I was fortunate to have the opportunity to co-host a book reading party for Lela Davidson, local wife, mother, speaker, facebook junkie, and author of Blacklisted From The PTA. She is truly fabulous, and had us all in stitches with excerpts from her book
The brie and fig tarts were very popular, but as with life, all was not perfect - the desserts were somewhat messy, and not as pretty as I would have liked, but absolutely scrumptious all the same!!
It was a wonderful evening - I hope you enjoy trying these recipes, and hosting friends, as much as I did.
GREEN GODDESS DIPPING SAUCE WITH SHRIMP
I combined two recipes to come up with this fresh, delicious dipping sauce. I like it with shrimp, but it's also good with vegetables - raw or lightly steamed, or on a salad - as it was originally intended. As the story goes, it originated in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in 1923, and before ranch dressing came along, it was one of the most popular salad dressings on the West Coast of the United States.
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon
2 anchovy fillets
1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 green onion, coarsely chopped
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped (I couldn't find fresh, so substituted 2 tablespoons of dried)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
(I had a little dill, so popped that in too)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and peper to taste
30 large shrimp, cooked, peeled with tails left intact
Combine lemon juice, lemon zest, anchovies, shallot, vinegar, garlic and green onion in a food processor. Blend until shallot and garlic are finely chopped. Add avocado, mayonnaise, sour cream and herbs, blend until almost smooth.
With machine running, add olive oil through feed tube in thin stream (or dump it all in at once and blend, like I did)
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer dipping sauce to a small bowl, place bowl on a large platter and surround with shrimp and vegetables if desired.
May be made 1 day ahead.
BRIE AND FIG TARTS
1/2 - 1 brie round, rind removed
1 package mini-phyllo pastry shells (I find mine at Handmade or Marvins IGA)
4 tablespoons fig preserves
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375F
Cut brie into 15 pieces. Place one piece into each phyllo shell, and top each with a 1/2 teaspoon fig preserves. Place on a baking sheet and bake 6 minutes.
Sprinkle with crystallized ginger and pepper to taste.
CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY COOKIES
1 10 ounce jar of maraschino cherries
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350F
Drain cherries, reserving juice. Cut cherries in half.
Beat butter and sugar together for 30 seconds, then add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined.
Add egg and vanilla, then flour and cocoa until combined.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each ball, place a cherry half, cut side up, into the indentation.
In a separate saucepan, combine chocolate chips and condensed milk. Cook and stir until chocolate melts. Add 4 teaspoons of reserved cherry juice. Spoon 1 teaspoon of frosting over each cherry half.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges are firm - and don't worry if the frosting slides off during baking - they are still delicious!!
DoodleNote: I love the scoops from the Pampered Chef when making cookies, or anything else that requires a uniform measure - invaluable!
Recipe adapted from NWA Media Holiday Cookbook, 2010
BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE BLONDIES WITH FRESH BLUEBERRY JAM
When I make these again, I will substitute store-bought jam for the fresh made - it will be less messy, and just as delicious!
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 batch fresh blueberry jam (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with baking spray or with butter and flour.
In a bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon and sugar. Beat in cream cheese and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
Beat in egg yolk, mixing until combined, set aside.
In a saucepan, over low heat, melt butter and white chocolate chips together, stirring constantly until smooth.
Stir melted mixture into cream cheese mixture and mix well.
Transfer to prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Spread blueberry jam over batter.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center is set.
FRESH BLUEBERRY JAM
1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or sugar to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or to taste
Mash berries, using the back of a spoon, until coarsely mashed. Add sugar and lemon juice and mix well, taste and adjust sugar and lemon juice as necessary.
Recipes adapted from Arkansas Democrat Gazette, June 30, 2010