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October Chefs’ Club – Autumn Returns!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Some of our favorite Chefs’ Club meals have been in the Autumn months. The flavors just meld together so well! So after a busy Summer and lots of travel, we finally were able to get ALL EIGHT CHEFS together once again, plus 1! We have a new baby girly to add to Chefs’ Club!

INGREDIENTS:
Squash (any type!), Apples, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg.

THE ROLES:

  • Cocktail: Laura – Pumpkin Divine – Pear vodka and lush pumpkin butter make this a stand-out cocktail! Looking at some other recipes, she decided to use Maple Syrup as a sweetener, rather than the simple syrup. An easy swap and also fit with the Autumn flavors!
  • Appetizer/Soup: Kelly B – Pumpkin Soup with Chili-Cran-Apple relish. I did make quite a few changes.  I knew I didn’t want to use cream, but was worried about using NF milk.  In the end, I used one cup of whole milk instead of 2 cups of Heavy Cream!  I was intending to add the other cup, but the consistency and taste seemed great, so I didn’t worry about it! I did use a little extra flour (gluten free all-purpose flour), to thicken the soup since I wasn’t adding all the cream. I also used a yellow onion for the relish, rather than red, since I already had some chopped from the soup earlier.  I thought this had great flavor! I added a bit extra of the spices and hot sauce, since some of the reviews seemed to think it lacked flavor, but was impressed overall!  I’ve made soups like this where you have to put batches in the blender and it is a mess and takes forever. This one is sooo much easier!
  • Salad: Kim – Arugula and Roasted Pear Salad – a few changes: Kim swapped the pine nuts for pecans, since she felt like this was a better complement to the sweet pears…plus, they’re her favorite J  She also added a bit of blue cheese, which we all loved! Just a tiny bit was a great creamy/pungent complement to the sweetness of the roasted pears.
  • Main: Kelly J – Pork Tenderloin with Apple-Cranberry chutney.  Great flavor! And we had a bit extra chutney to spread over our pork as it was served.
  • Side: Sarah – Pumpkin Risotto.  Sarah also made some changes, adding some onion, garlic, and white wine to give a little extra depth and flavor to this dish. It was fantastic! It seems like the grown-up version of macaroni and cheese J  The fried sage leaf added interest, too, but Sar says that next time she’ll just chop them to add them in throughout the risotto/pumpkin mixture.
  • Side: Erin – Apple-filled Acorn Squash Rings with Curry Butter.  Such a pretty dish!  Looked beautiful on the plate and tasted great! Slightly awkward dinner moment, though. I looked around and realized that no one else was eating the skin! They had the skin still in a circle on their plates!  When I asked everyone laughed and said they had thought it was kind of odd, but why not? Our resident Nurse Practitioner said, “Fiber, it’s good for you”, so we all had a bit of the skin after that!
  • Dessert: Meredith – Gingerbread pumpkin mousse Trifle!!  A beautiful presentation and tasted delicious!! A delight of fall flavors.
  • Wine: Stacey scoured Fall editions of her EVERYDAY FOOD magazine and found a fun set of pairings for Thanksgiving meals.  Since we were incorporating so many fall flavors, it seems appropriate! It was very fun to incorporate and official ‘wine tasting’ into our Chefs’ Club evening!We poured a small amount, swirled it in our glasses, took in the aroma, and compared notes as we tasted! All the while, Stace read off the descriptions so we would know what to try to look for in our taste buds!
    • WHITES:
      • Viognier
      • Gerwurztraminer
    • REDS:
      • Pinot Noir
      • Lambrusco  (this one was expecially fun! No one at the table had ever tried a sparkling red like this before…interesting and almost kind of a buttery flavor – a very fun find!)

 

The Pumpkin/Pear Cocktail!

 

Pumpkin Soup!

 

Learning about our different wines for the evening...

The Lambrusco -- the surprising wine we'd never tried before.

 

Voila! Dinner is served!

 

The elegant and decadent Gingerbread-Pumpkin Mousse Trifle!

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October 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

September – Mexican Fiesta!!

