Gourmet Night- April 2012

 The Menu:
Appetizer- Italian goat cheese and pesto torta
Drink- Strawberry Lemonade punch
Salad- Mixed Greens with apples, feta, bacon, & walnuts 
 Horseradish dressing
Main Course- Spicy Grilled Tilapia with Creamy Grits and Mushroom Scallion Sauce
Dessert- Raspberry Pistachio Cheesecake


Italian Goat Cheese and Pesto Torta

4 oz. goat cheese
8 oz. cream cheese
salt, pepper
3 Tb tomato paste
3/4 c. minced, sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil 
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 c. pesto (must be thick)
Line medium sized bowl with saran wrap, edges hanging over.  Spray saran wrap with Pam.  Combine goat cheese, cream cheese and salt and pepper with electric mixer until smooth.  Reserve 1/3 cup mixture.  To reserved 1/3 c. mixture, add tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.  Mix with spatula until smooth.  Take half of goat cheese mixture and spread on bottom of bowl.  This part can be a little tricky since the plastic wrap likes to stick to the cheese and not the bowl as you’re trying to spread it!  I would suggest using a large, flat spoon (like a serving spoon) and run it under hot water until the spoon is warm.  Then using the back side of the spoon, gently press the cheese mixture along the bottom of the bowl.  (The warmth of the spoon will keep the cheese from sticking to it. If it starts sticking again, go run it under the hot water again.)  Next spread with pesto, then with sun-dried tomato mixture.  Smooth remainder of cheese mixture on top using the warmed-spoon trick.  Cover and refrigerate for one hour.  Serve with toasted baguette slices.

Strawberry Lemonade Punch

6 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate
10 oz. frozen thawed strawberries
8 oz. can crushed pineapple
2 liters gingerale

blend first 3 ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. When serving, put mixture in punch bowl and add gingerale. Garnish with fresh cut strawberries if desired.
*I doubled this recipe for gourmet night

Mixed Green salad with Horseradish dressing 

12 cups mixed greens
candied walnuts
1 pkg. cooked and crumbled bacon
8 oz. feta cheese
1 apple, diced (I diced mine ahead of time and put in a container with some gingerale. Shake up the container to ensure the apples are all coated. No browning!)

Horseradish dressing:
1 lemon
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
3 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 pinch salt
1 pinch freshly ground pepper

Zest the lemon, then juice half of it. In a jar, combine juice & zest with remaining ingredients, stir, then cover the jar and shake. Taste and adjust to make it spicier, creamier, or sweeter to your preference.  
* this has a kick! I doubled this recipe for gourmet night and ended up only using about 2 TB. of horseradish. I'd suggest adding just a little at a time until it's the right level for your tastebuds :)

*I forgot to take a picture of my main course but I found this one online. Similar, but not quite what mine looked like!

Spicy Grilled Tilapia with Creamy Grits and Mushroom Scallion Sauce

Mushroom Scallion Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms (cremini)
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used 1/4 tsp)
  • Salt and black pepper


  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking grits
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Sauteed Carrots:

  • 4-5 whole peeled carrots, tops removed, sliced lengthwise (I used a cheese slicer for thin slices)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • 6 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • Jamaican jerk seasoning 
Mushroom Scallion Sauce: Melt butter in a large saute pan. Saute mushrooms and scallions for about 3 minutes. Stir in wine and heavy cream. Season with garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir until sauce thickens slightly. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Grits: Bring milk to a boil over medium heat. Gradually whisk in grits, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper. Turn down heat, cover, and cook until grits thicken to desired consistency, stirring frequently. Keep warm until ready to serve.* not too long or they will get rubbery.

Sauteed Carrots: Heat saute pan to medium high. Add olive oil, carrot ribbons, salt & pepper and saute until just tender.

Tilapia:  Rinse and dry fillets and then sprinkle each side liberally with jerk seasoning. Place in a baking dish rubbed with butter and bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily. You can also grill or broil.

Plate entree by spooning grits on center of plate. Lay tilapia on top of grits. Top with mushroom scallion sauce, lay the carrot slices on top of fish in a criss-cross manner and serve immediately.








Raspberry Pistachio Cheesecake
Pistachio Graham Cracker Crust
  • ¼ cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature for at least 6 hours
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste, or seeds from 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • ½-1 cup raspberry jam
  • ½ cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, pulsed in a food processor until coarsely ground
  • 3 (1/2-pint) containers raspberries
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Bring water to a boil for a water bath. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan, wrap in aluminum foil so outside is completely covered; set aside.2. To make the crust: In a food processor, pulse the pistachios with the sugar and the salt until coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl, add the graham cracker crumbs and butter, and mix to combine. Press the graham cracker mixture over the bottom of the buttered pan. Set aside.
3. To make the filling: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and vanilla paste or seeds on medium-high speed, scraping down the bowl several times, until the mixture is completely smooth, about 5 minutes.
4. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the eggs one at a time, until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the sour cream until blended.
5. Place the cake pan in a roasting pan. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the cake pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and pour in the boiling water to come about ½ inch up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the filling is set but still jiggles slightly in the center, 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove from the water bath and let cool to room temperature. Chill for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight, in the pan.
6. To finish, remove cake from the pan. In a small saucepan, warm the jam over low heat until liquid. Let cook slightly. Brush the top and sides of the cheesecake with the jam. Cover the top of the cake with a single layer of raspberries. Holding the cake with one hand under the bottom, and working over a sheet pan to catch the excess, gently press the ground pistachios all around the side of the cake. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.