Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dinner party

Saturday, February 23, 2008
I have three dear friends, Beth, Karen, and Susan, from my law school class ('Class of '81). I continue to see them, over 30 years since I first met them in the law school library, complaining about The Case of the Thorns, our first assignment. We were long past due for a get-together, and I finally got around to arranging a party.
The first thing to consider was, of course, what kind of bread to bake. I'd had such good luck with the reprise of Rose's ciabatta that I decided to try her pugliese again. This is one that requires a stretching and folding technique while it's rising, which is a pleasure because the dough is so smooth and shiny.

I didn't have a banetton the first time I made this bread, but now I do, so it looks even prettier. It's a small loaf, and didn't fill up the entire banetton, but I love the distinctive flour circles. I remember buying these loaves from a bakery, and thinking the bakers were so talented to make these flour designs. Now I know that anyone can do it, but that doesn't lessen the pleasure in admiring it when it comes out of the oven.

For dessert, I got out The Cake Bible, and leafed through it until I settled on Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte, which Rose describes as "like the creamiest truffle wedded to the purest chocolate mousse." Well. Hard to pass that up. It's just chocolate (a lot), butter (a lot), and eggs (a lot). Melt the chocolate and butter together, beat the eggs for five minutes, and fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture.

I had to send poor Jim out to buy an 8-inch springform pan, because I didn't have that size. It looks quite tiny. He was very pleased with his success on this errand, but it must have rattled him, because when I sent him out later to buy two bunches of tulips, he came back with two bunches of roses. "Jim," I said, "These aren't tulips. They're roses." He looked at them. He wanted to argue, but he couldn't. He swore he knew the difference between roses and tulips.
The dinner was roast pork with ruby port jus,

with chipotle glazed apples. These recipes are both from The apples were the star of the show, in my opinion. Minced chipotle peppers sauteed with sliced applies that have been mixed with cinnamon and sugar. A very simple concept made interesting with the addition of the peppers. It takes about a second for the chipotle's kick to register, which makes it surprising and delightful.

plain old mashed potatoes (but made from organic potatoes from Wisconsin)

plain old green beans, (so plain that it looks like Jim didn't take a picture of them)
salad with baby greens, blueberries, pecans, and grated Pecorino.

And, of course, bread.

Joining the Pugliese in the bread basket was the Italian herb bread I made a month or so ago, which has been waiting in the freezer for just such an occasion.
And, of course, lots of wine. We think we're an awfully witty group, but we seem to get wittier, and much louder, after several bottles of wine. Very odd how that works.

Against my better judgment, I made raspberry sauce to serve with the Chocolate Oblivion. Rose says there's some attachment to the Cuisinart that purees raspberries quickly and painlessly, but I did it the old-fashioned way, spending about 45 minutes pushing two packages of thawed raspberries through a sieve. And reminding myself why I don't like to do this. And reminding myself that I always say I'll never do it again, and why can't people just eat the damn seeds. But I'll have to admit that the combination of chocolate, raspberries, and whipped cream is the dessert trinity.


Anonymous said...

Oh, how I wish I was a dear friend of yours!! Your dishes look delectable, I could almost taste that chocolate cake , it looks so moist. I do enjoy reading your blog, thank you. Jeannette,UK.

Melinda said...

I second Jeanette! Everything looked gorgeous. Love the bread but your cake looked perfect! I did miss not being able to look at the plain old beans. Jim did do well to bring home the right pan. Ian would be apoplectic. I am impressed Jim!

Anonymous said...

That dessert with the raspberry sauce is decadent. It's one of my favorites from the Cake Bible. I hate the seed thing too, but isn't that sauce drinkable? I'm sure you blew your guests away, just with dessert!!!

Doughadear said...

The bread looks amazing as does your lovely dinner and decadent dessert.

Jim said...

I admit to having trouble with flowers - I know the difference but sometimes I ignore it - but I would never slight Marie's beans. I took a very nice picture of them in situ with a good shot of one of the wine bottles. The wine bottle may have caused Marie to overlook the beans which are somewhat in the background. Anyway, the beans are plainly visible at the lower left of the picture of Marie Susan and Karen.

jini said...

yum yum yum. i love the chocolate and raspberry combo....i don't mind seeds at all, but i accept that the rest of the world may disagree.
it looks like a complete and perfect dinner party from the hands of marie! good job!

Melinda said...

OK Jim, I spotted them. You're off the hook.

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Wow it all looks so great!

Mrs. Mel said...

Soulmate! This is just the kind of dinner party I love to make. Including the bread.
But now that I have far moved away, and have not made new friends yet, I am without the necessary guests at my fingertips.
Ah if only one could advertise for dinner guests with wit, excellent taste, and clever compliments for their hostess...

jini said...

aha......i see the beans too! great photo jim! :)

breadbasketcase said...

The chocolate cake was wonderful--sort of like a combination cake/souffle/truffle.

He is such a trouper. I almost felt guilty complaining about the non-tulips. But not quite.

You're so right about the sauce--I woke up in the middle of the night and found myself thinking about padding down to the refrigerator and eating it plain.

Thank you--I really enjoyed making everything.

I should have known you wouldn't forget.

Yes, aren't seeds good for you? Full of fiber and other nutritious things? We should start a pro-raspberry seed movement.

He just breathed a sigh of relief at being taken off the hook.

Jessy (and Winnie)

Mrs. Mel,
What a fabulous idea--I'll bet there are starving artists who are great conversationalists and would love to be invited to your dinner party. Maybe there should be a new category on Craigslist.

Well, they were just plain beans. I was going to grate some lemon rind on top of them but I forgot.

jini said...

well, ms. presenter, it was such fun to meet you, jim and sarah tonight. you made my day! i really am going to bake bread now....soon.

pinknest said...

wow, what an impressive and stunningly delicious looking spread! i'm ready to dive into those mashed potatoes head first.

evil cake lady said...

i'm with pinknest--those mashed potatoes look so creamy and inviting!

i hate pushing raspberries through a sieve, too, but i hate raspberry seeds stuck in my teeth more!

lovely dinner marie! thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I was one of Marie's guests, and her food was delicious. It didn't give me any gastrointestinal problems. However, Jim should be shot for failing to photo-shop the hideous trannie-like picture of me. Thank you, Jim.


breadbasketcase said...

It was great meeting you-I should be able to post something about the Barnes & Noble panel soon.

I know. What is there about mashed potatoes that's so irresistible.

Good point about the raspberry seeds in the teeth.

From you, it's high praise that the dinner caused no gastro-intestinal problems. Jim said he did the best he could with the retouching.