We were wondering the WHOLE evening how we didn’t ever do a Mexican theme before! This was a stand-out evening…Recipes below!

RECIPES TO COME SOON!!!

THE ROLES:

  • Cocktail: Kelly B – Traditional Margarita.  I’m not sure why there are so many “Margarita Mixes” on the market…this was really easy, just adding a dash of Fresh Lime Juice! I actually ended up using the Cabo-Wabo Margarita Recipe since my parents and siblings were heading to see Sammy Hagar play this same night in Columbus, OH!  Not exactly Cabo San Lucas, but fun nonetheless!
  • Appetizer: Erin – homemade Tortilla Chips and a delicious Chunky Guacamole!
  • Salad:
  • Main: Team effort: Sarah and Stacey – Cheese Enchiladas with Green Sauce!  THESE WERE SOO GOOD! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten Mexican food like this at home before! Definitely impressive, ladies.  A few notes from Sarah: We mostly followed the recipe except that we added a rotisseriechicken–shredded the meat, used flour burrito tortillas and did not fry them in oil, doubled the sauce recipe for 8 burritos but don’t
    think you’d need to–we had a lot left over, and put a small amount of sauce on the bottom of the pan and inside each burrito rather than
    only on top.
  • Sides:Laura – Traditional Mexican Rice and Beans!  Mexican Rice.  She added some diced tomatoes and reduced the amount of tomato sauce to balance (found a can with lime juice and garlic, or something the that effect). Also did less chicken stock than recommended.  She also started browning/softening the onions in oil before adding the rice, as some reviewers suggested.
    Mexican Black Beans When Laura did this, she half-mashed the beans.  She also recommending being careful with how much chicken stock you put in!!  Basically, you can control how soupy/mushy it is.  She ended up using less than what was called for.
  • Dessert:Stacey –  Vanilla Ice Cream with Kahlúa & cinnamon inpsired by CASA ROMERO, an amazing Mexican Restaurant in the Back Bay of Boston!
  • Not present, but definitely missed: Kelly J, Meredith, and Kim

Margarita! No...not your traditional glass...but we work with what we have 🙂

Homemade corn and flour tortilla chips. Mm-mmm!

Guacamole 🙂

Enchiladas!

Wow. Seriously, wow. This green sauce is amazing!

October 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

August – Annual Roofdeck Appetizers Party!

Kim may have moved and she may have a different roofdeck view, but we’re still carrying on the Roofdeck Appetizer Tradition!  Our Beacon Hill Roofdeck appetizer fete was held on Thursday, August 25.

SADLY, though, our evening of overlooking Boston on a Beacon Hill roofdeck was thwarted by the rain L  So, we had an indoor gathering at Laura’s instead

WORK IN PROGRESS — STILL NEED TO GET RECIPE LINKS AND PICTURES FROM EVERYONE!

THE ROLES:

  • Cocktail: Stacey – Dark and Stormy
  • Vegetarian Appetizer: Meredith – Corn Cakes – A fun recipe from her Farmer’s Market Cookbook!  Here it is:  2.5 cups fresh corn kernels (about 5 ears); 3 large eggs; 3/4 cup milk; 3 T butter, melted; 3/4 cup flour; 3/4 cup cornmeal; 1 8-oz package fresh mozzarella cheese, grated; 2 T chopped fresh chives; 1 tsp salt; 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
    1. Pulse first 4 ingredients together in a food processor 3-4 times or just until corn is coarsely chopped.
    2. Stir together flour and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in corn mixture just until dry ingredients are moistened.
    3. Spoon 1/8 cup batter for each cake onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or large nonstick skillet to form 2-inch cakes (do not spread or flatten cakes).
    Cook cakes 3 to 4 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked.  Turn and cook other sides 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Vegetarian Appetizer: Laura –
  • Meat Appetizer: Kelly – homemade Gaufrettes with Filet Mignon and Gorgonzola sauce for a pretty amuse-bouche! My mandolin is not great, so it was hard making a full waffle chip, but I got a lot of halves! It was labor intensive, but the flavors were fun! A crip chip with a slice of filet on top, drizzled with the gorgonzola sauce.  The sauce has a nice kick to it, too. Yum!
  • Meat Appetizer: Kim –
  • Dessert: Erin – Key Lime Cannoli!  She used two different recipe versions: Lime Marscapone Cannoli with Mango Sauce and Summer Cannoli. Fresh and light!
  • Sadly missed:  Sarah and Kelly J.
  • Wine: Guests – Thanks to Aaron, Andy, Keegan, Bryan, and Ryan.

