Skip to content

20th Dinner Club: Fireside Dinner Summary

For a little while it seemed the weather might be too warm for a Fireside Dinner on the night of our gathering.  But shortly before our meeting time, the spring weather turned our way and a huge thunderstorm rolled in – rain, hail, sleet – you name it, we got it!  As I walked up the sidewalk to R’s place each step was crunchy with the icy remains from the storm. 

I was the last to arrive and there was already plenty of activity going on.  Stewart, R’s new cat was "entertaining" in the living room.  M was in the kitchen preparing her seared Foie Gras with Sautéed Apples.  At least that was what she should have been doing – apparently on her way out the door she grabbed the wrong can from her pantry.  On a recent trip to France she had stocked up on some supplies and didn’t look close enough at the labels.  Instead of foie gras she’d grabbed rillettes!  No worries.  This is a dinner club – we love the new and unexpected.  It’s (usually) fun when things go wrong and you have to improvise  – right?  Well, once you get over your disappointment it is.  And once you realize you are the only one worried about it and no one else cares. 
A few minutes after I arrived M flamed her dish and we started serving.  We actually all liked the new version and the part we really loved was the wine she’d brought to accompany the dish.  The Quarts de Chaume Domaine des Baumard, 2002 was really amazing!  Very sweet, it would also make an excellent dessert wine but was heavenly with this apple-y appetizer. 
Next was the Caesar Salad.  M2 found a great dressing recipe and it was the perfect way to segue from the rillettes into the main meal.  Crispy romaine topped with garlicky, anchovy dressing – yum! 
Then it was time to move on to the main and side dishes.  R brought a huge pot of cassoulet to the table.  She had actually combined recipes to come up with the best of all worlds.  This version of hers was savory, creamy, crusty, wild and comforting all at one time.  Each bite revealed some new taste depending on what exactly you got in it.  My favorites were the bites with sausage, duck or best – both together!  At the end of the meal we had so much left that nearly everyone took home enough for another meal or two and R still had enough to freeze for future use! 
The tian I made worked well with the cassoulet.  The combination of vegetables was savory, yet sweet with the taste of the sautéed onions.  The rosemary had infused all of the vegetables with that slightly wild taste that is so indicative of the herb.  The one thing that I’d caution is that this is best brought right from the oven to the table.  I had made the dish at home and then transported it to the dinner, planning to just reheat it for a few minutes prior to serving.  While that worked okay, the olive oil from the dish had slightly separated and didn’t look quite as nice as the dish had when first pulled from the oven.  Overall though it was light enough to not compete with the cassoulet, yet distinctive enough to hold its own.  M2 had asked me about the word "tian" and at the time I didn’t remember the meaning.  I checked it out when I returned home and remembered that tian was originally the name of the dish used to bake the vegetables and at some point became the term to represent vegetables prepared in this manner. 
For our finale, K made Lemon Creme Brulee.  It was light and delicate and the lemon taste was the perfect palate cleanser after all the substantial foods we had consumed.  She did the final torching to caramelize the sugar at the table so we ended the evening with a little show. 
This was a great soul-satisfying meal.  Now that spring is here I may need to wait a couple months before trying the cassoulet but the tian will work perfectly with all the produce available at the local Farmers’ Markets.  I’m looking forward to trying it again with slightly different vegetable combinations. 
Next up:  Puget Sound Crab Feed

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: