Elegant Dinner Recipes

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Easy Party Appetizers: Foie Gras Stuffed Prunes with Almond Tuiles Recipe

Foie gras stuffed dried plums are my guilty pleasure. The dried plums (prunes) are baked with maple syrup, and to enhance the texture and flavor, I add a pinch of fleur de sel and a sprinkle of crumbled almond tuile cookies. These little appetizers will definitely be served by the dozens during our New Year Eve's dinner.

I know this recipe might raise some eyebrows on several levels. I've always loved,  perhaps worshipped, the French culinary delicacy called foie gras. If you've never tasted foie gras before, it's like eating a piece of intensely flavored, semi-softened butter. Some people think it's an abomination and constitutes cruelty to animals. I believe that in Chicago for a time there was even a ban on foie gras and that the sale and production of foie gras is still illegal in California.

The other thing you might find odd is that I chose to use prunes in an elegant appetizer. I was surprised to learn from Lulu that in America, prunes are marketed as digestive aids and have a rather negative stigma. That is not the case in France. Prunes are often served as a snack for children, and just yesterday I saw them on a fruit and cheese platter at the end of a lovely meal we had at my friend's home. They’re now marketed in the U.S. as dried plums, not prunes, because there was so much negativity associated with prunes as a laxative.

I hope this recipe will inspire you to try new ingredients, or perhaps old ingredients in new ways.


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Savory Goat Ricotta Cheese Puffs Recipe

There are guests coming tomorrow, and as usual I had no clue about what to make. I scoured my pantry and found a bag of macadamia nuts, just waiting to be used. I made walnut pesto yesterday, and I didn't feel like making another pasta and pesto dish. As they say, variety is the spice of life. 

I think appetizers are perfect for dinner parties; they allow people to nibble without interrupting the flow of conversation. I often make some sort of mini puff pastry, and I thought a macadamia pesto would be the perfect filling. However, a traditional pesto would be too thin on its own, so I added some homemade crème fraîche and some goat ricotta cheese. As you may have noticed, I'm a huge fan of goat ricotta cheese, and I get it whenever it's available at the local creamery.

Today, I made the pesto and the dough, tested out and baked a couple of puffs in the oven for tasting. The smell was intoxicating, and it was really difficult to snap a couple of photos before everyone descended upon them. 

You can freeze both the pesto and the dough. If you often have last minute guests as we do, it's easy to pop them out of the freezer and bake them. Your guests will love them, and you'll be a rockstar without much effort!


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Camembert Stuffed Fig Puffs Recipe

Camembert Stuffed Fig Puffs

09.05.09 by Jackie

I went into the garden today and I noticed we had a huge crop of Black Mission figs. I think I gathered probably two full baskets. We had some last minute guests come over this afternoon, and I decided to put the figs I just picked to good use. Since they were coming over for tea, I thought that bite size appetizers would be in order. I stuffed the figs with camembert and some thyme from the garden. I then rested each fig on a bed of puff pastry and baked them in the oven. 

A lot of my cooking is my own improvisation. If you know what flavors combinations work well together, it's easy to come up with new recipes when you're in a pinch. Figs stuffed with camembert is a classic combination, and really, what doesn't puff pastry go with?

Unfortunately, I didn't have any ready-made puff pastry, so I had to make some myself. The result isn't as beautiful as Julia's from Mélanger, but it also didn't take six hours to make! I have to give a special shout out to Julia for taking the effort to make pâte feuilletée at home. 

I think our guests enjoyed the little bite-sized fig appetizers. You could make a similar dish with many other fruits, so experiment and have fun!

Fresh fig recipe with pictures


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Throwing an Elegant Dinner Party? Try Miniature Sweets Recipe
I don't know about you, but to me the best way to end a meal is with something sweet. Nobody ever says no to dessert. I think that's probably what my guests remember the most when they come over for dinner. I recently made my blackberry polenta tartlet again for a dinner party but this time, I made bite-sized versions.
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Roasted Blue-Cheese and Walnut Stuffed Figs  Recipe

I'm so excited we finally were able to get some fresh figs from our garden. The girls started stuffing themselves with a lot of the figs but I managed to save a few to make this little starter for dinner.

The concept is so easy, a kid could make it! Just caramelize the figs in the oven, stuff them with any kind of soft cheese and sprinkle some nuts. Ta-da!

 


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