October 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hatch Shell Appetizers

This is our third annual “Chefs’ Club evening at the Hatch Shell”!  We attend the Landmark’s Festival Orchestra free classical concerts nearly EVERY Wednesday of the Summer at the Hatch Shell; but, once a year, we make it an extra special occasion by bringing Chefs Club outside to dine on the Esplanade and enjoy our city!

THE ROLES:

Appetizer: Meredith – Green Bean Salad.

Appetizer: Sarah – Bean Salad

Appetizer: Erin – tomato, roasted red pepper, cheese salad

Appetizer: Kim – Wisconsin Cheese from her recent trip back home – Cracked Pepper aged Cheddar…HMMMM!

Appetizer: Kelly B. –  Sopressata Asiago Spirals  (Note: used sopressata, not pepperoni!)  This is a slight variation off the recipe, which are technically “Pepperoni Asiago Pinwheels”.   Fairly easy and a fun, tasty finger food!

Dessert: Laura – Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie with this Peanut Butter Icing recipe for an amazing sandwich of a dessert!!

Dessert: Stacey – key lime pie – AMAZING Summer flavors. A must-try.

Wine: everyone/guests/etc

Wednesday Night's out at the Hatch Shell!

Kelly's Sopressata-Asiago Pinwheels

Meredith's Green Bean Salad

Sarah's bean salad!

Erin's tomato and cheese salad!

Wisconsin Cheese!

Stacey's Key Lime Pie

Laura's amazing sandwich cookies 🙂 Chocolate and Peanut Butter!

October 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 2011 – Summer at last!

Summer is here!  We got together to prepare some fantastic Summer dishes 🙂  Thanks to Meredith’s roomies, who let us crash thier house, even when she wasn’t able to get there at the start time!

THE ROLES:

  • Cocktail: Kim – a Summer classic: the Mojito!
  • Appetizer:  Stacey – Goat cheese rounds with fresh garlic and honey
  • Salad: Erin – Cucumber Tomato and Pineapple Salad with Asian Dressing.  Lots of color! And a great alternative to a lettuce/greens-based salad!
  • Main: Laura – Spicy Fajita’s!  These had some kick to them! And they were absolutely fantastic! SUCH great flavor. I would make them again in a heartbeat.
  • Side: Kelly – tried to re-create an AMAZING pork and pineapple salad that we had in the Cayman Islands in February.  I used pork tenderloin and fresh pineapple.  I couldn’t find a recipe that seemed like a good match, so I just experimented a bit with the notes I had made myself on the trip. Sadly, this did not turn out well!!! It’s not even worth mentioning what I tried to assemble. bleh.
  • Dessert: Sarah – Angel Food Cake with delicious custard filling and fresh strawberries. This recipe is for cupcakes, but Sarah made it as a layer cake with strawberries on top. Very light!
  • Wine: Meredith
  • Not present: Kelly J – she’s at home with a newborn!!!!

Stacey's flavorful goat-cheese app!

More goat cheese all around.

Erin's delicious and refreshingly Summery salad.

October 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May 2011 – Goodbye dear Chef!

Sadly, one of our own is leaving.  Tara, her husband Trevor, and their new baby boy are all heading to Chicago to set up life closer to family in the midwest.  We wish you well in the windy city, but you’ll be missed here in Boston, too!

For Tara’s going-away party, Chefs Club provided all the appetizers and desserts.  Here’s what we prepared:

appetizer: kelly – a family favorite – baked gouda with apples.  Buy a 7 oz. round of Gouda cheese. Take of the wax and wrap the cheese in 4 crescent roll triangles, making sure that none of the cheese is showing through. Bake in a glass dish.  Serve with granny smith apples. It’s a great with the richness of the cheese and the tartness of the apples!

appetizer: stacey –

appetizer: erin –

appetizer: sarah – a staple: cheesy baked artichoke dip! This one is always a hit at parties.

