Musing on food and cooking ...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Harvest Fete Follow-Up

My harvest fete was on Saturday and what an interesting Saturday it was! It actually started on Friday, when the plumber came to see why my tub was draining slowly. He water rammed to no avail, and then had to take pipes apart and auger. But eventually he managed to get the problem solved. While he was heading out the door, I noticed my kitchen had started to drain slowly and asked him if that could have been caused by the work on the bathroom, and he said there was no possible way it could be. So, I ran to the store and bought Draino and poured it down to no avail. Still, a slow drain is not a plugged drain and I had other things to worry about.

I woke up early Saturday morning as the dish guys were supposed to be there. I started doing some housework while waiting for them and noticed that my kitchen sink was not draining at all. In fact, it was backing up the most interesting sludge, a bit like the ooze one finds in the saltwater swamps of Maine. So, I actually took the pipes apart and used my baby auger to see if I could fix the problem myself (see, I watched the guy while he was working so I could do it myself in the future!). No beans. Still backed up. I called the plumber, and he happened to be nearby and ran over and had to auger the kitchen line. But, all my draining problems seem to be solved now, although I am $210 broker than I was on Friday.

Of course, while I was on the phone to the plumber, the dish guys showed up - an hour late but finally there and fixed my problem in five minutes, for which I paid them a disgusting amount of money. Bastards.

All in all, my fete went very fine. I had to do some last minute changes on the food, due to ingredient unavailability (what I thought was a venison roast in the freezer turned out to be a freezer burned hunk o salmon - gack!), but everything really came together in the end. About 15 or so folks came out and we all had a good time chatting and eating. We actually ran out of almost everything, which is great, as I don't have enough plastic containers to do leftovers anymore (GladWare, here I come). I did not get to mingle as much as I would have wanted to, as I was behind due to the plumbing disaster, and I can't figure out what happened to all the cds in my cd player and therefore, forgot about the music. My pumpkin turnovers did not work, and so the recipe here is what I would have done instead of what I did.

The food stars of the evening were the wild mushroom French onion dip (to quote one guest, "I can't stop eating this!"), the salad dressing, the potatoes, and what one person called the "vast crock of meat." The pilau was tasty good, and some folks like the turnovers and other folks did not. I stole my bread pudding recipe from the Mennonite cookbook, but forgot to add the sweetener. The texture was great, but my brain went, "Huh?" on the first taste. For the recipe listed here, I actually put in the sweetness I left out. I also made whipped cream from scratch for the first time, adding vanilla and cinnamon to the heavy cream and using my in-kitchen outboard motor to whizbang it all together.

Pele and Leo were incredibly well-behaved, much to my shock and outrage. Leo didn't try to crawl into anyone's plate, which is quite likely a miracle. And Pele had to sit on everyone's lap to be patted and adored.

Anyway, on to recipes!

Herbed Honey

Take 1/2 cup honey and a large handful of fresh herbs of your choice. I used golden sage, thyme, and one spring of rosemary. Wash and then dry herbs. Add herbs and honey to a small pot. Add 1 t lemon juice. Put the heat to the lowest possible flame and let the honey get bubbly good. Turn off heat and let herbs step for at least 1 hour. Heat the honey again to make for easier removal of the herbs. If you are worried about herb flecks in your honey, strain through a fine mesh sieve. Drizzle over brie or other pungent cheese.

Wild Mushroom French Onion Dip

3 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4.5 ounces dried mushrooms
2 T red wine
2 T olive oil
1 package of low-fat cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Rehydrate the mushrooms according to the package directions. Once pliable, chop the mushrooms into small pieces. Reserve the soaking liquid for later use.

Put the olive oil in a pan and add shallots and onions. Cook until the shallots are soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms and the wine as well as about half of the reserved soaking liquid. Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add in the cream cheese and stir. The mixture should be thin enough to dip a chip or cracker into it but not so thin that is runs off the spoon. If it is too thick, add in a bit more of the reserved liquid. Put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill overnight.

Braised Fall Flavors Venison

4 pounds venison stew meat (or use beef or lamb, if venison is not available)

Marinade/Braising Liquid:

1 bottle maple syrup and fig dressing
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider
1 cup pomegranate juice
¼ cup maple syrup
3 T each of dried minced garlic and dried minced onion
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and set aside. Place meat in roasting pan and then pour marinade over it, just until the meat is barely covered. Let marinade for at least 2 hours. Place the roasting pan with the meat and the marinade in a 350 degree oven and cook for approximately three hours.

