gourmet dinner club: dark and light

20 Dec

Our latest Gourmet Dinner Club was hosted by Michael, the newest member of the group. I knew he was a keeper from the beginning but he really out did himself as the host. The theme was dark and light in honor of the solstice.  When we arrived at his house the entire outside was dark except for these beautiful ice luminaries….that he made! I didn’t get a good photo of the ones outside, but guess what? There was one inside too!


I have never seen such a gorgeous centerpiece.


Michael is the new Martha. I mean really. He gave her a serious run for her money (insert prison joke here). The whole house was decorated beautifully for the holidays and he succeeded at creating a very special evening. In addition, the company was fantastic.


Shall we talk about the food? Talking about food is one of the things I love about this club. I can talk about it all night and not bore anyone (at least I don’t think I do). It’s so nice to have other food-obsessed folks in my life.

We started the evening with an appetizer by Lee inspired by her research on the Nordic solstice. The woman did her homework and I’d say she aced the test.


What you see here is a platter of goodness; smoked trout, pickled onions, herbed creme fraiche, olives, pita crackers, and homemade rye crackers. I think I ate my weight in rye crackers – they were so tasty. I also LOVED the pickled onions. I love most anything pickled. Including herring. When I brought that up everyone else gagged. Am I the only one who loves pickled herring? My dad always serves it when he and my mom entertain and growing up,  I always managed to snag a few with some townhouse crackers before being kicked out of the “adult evening”. My favorite salad bar always has them  – which is one of the reasons they are my favorite salad bar.

Enough about herring, back to the winter solstice evening.

For the main course, Michael made a roasted capon. I had heard of capon before but didn’t actually know what it was – other than some sort of poultry. It turns out it is a castrated rooster. Nice, right?  It’s a surgical procedure because their “stuff” is actually internal. Roosters that have this done tend to have more body fat and it is thought that the capon is more tender and juicy that a regular chicken. We found that thought to be correct. This was one of the juiciest birds I have eaten and it was full of flavor.


Michael followed this recipe for the lovely bird. The red and white onions really showcased the ‘dark and light’ theme along with the options of dark and light meat. :)


The man and his capon.

He was kind enough to send me home with the carcass which produced almost 3 quarts of stock. What a gift!

I was in charge of a vegetable. I decided to make a roasted vegetable gallette inspired by Eating for England’s recipe. My thought was to have dark roasted vegetables topped with a white goat cheese. It didn’t go exactly like I planned….starting with the crust.


Where is the rest of it?


It didn’t really come together well. I was so nervous that I had a major flop on my hands. A flop at the GDC? Gasp!


It was not a major flop. I did like the way it looked and it had the proper dark and light aspects.  The crust that I struggled with and cursed at was my favorite part. It was flecked with kalamata olives and a wonderful chewiness. I would definitely make the crust again – but need to work at my rolling skills! The filling was a different story. I strayed from the suggestions in the recipe based on the colors I was looking for and what spoke to me at the grocery store (squash, beets, eggplant and turnips). I should have ignored those voices. It just didn’t taste like I had hoped. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t awesome. Next time, I think I’ll follow the recipe a bit closer.

Time for dessert. Not just one, but two! Obviously we all need more desserts during the holidays.

Kari made a lime curd tart (light) with blackberries and blueberries (dark). I am a huge fan of any curd and this one did not dissapoint me.


You would like a close-up? Okay.

Then there was Liza’s chocolate souffle. This was her first time making a souffle and she was nervous. I don’t blame her – I’ve heard crazy stories about souffles.

Hoping and praying it’s doing its thing.

Not surprisingly, it turned out great.  The official name of the dish was a Dark Chocolate Orange Souffle with White Chocolate Chunk Whipped Cream (highlighting the dark and light theme) and I would highly suggest making it ASAP. If not for the souffle, for the White Chocolate Chunk Whipped Cream that goes with it. The table was swooning over this cream. I was sneaking it into my espresso. The chunks of white chocolate were hidden treasures in the boozy cream. I think I was drunk with happiness.

This would make a wonderful dessert for Christmas Eve or Valentines Day or for any special occasion where you’d like to impress someone.

Another successful adventure for the Gourmet Dinner Club. It is such a pleasure getting together with these folks. I’m already excited for the next gathering!

Have you been entertaining or being entertained this holiday season?



7 Responses to “gourmet dinner club: dark and light”

  1. cheryl December 20, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    Herring love it. love, love, love it.

  2. Dennis Hanold December 21, 2010 at 7:29 am #

    There is little food in my house, save the herring and beer,

  3. Ann December 21, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    Jennifer..I need to go buy some herring stat! I forget about it, but I love it. Thanks for the reminder. That centerpiece was cool.

  4. Kari December 21, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    Awesome summary of a great night. Photos really capture the event. I agree 100% with your take on the food and venue.

  5. Fav Sista December 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Wow, that looked awesome. All of it. Love the theme – how creative Michael is. Also, my take on herring – no thank you. I never knew you snuck it when Dad put it out for grown up night. I had no interest and still don’t. Learned something new about you!

  6. Jackson December 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Love herring on a ritz cracker that has a schmeer of cream cheese. Delish! I didn’t see a picture of the second dessert. I don’t know if I can eat a capon knowing what the rooster has done to him. Yikes!
    The centerpiece was beautiful.

  7. emily (a nutritionist eats) December 21, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    My parents always had pickled herring…I never used to like it but I kind of want to give it a try again. I think I’m ready for it now. :)
    I know I’d like the trout with herbed creme fraiche, though, delish!

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