Dessert: kim – (not present, but she sent along some delicious brownies!)

Dessert: laura – amazing angel-food cake cupcakes filled with homemade custard and strawberries! decadent AND light at the same time!

Not present: kelly j, kim, meredith

August 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South America, here we come!

April 2011 – South American Cuisine

Chefs’ Club Guest Dinner

THE ROLES:

  • Cocktail: Tara and Erin – Capairaina
  • Appetizer: Sarah  – Empanadas – two kinds!  The dough recipe on these empanadas are seriously amazing. Sar was a little worried about having vinegar in the recipe, but these were REALLY stand out! My fave?The  Chorizo Pepper Empanadas!!!   The dough was also fantastic: Empanada Dough.  The other empanadas were the more traditional Argentinian Empanadas Santiaguenas. Sarah also included this instructional Video on sealing empanadas using the repulgue technique.
  • Salad: Laura – Belgian Endive, Hearts of Palm, and Avocado Salad  (Laura originally pulled from a cookbook with no internet link, but when she searched again the net, found the salad recipe here, with a slightly different Vinaigrette recipe.)
  • Main: Kim and Meredith – Argentinean Steak with Chimichuri sauce.
  • Side: Stacey  – Rice and Beans from Brazil
  • Side: Kelly B – Avocado with lime juice and salt, garnished with South Americain Quinoa mixture: I used a mix of several recipes that I looked at…1.  Quinoa Salad with Lime/Avocado/Black Beans.  2. Red Quinoa Avocado Salad (this one has the avocado IN the salad…also a delicious take on this!)  3. Quinoa/Hearts of Palm Salad.  And then just added my own flair.  So…this is my own version!!  I didn’t want to use avocado IN the salad, but meant it to be eaten alongside, as the main ingredient, with the quinoa salad almost as a hearty garnish. STEP 1: Prepare one package of red quinoa and one regular quinoa, according to box directions.  (I think I added too much water and it cooked too long!! Be careful!  I would also recommend cooking the quinoa one day before so that the temp can be room temperature, rather than hot when mixing all the ingredients…felt like I wilted the cilantro a fair amount). Add thawed, frozen corn, chopped fresh cilantro, and Minced red onion. ( I used food processor to chop it finely)Pour over some:  Fresh lime juice (and some pulp!) (cut in half, squeeze over, use a spoon to scrape out some pulp and the extra juice.)Olive Oil. Red Wine vinegar. Salt and Pepper (to taste). Avocado slices:  pour lime juice over the top, olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in an array of 4-3 slices on plate, with quinoa dolloped over the top.
  • Dessert: Kelly J – Tres Leches Cake – one of the most decadent and delicious desserts we’ve had! This is a FANTASTIC recipe. Highly recommended!
  • Wine: Thanks guys! Greg, Eric, Dimitru, Mark, Aaron, Geoff, Sam, Trevor, and Josh

Empanadas!

Making cocktails!

Grilling the steaks!

Prepping the steak to plate for the guests...

Tres Leches!

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Green abounds!

March 2011

Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!!!

March 2011

Contemporary Irish Cuisine – Since Ireland isn’t always known for its cuisine, we decided to take the Irish food and give it a modern twist in celebration of St. Paddy’s Day.  Our job was to take any Irish mainstay and turn it into a delectable treat.  Success!

THE ROLES:

  • Cocktail: Kelly – A little Irish Whiskey (Jameson) and Bailey’s to start off the night! Called the Bailey’s Irishman. Oddly, together on the rocks, these make a great comination.
  • Appetizer:  Tara – Ham and Asparagus Spirals.
  • Salad: Meredith – Galway Spinach Salad
  • Main: Stacey – Fontina and Corned Beef Grilled Cheese on Rye. Ah-Ma-Zing. This recipe was on the cover of Bon Appetit and looked like they could melt in your mouth. The real thing did not disappoint!
  • Side: Stacey – made her mom’s coleslaw, too! 
  • Side:.
  • Dessert:
  • Beer: Erin –  Black and Tans, half of a pale ale and a dark stout like Guinness

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

February 2011

February 2011

Love is in the air! Well, at least in the kitchen – we fell in love with this food! This month’s theme was more open and creative ….make anything “red” or “romantic”…and we had a lot of both!

THE ROLES:

  • Cocktail: Sarah –  Amaretto-Cranberry Kiss. Yum! Looks pretty, and has a lovely Valentine-esque name, too.
  • Soup:  Laura – Spicy Tomato Soup – complete with a crème fraîche heart on top. Beautiful presentation and a wonderful soup! I would definitely make this recipe again!
  • Salad: Kelly B – Salad with Pomegranate Dressing and Fresh Pomegranate Seeds.
  • Main: Erin – Herb and Garlic Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Red and Yellow Relish
  • Side: Tara – Red Cabbage
  • Side:. Meredith – Roasted red potatoes with Bacon, Onion, and Sage
  • Dessert: Stacey – Chocolate Souffle Cups with pink whipped cream.  Wow!! Stace – where is this recipe?
  • Wine:

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To the Caribbean!

Friday, January 21, 2011

January has been filled with a LOT of snow and ice, so we decided to warm up and take it to the tropics for this month’s Chefs’ Club! So, while dreaming of warm weather, sandy beaches, rum drinks, and sunshine, we decided to head to the Caribbean for the night!

JANUARY THEME: Caribbean Cuisine!

THE LINE-UP:

  • Cocktail: Laura and Stacey – Yo ho yo ho…and a bottle of rum.  It doesn’t seem like our ‘trip’ the Caribbean would be complete without a lovely Rum Cocktail.  Stacey and Laura provided us with just that, the Green Flash Cocktail. The Green Flash (link to a pic in the Bahamas!) is so named for a rare and special sunset phenomenon when there is a flash of green light on the horizon at sunset!!!  Laura and Stacey actually subbed out the vodka in this recipe for Malibu Coconut Rum. On the sweeter side for a cocktail (but, what beachy drink isn’t!?!?), and  BRIGHT GREEN! This drink has amazing flavor! Your taste buds will travel to the Caribbean, even if you are snowed in in Boston 🙂
  • Wine: Laura and Stacey!  (The cocktails were all the rage…I’m not sure we even broke into the wine tonight!)
  • Appetizer: MeredithCreole  Baked Goat Cheese. The cheese mixture is baked into the red peppers. These were great!
  • Appetizer: Kelly JGuacamole with Mango and Pomegranate.  This guacamole is a fantastic twist on a more traditional guacamole. The pomegranate seeds added a little burst of fruit juice flavor and this was a big hit!  Kel served this with both tortilla chips, as well as plantain chips. It had a really different flavor when eaten with the two different dippers! This is DEFINITELY worth bringing to a party the next time you make guacamole!
  • Salad: SarahPapaya and Avocado Salad. Light and refreshing….the dressing really makes these flavors pop!  A definite keeper.
  • Main: Kelly BGrilled Jerk Chicken with Scotch Bonnet Sauce and Mango Chutney. Whoa…we were NOT prepared for the fire in the Caribbean!!!!! This recipe called for “Scotch Bonnet Peppers” which I couldn’t find, but the guy at Whole Foods assured me that the “Habanero Peppers” were the same thing (and the tag at the store did mention that they were used in a lot of Caribbean cooking). This recipe warned me that it was spicy…incredibly spicy, but I did not realize that the real danger was not in EATING the chicken, but in PREPARING the dish!!! The Epicurious recipe warned that you should use gloves while handling the peppers, but I had no idea about the full on attack to our respiratory systems! Once I began grilling (we have a small, electric indoor grill) I started coughing…Kim was in the kitchen preparing the side and also had an attack! We could hardly breathe!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were running to the bathroom for tissues and coughing up our lungs as if we suffered from TB! Then the girls in the next room all started coughing, too! We thought we might have to abort the cooking process and go without the chicken for the night.  I tied a towel around my face and braved the grill, while Kim tied her scarf around her mouth and nose and continued frying up the plantains!  I have never had a cooking experience quite like this!  Everyone was afraid to eat the chicken (the paste included 5 habanero peppers) let alone the ‘scotch bonnet sauce’ (which had 7 raw, diced habaneros!).  In the end, I thought the flavor was delicious, but definitely a little intense.  Were I to do it again, I would definitely only use 1-2 peppers instead of 5. We each started with the tiniest bit of chicken and Kim and Mer were the bravest, opting for second and third portions (which, in reality were just little two bite pieces!).  Kim swears that if you chew it in your cheeks and avoid the tongue, it’s perfectly delicious 🙂 lol.  The standout, however, was the mango chutney! This dish was pepper-free and had incredible flavor! I would recommend the chutney recipe alongside a wide variety of meat options and I definitely plan to make that again.  If you ever try this dish BEWARE.  The recipe did say you could cut out some of the seeds to avoid the spice, but I LOVE spicy food, so I did not heed that note.  Make sure that you do! This was NOT a pleasant cooking experience! (Although, it does make for a good story and some odd pics for the night!)
  • Side: KimFried Plantains – this Caribbean specialty is one of Kim’s favorites to order at a restaurant – now we’ll finally know how to make them chez nous!  Kim even made the experience complete by visiting a specialty South American market in East Boston to buy her plantains.  She braved the kitchen and the crazy-pepper-fumes to man the frying pan and deliver a Caribbean specialty. Delicious!!
  • Dessert: ErinKey Lime Cheesecake with whipped cream and Mango Ribbons. WOW. Impressive. This was AMAZING!  This had so much flavor and richness!  I think Erin spent a LOT of time on this…from juicing an entire pound of key limes, to whipping the cream, to using a vegetable peeler to make the impressive “mango ribbons,” and finally placing them in beautiful curly-cues all along the top of the cake! The taste was incredible and it looked almost too beautiful to eat!   A+, well done 🙂
  • Not Present: Tara – Tara is at home, busy being a new mother! CONGRATS to Tara & Trevor and their new little baby, Levi!!

