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This menu was a dinner party disaster y’all!!
Individually, each dish was all right, but when put together they just didn’t work. No one was game to try my daiquiri, opting for the more familiar glass of champagne, and the creme brulee ended up with an unappetizing grainy texture. My husband had purchased the main dish that morning from the local farmers market – lamb sausages and broccolini – both of which I love for a casual dinner, but not a dinner party.
Thankfully the outstanding company and conversation more than made up for the food flop – so the evening wasn’t a complete catastrophe.


2 cups water, divided
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh rosemary leaves
3 cups 1/4 inch cubes fresh rhubarb
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 1/2 cups white rum

Bring 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Remove from heat, add 1/2 cup rosemary leaves. Let steep 5 minutes, strain.
Let syrup cool 1 hour.
Place rhubarb, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a blender. Process until coarse puree forms. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Discard pulp. Cover and chill rosemary syrup and rhubarb juice separately at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
Mix rosemary syrup, rhubarb juice, remaining 5 tablespoons lemon juice, and rum in a pitcher. Fill glasses with ice, add daiquiri mixture.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2009


1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, halved, thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup cream
1 5.2 ounce package of soft herb cheese (such as Boursin), room temperature
1 3.5 ounce package of goat cheese, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme
2 eggs
4 ounces of thinly sliced smoked salmon

Heat oven to 350F.
Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch square. Line a 9 inch diameter tart pan with a removable bottom with pastry, cutting off excess at edge. Using fork pierce dough all over.
Freeze pastry 5 minutes. Cover pastry with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights. Bake pastry 15 minutes. Remove weights and foil. Bake crust until golden, about 5 minutes longer. Cool completely on rack.
Heat oven to 425F.
Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced leeks and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cream and simmer until leek mixture is reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes, Let cool.
Using wooden spoon, beat herb cheese, goat cheese and cream cheese in a large bowl until well blended. Stir in leek mixture, then lemon juice and thyme. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition.
Spread half of filling over bottom of crust. Top with smoked salmon. Top salmon with remaining filling.
Bake tart until filling is set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to platter. Let tart cool to room temperature. Cut into wedges and serve.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2004


2 cups cream, divided
1/4 cup dark roast coffee beans, crushed with a mallet in a plastic bag
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
2 cups half and half
8 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons raw sugar

Bring 1 cup of cream and the coffee beans to simmer in a heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat, cover and let steep at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Heat oven to 325F.
Stir 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium high and bring to boil, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, swirling pan occasionally, about 11 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add remaining 1 cup cream.
Stir over low heat until caramel is smooth. Stir in half and half. Strain coffee infused cream into caramel cream, discard coffee beans in strainer.
Whisk yolks, salt, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in cream mixture. Strain custard into large measuring cup.
Arrange eight ramekins in a roasting pan. Divide custard among ramekins. Add enough warm water to roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake until the custards are just set in the center, 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer custards from water bath to the refrigerator. Chill until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Sprinkle top of each custard with 1 teaspoon of raw sugar. Using a kitchen torch, melt sugar on each custard until deep amber. Serve custards cold.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2009