Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Frenchy Pantry Soiree Foodbuzz 24x24

I procrastinated on my Spring cleaning for Summer which worked out perfectly because Foodbuzz wanted bloggers to submit menu proposals based on what was already in stock in the pantry. My proposal was good enough to be one of the 24 happening in 24 hours all over the world. I love these kinds of challenges because it pushes me to be creative and come up with new dishes. It's the same thrill I get shopping in the clearance section. Obviously I am someone highly interested in food and therefor my cabinets are constantly spewing with new finds or items I am inspired to make at the moment but somehow forget about for next 3 months. This awesome pantry explosion also includes my dear Aunt Mary in Greece constantly shipping care packages stuffed with "food goods" meaning Greek staples like thyme honey, pistachios, mastiha and mahleb. Am I a hoarder? No, but I do watch that show from time to time. 

So I tidied up my house in the Deep Southeast (Portland) and invited some friends over. Since it's the beginning of Fall I set the table inside. I pulled out my wood stump candlestick holder and a Greek vintage tablecloth to fancy things up. I had my guests write down which ingredient they thought was the in stock one for a prize at the end.

But, rewind. Before sitting down we had some pistachio stuffed dried apricots wrapped in bacon. I had dried apricots and pistachios on hand, so why not wrap them in bacon?  My friends @BeckyBoo503 and @KimKramerWine from Kramer Vineyards came and brought one of their Domain Krieger Bruts to pair with the hors d'oeuvrs. It was a mouth party!

We toasted with the brut near the kitchen where the action was happening. Then moved the party to the dinner table.

1st Course

Delicata Squash and Bacon salad with Hazelnuts and Rosemary Ricotta with Oregon Olive Oil

I had hazelnuts and ricotta cheese readily available, plus rosemary growing in the back. I wanted to use the rest of the bacon from the apricots as well. Delicata squash are one of my favorite squashes and a sure sign of Autumn so I thought this would be a fitting addition. I whirled fresh rosemary, garlic and ricotta cheese together to make the white center piece. I laid out everything on a beg of arugula/baby spinach for some body. This was paired by a lovely, nutty rosé my friends brought. 

2nd Course

Roasted Tomato, Garlic and Cheddar Soufflé

This was my first attempt at making any type of soufflé and my biggest disappointment is not taking a fresh-from-the-oven photo as these babies had their poof on. Slow roasted tomatoes and garlic take on a beautiful flavor so I opted for this version instead of the fresh. I originally thought about doing a caprese style souffle but that is so summer resulting in a cheddar and roasting victory. The staple? I had breadcrumbs in the pantry and plenty of tomatoes growing out back. All in all this soufflé was delicious and bettered by the gorgeous Kramer Vineyards pinot blanc. 

3rd Course

Spicy Blood Tofu a l’Orange Soba with Peas, Broccoli and Pistachios

With soba noodles ready to drop it like its hot, but sticking to a somewhat french theme this fusion came to mind.  I used Oprah's recipe for spicy orange soba noodles, but used blood orange juice instead. 

4th Course

French Apple White Chocolate Marzipan Tart with Mastiha Whipped Cream

I had a jar of some incredible white chocolate marzipan which I was planning to make almond croissants with. Instead, I used it as a base for this tart. I layered thinly slices granny smith apples on top of the marzipan and baked until the apples were soft. As soon as it was out of the oven, I glazed the top with a mixture of brandy and apricot jam my sister-in-law made this summer. You can't have apple dessert without some sort of cream, so I made some whipped cream spiked with mastiha powder my Aunt sent me from the motherland and sweetened it with vanilla bean infused sugar.  The piney-ness of the mastiha played well with the granny smith apples. This was the first time trying mastiha for all of my guests so it was great to introduce them to something new. Plus, I had to add some Greek flair to my French-ish dishes. 

Becky won the guess-that pantry/on-stock item game and was gifted a bottle of Celebrator Doppelbock in a knit woven Banana cozy. Congrats Becky! 


Peter M said...

These 24 dinners are tiring but fun! I love that salad with the squash...very posh!

Eva said...

What a beautiful menu for your lucky dinner party guests. I love a themed dinner!

Renata said...

That sounds like having been so much fun! I love challenges too, it makes us so creative indeed! Great choices for your dinner!

mia xara said...

Everything looks simply amazing and,as always, very creative!!!I'm sure that everyone enjoyed immensely!!!XOXO

Anna A. said...

Peter - My squash is always posh! :P

Eva - Me too. I was lucky to have my guests because they brought plenty of booze.

Renata - Thanks for swinging by!

Mia Xara - Let's hope so :-)

Helen said...

Your dinner looks phenomenal! The salad is right up my alley, and the souffle sounds amazing and the marzipan dessert too. Love marzipan! Great work!!

Dzoli said...

I would have loved to ahve been on your table.Good company yummy food and so to see a lot of fun:))

rosemarried said...

oh how I love foodbuzz 24x24! I wasn't paying attention to the fact that this month placed an emphasis on pantry ingredients. I don't know how you came up with such amazing things from your pantry, but bravo. Seriously, this party looks fab. And yes, lets get drinks soon! Who cares if the blazers aren't playing, we can get drinks anyway. :)

Anna A. said...

Helen - Efxaristw! I made the same salad the next night for dinner :-) Mmmm love that Fall squash.

Dzoli - Thanks for stopping by from New Zealand!! Wow!

Rosemarried - We will have to pow wow over poppyseeds and such soon, before Blazer season is a-ok!

Catherine said...

What a beautiful dinner. The salad looks delish! I also love the tablecloth.
Thank you for your visit to my blog. It is so nice meeting new friends. Blessings, Catherine

Ruth Abatzoglou said...

I loved seeing the table cloth in your blog. Glad to see it is going to good use.