The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 3, 2007


Eight friends find the right recipe for a Gourmet Club

The dinner guests arrive carrying pots and boxes with the appetizers, the entrée, the dessert and the necessary serving pieces. Inside, the table is set and the wine is chilling. A late spring dinner meeting of the "Gourmet Club," now in its 34th year, is about to begin at the Curve Street home of Merrill and Maya Liteplo.

Guests arrive bearing boxes of food to share. Left to right, Mimi Samour of Bedford, and Sandy and Glen Marston of Manchester-by-the-Sea. (Photo by Maya Liteplo)

Way back in 1973 Doris and Len Coris, then of Wayland, invited three other couples, who shared an interest in fine food and cooking, to form a gourmet club. After a year of potluck suppers and themed dinners, the popular format for gourmet clubs at the time, the group developed its own formula.

There are four dinners every year, each hosted by one of the couples. The hosts select a menu and send out recipes for other members to prepare, while they provide the wines, coffee and any condiments. At the end of the evening, the cost of the meal is added up and shared. Sharing the cooking and the cost has allowed members to sample gourmet foods, complex dishes and expensive wines, which especially in the early years they might not otherwise have purchased or prepared. On a few occasions the hosts have hired a chef to come to the house to prepare the dinner while members watched, asked questions, and assisted.

The recipes for tonight's menu are adapted from current cooking magazines and are relatively simple.

The Menu
Crab Louis Cucumber Cups
Chipotle Chicken Tost adas
Pork Medallions with Figs and Port wine Sauce
Polenta with Butter and Parmesan Cheese
Green and Wax beans
Wheatberry Salad with Red Fruit
Triple Coconut Cake
Polly Barbaro of Manchester-by-the-Sea assembles the coconut cake. (Photo by Maya Liteplo)

Crab Louis Cucumber Cups
2 to 3 English cucumbers (wrapped in plastic)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs ketchup
2 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
12 oz pasteurized crabmeat 1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
2 tsp lemon zest, minced
salt and pepper
grape tomatoes, quartered, and strips of lemon zest for garnish
1. Peel the cucumber lengthwise leaving green stripes. Trim ends. Cut crosswise into 3/4-inch wide pieces. Scoop 1/2 inch of seeds and flesh from the center, creating cups.
2. Combine next five ingredients in a bowl. Add crabmeat, bell pepper, chives and lemon zest and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill cucumber cups with crab mixture. Garnish with grape tomatoes and lemon zest strips.


Chipotle Chicken Tostadas

3 eight-inch flour tortillas
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup tomato, seeded and chopped
1Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup ketchup
3 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs chili powder
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
sour cream, cilantro, lemon zest strips for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Coat both sides of tortillas with non-stick spray. Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges. Stack the tortillas and cut entire stack together. Press each tortilla triangle into a muffin pan. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden. The baked tortilla wedges (tostadas) form little cups.

3. Mash avocado, sour cream, tomato, lime juice, garlic and cilantro together. Season with salt and pepper, and chill.

4. Simmer ketchup, sugar, chipotles, soy sauce, vinegar, chili powder, and chicken in a saucepan over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, or until sauce is syrupy.

5. Top each tostada with 1 tablespoon avocado mixture, then 2 tablespoons chicken mixture. Garnish with sour cream, cilantro and zest.


Triple Coconut Cake

1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 1 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbs turbinado sugar ("Sugar in the Raw")
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream of coconut
1/4 cup coconut rum
About coconut: Shredded coconut is available unsweetened and sweetened. Use the sweetened variety, which has a stronger coconut flavor. Cream of coconut — not coconut milk — is thick and sweet. Common brands are Coco Lopez and Coco Casa. Coconut rum is rum flavor with coconut, available in local liquor stores.

1. Coat an 8 1/2- by 4 12- inch loaf pan with 1 Tbs butter and turbinado sugar.

2. Preheat oven to 350°.
3. Toast the shredded coconut by spreading on a microwaveable plate and zapping on high power for 2-3 minutes.
4. Pulse the toasted coconut in a food processor until fine.
5. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and ground coconut in a small bowl.
6. Cream 1/2 cup butter and sugar in a bowl with a mixer until white and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Add egg and whip for another minute.
7. Combine the milk, cream of coconut, and rum in a cup with a pour spout.

8. Alternately beat the dry and wet mixtures into the butter mixture, starting and ending with dry. After each addition, mix on low speed for 30 seconds, then on medium speed for one minute.

9. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes.

10. Serve slices (or wedges) drizzled with pineapple icing and topped with fruit salsa.

Tangy Pineapple Icing

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 Tbs light corn syrup

1 Tbs fresh lime juice

2 tsp lime zest

1 cup pineapple juice

1/4 cup sugar

pinch of salt

1. Combine first four ingredients in a bowl.

2. Boil the pineapple juice, sugar, and salt over high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup. Pour syrup over powdered sugar mixture and stir.

The icing can be made one day ahead of time. Keep at room temperature and thin out with lime juice, if necessary.


Pork Medallions with Figs and Port Wine Sauce

16 small dried Mission figs, stemmed
1 bay leaf

1 cup tawny port
2 tsp plus 1 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp balsamic vinegar, or more to taste

1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
freshly-ground pepper to taste
1 pork tenderloin (1-1 1/4 lbs), trimmed, sliced into 1-inch-thick medallions
1/4 cup flour

1. Place figs in a small microwaveable bowl. Cover the bowl and microwave on High for 3 minutes.

2. Heat two tsp oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, 4-6 minutes. Add broth, thyme, bay leaf, and the fig-port mixture. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, 10 to 12 minutes. Season with vinegar, 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Sprinkle both sides of the pork medallions with the remaining 1/4 tsp of salt and pepper and dredge lightly with flour, shaking off the excess.

4. Heat the remaining 1Tbs oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the medallions and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add the reserved fig-port sauce; bring to a simmer and cook until the pork is cooked, but still a little pink in the center, about 2 minutes. The sauce should be syrupy. If not, remove the medallions with a slotted spoon to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Boil the sauce until it's reduced and syrupy. Discard the bay leaf. Serve sauce over the medallions.

Makes 4 servings

Wheat Berry Salad with Red Fruit

Hard red winter-wheat (or spring-wheat) berries have a nutty, chewy texture. They take a full hour to cook, but the cooked berries may be frozen in plastic baggies until needed.

1 1/2 cups hard red winter-wheat berries
1 large red (Fuji) apple, unpeeled, diced

6 cups cold water
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
3 Tbs raspberry vinegar

1/3 cup dried cranberries
203.5 3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

1. Rinse the wheatberries and check for any stones. Place in a large saucepan with the water and salt. Cook for one hour. Drain, rinse and cool. You should have about 3 cups.

2. Combine orange juice and cranberries in a small bowl and let stand for 15 minutes.

3. Combine wheat berries, apples, and pecans in a large bowl.

4. Drain the cranberries, reserving the juice. Stir cranberries into the wheat berry mixture.

5. Whisk the reserved orange juice, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over salad. Allow to stand at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend.


Fruit Salsa

1/2 cup fresh strawberries, halved
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1/2 cup canned mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup kiwi fruit, peeled and diced
2 tst fresh mint, minced
juice of 1/2 lime

Stir all ingredients together. Makes 2 cups.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito