Sunday, October 26, 2008

24, 24, 24: An International Progressive Dinner



A typical Progressive Dinner is an event where a group of people travel from one house to another having a different course of a meal at each house. At our progressive dinner, instead of traveling from house to house, we took a trip around the world to experience each course in a different country.


We started our travels in China where we enjoyed some Crab Rangoons with sweet and sour sauce. This appetizer is actually an American Chinese dish, but it was named after Rangoon, which is the former capital city of Burma. These were delicious! The crab filling was very tasty and the sweet and sour sauce was a very nice complement. They were a hit!

CRAB RANGOONS

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces fresh crab meat or canned crab meat, drained and flaked
  • 1 teaspoon red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, smashed, peeled, and finely minced
  • 1 package won ton wrappers
  • 1 small bowl water
  • Oil for deep-frying, as needed

Preparation:

Combine the cream cheese and crab meat. Mix in the remaining six filling ingredients (up to the wonton wrappers) one at a time.

On a flat surface, lay out a won ton wrapper in front of you so that it forms 2 triangles (not a square).

Add 1 teaspoon of filling to the middle, and spread it out toward the left and right points of the wrapper so that it forms a log or rectangular shape (otherwise the wrapper may break in the middle during deep-frying).

Fold over the edges of the wrapper to make a triangle. Wet the edges with water and press together to seal.

Keep the completed Crab Rangoon covered with a damp towel or paper towel to keep them from drying out while preparing the remainder.

Heat wok and add oil for deep-frying. When oil is ready (the temperature should be between 360 - 375 degrees), carefully slide in the Crab Rangoon, taking care not to overcrowd the wok. Deep-fry until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning once. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Serve hot with Sweet and Sour Sauce.


Sweet and Sour Sauce

¾ C vinegar

2/3 C sugar

2 T ketchup

1 T Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp salt

2 tsp cornstarch

4 tsp water

Boil vinegar, sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and salt together stirring constantly.

Mix cornstarch and water together and add to saucepan stirring frequently until desired consistency.


The second leg of our journey took us to Spain for a bowl of warm Creamy Almond Soup with homemade croutons. This soup had a very strong almond flavor. The croutons were a nice addition to it.

CREAMY ALMOND SOUP

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup blanched almonds (3 oz)
2 cups 1/2-inch bread cubes (from a baguette)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Heat oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté almonds, stirring constantly, until golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer almonds with a slotted spoon to a blender. Add bread cubes, parsley, and garlic, to oil in skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer about one fourth of crouton mixture to a small bowl for garnish, then transfer remainder to blender. Add broth to blender and purée mixture until smooth.


Transfer purée to a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan and stir in water. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt and serve soup topped with croutons.



Note: Blanched almonds are simply almonds without their skin. If you are anything like me, you are probably thinking that can not be an easy task, but it really is and here is how you do it:

Put your almonds in a bowl and pour boiling water over them until they are just covered. Let them sit for 1 1/2 minutes, but no longer as they will lose their crispness. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain and rinse again with cold water. The skins should be lose now and you will be able to peel it off.




The next stop was in Greece to have Horiatiki; a traditional Greek salad centered around feta cheese and typically does not include lettuce. This was a very beautiful and colorful salad and the dressing was very popular with it.

Horiatiki

Ingredients:

4 ounces feta cheese
1 cucumber
1 red/green bell pepper
5 tomatoes
Black Olives - handful
1 large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Red Wine vinegar
Olive oil

Assemble feta cheese and vegetables in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and serve.



After our short stay in Greece, we made a quick stop on France to pick up some fresh French Bread.

2 Hour French Bread


1 ½ C warm water

1 package dry yeast

1 T sugar

1 T oil

1 ½ tsp salt

4 C flour

2 T butter

sesame seeds (optional)


Combine water and yeast in glass or plastic bowl. Stir well with wooden spoon until yeast is dissolved. Add sugar, oil, and salt and stir well. Stir in flour and mix well. Cover and rise for 10 minutes. Stir down with spoon, cover and repeat process 6 times.


Form loaf by rolling into rectangle and then into a long loaf. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Slash diagonally 4-5 times with sharp serrated knife. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.


We continued on to India to try a vegetable curry dish. I am normally not a fan of curry dishes, but this flavor was so mild that I actually enjoyed it. It was so easy to cook it in a slow cooker too so that made it very appealing.

VEGETABLE CURRY

Ingredients:

  • 3 potatoes, chopped
  • 1 cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups green peas
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 cup water

Place all ingredients in a crock pot or slow cooker. Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.




Next we were off to Italy for Lobster Ravioli in a lemon butter sauce. This was absolutely amazing. It was a close tie between this and the crab rangoons as to what my favorite part of the meal was. These just tasted so fresh. The lobster filling was just perfect and the sauce just made all the flavors come together. Not exactly the healthiest thing on the menu, but so delicious!

Lobster Ravioli

Lobster Stuffing

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 ½ lbs. precooked lobster, chopped
2 leeks, white portion, chopped
½ tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Ground White Pepper
1 lb. Ricotta cheese
1 Egg
1/4 C. Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped fine
½ Tbsp. Fresh Thyme, chopped fine

Place olive oil and butter in a saute pan. Warm. Add lobster, leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes. Remove ½ of lobster and set aside. In a bowl combine ricotta cheese, egg, cream, basil and thyme, and mix together. Combine cooled lobster mixture and leek mixture.

