This was an excellent menu!!!
Sunday, October 12th was the date of the Fall Food and Fun Extravaganza at my home in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Nine of the Twelve Apostles of Cooking Light were in attendance and a good time was had by all.
We started out with a Cranberry- Raspberry Spritzer from the November, 1996 issue. The Crème de Cassis liqueur and raspberry seltzer were easy to find and it was refreshing. I thought that it was a bit sweet for my taste so I would change the ratio of seltzer to cran-raspberry juice to two parts seltzer to one part juice because the liqueur is very sweet and flavorful also.
The appetizer of Curried Artichoke dip (same Cooking Light issue) was delicious. It took less than fifteen minutes to make and was very easy to prepare. Vicci added a half teaspoon of grated lemon zest and a dash of cayenne to make it her own. The dip thickens and the flavors mellow as it chills.
Christine brought the Spread Fig and Walnut Bread. Let me tell you, fabulous is the only word that could describe this offering. It not only was a wonderful pairing with the Curried Butternut Squash Soup but was also wonderful with a schmear of goat cheese and a slice of fresh pear as an appetizer.
Orange-Watercress salad (November, 1996 issue) was a wonderful start to our meal. Bib lettuce and watercress was not only delicious it was also a very pretty setting for the orange sections topped with pistachios. The dressing was so low fat yet so delicious it was hard to think that Nancy didn’t add something extra special to it. Plenty of other salads use canned mandarin oranges which could be used in place of the oranges for this salad but we decided that the oranges were a refreshing change and true to the recipe.
The Curried Butternut Squash Soup could be placed in the category of “soup I must make to wow my friends”. Patty suggested making this soup a couple of days ahead to allow the flavors to marry. Two similar recipes appear on the web site with different preparation instructions, so Patty mashed half of the ingredients and pureed half which made for a hearty yet smooth consistency. We think this soup would freeze well.
The Smashed Onion Potato and Broccoli Casserole is worthy of all the stars it has received in its review. It was easy, fast and the ingredients were easy to find. Jonie used frozen broccoli and thought that perhaps a little more broccoli in the recipe would have been even nicer. This recipe is hard to perfect on, but Jonie’s always pushing the envelope. We love Jonie!
The Brie and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Chicken Breasts proved to be hit. The stuffing can be made a day ahead of time and then brought out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature before stuffing the breasts. The stuffing was very easy to make but to caramelize the onions you’ll need to block out fifteen minutes for a single recipe. Mary used fresh sage which is so fragrant and great tasting that it was worth the purchase. Dry white wine is essential to making the sauce perfect, which it was.
The Roasted Green Beans were so easy and so pretty when plated. I cut and dressed the beans the night before and laid them out on parchment paper on jelly roll pans so they’d be ready to go right in the oven. I put the almonds on them just before putting them into the oven and tossed the beans once during their ten minute cooking time. They were well received though I think the green beans were not in season so they were a little tough before they left the store.
Gingered White Chocolate Biscotti, Caramel Apple Fondue and Blueberry coffee were the finale of our meal. The Biscotti was worthy of a Cooking Light Magazine photograph. Meridee told us that the dough is dry and needs kneading but it didn’t toughen the consistency because they were divine besides being beautiful to look at. Don’t forget this recipe if you are involved in a cookie exchange this holiday season.
Cooking time on this should be watched carefully because our baker cut ten minutes off the suggested time and it was a wise decision because they were perfect in every way. The Caramel Apple Fondue doesn’t sound very Cooking Light worthy but with portion control it passes the straight face test, hence why it was on the CL website. We turned a blind eye and added a light sprinkling of chopped peanuts to our plates for dipping the caramel doused apples in.
Praise was hoisted upon all for their contributions and for the menu selection. There weren’t any “duds” in this bunch of recipes and we know they’ll be repeated for our families and friends during the holidays. We’re all looking forward to meeting next month at Nancy’s and we’ll keep you posted as to our adventures with Cooking Light.