, , , , , , , ,

My husband and I were inspired to gather a group of wonderful people together for dinner.
Two of our guests were local chefs and restaurant owners and I must admit that I felt a little nervous. However, I was excited to see our friends and to give the culinary artists a night out of the kitchen – although I did solicit their advice a time or two while cooking.
I kept the menu simple, and tried to do as much in advance as possible, knowing that a gathering is about spending time together.


1 pound portobello mushrooms, stemmed, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
6 tablespoons olive oil
32 ounces chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup marsala
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 to 1 cup cream
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Heat oven to 400F.
Line two baking sheets with foil. Spread mushrooms out on prepared baking sheets, drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper, toss to coat.
Cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes, uncover and continue baking until mushrooms are tender and still moist, about 15 minutes longer. Cool slightly.
Melt butter in a large pot, add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is tender, about 8 minutes. Add marsala and simmer until almost all of the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add flour, stir 2 minutes. Add broth, cream and thyme. Stir in mushrooms, puree using an immersion blender. Simmer until heated through and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2002
www.epicurious.com › recipes & menus


3/4 cup almond flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon gelatin
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
whipped cream for serving

Mix together the almond flour, graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter, until evenly moistened.
Press the crumbs over the bottom of 8 to 10 individual serving dishes.
In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, gently swirling the pan until the sugar dissolves. Cook over moderate heat, undisturbed, until a deep amber caramel forms, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Carefully add 1 cup of the milk, then cook over moderately low heat, whisking gently, until smooth, about 5 minutes.
In a small glass bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the milk with the vanilla, sprinkle the gelatin on top and let stand until softened. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk the remaining 2 3/4 cups of milk with the cornstarch and salt. Pour the milk mixture into the caramel and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, whisking constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Return the mixture to a boil and cook until thickened once again, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the gelatin mixture.
Gently divide the caramel pudding evenly over the crust. Press plastic on top of the puddings and refrigerate overnight.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. In a small, heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil over moderately high heat. Lower the heat to moderate and simmer undisturbed until a deep amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the salt and rice cereal. Scrape the caramelized cereal onto the prepared baking sheet and let cool for 30 minutes, until it is hardened.
Break the crispy rice into pieces, spread whipped cream on top of individual pies, and top with crispy rice.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, November 2008