Recipe for a Grand Dinner Party

July 29th, 2013

My friend Penny of The Comforts of Home and From Harvest to Table is a multi-talented lady.  Not only has she turned her new home into a beautiful place to live by painting, sewing, digging in the dirt and creative decorating, but she is also an accomplished and creative cook.  This past weekend David and I had the pleasure of dining with Penny and her hubby.  The menu was posted in her kitchen.

We were seated in her cozy kitchen nook and enjoyed the crostini and brushetta while she stirred the risotto and we all had a chance to chat. It is fun to watch the hostess put the finishing touches on a meal.  It is smart though to have a place for your guests to sit well out of the way of the action.  Sometimes it is easy to get distracted when people are leaning over your shoulder and messing in your space.  Penny has the perfect set up.

Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the appetizers.  But they were just perfect with a glass of crisp white wine.

I cannot say enough about the Creamy Corn Risotto with grilled shrimp and truffle oil.  This is a perfect summer dish.  All of the flavors of fresh corn are extracted from the ears.  The cobs are used to make a stock and the corn kernels are used in both a puree and a saute.  The risotto is creamy and full of the flavor of corn.  The shrimp with truffle oil is just simply the perfect embellishment to the dish.  I can see why Penny said “there were a lot of mmms going on from her friends” when she first made this because we were doing it too.  We all ate our dishes with a big spoon and I scraped my bowl clean.

Ah, Poached Pears in Marsala wine with English Stilton Cheese.  This was such an elegant dish and believe it our not it was made in a crock pot.  Simple elegance.  Penny and I both have The French Slow Cooker cookbook by Michele Scicolone which we love.  But she also bought the Italian Slow Cooker and this recipe came from that book.  It is a no fail easy way to poach pears and the rich sauce and bleu cheese complemented it perfectly.  I have a feeling Penny will have the recipe on her From Harvest to Table website soon so be sure to go over there to view it.  Here is her recipe for the risotto.  It might seem long but it can be done in stages and each component held in the fridge until the final cooking of the risotto.

This is a perfect dinner party menu.  I hope you give it a try.  Thanks Penny.



RECIPE (serves 6)

Corn Stock

  • 6 ears corn, husked
  • 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, halved lengthwise
  • 1 leek (white and light green part only), cut into 1-inch pieces


Corn Purée and Sauté

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs



  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Sartori Stravecchio cheese (or another domestic Parmesan  cheese)


  • 24 peeled and de-veined shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil
  • 2 medium summer truffles, very thinly sliced (optional)

Make the Corn Stock

Using a large chef’s knife, cut the corn kernels off the cobs and set aside.  Place the cobs in a large stockpot along with the onion, celery, and chopped  leek. Add 10 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat  and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain the corn stock through a fine-mesh  strainer into a bowl. Discard the solids. You should have at least 6 cups of  stock.

Make the Corn Purée

Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over  medium heat until the butter begins to foam. Add the onion and garlic and sauté  until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the reserved corn  kernels, season to taste with salt and pepper, and continue to cook over low  heat, stirring constantly, until the kernels begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the cream, thyme, and 1 cup of the corn stock and continue to simmer over  low heat until the mixture begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Remove the thyme  and purée the mixture in a blender until smooth.

Sauté the Corn

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium sauté pan over  medium-high heat. Add the remaining corn kernels and sauté until the corn is  tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the Risotto

Heat the olive oil in a large wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion  and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir  to coat with the oil. Add the wine and reduce the heat to a simmer until most of  the wine has evaporated. Add 1 cup of the corn stock to the pan and continue to  cook, stirring constantly, until most of the stock is absorbed. Repeat the  process with the remaining 4 cups of corn stock, making sure the stock has been  fully incorporated after each addition before adding more. Once the rice is  tender yet firm to the bite, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the corn  purée, sautéed corn, and grated cheese and season to taste with salt and  pepper.

Prepare The Shrimp

Preheat a gas grill to high.  Lightly brush the peeled and de-veined shrimp with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.  Place on grill and cook until pink, about 2 minutes per side.

To Serve

Divide the risotto among 6 warm bowls. Arrange 4 shrimp atop each bowl of risotto. Drizzle with the truffle oil and garnish with sliced summer  truffles, if desired.

Pizza Party Tips

July 27th, 2012

I am planning a pizza party for 14 people.  That is a lot of pizzas to make.  The idea is to set out toppings on the kitchen island and let everyone choose their own.  The biggest obstacle to pulling this off is the pizza dough.  It makes such a mess and frankly I don’t think I have the space for everyone to flour boards and stretch their own.  Thanks to my Daughter-in-Law Kristen, I have come up with a solution.

