Monday, February 9, 2009

Fundraiser Planning Dinner

We got together with friends at our house on Friday night to plan our next fundraising cocktail party. This will be the third cocktail party we have hosted to raise money for our children’s school. The details of the fundraiser are hush-hush, but I can tell you what we had for dinner. We decided to meet over pizza, which is great for a busy Friday.
My mother-in-law taught me if you set a beautiful table and add something homemade, your guests will remember what a nice time they had in your home, and not that you ordered takeout. So, I took her advice to heart, and set the table with the bird and fish dishes she gave me, and I made an appetizer and a dessert. Paula brought a green salad and wine, and Sandy brought dessert for the kids and wine, so we were set for a fun evening!
Fig and Onion Bruschetta
I am still obsessing about homemade ricotta, so I decided Bon Appetit’s Fig and Onion Bruschetta would be the appetizer for the evening. Fine Cooking’s ricotta recipe was better tasting, but this one was really easy. Once the ricotta was made, I moved on to making the other toppings. This recipe frustrated me. The ingredient list is on one page and the instructions are on another page, so I had to constantly go back and forth between the pages (a small pet peeve of mine). Everyone liked these, but you really needed every ingredient in each bite for the full effect. Don’t omit the oregano. It was surprisingly important in the final taste.

I was given the recipe for Terrina di Cioccolato when I attended a cooking class Palio d'Asti in San Francisco. I was frying up arancini in the front of the restaurant while my Dad’s wife Lynn was in the back making this wonderful dessert (the arancini were good too. I will share the recipe later.) I made a double recipe of the terrine for a dinner party, and I only used one. So, I had this dessert on hand for our planning party.

Terrina di Cioccolato Bittersweet Chocolate Terrine
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
7 Tablespoons butter
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
4 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 ¼ cups cream
1 Tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoon powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon liqueur*
1 Tablespoon hot water

Spray loaf pan with Pam and line with plastic wrap. Make sure there is at least 2 inches overhang all the way around. Lightly spay the inside with Pam.

Whip cream with powdered sugar to medium peaks: set aside and chill.

Microwave chocolate and butter on medium power at 30 second intervals, stirring occasionally until completely melted. Sift in cocoa and whisk until smooth; set aside. Whip yolks, sugar and salt together over a simmering bain marie until pale yellow and very thick. Whisk in liqueur and water, then melted chocolate.

Fold cream into chocolate mixture a third at a time. Fill loaf pan an gently pang out any air bubbles. Fold plastic over the top to cover the chocolate mixture. Freeze until set.

Mimi at Palio used Amaretto and folded in 1/3 cup of chopped torrone. I used Grand Marnier and I didn’t use torrone, because I was making this dessert for someone allergic to nuts. Both liqueurs were delicious, but I prefer the amaretto.

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