Note: I got my maple syrup and fig dressing at Wal-Mart of all horrible places. You can substitute a good balsamic vinaigrette instead, just increase the amount of maple syrup to at least ½ cup. You could also make this a Moroccan style dish by adding cinnamon, cumin, and coriander to the marinade.

Wild Rice and Barley Pilau with Sweet Potatoes and Golden Raisins

8 ounces wild rice
8 ounces barley

Cook wild rice and barley according to the package directions. Set aside. This step can be done up to three days beforehand.

4 medium sweet potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
3 yellow onions, rough chopped
3 T smoked paprika
2 T ground cumin
3 T cinnamon
3 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash, peel, and chop sweet potato into bite sized pieces. Rough chop three yellow onions. Put the sweet potatoes and onions on a flat pan like a cookie sheet (use one with edges). Drizzle with olive oil. Mix the spices together and then sprinkle over the top of the onions and sweet potatoes. Mix with your hands until all pieces are evenly coated. Back in a 350 degree oven for about one hour, or until the sweet potatoes are soft and starting to caramelize.

1 cup golden raisins
2 T olive oil
3 T Balti seasoning (from Penzey’s)

Add the wild rice and barley into a large sauce pan and start to heat the mixture, stirring often to prevent sticking. When the mixture gets close to being hot enough to eat, fold in sweet potato/onion mixture and add in about 1 cup of golden raisins. Stir in olive oil and then add Balti seasoning, making sure to mix thoroughly.

Maple Syrup-Pecan Mustard Vinaigrette

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup olive oil
3 T Terrapin Ridge maple syrup-pecan mustard
1 T maple syrup

Put all ingredients in a container with a tight fighting lid. Mix until emulsified. Serve with a sweet lettuce mix.

Rosemary Roasted Yellow Potatoes

3 pounds baby yellow potatoes
3 T olive oil
3 T dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash potatoes and cut into quarters or halves, depending on size. Place in a roasting pan. Mix with olive oil and rosemary. Put into a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.

Note: You could also roast these at 400 degrees, which will reduce cooking time and lead to crispy edges.

Curried Pumpkin Dumplings

3 cans solid pack pumpkin
2 large shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. ground coriander
3 T sweet curry mix
3 t of ground chipotle powder

1 package egg roll wrappers

Put pumpkin into a mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix well. If you don’t like spicy food, leave out the chipotle or add it a bit at a time, tasting after each addition, until it achieves the heat level you desire.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Take an egg roll wrapper and add about 2 T of the pumpkin mixture in the center. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with water and then pinch the sides together to make a triangular shaped packet. Drop the triangular dumplings into the boiling water. Once the dumpling starts to set up, remove from water. Then coat a large fry pan with oil and pan fry the dumpling. Dumplings are done when they are golden brown and delicious. Makes about 30 dumplings.

Autumn Fruits Bread Pudding

6 large eggs
6 cups 1% milk
4-6 cups French bread, at least day old, in 1” square chunks
2 apples, cored and diced
2 pears, cored and diced
2 T vanilla
3 T grated ginger
¼ cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat the bottom of a 9x13 cake pan with non-stick spray or butter. Put bread in the bottom of the cake pan. Use less bread if you want a very moist bread pudding; use more bread if you like a drier pudding.

Core and dice apples and pears. Put pieces in with the bread pieces, making certain to distribute evenly.

Mix eggs, milk, vanilla, ginger, and honey in a bowl. Pour mixture over the bread and fruit pieces. If any bread pieces are above the liquid, press down to make certain that each piece is covered. Put in the oven and bake for about one and a half hours, or until a knife pushed into the center of the pudding comes out clean. Serve hot or cold.

Note: Using a higher fat content milk will increase the creaminess and richness of the dish.


Jenn said...

I'm glad some people showed up.

And I'm definitely going to be trying a couple of these recipes.


Brave Sir Robin said...

Sounds lovely!!

I left the sugar out of a bread pudding this summer. Freaked the kids out big time when they tasted it.

The herbed honey sound terrific.

GourmetGoddess said...

The bread pudding was a bit like cucumber ice cream. it is good but your brain just thinks it is wrong, wrong, I tell you!

I had a little bit of leftovers and I sprinkled just a touch of brown sugar on them. Very nice. Not horribly sweet, but just enough.

The herb honey is great. I get a lot of requests for it. It is one of those things that looks and tastes incredibly elegant but is so very simple to make.

Cooking Light does an annual cooking contest and two of the ingredients you must use are cheese and ham. This year, I might work on a way to make a ham and cheese turnover with herbed honey mustard to submit. In addition to the 20 other recipes I ahve in tsting right now, including something that is going to be incredibly spectacular once I have perfected it.