(G)nards Holiday Dinner

08Jan09

snowman

I didn’t plan to do any cooking while on my 2 1/2 week vacation in LA. My plan was to consume as much Mexican food as I could before I returned to New York. But then, when the fellow (G)nards suggested we get together for a holiday dinner, I couldn’t refuse! And when the theme, “Dishes Inspired by Christmas Songs” was finally agreed upon, I couldn’t help but grin when I figured out my dish: Venison with a Wine & Cherry Sauce. Can you guess what it is?

Oh. Come on. It’s our beloved Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, chopped, seared, and garnished with it’s own brightly colored nose!

And when I looked up venison recipes online, who would have guessed that more than half of the recipes had some sort of wine cherry reduction sauce to go with it. I guess I’m just a natural. 😉

First up came Stephen’s Piggy Pudding, inspired by, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” as performed by The Muppets. Call it a savory bread pudding or the dish that will replace next year’s Thanksgiving stuffing, but I could have eaten 4 more ramekins. But I politely put my spoon down and stared at the floor until the next course arrived. 

 

I’ve never seen anyone more happy to cook arugula…

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“All I Want For Christmas” as performed by The Muppets

Piggy Pudding

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Father (G)nard took the theme to a whole new level with his Caprese di Neve. Using skewers, an assortment of fresh and canned ingredients, and one tiny pair of tweezers, he created the ultimate gourmet snowman. 

A great holiday recipe for kids or for one mad scientist of a chef. 

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Our sweet and innocent idea of eating holiday songs turned into a really cannibalistic one. 

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“Frosty the Snowman”

Caprese di Neve

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Frosty the Snowman and his devil horned friend

The third course was Lindsey’s dish which was soooo delicious. Her Sweet Potato Soup with Lobster Tail Poached in Butter and Orange Creme Fraiche  was creamy, rich, and oh so velvety smooth.  The orange creme fraiche gave it the perfect amount of acid and you really can’t argue against anything poached in butter. And when it’s lobster, euf. It’s an automatic win. 

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“All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth”

Sweet Potato Soup with Lobster Tail Poached in Butter and Orange Creme Fraiche

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Andy here, may look too drunk and crazy to have made anything edible, let alone fantastically amazing, but he did. And he showed me a new kind of soup dumpling, one I’d never have imagined. 
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Inspired by this recipe found on the Food Network, the carrot filling wasn’t exactly a soup but it was creamy enough to  ooze out of the tortellini when bit into. It’s a mixture of carrot puree and browned butter that’s piped into fresh tortellini. The best part of the dish is the red pepper cumin sauce that the tortellini come in. The vinegar based soup is pretty sour, but it actually helps to balance out the sweet & buttery carrot filling in the tortellini. It’s a great dish to showcase the effects of well balanced flavor and taste. I guess you could technically freeze any kind of soup and fill tortellini with it, making sure there aren’t any holes the filling can seep out of while it’s being cooked. I bet if Lindsey and Andy’s dishes were combined, we’d be reading a whole new post on orgasmic foods right about now…

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“The Twelve Days of Christmas”

Five Golden Tortellinis in a Red Pepper Cumin Sauce

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I hesitated for awhile on whether I should post the picture of my pan-seared venison medallions with a wine and cherry sauce. I didn’t really plan for the plating segment and with no other accompaniments to the venison, it turned out looking more like a plate of poop with dark red sauce over it. I could post the photo and share a laugh with you, but then I’d feel embarrassed and wouldn’t give justice to how it actually tasted. Considering it was venison, a pretty lean choice of meat, I think it came out pretty decent. Would I ever order venison at a restaurant? Probably not. I enjoyed it more for its comical representation of our dearly beloved Rudolph. So kids, feel free to exhale, your adorable reindeer friend isn’t going to go extinct anytime soon. 

Lastly, Matt’s heavenly cheesecake served with homemade walnut shortbread. I think the mascarpone cheese makes this cake lighter and creamier than ones made with just cream cheese. It’s a softer dig into the cake and doesn’t feel like you’ve spooned a mouthful of Philadelphia cream cheese into your mouth. I loved the detail of serving the “crust” on the side as a cookie as well. 
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Maple & Mascarpone Cheesecake with Walnut Shortbread

“White Christmas”

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It was a bittersweet moment to see my fellow (g)nards again. It made me miss my friends in LA more and realize I was more homesick than I thought I was, but I was also glad we could get back in the kitchen and pretend like it was another month in our routine (g)nards gatherings…like nothing ever happened. We ate and drank well that night. But most importantly we shared stories and laughed well.

Happy New Year and CONGRATS TO LINDSEY AND MATT ON THEIR ENGAGEMENT!!! 

 

Fine. here. 

Pan-Seared Venison with Rosemary, Wine & Cherry Sauce

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

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3 Responses to “(G)nards Holiday Dinner”

  1. 1 smelly

    you’re a hero to everyone for posting your venison. god bless you, Amy Asian. We miss you, too…

  2. 2 smelly

    I’m seriously surprised that NONE of your readers commented on the awesomeness of your snowman building slideshow.

  3. 3 foodyi

    Seriously… I can only count on you mystery reader.


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