of each packet and into the center of the filet reads 130' for medium rare, 17-22 min.  Serve immediately. Recipe adapted from:

Roasted Asparagus with Vinaigrette

4 ounces bacon (about 4 slices)
2 bunches green and/or white asparagus (about 2 pounds), trimmed, ends peeled it thick
kosher salt
1/2 small shallot, finely chopped 
3 Tablespoon sherry vinegar, if you can't fine this as sometimes that is the case. Here is a list of BEST substitutes in order of preference, Rice Wine Vinegar, Champagne Vinegar, White Wine Vinegar and Red Wine Vinegar.
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh tender herbs (such as chives and /or tarragon

Preheat oven 400'
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, 5-8 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels to drain; let cool, then crumble.
Place asparagus on baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, coating asparagus completely.  Add salt and pepper. Roast 25 min. or until crisp tender.
Whisk shallot, vinegar, maple syrup and mustard in a a medium bowl  Gradually whisk in olive oil until emulsified, then whisk in vegetable oil; season with salt and pepper
Serve asparagus drizzled with vinaigrette and topped with bacon and herbs.
Do ahead: Vinaigrette can be made 2 days ahead; cover and chill.

Cherry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream Pie

Ice Cream Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon plus 1/4 Tablespoon almond extract
1/4 Tablespoon vanilla extract
38 ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained and chopped in food processor.
8 ounces finely grated chocolate.
Crust Ingredients:
12 whole (up to 15) chocolate graham cracker, depending on brand
5 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Melt butter.  Pulse crackers in food processor until fine crumbs form.  Add butter and sugar; pulse until crumbs are moistened. Press firmly over bottom and up sides of spring form pan that has been lightly sprayed with nonstick spray.  Place in freezer for a least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile mix milk, sugar, heavy whipping cream, almond extract, and vanilla extract together.  Pour into ice cream mixer and freeze until ice cream begins to firm up then add chopped cherries and chocolate.  Once done, spoon ice cream into prepare pie shell and place into freeze.  When ready to serve spoon a dollop of whip cream on, top with cherry and sprig of mint.

Arabian Delights Choco-Date Almond

Public Restroom, Doha, Qatar.  See I told you!