Tuesday, January 18, 2011

3-Course Meal

For three years while our dining room was being renovated, we really didn't have too many people over for dinner. Honestly, who really enjoys eating a nice dinner on their lap? So now that our dining room is done, I just love having people over for dinner. Since it was a holiday yesterday and I didn't have to work, we had some friends over for a dinner. We had a three-course meal -- for starter I made a Roasted Pear Spinach Salad and two loaves of homemade french bread, for the main course it was Beer-Can Roasted Chicken with sweet potatoes and onion and for dessert a Creme Brulee with berries on the side. I used three different recipes, two which I found in the magazines I was reading this week (Better Home and Gardens and Martha Stewart Living) and one from on-line. The salad and chicken recipes are definitely keepers but I may have to try a different Creme Brulee recipe next time. Here they are:

Roasted Pear Spinach Salad
Recipe by Stonewall Kitchen Winter Celebrations cookbook

Ingredients: (original recipe calls for ciabatta bread and blue cheese but I made my own french bread. For full recipe click on link above)
1 teaspoon butter
2 pears
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
½ cup sliced almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
⅓ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces baby spinach

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease baking sheet with butter. Core pears and cut each into 8 wedges; toss with sugar and place on baking sheet, cut sides down. Bake 15 minutes until soft and browned on undersides. Transfer to waxed paper to cool. Place almonds on an ungreased baking sheet and toast 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Stir in half of the cranberries and set aside. Meanwhile, in blender, combine the remaining cranberries, vinegar, honey, and mustard. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. With blender running, add ⅓ cup oil in a slow steady stream. In a bowl, toss together the spinach, half the almond mixture, and vinaigrette to taste. Divide greens among tumblers; top with pears, toasts, and additional almond mixture. Serve immediately.
Beer-Can Roasted Chicken with Fig-Jam Pan Sauce
Recipe by MarthaStewart.com
Prep: 15 minutes Total: 1 hour 20 minutes, Serves 4 to 6

Chicken before adding the sweet potatoes and then going into the oven.
Ingredients: (I unfortunately could not find fig jam so substituted it with Apricot Jam. Also, I added sweet potatoes and onions to this recipe)
1 whole chicken (about 4 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Coarse salt
1 can stout, such as Guinness
1 small bunch fresh thyme
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fig jam
My additions: 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes and one medium Spanish onion thinly sliced

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Rub skin with butter, and season with salt. Pour out ½ cup stout from can; reserve. Poke holes in top of can using a church key. Place thyme in can, and set in a large ovenproof skillet (I used a roasting pan). Place chicken over can, balancing legs to keep it standing like a tripod. Toss the sweet potatoes and onions in olive oil and spread on the bottom of the pan with the chicken.

Carefully transfer chicken to oven, breast side first. Roast for 20 minutes. Baste with pan juices. Roast, basting twice, until juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh reaches 155 degrees, about 25 minutes more.
Carefully remove skillet from oven. (Steady chicken with 1 hand, using paper towels or mitts to protect your hand.) Let chicken rest (it will continue to cook) until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh reaches 165 degrees, about 10 minutes, then remove from can. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, discard can, and pour pan juices into a cup; skim fat. Return juices to skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in reserved ½ cup stout, and bring to a simmer, scraping up brown bits. Mix together water and flour. Whisk into skillet. Boil for 1 minute. Whisk in jam. Simmer until thick, about 2 minutes. Serve chicken with sauce.
As for the Dessert recipe, since it is not a keeper in my book, I am not going to display the entire recipe however, it is available here.

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