Gather your friends around a table and eat good food together.
This Gourmet Dinner Club was a long time coming since we’ve all been incredibly busy. Everyone has been working, traveling, and Danny and Alicia even got engaged! We met at Eric and Jenn’s house (with their dog Clark, of course) and were joined by Jenn’s sister Amanda and her husband, Lester. The night’s theme – Emeril Lagasse. I admittedly didn’t know much about Emeril before this dinner, and now I wouldn’t hesitate to make one of his recipes again.
We’re becoming professionals at this. We’ve learned to start the day earlier. That means more time between courses and absolutely no need to rush through anything. We’ve learned that it’s a much more relaxing night we all plan to stay over. Sure, it means we need to get a dog sitter, but it also means no long, late-night car rides. No need to convince someone to be the designated driver. We’ve learned we like to slow everything down and relax.
First up for our Emeril-themed feast was the appetizers made by Danny and Alicia. They made Andre’s Barbecued Shrimp with mini rosemary biscuits, which may have been my favorite dish of the night. I know it’s going to be controversial to everyone who was part of the meal because there was SO much good food, but I’m already craving these shrimp again. They had the perfect amount of spice and were accompanied by buttery, flaky biscuits.
They also made Baked Oysters with Braised Leeks and Tasso Hollandaise which completely changed my mind about eating cooked oysters. These were so good with layers of cooked leeks and onions, oyster, and creamy hollandaise topped with salty, crispy pork.
Amanda and Lester brought a Lobster and Sweet Corn Chowder (did you know Emeril is actually from New England?) that included a half lobster tail in each bowl. Absolutely show-stopping! This soup was so rich and delicious it could have been the main course, cue a long intermission to get our appetites back for dinner.
For the main course, Eric and Jenn went all out. They made Entree: cognac basted quail, creamy mascarpone polenta, with bacon and beer collard greens. To feed 8 people that means they cooked 16 quail! I never expected quail to be on the menu and it was excellent.
For dessert, I grabbed 2 pints of blackberries from the farmers market over the weekend and made Emeril’s blackberry cobbler, with a few tweaks. The key change was realizing in the morning that I was about to make a dessert with almond flour for Jenn who is allergic to nuts! I was so relieved to remember in time before bringing her something that could have caused problems. I’ll get the recipe up in the next few days.
I also made a honey ricotta ice cream that was the perfect pair to the fruity dessert, and something I plan to make many more times this summer.