supper club

Summertime, and the Eating's Easy

In talking to many of you, this summer you've been experiencing a steady flow of visitors, out-of-town and otherwise. In between trips to the Space Needle, Safeco Field, and Pike Place Market, you're also working to come up with meals for these friends and family. Thank goodness it's summer, and the eating's easy.

A friend sent me these pics from her recent barbecue (visiting brother):

Grilled salmon in foil
Alongside potatoes and corn brushed in coconut milk and grilled

If your mouth doesn't water when you see these, something might be wrong with you. And these are all things you can grab at the Market, brush with your fat of choice, and throw on the grill.

When we had old friends who now live in Indiana show up, we threw Skagit burgers on the grill, opened a bag of potato chips, and chopped up a watermelon. Done.

It was our month to host the Supper Club I mentioned in an earlier post here and here, and as the hostess I chose the fourth "Summer Sensations" menu from Debi Shawcross's book:

  • Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Herb Marinated Chicken
  • Quinoa Corn Salad with Mint Vinaigrette and Toasted Pine Nuts (or "Pine Puts," as the cookbooks mispells it)
  • Grilled Vegetables
  • Peach, Blueberry, and Raspberry Crisp with Dulce de Leche Sauce
The verdict? The bruschetta and quinoa salad were keepers. (Funny note on the quinoa salad: after listing the menu, Shawcross encourages her readers to become locavores and eat local, if only for a night. So...quinoa? I suppose some of her readers might be Peruvian Highlanders.) And if I had to choose between the bruschetta and the quinoa, I'd go with the bruschetta.
Therefore, I share with you this recipe, with Market-available ingredients marked with an asterisk (*).
Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Heirloom Tomatoes
3 large heirloom tomatoes, diced*
2 garlic cloves, minced*
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground pepper
1/2 c chopped fresh basil*
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 baguette, sliced into 1"-thick slices*
1 garlic clove, halved*
6 ozs goat cheese, softened*

In a medium bowl, mix together tomatoes, minced garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, and lemon zest. Set aside. (Leftovers of the topping are yummy on tortilla chips, FYI.)

Heat grill to medium-high. Place baguette slices on grill and lightly toast on each side. Remove slices from grill and rub one side with garlic clove. Spread about 1 tsp of goat cheese on each baguette slice. Top with a spoonful of tomato mixture.

Serve immediately. About 10 servings of two slices each.

Frankly, I could have made a meal of the bruschetta alone. And, if you haven't tried Tieton Farm and Creamery's offerings on Saturday, you're in for a treat. I'm betting their "Bianca" cheese would be awesome in this recipe.

Quinoa aside, we do enjoy such riches of local food that I'm not surprised everyone flocks to us in the summer. I only wish they'd brought some of their own local goodies to us! Our Indiana friends, for instance, told tales of the sour-cherry-picking extravaganza they enjoyed.

Hard at work at Lehman's Orchard in Niles, Michigan

Enough to make you weep
As if this weren't enough, the residual cherry juice is good for gout (just FYI)
Sigh. Who doesn't love summer?

Of course, if all this cooking, easy as it is, sounds too much, and you missed the sour cherries in Niles, Michigan, you can always take your guests to the Market itself and let them choose from our smorgasbord of goodies, both prepared and unprepared. See you all there!

Post Supper-Club Analysis

If you made the Chocolate Tres Leches Cake I included in last week's post, I apologize. Don't know about yours, but mine was severely underwhelming. (Think of my sharing that recipe with you as an early April Fool's joke...) Other members of the supper club dutifully ate their portions, but I left half mine on the plate--unthinkable for a dessert! Not only did the thing look lousy on the plate (I now understand why there was no picture in the cookbook), but I didn't take a picture because I put the rest down the garbage disposal.

Mine didn't look like finecooking.com's version
Nor like Sweetysalado's

But before you (or I) recycle Debi Shawcross's Friends at the Table cookbook, let me hasten to say the rest of the menu was absolutely delicious and highly recommended.

