Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Fancy dinner recipes

February 22, 2013

Before we decided to go out for Valentine's Day, I had devised a four-course fancy dinner menu. I was so excited about this meal that I still wanted to make it, which I did on Tuesday. Above is the menu, followed by recipes and photos.

Brie and Apple Canap├ęs
Adapted from Whole Foods

2 tart apples, cored and sliced into eighths
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 wheel brie, sliced
16 baguette slices

Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss apple slices with melted butter and brown sugar. Bake apples until tender, about 20 minutes.

Arrange Brie evenly over the bread slices and top with the apple slices. If desired, broil one to two minutes until cheese is just melted. Serve immediately.

Artichoke and Arugula Salad with Parmesan
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 can artichoke hearts, thinly sliced
3 oz arugula
Parmesan cheese, shaved

Whisk orange juice, vinegar, and mustard in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Combine artichokes, arugula, and Parmesan in large bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat.

Caramelized Shallots
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2/3 pound fresh shallots, peeled, with roots intact
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the shallots and sugar, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the shallots start to brown. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper and toss well.

Transfer shallots and sauce into saute pan and roast for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the shallots, until they are tender. Season, to taste, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot.

Vanilla Roasted Pears
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean, if you have it)
3 slightly-under-ripe, fragrant, medium pears, peeled if desired, halved though the stem and cored
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the sugar in a small bowl and stir in vanilla extract.

Arrange the pears in a large baking dish, cut-side up. Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the fruit, then sprinkle with the sugar. Pour the water into the dish. Dot each pear with some butter.

Roast the pears 30 minutes brushing them occasionally with the pan juices. Turn the pears over and continue roasting, basting once or twice, until tender and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes longer (if the pears are small, test for doneness after 35 or 40 minutes of cooking; a paring knife poked into the thickest part of one should meet with no resistance).

All of the above recipes make roughly two servings. And if you decide to make anything, keep in mind that post-Argentina I have a decidedly relaxed attitude toward following recipes exactly. I probably fudged many of these amounts so don't take them too seriously.

Ben just got a new iPhone, so we wanted to compare the quality of the photos between his iPhone camera and my Canon EOS Rebel XS. His photos are on the left, mine on the right.

Obviously our food photography needs a little work. But it was delicious.

- Steph

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