Last night Price and I feasted on an amazing dinner that included several recipes from the newest Cooks Illustrated Cookbook. My friend Lena is a Social Media Intern at America’s Test Kitchen so she invited us over for a dinner to show us all the skills be picked up as she documented her experiences in the online blog series called Confessions of a Cooking School Student. We joined Elina Holbrook (Healthy and Sane), Steven Klise (photographer documenting the night), John Sandala (Social Media intern at ATK), and John’s 2 sisters who were in town from Chicago.
Lena pan-searing the pears for the salad and cooking up the bacon for the dessert.
We started with the Pan Roasted Pear Salad with Radicchio, Blue Cheese, and Walnuts. I am surprised that the cookbook said to quarter the pears and then to cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces after the searing since this made for pretty large pieces of pear. I much prefer smaller pieces of greens and add-ins in my salad.
Preparing dishes always reminds me how important mise en place really is. I need to pick up some prep bowls. Lena was so busy during the night using the skills she learned during the online ATK class she took, including making a pan sauce for the chicken breasts.
Watching Lena prepare the Pan-Seared Chicken with Shallot and Vermouth Sauce opened my eyes to something I never considered doing before… par-cooking chicken in the oven and then searing it to finish it. While it took a lot longer than I anticipated I think the end result was great since the chicken was tender on the inside and the outside was lightly seared. The combination of cooking techniques make for a great chicken breast dinner.
The Pan-Seared Broccoli was one of the hits of the night. We all ended up just grabbing pieces right form the dish as we chatted. A squeeze of lemon at the end really adds a lot of flavor to the simple dish.
Lena busy cooking the shrimp for our seafood part of the evening.
I could really see myself making the Pan-Seared Shrimp with Garlic-Lemon Butter Sauce at home. It was a quick dish to prepare and I could really see myself serving it with cous cous, rice, or pasta.
Only pictures of my from the night. So serious> OMG so funny!
Enjoying dinner together. We went though a lot of wine. It was fantastic!
My favorite prepared recipe of the night was the Pan-Roasted Inexpensive Steaks served with a Mustard Cream Pan Sauce. The steak was cooked perfectly and the sauce… oh that sauce… I think I have formed a new love for pan sauces. I never think of giving pan sauces too much thought since I always seem to be rushing to make dinner during the week but this could really be prepared in just a few minutes and made while the steaks rest. I think this sauce has converted me. The side with the steak were the Sauteed Mushrooms with Shallots and Thyme. These were tender and really flavorful.
I don’t actually like crisps because of the oat topping but I really enjoyed this Skillet Apple Crisp with Bacon. The bacon flavor was subtle but managed to provide a hint of smoke to contrast with the sweet apples. Everything is better with bacon!
We really enjoyed the dinner because of the fantastic food and getting to hang out with great people. It was such a great night that left me stuffed and in need of carving out some time to go through the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook (that I got at the Boston Bruncher’s Birthday Brunch) to find some recipes to make.
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