 

The Green Flash!!

The Green Flash!! It really was VERY green...and had such a cute little garnish! We really did feel like lounging on the beach.....

...even though we were in our sweaters in the middle of January!

 

Our bartenders for the evening 🙂

 

Sheilding her eyes from the onions!!! Never heard of the sunglass method before...but apparently it may help a little bit...but even if it doesn't, we're in the "Caribbean," so we might as well wear the shades!

 

The amazing MANGO POMEGRANATE GUACAMOLE served with plantain chips and tortilla chips!

 

Creole Baked Goat Cheese!

 

Avocado and Papaya Salad - the ginger, red onion, and mint in this dressing really brought out fantastic flavors in the avocado and papaya! Light and refreshing!

OK…taking a break to cook the main and the side….

Who knew that grilling would cause such a coughing epidemic!!!! We even have an epidemiologist in the house…but she doesn’t usually study respiratory issues from cooking with peppers!

 

Scarf protection!! Frying the plantains...but the fumes from the grilling chicken were getting to everyone!

Hilarious in restrospect, but admittedly concerning at the time!! I've never been doubled over coughing from somthing I've cooked before! I've had my eyes swell with tears while chopping onions and I've had my eyes sting a bit with the potency of a balsamic reduction, but this was a whole new level!!

The famously spicy Jerk Chicken....

The mango chutney accompaniment.

Fried plantains!

Everyone nervously staring down their chicken....wonderinf what it might do to our tongue/stomach after the havoc it has already wrecked on our lungs!!

The first bite....while everyone watched....I survived!!

Stunning! Key lime cheesecake with fresh whipped cream and mago riobbons!

Close up of the mango ribbons...beautiful! Erin - you have outdone yourself this time!

Stay tuned for next month!  We’re are getting more creativity and breaking from the “ingredient” path yet again….for February, we can create any dish, as long as it uses the color RED or would be considered ROMANTIC in some way.  Ideas?!?! Send them our way!

January 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment