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Dinner Party - Part 1


Since we decided to house sit for our friends, we knew we needed to have a dinner party. We have people over for food all of the time, but it is very casual. It is also hard because we don't have a table to eat on. We usually end up having pizza or cheesesteaks. We knew we would have a really nice kitchen and dining table for a week and we knew we would need to use them. We decided to go OTT with this party because who knows when we would next have such an opportunity. The more over the top we started thinking, the crazier it became.

On Thursday, 2 days before the dinner, we handed out these menus to our four lucky friends while they were at work.

The day before the dinner we made dough for the "Philly cheese steak" and ice cream for the dessert.

We make dough all the time for pizza. Start with almost 2 cups of water that has been in the freezer for about an hour. A big teaspoon of instant yeast and another bigger one of salt. You need 4 and a half cups of flour, but only put in about 3 to start.

Mix it for about 2 or 3 min and then put it in the refrigerator for about 20 min. This is a stage known as autolyze. My fridge is a mess

Next take it out and mix it for a good 6 minutes. This is the wet knead. Here you are developing the gluten while it is still easy before the mixture becomes too doughy. After the 6 or so minutes, start adding the rest of the flour. I am not being very detailed today because I will be covering this with extreme detail when I do a full pizza post in a few months.

Take the dough out and put it into a container sprayed with olive oil and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

For the ice cream, we followed Ina Garten's espresso ice cream recipe and it turned out excellent. You can get the recipe here. This is the half and half scalding.

Beat 6 egg yokes with sugar for awhile, then mix in the scalded half and half and espresso grinds. Put it in the refrigerator for 5 hours, or the freezer for 2.


Kahlua. Homemade ice cream benefits from the use of alcohol to keep it soft in the freezer.

Mix it all together and throw it in the ice cream maker. Mmmm

In the morning we went shopping and around 12 we started cooking. This is the awesome cut known as pork belly. As our butcher put it, "Pork belly is a beautiful yet misunderstood cut of meat."

Looks like bacon right? That's because it is! This is what they use to make bacon and pancetta, this is just before the curing and smoking processes.

We scored the fat but I'm not sure if it was necessary. This would make it crispy in the oven, but we were braising it so it wouldn't be crispy either way.

Salt and pepper everywhere.

Meanwhile Mandi was peeling potatoes.

Mmmm looks good already, but it still has hours to go.

We threw in some carrots and onions. We were not trying to give it much flavor though, we wanted the belly to shine. That's why we just added water as a braising liquid. Then we covered and simmered it for a few hours.

This beef is for the shepherd's pie soup croquette

The carrots are for one of the 2 soups that go with the croquette.

The list above is actually a timeline we had to strictly follow. If you click on it, you will be able to see it better. Go on, don't be shy, just click it.

This is those potatoes mashed from earlier. We added the corn and beef.

The start of the 2 soups.

Whoops, missing picture, before this, I added green onions first to the pea pan, and white ones to the carrot pan.

Here we just added beef stock, also a little curry powder to the carrots to make it extra delicious.

Mandi making the croquettes. Elvis wants to help.

Traditional croquette shape

This is 4 eggs to 3 cups flour for pasta.

As you can see this one is colored with shaved beet. We let them sit for a bit.

Wow the pork belly is done and it is delicious.

We reserved some cooking liquid for in the butter sauce.

We were planning on just making normal raviolis with a red stripe on the top. I casually mentioned to Mandi a comment about a show we watched on food network a few months back where Giada and Mario go to an artisan ravioli store that makes these ravioli masterpieces that had all sorts of designs. The second I said it I started thinking, hmm maybe I shouldn't have said that, were kinda running out of time and I can see the fire in Mandi's eyes. She has a crazy idea and it is probably going to take hours. Here we go.

No frills here, just pork belly, pasta, and butter will be in the final dish. We really didn't want to mess with the pork belly flavor.

I have no words here

Like an archeologist uncovering a fossil, Mandi brushes the flower off her pasta.

After that madness, we took showers and cleaned up and got ready for the guests arrival.

Just before everyone got there we laid out the dough into rounds.

We also began the souffl├ęs.

This is the recipe we followed

We also got the onions ready for the chutney. This is just super caramelized onions

And the raspberry sauce is just raspberries and sugar cooked for a while then blended.

Click for Part 2

Click for separate recipes:

Duo of Scallops

Shepherds Pie Soup

Pork Belly Ravioli

Fine Dining "Philly Cheesesteak"

Chocolate Souffle


there was also a bit of balsamic vinegar in the raspberry sauce to cut some of the sweetness...

your never going to be allowed to house sit again! i bet that dog gained 10 lbs while you were there.

Hey! There are a bunch of images missing from this post. Just a heads up!

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