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!
- 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.
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.
4 ounces feta cheese
1 red/green bell pepper
Black Olives - handful
1 large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
Red Wine vinegar
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.
- 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!
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
1/4 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
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).
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.
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.
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!