Our February dinner club was held at Tiffany’s. Her theme of choice was romance movies. She asked all the participants to taylor their portion of the meal around their favorite romance movie. If you haven’t read my blog about Dinner Club and how it works, check it out. Since Tiffany was hosting, she had the entree. Her movie was “Love Actually” and she chose to do penne in a red vodka cream sauce. It goes without saying that the menu was amazing so keep reading.
Dinner Club Themes, Menu and Media
Tiffany – “Love Actually” – Entree – You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Sauce
Tracy – “Gidget Goes to Rome” – Appetizer – Three Way Bruchetta
Kelly – “Mama Mia” – Side – Mediterranean Orzo, Feta, and Tomato Salad With Marjoram Vinaigrette
Jeni – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – Beverage – Champagne Bar
Stephanie – “Four Weddings and a Funeral” – Salad – Winterfruit Salad
Trisha – “Downton Abbey” – Dessert – Lemon Bar Cake Cookies
Yes, I’m fully aware that Downton Abbey is not a movie, but a television miniseries on PBS. I was reminded over and over again that evening by multiple people, but in my defense, I love it as if it were a movie and I don’t always run with the pack, therefore making it perfectly acceptable and after all, it’s Dinner Club, so all is forgiven.
Bruchetta Three Ways
What’s better than having bruchetta three ways? When your lover makes fresh french rolls the morning of Dinner Club day and you get to spoil all the girls with it! Who needs store bought with that kind of man at home!
1 french baggette, preferably made by your lover, cut into half inch slices on the bias
1 T Olive Oil
1 clove garlic halved
Directions: preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Place baggette slices on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with halved garlic. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes watching closely so they don’t burn. Remove from oven and arrange on a tray. Serve with three sauces. You can make these as you see them below or come up with your own. Personally, the tomato and the goat cheese are my favorite and they are really great together.
2 diced roma tomatoes, seeds discarded
1 bunch fresh basil leaf, chiffonade
1 t. balsamic vinegar
freshly cracked black pepper
Directions: Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and gently mix. Serve on toasted baguette slices.
Goat Cheese and Onion Topping:
1 8oz pkg of goat cheese
1/4 C. of thick sour cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. finely chopped chives
1/2 t. garlic powder
Directions: Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until blended and smooth. Serve on toasted baguette slices.
Drunken Fig Jam courtesy Epicurious.com
4 pounds ripe fresh figs (preferably black), stemmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 9 cups)
4 cups sugar
3/4 cup brandy or Cognac
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemons (yellow part only) in long strips. Cut peel into matchstick-size strips (about 3 tablespoons).
Combine lemon peel, figs, sugar, brandy, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in heavy large deep saucepan; let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Bring fig mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; continue to boil until jam thickens and is reduced to 6 cups, stirring frequently and occasionally mashing mixture with potato masher to crush large fig pieces, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat.
Ladle mixture into 6 hot clean 1/2-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 10 minutes. Cool jars completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.
You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Sauce adapted by Food Network
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
Coarse salt and pepper
16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
Crusty bread, for passing
Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.
Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Pass pasta with crusty bread.
Orzo, Feta, and Tomato Salad With Marjoram Vinaigrette adapted from Bon Appetit
1 pound orzo
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
6 t finely chopped fresh marjoram
4 t Dijon mustard
1 t grated lemon peel
1/2 C. olive oil
1 1/2 C. crumbled feta cheese
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 C. pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
24 oz. cherry tomatoes, stemmed, halved
Cook orzo in a pot of boiling, salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occassionally. Drain. Rinse pasta under cold water until cool. Drain well. Transfer pasta to larger bowl.
Whisk lemon juice, 5 t. marjoram, mustard and lemon peel in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Set aside 2 T. vinaigrette. Add remaining vinaigrette, cheese, onions and olives to orzo; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and let stand 2 hours to allow flavors to develop. Toss tomatoes with reserved vinaigrette. Toss into salad and add remaining marjoram. Serve cold.
Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing
1/2 C. white sugar
1/2 C. lemon juice
2 t. diced onion
1 t. Dijon-style prepared mustard
1/2 t. salt
2/3 C. vegetable oil
1 t. poppy seeds
1 head butter leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
4 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
1 C. cashews
1/4 C. dried cranberries
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 pear, peeled, cored and sliced
In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard, and salt. Process until well blended. With machine still running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds, and process just a few seconds more to mix.
In a large serving bowl, toss together the romaine lettuce, shredded Swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, apple, and pear. Pour dressing over salad just before serving, and toss to coat.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s Champagne Bar
This is such a wonderful idea. If you have a number of guests over, grab a few bottles of your favorite champagne, mixers and your gorgeous glassware and have a ball mixing up your favorite champagne cocktails. Don’t forget the must have cute napkins and drink stirrers. With a champagne bar, everyone makes their own special version!
1 1/2 oz. orange vodka
1 1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 1/2 oz. orange juice
2 bar spoons Apricot preserves
Combine ingredients in a martini shaker with ice and serve chilled in your favorite glassware! Too many of these and we would have really had breakfast at Tiffany’s!
As you can see, our champagne bar had the following ingredients, but you can use virtually anything. Be creative and taylor your bar to a specific holiday or celebration. Here are some other ingredients you may wish to use to stock your champagne bar:
Strawberries, raspberries, cut pineapple and marischino cherries for garnish
Downton Abbey Lemon Bar Cake Cookies
Makes 18 to 20
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 glass Pyrex.
2 C. all-purpose flour
½ C. powdered sugar
1 C. butter (you can mix ½ cup butter and ½ cup shortening as an alternative to all butter)
1 tsp. grated Meyer lemon peel
Mix ingredients together with your hands until crumbly and press into the greased 9×13 Pyrex dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool before adding filling.
1 C. all-purpose flour
1 ¼ C. granulated sugar
1 t. baking powder
¼ C. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 t. lemon peel
1 t. lemon extract (optional)
Add all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and beat with a wire whisk until combined. Pour into 9×13 over cooled cookie base and put in oven at 350 for 25 minutes or until center is cooked through. Remove from oven and cool on counter.
1 C. powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese softened
¼ C. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Mix sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Add lemon juice until desired consistency. Pour over lemon bar cake. Let icing set for about an hour before cutting lemon bars. When you cut, they will look a bit rustic.
Serving Tip: Serve inside large white paper muffin cups or on top of sweet little decorative doilies covering a cake stand.