With my sister in town the plan for Saturday had been for our mother, whose birthday it was, to come down from C'ville to join us for dinner. Sadly, she came down quite ill. A last minute invite went out and Mr & Mrs RVA Foodie joined us for our feast.
The festivities started around 6 as the Foodies, Cy-n-Ide, and my paint splattered sister arrived. As it had been a very rough week I was desperate for a martini so Cy attacked a lime and I retrieved my Tanq 10 from the deep freeze. Foodie eyed my Talisker single malt and a dram or two was extracted for him. Both Mrs Foodie and Ide are expecting so it was sparkling water and lemonade for the ladies.
We settled into our new kitchen and laid out a bit to nosh. Olives and pickled herring as well as a rather large shrimp cocktail with M's increasingly famous sweet Thai chili cocktail sauce.
A little before 8 the activity in the kitchen increased markedly. For the entree a pork shoulder had been braising all afternoon and my faux mashed potatoes (suitable for people like me on South Beach and Mrs Foodie who is also avoiding carbs).
BRAISED PORK SHOULDER
7lb boneless shoulder of pork (provided by Belmont Butchery)
Several cloves garlic
4 lbs sweet onion
2 cups apple cider
1 can Boddington Ale
Preheat oven to 300. Salt and pepper pork. Sliced garlic into thin slices, cut pockets into pork and slid slices in. Olive oil in braising dish, heat, sear pork. Remove to a plate. Add sliced onions and caramelize. Return pork to dish add cider and beer. Cover tightly and place in oven for 4 hours or until fork tender.
Problems - An hour or so into cooking the pork unexpectedly expanded blowing the lid off. Not good for braising. Transfered to a roasting pan and covered tightly with foil. Added 1/2 hour cooking time due to transfer. Onions didn't add a whole lot and the jus would have been better without. Next time will caramelize onions as a side (better colour and flavour) and add more cider to the braise.
Faux Mashed Potatoes (Mashed Cauliflower)
2 heads cualiflower
Stock (Veggie or Chicken)
Cut cauliflower into florets and place in stockpot with 2 table spoons minced garlic. Cover with stock (I typically use chicken but as one of the guests was a vegetarian I subbed veggie stock) and boil over medium high heat until tender. Mash. Add a large pat of butter and a half cup cream. Salt and pepper to taste (white pepper works best if you have it). Reduce heat to low and allow moisture to reduce, 2-3 hours.
Yeah, I know, sounds like a long time. The key here is not just taste but mouth feel. The mashed cauliflower ends up very moist and while the taste is good it just isn't enjoyable to eat, kinda mushy. The slow cook to reduce the moisture makes it much more enjoyable. I tried high heat once and the result was pretty bad.
Just before serving you can add a number of things. Parmesan cheese, fresh grated, helps with the textures issues. Chopped caramelized onions go great as well as toasted pine nuts. Other items can be chopped chives and sour cream. Remember, this is low carb not low fat.
As Mr RVA Foodie is a vegetarian, of the meat is murder but fish is justifiable homicide sort, we had a nice piece of Rockfish for him.
On The Fly Rockfish Almandine -
Toast almonds lightly in a pan with butter and a little olive oil. Add white wine and cook off alcohol. Squeeze in one lemon. Reserve sauce.
Salt fish. Sear top in pan with butter and olive oil, flip to sear skin side. Pour sauce over seared fish trying to keep almonds on top. Place in 400 degree oven to roast off (8-10 minutes).
I cooked it to the rare side and warned Mr Foodie, easier to cook longer than deal with dry overdone fish. It was either good or he is very polite as no fish remained at the end.
M had made a chocolate cake for the occasion. Very tasty.
After dinner we settled into some heavy beverage consumption. Cy and I introduced Mr Foodie to the joys of Aalborg Akvavit. Silliness ensued and in the grand tradition of gatherings at our house the upstairs toilet broke. Unlike some other incidents, like the collapse of a bathroom ceiling a few years ago, no person was involved in this, it just spontaneously happened. Ah well, we wanted a new toilet for that bathroom anyway and it's a good excuse to get Cy over for beverages later this week.
Things threatened to get really silly when I came across a bottle of Patron in the freezer and people started looking for salt and such. Fortunately we got sidetracked and the tequila was forgotten.
Initial thoughts were that a good time was had by all until we realized we were missing a cat. She turned up the next morning, happy that relative quiet had returned to our house.