Can this really have been our 20th gathering? Wow, time sure flies, and we feel like we've just gotten started!
Our latest gathering was held on Sunday, August 13th. Eleven members enjoyed a terrific spread at Mary Lou’s home, prepared using the Silver Palate cookbook series. These books, published throughout the 1980’s, helped re-popularize “gourmet” cooking to a new generation, featuring ingredients like fresh herbs, wine and a variety of cheeses. Just for fun, several of us posted photos of ourselves to the San Diego Cookbook Club web forum from the same time period … lots of big hair, big glasses and preppy collars!
As we tasted seventeen different dishes (thirteen savories and four desserts), we remarked how tastes have changed in the last thirty years: many dishes seemed less intensely flavored than we might have expected. Many cooks took advantage of our local produce in season, and Jaimie took on the challenge of the Silver Palate’s signature dish, Chicken Marbella, replete with olives, capers, and prunes.
Mary Lou’s Kir Royale Sangria served as a delicious accompaniment to our feast. Although not an "official" Silver Palate recipe, the sangria was an homage to Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso, the Silver Palate authors. Consisting of sparkling rosé wine, crème de cassis and a touch of framboise liqueur, frozen mixed berries stood in for ice cubes in this refreshing beverage.
Menus were printed and distributed to all so we could choose our favorites... and here are the results!
One dish led the pack in popularity, garnering as many votes as the next two winners combined. Candace’s Basil Cheese Loaf, prepared by Becky, was this month’s champion. This appetizer featured a mixture of Roquefort and cream cheese, layered alternately with sun dried tomatoes and a pesto made from basil, spinach, Italian parsley, walnuts and Parmesan cheese. This was served with a variety of crackers. The combination of more assertive flavors (Roquefort, sun-dried tomatoes and basil) with more subtle ones in each layer produced a spread which was flavorful without being overpowering.
Tied for second place were two savory dishes: Christina’s Minty Cucumber Salad and Elda’s Swiss Potato Gratin.
Christina’s simple summer salad, made with cucumbers, fresh herbs and an oil-and-vinegar dressing, was a refreshing standout among many delicious salads and vegetable dishes. The addition of fresh mint really made this dish shine.
Elda’s potato gratin was another crowd-pleaser. This rich and hearty dish layered thinly sliced new potatoes with Gruyere and ricotta cheeses for a comfort food classic.
Wrapping up third place was Mary Lou’s Salmon Mousse. This traditional appetizer, served with crackers and cucumber slices, featured wild Alaska sockeye salmon, poached in white wine, molded into a ring, festooned with fresh dill, was almost too beautiful to eat!
Once again, we challenged ourselves in the kitchen, created a meal evocative of a distinctive time and place, and enjoyed a terrific lunch together. Till next time!
Click here to see our complete event photo gallery and get the recipes!