Filling the ravioli

1 pkg won ton/ravioli wrappers

Brush each won ton/ravioli wrapper with beaten egg. Place 1 tablespoon mound of lobster mixture in center of wrapper and place second wrapper on top. Seal edges well with fingertips. Keep covered with moist cloth or paper towel.

Lemon Butter Sauce

2 ½ C. Butter
½ Tbsp. Garlic chopped
½ tsp. Saffron - you can substitute with tumeric
1/4 tsp. Ground White Pepper
Juice from ½ lemon
1 C. Heavy Cream
½ lb. Cooked Lobster

Melt butter in a saute pan. Add garlic, saffron, and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and cream. Cook until well mixed. Add cooked lobster mixture and cook for 1 minute.

Serve by cooking ravioli for about 2 -3 minutes in a pot of boiling salted water. Remove from water and drain. Cover with sauce.


The final stop on our trip around the world was in Ireland for a rich Chocolate Irish Cream Truffle Cake. This cake was extremely rich and dark. The mint flavor was very mild, but the truffle layers in the middle were to die for. In fact, I can't wait to make actual truffles out of it for the holidays!

Chocolate Irish Cream Truffle Cake

Cake instructions:
12 1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate
1 c. plus butter or margarine, room temperature
1-1/2 c. Irish Cream (I used coffee creamer, but you can use an alcoholic Irish Cream as well)
1 c. milk
3 lg. eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-2/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans.

In a heavy 4-quart saucepan over low heat, heat 12 squares unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of butter, Irish Cream and milk, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

In a large bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in warm chocolate mixture. Add flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; continue beating until batter is smooth and well blended.

Pour batter evenly into 3 cake pans. Bake at 325F for 25 to 30 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; invert cakes onto wire racks and cool completely. When cool, slice off rounded top to make it flat for frosting.

Truffle filling instructions:
4 1-oz. squares unsweetened chocolate
2-1/2 c. confectioners sugar
6 tbsp. butter, room temperature
1/4 c. Irish Cream

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over low heat, heat 4 squares of unsweetened chocolate, stirring frequently, until melted; cool slightly. Stir in confectioners sugar, butter and 1/4 cup Irish Cream until mixture is smooth and blended. (Mixture will be thick so you may have to finish mixing it with an electric mixer).

Glaze instructions:
8 1-oz. squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/2 c. Irish Cream

In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, over low heat, heat semi-sweet chocolate and Irish Cream, stirring frequently, until melted, smooth and slightly thickened; keep warm.

Assembly instructions:
Semi-sweet chocolate mini chips for garnish

Place 1 layer of cake on a 12 inch cake plate. With a metal spatula, spread bottom cake layer with 1/2 of the truffle mixture. Top with middle layer, pressing down gently but firmly. Spread with the other half of the truffle mixture; top with top cake layer; pressing down gently but firmly.

Over the assembled cake, pour prepared warm glaze. With metal spatula, spread glaze to completely cover top and sides of cake. Sprinkle chocolate chips around the top edge and around the bottom of the cake.


Here are the cute girls we had to help us serve the food and even run a little daycare for everyone's kids. We had 4 couples come on our journey and 12 kids between us!

What a great night we had! We learned a lot about each place we traveled. We had great conversation and great company along the way. The food was fantastic and we've already decided where our next International Progressive Dinner is going to take us!



A big thank you to Foodbuzz for sponsoring this fun night! Check out the 24, 24, 24 link to see how the other participants spent their evening! Thank you to our friends who joined us for the evening and to our great helpers we had as well!

17 comments:

Snooky doodle said...

wow what a nice trip I really enjoyed reading the different recipes. Thanks for the nice trip and tips :)

katie said...

Congratulations! I am always very skeptical of combining dishes from different regions, I don't have the courage to figure out what goes with what! Did you have any trouble finding ones that would go together well?

jehorn6 said...

Everything looks wonderful Bex! I'm sure it tasted yummy too! Can I come next time?
Love,
Mom

Prudy said...

OH my goodness! What an absolutely fantastic feast!

Laina said...

OK Honestly Becky...you are just AMAZING. I think I wanna make a blog about how great you are so that everyone else can just strive to be like you!! How in the HECK do you come up with time to do all this??!! Oh and I am SOOOO trying that lobster ravioli!!!!

Laurie said...

What a great idea! An International progressive dinner. I have been seeing some great 24 posts! And the creativity is astounding. Congratulations on this fun evening.. I think my next after the holidays dinner party might be one like this! :)

stephchows said...

what a fantastic idea! I was so excited to participate in 24,24,24 I did a fall flavors ice cream tasting :)

billy said...

thats a brilliant idea! I had so much fun doing my 24,24,24 and is exciting to read other people's ideas! :)

Ben said...

Great concept! All that food looks delicious. Congratulations and great job.

Emily N. said...

Those look like the best servers ever for quite the night!

Lisa said...

Wow! Fantastic entertainer you are. Beautiful dinner.

Diana @ Appetite for China said...

Congrats on your 24/24/24 post! Your Choc Irish Cream cake seemed like quite the endeavor!

Jenny said...

What a fun night! All the dishes look delicious, but you know I'm eyeing that cute cake!

Katrina said...

How fun! All the food looks yummy! Looks like lots of work. Thanks for the recipes. And yes, the cake looks the best!

avesta said...

It all looked so great! I am excited to try to two hour bread recipe...I love baking bread but never have the time!!!

Lori Lynn said...

Oh how fun! What a terrific addition to the Foodbuzz 24,24,24!
I am intrigued by the almond soup. Have to look into that.
Congratulations on a great party and post!

Lori Lynn

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