Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dinner for 8

I am behind on my blogging and so I'm going back to last Saturday and a dinner party Mike and I had. We invited 3 couples, all very good friends, all going back more than 20 years. I had a seen a crab bread pudding recipe I wanted to try (and eat) in Food & Wine and a dinner party was the perfect opportunity. Here's the link by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

I love crab, bread and butter and it sounded like the perfect storm. I served it with grilled tri tip and a salad with Green Goddess dressing. I made Jean-Georges chocolate pudding for dessert. Here's the link by Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

My friend from Charlotte, Cindy, who lives in Oakland brought her dad's caviar pie as an appetizer. It was a night of good food, good friends, good wine and lots of laughter.

Buttery Crab Bread Pudding my way

10 ounces Dungeness crabmeat
small handful parsley, chopped
~1 tablespoon chives, snipped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
cayenne pepper to taste
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the dish
One sourdough baguette, cut into ~3/4-inch slices, ends reserved 
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 350° and butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. In a medium bowl, toss the crabmeat with the parsley, chives, lemon juice and cayenne. Season with salt and black pepper.

Butter each baguette slice and stand up the slices in the prepared baking dish. Using a spoon, tuck the crab mixture evenly between the slices of bread and then lay the bread and crab down a bit so that it absorbs the custard as much as possible.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk, half-and-half, season with salt and pepper. Pour the custard evenly over the bread and let stand for 10 minutes.

Bake the bread pudding for 30 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the custard is set. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

This was an amazingly delicious dish and everyone loved it. It is a beautiful party dish and could be a main dish for a smaller group with a salad and maybe a cup of soup to start. Dungeness crab is the crab of choice where I live but I'm sure any crab or lobster would be wonderful too.

Dark-Chocolate Pudding with Candied Ginger my way

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart half-and-half
3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
whipping cream, whipped with sugar for garnish
crystallized ginger, chopped for garnish

In a medium bowl, sift together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt. In a large saucepan, add the half-and-half and whisk in the above mixture. Cook over moderate heat, whisking, until the pudding starts to bubble and thicken, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the bittersweet chocolate and vanilla. Pour the pudding into 6 ounce ramekins and let cool, then cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Top each pudding with whipped cream and crystallized ginger and serve.

These were beautiful and delicious despite their very ordinary name. It was nice that it was not a heavy dessert as well. Everyone loved this pudding and Cindy even called them chocolate pot de creme which is a much better name for this extraordinary dessert. I hope you can have as fun an evening as we did soon and maybe get inspiration from one of these recipes. Enjoy!

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