18th Dinner Club: Soul Food Summary
Friday night we gathered at M’s to begin our Soul Food dinner. I had appetizers and cocktails and had come up with something I thought was a representative and a bit different than normal fare. Many of the appetizer recipes I’d found involved deep-frying and, while I love my fried foods, just for ease of preparation at someone else’s house I wanted something different. I decided to start out with Sausage Balls, a recipe I found on a couple different Soul Food specific sites; Deviled Eggs, an all time favorite but with a bit of a twist; and Sazerac Cocktails.
There are many recipes for Sazeracs and I was looking for the most traditional I could find. The original Sazeracs were made with Rye Whiskey, an alcohol that brings back memories of a Canadian friend’s wedding, partying with her family the night prior, “losing” one of the bridesmaids somewhere in the house and finding her late the next morning in the back of a closet! It can be strong stuff! Anyway, it was time to try it again but my memories of it were of something strong and a bit sharp. I don’t know if it was the brand or that I’m 20 years older but I really liked the Sazerac with Rye! Definitely a grown-up drink but very tasty! I also brought along a little bourbon whiskey, as that is sometimes substituted and it also made a tasty drink but I like the idea of the more traditional rye.
The meatballs were pretty good, too. I had modified the recipe pretty substantially as the recipe I had chosen had way too much cheese and Bisquick for my taste, which I realized as I was mixing them up. The version I made was still a little solid (still a bit too much Bisquick?), I thought, but tasty. I happened to have chipotles in adobo sauce open and I decided to make a little dip for the meatballs made with ketchup and blended chipotles. It added a nice spark of heat to the dish. It always amazes me how much people love deviled eggs! For me they were such a common thing growing up that they’ve never seemed all that special. Years ago when I thought I might go into catering, my partner and I catered a wedding for 200 and the bride and her mom wanted deviled eggs (and lots of them) as part of the buffet. I can’t remember the exact number but I know we used something like 20 dozen eggs that night and they were all eaten! But back to this dinner… I wanted something a bit unusual so I used Kathy Casey’s idea of adding blended chipotle to the yolk mixture and then I topped them with a little diced red onion for some color and a bit of sweetness. Even the dog loved these! :-)
M had requested that the next three courses be served all at one time and that salad actually be a vegetable of some sort, not a salad – did that make sense? She had chosen fried chicken as the showcase main dish and, as in so many times past, decided to make two versions. I think part of this was due to her new toy, a DeLonghi Deep Fryer, she’d purchased for this dinner – and says she has lots of plans to use! :-)
Both versions were good – perfectly crispy on the outside, tender and moist on the inside! We all preferred the Tyler Florence version just a bit as it had more seasoning in the flour which added quite a lot of taste.
R brought Collard Greens with Red Onions and Bacon. How can you go wrong with that combo? The smoky bacon and sweet onions were nice contrasts to the bitter greens. I’d actually like to have them alongside scrambled eggs sometime. K chose macaroni and cheese as her offering, but not just any macaroni and cheese! She used a recipe from Grand Central Bakery that included five types of cheese! Yum! It made a huge dish and this would be great as just the main dish for your meal accompanied by a little salad (to make you feel less guilty…) and a nice glass of wine.
For the finale, M2 made Sweet Potato Pie! We had to take a little break before jumping in – two types of chicken, piles of greens and mountains of mac and cheese had taken their toll! But once we took the plunge we were all very happy indeed! Sweet Potato Pie is very similar in taste to pumpkin pie but a bit more dense. M2 made a perfect crust – light, buttery, flaky – to hold the custard and then added more goodness to the whole thing by serving a scoop of premium vanilla ice cream alongside the pie. I happen to like pumpkin pie, but several others at the table indicated they don’t care for it that much. However, they all loved this Sweet Potato version. I think the denseness of the pie was more pleasing to them.
With this meal we complete our third year of cooking club. Hard to believe we’ve had eighteen wonderful experiences all ready! I can remember when the club was just a glimmer of an idea… :-)
Our next meeting is scheduled for later in January and we already have the theme, “Wine”. All dishes will need to included wine in some way! Oh, the ideas are already racing through my head!