Happy New Year!

So I’ve been meaning to write a new post for a few days now, however 2011 has been treating me well and I’ve been off enjoying some quality time with Brett before I start school again. ūüė¶

This new years eve I got to do something I’ve wanted to do ever since I moved to New York City: host my own new years eve party. New years eve is not my favorite holiday. It’s always stressful figuring out plans, figuring how how to find money to fund those plans, and then finally the most important part: what to wear. I’ve always wanted to cut out all that stress and focus on having fun, enjoying my friends, and eating some good food.

Brett and I had some of our friends over for a little dinner party. I was really excited to try out some new recipes, and nervous because this would be a bad time to mess up!

I started kind of backwards with the menu, I thought of what I wanted to make for dessert first (not surprising). I wanted to try out a chocolate mousse recipe a few days in advance, so that if it was horrible I would have some time to make something new. Chocolate mousse can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

I used David Lebovitz’s adaptation of Julia Child’s “Perfect Chocolate Mousse Recipe”

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Knopf) by Julia Child.

This recipe makes Six to eight servings. Annie and I ended up eating this out of the bowl, whipped cream on spoon, with some strawberries on top….MMMmmmM

Ingredients:

*I didn’t buy the fanciest chocolate money could buy, but I didn’t buy the cheapest either. If you have the funds, I’d say buy the best. I wouldn’t really buy the cheapest chocolate on the shelf for this one since the whole dish is really all about the chocolate.


6 ounces (170g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 ounces (170g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup (60ml) dark-brewed coffee
4 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup (170g), plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons (30ml) dark rum —*I didn’t have this, and therefore didn’t use it…it was good regardless in my opinion!
1 tablespoon (15ml) water
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat a saucepan one-third full with hot water, and in a bowl set on top, melt together the chocolate, butter and coffee, stirring over the barely simmering water, until smooth. Remove from heat.

(before the chocolate was melted)

This is what mine looked like when I removed it from the heat: 

2. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.

3. In a bowl large enough to nest securely on the saucepan of simmering water, whisk the yolks of the eggs with the 2/3 cup of sugar, rum, and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise. (You can also use a handheld electric mixer, which I did. My arms got tired of whisking after the the chocolate!)

3. Remove from heat and place the bowl of whipped egg yolks within the bowl of ice water and beat until cool and thick. Then fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.

 

4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape. Whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff, then the vanilla. *I think it’s really cool watching eggs get this frothy, weird? probably…

5. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume.

6. Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm. I just left it all in one bowl and waited patiently for it to set. I stole a spoonful the next day because I was being a curious George about whether it came out well. I think I told Brett that I was proud of myself after that spoonful because it was super yummyyyyyyy.

Here’s the only decent picture I could get of the mousse. I served it with whipped cream and strawberries, although it was pretty good on it’s own and didn’t need anything. ¬†It’s really hard to get a good picture of chocolate mousse that does it any justice. If there’s anything I’ve learned about this whole food blog thing it’s that it is VERY hard to take good pictures of food, that make the food look as good as it really is.

After I made the mousse, I decided to knock an appetizer out of the way while my kitchen was already messy. I made pesto palmiers. Easiest appetizer in the world. Puff pastry from the supermarket is something that I will one day always keep in my freezer when I have more money, but for now it makes guest appearances here and there, and I love it because you can use it for both sweet and savory dishes.

For these palmiers you will need:

I¬†apologize¬†in advance for the lack of measurements for this one. I was getting sleepy and lazy, the mousse took a lot of concentration and arm power! It’s really a recipe you can eyeball, no need to be precise for these.

Approximately 1/2 cup of store bought pesto. You can make you’re own, but….I don’t have time for that.

Some parmesean cheese

Shredded Mozzarella.

  1. You are going to first roll out the puff pastry dough after it has thawed. I wouldn’t spread it too thin because you don’t want it to tear.
  2. Spread pesto all over the rolled out dough, almost touching the edges
  3. Sprinkle both cheese
  4. Roll inward from both edges towards each other until the sides meet.


When this is what mine looked like when I rolled it. I know what it looks like. Shut up.

I wrapped this in saran wrap and left it in the fridge until it was party time.  Before everyone came over Bretty sliced it into 1/4 inch pieces and laid them out on a cookie sheet.

We baked them in the oven for approximately 15 mins (I kept checking on them because puff pastry cooks pretty fast) at 450 degrees.

I after letting mine cool, they were done. So easy peasy. and Cheesy.

Finally, since we were hosting Annie and Charlie, and it was the first time we’d seen them since their beautiful wedding I decided to make something inspired by the food at their wedding. They had these really great crab cakes with spicy mayo like you get at a sushi restaurant. Brett and I tried to recreate this, and it was pretty good for my first attempt at crab cakes. I wasn’t in love with the result, but I would definatley make these again. Perhaps with better quality crab meat and regular bread crumbs instead of panko, so that these would look more like “traditional” crab cakes. Brett liked them, and had more than one. This is how I can tell when he really likes something. Usually he will have one taste of something in order to appease me, or not to hurt my feelings. If he goes for more on his own, this usually means it’s pretty good.

I ¬†super adapted a recipe I found in Bon Appetit for crab cakes and herb salad (didn’t make the salad though)

I say super adapted because I didn’t have many of the ingredients, so I made a lot of this up as I went along.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (the recipe called for 1/4 but ¬†I ended up adding more as I went along because I found that the mixture was too dry and not binding.)
  • 1/4 cup minced green onions
  • 1/4 cup minced red pepper
  • 2 large eggs (the recipe called for just the yolks here, but again the mix wasn’t binding so I added in the egg whites that I had set aside in case this happened)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound blue crabmeat or Dungeness crabmeat
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs),* divided

Whisk first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in crabmeat and 1 cup panko, breaking up crabmeat slightly. Let stand 10 minutes. Place remaining panko on rimmed baking sheet, spreading slightly.

Form crab mixture into patties, however big or small you want them to be. If you find that it is difficult to bind these, add a little more mayo and that should do the trick. I tried to keep mine small since these were to be eaten as an appetizer and not an entrée. Press both sides of patties into panko. Transfer patties to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy large skillets over medium-high heat. Add crab cakes to skillets and cook until golden on both sides, adding more butter and oil as needed, about 5 minutes total.

After I let these brown, I wanted them to stay warm and cook through so I put them in the oven for about 15 mins at 350 degrees.

Brett was in charge of spicy mayo. I loved this, and think it was pretty close to what you get at a sushi restaurant.

This is pretty simple to make. You need 3 parts mayonnaise to every 1 part Sriracha hott sauce, and just a small dash of soy sauce.

If you don’t have¬†Sriracha I think you should go out and get some. Brett uses it in his fried rice and I love it. It also worked pretty well for this spicy mayo.¬†

And here was the final product: 

The chocolate mousse was my favorite, the palmiers I’ll be making forever just because they are simple and delicious, and the crab cakes I want to tweak a little…I’d like to thank my guests for being brave and trying my new recipes, and hopefully enjoying them!

All in all it was a happy new year, and 2011 is treating me pretty well thus far. I’m a lucky lady ūüôā

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