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Little jewels to sparkle at your next soiree

 

Last updated 6/7/2007 at Noon



By simple definition from Webster’s Dictionary a soiree is simply an evening party. The thoughts of dazzling little evening parties all around the town brought to mind a sparkling necklace of jewels.

And isn’t there something quite sparkling about tasty little tidbits! Or, maybe even light supper menu items that are so tasty they tantalize.

Lest I wax too esoteric, several of today’s recipes can do double duty for brunches, lunches, suppers… or your next soiree.

Here’s the recipe for Boston Cream Pie omitted from last week’s column. It is our son’s annual birthday “cake.”

Bell’s Boston Cream Pie

One baked 8- or 9-inch round yellow layer cake

1 (1 ¾ oz.) pkg. vanilla pudding and pie filling mix

1 ¾ cups milk

3 tbsp. semi-sweet chocolate chip pieces

1 tbsp. butter

1 ½ tbsp. hot milk

¾ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

Split cake to make 2 horizontal layers. Prepare pudding mix using 1 ¾ cups milk. Cool. When pudding is cool, spread between layers of cake.

Combine semi-sweet chocolate and butter in a glass bowl. Microwave to melt, about 30-45 seconds. Or, melt chocolate and butter in a small saucepan. Combine hot milk, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add melted chocolate and blend well. Spread the chocolate mixture quickly over the top of the cake and encourage dribbles down the edge of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tomatoes, sour cream and caviar create an amazingly elegant combination of flavors. To slice tomatoes French-style, remove stem end and slice top to bottom.

Russian Tomatoes

2 medium ripe tomatoes

1 (3-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

¼ cup sour cream

1 (2 ½-oz.) jar black caviar

Chives

Peel tomatoes and cut into thin slices, French style. Whip cream cheese with sour cream. Gently fold in caviar and spoon mixture on tomato slices. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Soufflés are NOT difficult! Follow each step and you are almost guaranteed success. And, I ask, is there guaranteed success in anything? So, set fears aside and give this recipe a whirl. Practice first with family or close friends, then perfect it for guests. Feel good, too, knowing canned salmon is an excellent nutritional choice.

Salmon Soufflé with Bengal Sauce

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. flour

½ tsp. curry powder

1 cup milk

1 ½ cups canned salmon, flaked

Pinch of thyme

Salt and pepper

4 eggs, separated

Bengal Sauce:

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. flour

1 cup milk

½ tsp. curry powder

2 tbsp. grated coconut

½ cup toasted slivered almonds

To prepare for soufflé: butter soufflé dish; set oven to 375 degrees and prepare pan of hot water large enough to use to bake soufflé.

For soufflé: melt butter in a 1 ½-qt. saucepan. Blend curry with flour and add to butter. Slowly whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring, and cook for 2 minutes. Add salmon and thyme. Cool slightly.

Beat egg yolks lightly. Blend into milk mixture, stirring. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into salmon mixture.

Turn salmon mixture into buttered 2-qt. soufflé dish. Place in a pan of hot water and bake in a 375-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until soufflé is well puffed and set. Serve immediately with Bengal Sauce.

For Bengal Sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan. Whisk curry with flour and then stir into butter. Blend in milk. Cook, stirring, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Stir in coconut and almonds. Serve warm with Salmon Soufflé. 6 servings.

Eggplant lovers will love this. Others may be inclined to taste and enjoy simply because of its combination of Italian flavors. This is a recipe that spans the day… brunchy, lunchy or suppertime… it works.

Italian-style Eggplant Pie

2 medium eggplants

½ cup flour

Salt and pepper

1 stick butter, melted

½ cup minced onion

½ cup minced green pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

½ tsp. salt

¼-½ tsp. cracked pepper

2 (8-oz. each) cans tomato sauce

4 oz. sliced Mozzarella cheese

2 eggs, slightly beaten

¼ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Peel eggplant and cut into ½-inch slices. Season flour with salt and pepper. Dip eggplant slices into flour. Place on broiler rack and drizzle with no more than half of the melted butter. Broil until lightly browned. Turn over and repeat, drizzling with remaining butter. Set aside.

Sauté minced onion and green pepper in 2 tbsp. butter until onion is transparent. Add tomato sauce, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes.

Spoon half of the onion mixture in a shallow casserole. Lay half of eggplant in a layer over. Top with Mozzarella cheese slices. Add remaining onion mixture. Top with remaining eggplant slices.

Combine slightly beaten eggs and Parmesan cheese. Pour over top of eggplant. Bake in a 325 degree oven about 40-45 minutes or until egg mixture is set. 5-6 servings.

Carrots get all gussied up in this unusual sauce… an ideal accompaniment to a simple grilled chicken or beef main course.

Carrots Poulette

1 ½ cups boiling water

4 or 5 medium carrots, thinly sliced

3 whole cloves

Piece of bay leaf

¼ cup butter

¼ cup flour

1 cup milk

1 tbsp. parsley

Salt and pepper

Drop cloves and bay leaf into boiling water. Cook until just tender. Take from water with a slotted spoon. Pour carrot water into 1 cup measure, discarding any excess.

Melt butter in a 2-qt. saucepan. Blend in flour. Cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles. Gradually add hot carrot water and blend well. Add milk and bring to a boil.

Cook, stirring, until mixture comes to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add cooked carrots, parsley, salt and pepper.

Curry and chutney are two items that may require repeated exposures before they become a person’s favored choice. And, many people do not have these tastes offered to them as children, so they may think they don’t like such flavors. I’d say, “Give it a taste.” I’d also have a couple of other choices for guests.

Major’s Chutney Squares

1 (8-oz.) pkg. Velveeta cheese, softened

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup flour

½ tsp. curry powder

Major Grey’s chutney

Let cheese and butter come to room temperature. Blend with flour. Pat half of flour mixture into 9x13-inch pan.

Chop larger pieces of chutney and combine with remainder. Spread over dough in pan. Pat on rest of dough. Bake in a 350-degree oven about 25 minutes. Transfer from oven to rack. Cut into squares. Serve hot.

 

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