My husband and I belong to two Gourmet Dinner Clubs. It's an inspired idea from my husband's parents who have had their own Gourmet Dinner Club for decades. Here are the rules:
1. Each group is made up of four couples.
2. Each couple has to host a Gourmet Dinner once per year. (It usually turns out that we get together once per quarter)
3. The host couple has to collect and assign the recipes for their meal. Usually, there's some sort of theme. The goal is to choose recipes that you wouldn't normally cook for yourself. I encourage challenging recipes because it keeps things interesting and I'm always up for something fun!
4. Recipes assigned usually are an appetizer, soup or salad and dessert. The host couple takes on the main course and any additional sides they'd like to serve.
5. The host couple also provides the beverages. We like serving a specialty cocktail in addition to wine and soft drinks, water and coffee.
That's it! For my husband and I, it becomes a much needed date night with really fun, amazingly hilarious friends, who happen to all be excellent cooks and bakers.
I thought I'd feature this cake recipe here because it's been awhile since I'd done a dessert. Usually, I'm assigned something other than dessert because I'm the Cake Mama, but I was excited to try this one and I think it turned out pretty good.
Here's a link to the recipe that my friend Erin assigned:
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Toasted Hazelnuts and Brandied Cherries
First step (done a week ahead) is to soak the dried cherries in brandy and then 2 more days of soaking in simple syrup. Seriously. A week + 2 days. I didn't do it for a full week because I didn't read the recipe all the way through, but I got them soaking for about 4 days and 2 more days in the simple syrup.
Then, it was melting the chocolate with oodles of butter.
Doesn't that look divine? I want to dive in!
If you follow the recipe, you'll discover that you have to separate eggs and beat them according to the directions. Here, I have my egg whites ready and my egg yolks and chocolate mix ready. The next step was to combine them.
Lots and lots of folding the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. This creates a really fluffy mousse-like consistency.
I put it into my prepared spring-form pan. The recipe said that it would soufflee in the pan, but it would fall after about 15 minutes. It did.
But not not before making an incredible mess in my oven....Ugh. (Good news? My oven is now really clean!!!)
Here's the finished product with brandied cherries and homemade whipped cream. It really was something else!
In case you're curious, here are the other items served with this Valentine's Day feast:
Oysters Rockefeller (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Oysters-Rockefeller-231165)
Fried goat cheese, fig and almond salad.
Main course was marinated salmon, garlic potatoes and roasted asparagus.
What a great meal. What great company!