I start out with Perfect Pizza Flour Blend from King Arthur Flour.  This is such an easy dough to manage when you are forming your pizzas.  It is a blend of golden durum wheat and unbleached flour with an all-natural dough conditioner and baking powder added for an extra-light crisp crust.  I make my pizza dough in my bread machine.  It is so easy.

Four cups of the pizza flour yields four dough balls for 10-inch individual pizzas.

I pull and stretch the dough on a cornmeal dusted paddle.

Now, this is what Kristen taught me that is so valuable.  Before she tops her pizza with ingredients, she brushes olive oil on the dough and sprinkles it with salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.

The dough is placed on a pizza stone in a 475 degree oven and prebaked for about 5 minutes.

We now have a crust that will be easy to top and for me that means I can make all of the crusts ahead of time and place them in the freezer until I need them.  On the day of the party, all I have to do is defrost the crusts and assemble the topping ingredients and everyone will be able to build their own pizzas.

Of course we had to test the pizzas to see if they were good.  the two on the right have marinara sauce, mozzarella, sausage, peppers, onions and Parmesan.  The two on the left have the same ingredients, but with pesto sauce instead of the marinara.  Kristen likes to add the mozzarella after the sauce, then the other toppings, then more mozzarella and Parmesan.  She learned that from my Son, who worked in a pizza restaurant while in high school.  She also likes to finish her pizzas with a fresh note like a squeeze of lemon juice or fresh basil.  Thanks Kristen.

Pre-Baked Pizza Crust  (Using Bread Machine)

4 Cups Perfect Pizza Flour Blend from King Arthur Flour or bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast or instant yeast

Place all of the ingredients into a bread machine.  Set on dough or pizza setting.  Process until done.  On a floured board, knead dough briefly and cut into 4 pieces.  Roll each into a ball.  Cover with a cloth and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Dust a pizza paddle with cornmeal.  Stretch one of the balls into a 10-inch (approx.) circle.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.

Slide pizza circle onto a pizza stone in a 475-degree oven.  Bake for about 5 minutes.  Remove to a rack.  Proceed with remainder of the dough balls.

When all of them are cooked and cooled. wrap in foil and place in plastic bags.  Freeze until needed.

Allow pizza rounds to thaw to room temperature.  Place your toppings of choice on pizza rounds and bake until browned and bubbly.

Printable recipe

Dinner with New Friends

April 26th, 2012

I don’t often mention it but we have a rental cottage on our property.  When we decided to add a second story to the cottage we knew that we would need a place to live for an extended period of time.  We first had our contractor build a garage for us with an apartment above it.  David and I lived there for two years while the cottage was reconstructed.   We now rent it out on a short term basis from April to the end of October.  I have a link for it on my side bar.

Last year we had a great couple from Iowa staying there for a week while they looked for a place of their own in the Lake Lure area.  They have found a piece of property and are building a log cabin.  You can imagine that supervising a construction from Iowa is not an easy task.  They are back staying in our guest cottage this week.

We have had a dilemma.  We will be on our trip to France for three weeks in June.  I hate to board our dog Daisy for that length of time.  Plus, who would look after our rentals?  Light Bulb Moment!  Tom and Diana need to be here as much as possible and they need a place to stay.  They have agreed to stay in our cottage, manage the guest cottage rentals, take care of our dog and supervise the construction of their own cabin.  They have a dog named Lucy.  Lucy and Daisy like each other.  Perfect solution.

We invited them to dinner Tuesday night to discuss the logistics.  We enjoy their company and look forward to them moving here when their cabin is finished.  But in the meantime, our minds are at ease about being gone for such a long time.

Dinner was Beef Bourguignon, mashed potatoes, Provencal green beans, yeast rolls and this Apple Crostata from Ina Garten.  You can almost never go wrong with one of the Barefoot Contessa’s recipes.  The recipe in Barefoot Contessa Parties!  calls for doubling the pastry amount so that you can tuck one in the freezer for a future crostata.  Guess you know what you are having for dessert Saturday night Penny and K.  Yes, my blogging buddy Penny of The Comforts of Home and hubby will be here for dinner then.



2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound very cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup ice water


1 1/2 pounds McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1/2 stick), diced

For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Add the butter and toss quickly with your fingers to coat each cube of butter with the flour.  Pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas.  With the motor running, add the 1/4 cup of ice water all at once through the feed tube.  Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough comes together.  Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and form into 2 disks.  Wrap with plastic and refrigerate one of the disks for at least an hour.  Freeze the rest of the pastry.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface.  Transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

For the filling, peel., core and quarter the apples.  Cut each quarter into 3 chunks.  Toss the chunks with the orange zest.  Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly.  Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together.  Sprinkle evenly on the apples.  Gently fold the border over the apples, pleating it to make a circle.

Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the apples are tender.  Let the tart cool for 5 minutes, then use 2 large spatulas to transfer it to a wire rack.

Printable recipe

Bacon Maple Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

March 24th, 2012

If you want a KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF dinner entree for your next party this is definitely it.   And believe it our not, this dish came about because I was cleaning the kitchen out in preparation for our return to Lake Lure.  I had a pork tenderloin in the freezer, dried figlets and apples, pecans, pear nectar and pure maple syrup that I did not want to take back with us.  I remembered a similar recipe from a blogger who is no longer blogging but who had great recipes.  Do any of you remember A Nod is as Good as a Wink to a Blind Horse?    George is missed by many of us.

I butterflied the pork tenderloin, mixed the stuffing ingredients together, rolled it up and wrapped bacon slices around it.  I drizzled more maple syrup on top of it, added pear nectar to the roasting dish and baked it for an hour, basting occasionally.  It came out looking like glazed perfection.

This is one of those dishes that I will make again and again.  The stuffing was sweet and moist and the pork was tender and tasty with it’s cloak of bacon.

This is a real winner.  I can hardly wait to make it again.  That will happen in my Lake Lure Kitchen.  We are leaving the first of the week.  I will be posting again at the end of next week.  I have a lot of organizing and paring down to do before we leave.

Space will be tight.


For the stuffing:
2 apples, chopped
2 cups chopped dried fruit ( I used a combination of figs and dried apples)
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 apple cider or pear nectar

For the pork:
2 pork tenderloins
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (Optional)
8 slices of bacon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 to 1 cup apple cider or pear nectar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix stuffing ingredients together and set aside.

Butterfly pork tenderloins by cutting down the middle of each one 2/3rds of the way through.  Place each between sheets of wax paper and pound out to a 1/4-inch rectangle.  Place as much stuffing as will fit easily on each one.  You will have extra to put in small casserole to cook separately.  Roll up pork starting at a long end and place seam sound down in baking pan or casserole.  Wrap each tenderloin with 4 slices of bacon.

Drizzle tops of each one with maple syrup and pour 1/2 cup apple cider or pear nectar into pan.  Place in oven and cook for 1 hour basting occasionally and adding more liquid if pan starts to caramalize too quickly.

Remove from oven and let rest covered for 5 minutes.  Slice and serve.

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Spiced Cabernet Boneless Beef Ribs

February 9th, 2012

I have blogged about this recipe before, but since it is one of my favorites and because I am always changing recipes to improve them, I thought it would be a good idea to update it.  Lots of people make short ribs on the bone.  Although I love the flavor that the bones impart to a slow roasted dish it does make it harder to cut and eat.  When you are feeding a crowd I prefer boneless, succulent, fall apart beef short ribs.

Variations of this beef casserole have become popular at our large family celebrations.  But it occurred to me that it would also make a great alternative to steak for that Valentine dinner for two.  Just cut the recipe in half.

The ingredients combine to produce a very unique flavor.  Along with the wine and beef broth the sauce is flavored with orange zest strips, dried ancho chile for heat, cinnamon for a hit of spice and chocolate for a smooth lusciousness.  The vegetables are added, not only for their flavor, but for their thickening quality when the sauce is pureed.  Best of all,  the short ribs can be prepared and assembled in advance, giving you more time to make that decadent chocolate mousse for your special Valentine.


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds Boneless Beef Short Ribs (about 14)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, cut into small chunks
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfindal
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried Ancho Chile, stemmed and halved
2 cups beef broth
The zest of one orange, cut into thick strips
1 ounce good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Saute short ribs in batches.  Remove them to a plate when they are browned.  Add additional olive oil to Dutch oven if necessary.  Add chopped vegetables and saute until onion is softened.

Deglaze the pan with the wine.  Add the cinnamon stick, Ancho chile, and orange zest strips.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the wine is reduced by half.  Add the chocolate.  Stir to incorporate.  Return the ribs to the pan and add enough beef broth to just cover.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover and place in the oven.  Bake for 3 hours.

Remove meat from pot and place in serving casserole.  Strain the sauce, discard the cinnamon stick and puree the strained vegetables, chili and orange zest.  Bring the liquid to a boil and cook for 5 minutes to reduce it slightly.  Add the pureed vegetables and stir to combine and thicken the sauce.  Pour sauce over short ribs and serve.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.