Our recipe guru Ms. Shawcross

To recap, we enjoyed:

Artichoke Quesadillas
Southwestern Caesar Salad
Tequila-Marinated Halibut with Grapefruit-Avocado Relish
Creamy Green Chile Rice
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

The general ratings:

Artichoke Quesadillas.         Tastiness: 10!       Effort: 4.
Southwestern Caesar Salad. Tastiness: 7.         Effort: 7 (probably not worth it).
Halibut.                                 Tastiness: 8.        Effort: 5.
Creamy Green Chile Rice.    Tastiness: 8          Effort: 4.
Chocolate TL Cake.              Tastiness: 3          Effort: 3.

The ambience and company rated 10s, and, of course, you would have control over those elements in your own supper club.

In retrospect, the recipe you'll want from that evening was the Artichoke Quesadillas. (The maker of which later told me she's already made them again!) Next time you're asked to bring an appetizer, give these a whirl.

Artichoke Quesadillas
3/4 c fresh basil leaves, cut in thin strips
3 6-oz jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained
3/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
8 8- or 10-inch flour tortillas
2 c grated Pepper Jack cheese
2 poblano peppers, roasted*, peeled, and cut in thin strips
olive oil or fat of your choice for frying

In a food processor, combine artichokes, Parmesan and basil. Pulse until finely chopped. Place 1 tortilla on work surface. Spread one-fourth of artichoke mixture on top. Sprinkle with 1/2 c Pepper Jack cheese and some of the poblano strips. Cover with second tortilla. Repeat assembly for remaining quesadillas.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over med-hi with fat of your choice. Cook quesadillas one at a time, turning after a couple minutes, until both sides are golden. Remove from pan and cut in wedges.

Makes 8 servings.

If you've never roasted a pepper, here are Emeril Lagasse's instructions. I think I might even be able to get my kids to try these, since they'll be fooled by the tortillas and cheesy goodness.

In other news, it's April! Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from May and the opening of the 2015 Bellevue Farmers Market season! Stay tuned for info.

Behold the Supper Club!

We've been invited to join a supper club. Five couples get together once every two months, dividing up the menu and rotating the hosting duties. The menus come from a common cookbook, with the host choosing the menu, making the entree, and assigning the other dishes. The sixth time around they all go out to eat.

The Chosen Cookbook

Cookbook author Debi Shawcross mentions other variations on supper club setups: having the host cook everything--no way!; voting on menus--who has the time?; cooking it all together at the host's house--which means we would drop out before it got to our house because we have a one-person kitchen. There are also ideas for theming the night with decorations or--gag--having a masquerade party. I suppose, as long as you've chosen like-minded friends, any of these ideas could fly.

Okay, who's got the Tater Tot Casserole? [pic: National Geographic]

I do like how Shawcross groups her menus seasonally, with five complete menus for each quarter of the year, to allow for monthly meetings and one menu being vetoed by the picky among us. Our inaugural club meal will take place this Friday, firmly in spring.

Artichoke Quesadillas
Southwestern Caesar Salad
Tequila-Marinated Halibut with Grapefruit-Avocado Relish
Creamy Green Chile Rice
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

To my delight, I was assigned the cake. Never had chocolate tres leches cake, but the run-of-the-mill variety is luscious, even when made by a supermarket bakery. Best of all, the recipe calls for a final drizzling with a jar of "warmed caramel sauce." It turns out I have just the jar!
Been saving this puppy since the Market!
I'll let you know how the kick-off goes, but if you'd like to bake along with me, here's the recipe:
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1 cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1-1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1/4 c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp powdered hot chocolate mix
1 jar caramel sauce, warmed

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 13x9 baking dish.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add the melted chocolate and mix until combined.

In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients and add gradually to butter mixture, stirring to blend. Pour the batter in the prepared dish, and bake for 30 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Pierce the cake all over with a fork.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk, and pour over the top of cake. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Before serving, whip the cream with powdered sugar, hot chocolate powder, and remaining vanilla at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Spread over the cake. Cut the whole shebang into squares and drizzle with warmed caramel sauce.

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I'm pretty sure it's too much. Just typing out the recipe gave me diabetes. But I think it'll be worth it.

If you'd like to come on the journey, call up some friends! Starting now means plenty of fresh, seasonal ingredients from the Market, and the dinner out could even be a casual Thursday one at a Market picnic table, with live music and fresh flowers. Delightful.