March 24, 2012

Natalie and Alice Benefit Dinner

Sisters Natalie and Alice Fish, ages 8 and 2, both have a very rare disease known as Leaky SCID (Severe combined immunodeficiency). This life-threatening syndrome of recurrent infections results from numerous molecular defects affecting the immune system. This disease is so rare, an average of only 2 children are diagnosed in the US each year, yet these two precious little girls from the same family have it. Click here for the link to their parent's (Tyler and Lisy Fish) website which has chronicled their family journey and click here for a local news station's coverage of their story.

Both Natalie and Alice underwent bone marrow transplants in the last few months and to raise money, their family held a silent auction. I am good friends with their Aunt, Heather Disbrow and so I volunteered to cook a special 7 course meal as an auction item. The dinner sold and tonight I hosted in my home Tyler and Lisy, Jared and Heather Disbrow, Steve and Suzanne Disbrow, Aaron and Mandy Disbrow. was made aware of this special occasion and our meal was included as part of their monthly 24x24, which "showcases posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, highlighting unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period."

Below are pictures from the evening from my "Natalie and Alice Fish Benefit Dinner."

Tyler and Lisy Fish
Here are a few pictures of Tyler and Lisy holding pictures of Natalie and Alice.


The Guests
Here are a few pictures of everyone that came.



My Team
Matt and Bonnie Hargreaves were such a big help. Matt was my server and Bonnie was my photographer. She did an amazing job as you can see from all the pictures here.


Here I am serving the main course. I was in the kitchen for nearly 12 hours today and can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday, especially given the cause.


The Menu


Course 1 
Carrot Raisin Bread - Click here for the recipe

Course 2 
Asiago Cheese Crisps with Fresh Boursin and Raspberry - Click here for the recipe


Course 3
Brie and Croute with Raspberry and Pecans - Click here for the recipe


Course 4
Buttermilk Blue Cheese Wedge Salad - Click here for the recipe


Course 5
Orange Peel Sorbet - Click here for the recipe

Course 6

Tomato and Asparagus Risotto - Click here for the recipe

Baked Cordon Bleu Roulade with Alfredo - Click here for the recipe

Course 7
Chocolate Mousse with Pistachio and Cream - Click here for the recipe

It was a wonderful evening together. For the link to the Fooduzz 24x24 page where this meal was featured, click here, where you'll also be able to see the other 23 meals from across the world. These will all be posted by Sunday night.

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Carrot Raisin Bread

This recipe comes from Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur. I love this book! Mr. Wilbur has created mimics of some of the best dishes at restaurants like Cheesecake Factory, PF Changs, Mimi's Cafe (which this bread imitates), etc. The recipes in the book are not the actual recipes; instead, he has invented them through experimentation and they're are pretty much spot on! This is by far the tastiest carrot bread ever. It cooks for an hour and it will fill up your home with the most mouth-watering aroma. If you like a good, thick bread, this one is for you. And for the health-conscious, there's no butter or chocolate in this one (although a good smathering of butter on each piece is the only way to go).

1. Make sure to use a toothpick to ensure the middle is cooked. This bread cooks quickly on the outside but takes a bit longer to cook on the inside.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup plus 2 Tbs granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 Tbs molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup crushed pineapple
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter 2, 8 inch loaf pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
3. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

4. In another bowl, combine oil, sugar, eggs, molasses, and vanilla with an electric mixer.

5. Add shredded carrots and pineapple and continue to mix.

6. Add raisins and walnuts and mix well by hand.

7. Pour flour mixture into the other ingredients and stir until combined.

8. Pour batter into loaf pans.

9. Bake for 60 minutes or until done.
10. Cool on a rack just slightly as the bread is best warm!

March 23, 2012

Brie en Croute with Raspberry and Pecans

I have been baking this amazing appetizer for nearly 3 years. I first saw this on the Food Network and over the years I've made a few modifications. Brie is one of my favorite kinds of cheese and "en croute" actually means "in crust" in French. This recipe takes a wheel of brie, tops it with jam and toasted pecans and then bakes it in a pastry crust. Your guests will never know how simple this is to make as the flavor combinations give this a very gourmet feel. The recipe below serves about 6. Enjoy!

1. Make sure the puff pastry dough is fully thawed but not so thawed that it is too hard to work with. You want it a little bit firm and not overly stretchy. I have found that the best results are to thaw the sheet in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. You can take it directly from the freezer and thaw it at room temperature for 20 minutes but I've found that method to be inconsistent.
2. You can use any kind of jam or nut that you prefer. I've found that raspberry or boysenberry jams are our favorite and we usually stick with pecans. You can use preserves instead of Jam if that's all you have.
3. This can be eaten as is or combined with some of your favorite crackers.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 Tbs butter
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 8oz wheel of Brie
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
3. Saute nuts in butter until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. Lay puff pastry out on a very lightly floured surface and gently roll it to increase the size of the sheet 1 to 2 inches in each direction.

6. Move pastry onto cookie sheet lined with non-stick bakeware.

7. Remove the top rind from the Brie.

8. Center the wheel of Brie on top of the pastry sheet.

9. Spread jam evenly on top of Brie.

10. Place pecans on top of jam in heaping mound.

11. Bring all four corners of the sheet together above brie and twist slightly to form a bundle.

12. Tie gathered pastry with kitchen twine, then form hanging pieces into a bow.

13. Arrange the pastry until you are satisfied with the bundle shape.

14. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
15. Remove from refrigerator, then brush eggs over the pastry, making sure you also brush underneath the bow.

16. Bake for approximately 25 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
17. Remove the string by pulling both ends apart from each other. This will tie the middle in a knot, enabling you to pull the string out without pulling the bundle apart.