It's about time group dinner got a mention on this blog. It's only my primary cooking inspiration.
Group dinner has been happening since 2002 (we think). There are debates about its gensis, but we all (Thomas, Orianne, Titus, and Rochelle) agree that it's a cherished tradition, one that will hopefully continue long into the future. The five of us try to meet on a weekly basis and rotate turns cooking for the other four.
Last night, Rochelle and I teamed up to bring the holidays to group dinner. Our menu consisted of some old favourites and some new experiments:
- Baked camembert with hot cranberry compote
- Buckwheat crepes with gruyere, portabello, carmelized onion, and swiss chard
- Potatoe and kale galette
- Spinach salad with apples, blue cheese, and shallot dressing
- Christmas pudding with lemon sauce and whipped cream
Baked camembert with hot cranberry compote
Rochelle invented this one. She wrapped a camembert wheel in several layers of phyllo pastry and baked it at 325 for 15-20 minutes. Earlier she'd made an absolutely amazing cranberry compote that consisted of orange juice, sugar, and frozen cranberries. I hope I can convince her to write a post about it.
Buckwheat crepes with gruyere, portabello, carmelized onion, and swiss chard
This recipe is an old favourite from our much loved Rebar Cookbook. I think every group dinner eater owns a copy! The recipe is pretty involved: many steps and many ingredients. I started making the crepes early in the morning. I also marinated the portabellos for several hours before roasting them.
The carmelized onions often take more than an hour to cook as well. I was more efficient this time thanks to my new mandolin! I splurged on this little gadget yesterday after imagining all the onion and potatoe slicing I was going to have to do. Ugh. Anyhow, it's soooo handy. I definitely recommend getting one.
Of course, the most gratifying step in the recipe is assembling the crepes themselves. Rochelle bravely took this on all by herself. I think I was too focused on the galette at this point. Here's some video illustrating her exceptional crepe-assembling technique.
Potatoe and kale galette
The first time I ate this dish, I was at Cristina and Vince's (the origins of many great dishes). It hails from an issue of Gourmet magazine. It's so attractive, and not very difficult to make. The trickiest part is flipping the galette so that you can cook the other side, but I followed the recipe pretty faithfully and it all worked out.
Christmas pudding with lemon sauce and whipped cream
The Christmas pudding is a Johnson/Chapman speciality. I don't feel like I can really do it justice since I've never made it myself. The recipe consists of potatoes, carrots, raisins, flour, sugar, and lots of dessert spices. It's served with a tart lemon sauce and whipped cream. Unfortunately, my photos don't do it justice at all, but I do have some interesting video of Titus whipping the cream by hand, which I've been trying to add to this post. I've run into technical difficulties but hopeful they'll resolve themselves soon.