Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Western Pennsylvania Consumption Society

Every season we meet with about fifteen friends, old and new. The guest list includes restaurant folk, wine directors, chefs, teachers, bartenders, hairdressers, bankers, photographers... etc. Every guest brings one entree item and 2 bottles of wine to match with that item (sometimes, Lexi will bring a bottle of vodka and just mix some martinis to start the night). Each event is themed, from Mediterranean to Party Appetizers to Cooking with Alcohol. It's a great opportunity to take the time out of our hectic lives and agree on one day when a whole group of us can get together and enjoy each others company. 

This last Saturday was Cooking with Alcohol, and what a great selection of menu items we enjoyed! Chef Monique Ruvolo made a spicy grilled calamari & shrimp dish using vodka which was reminiscent of the famous Cafe Allegro appetizer, only sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese which was a nice touch. Ex-Cafe Allegro Wine Director and current server at Table 22, Jim Kwiecinski prepared Steamed Mussels cooked with white wine and Pernod, adding some peppers and onion as well. Jim also brought a bottle of Regaleali which was the perfect accompaniment. Bartender at Harris Grill and lead singer of Salena Catalina, Lexi Rebert made Mango Margarita Seviche with tilapia & corn chips. We paired with some Vouvray that our hosts Dan & Jess Lukac had had on hand. My dish was a Grand Marnier Cheesecake which I paired with Churchill's White Port, which I felt was a little too hot for this dish. Expected the cheesecake to be dryer in flavor, hence the white port, but I think it's sweetness would have been better matched with a sauternes? All in all a great evening had by all. 

I certainly recommend collecting five of your best friends (kinda have to have a little "foodie" blood in them) and ask them to invite a pair of friends each, and start your own supper club.

WPCS Dinner

Saturday August 1st

Cooking with Alcohol

1st Course

Mussels in White Wine & Pernod

wine selection: Regaleali

2nd Course

Spicy Grilled Calamari & Shrimp with Goat Cheese Crumble

wine selection: Vouvray

3rd Course

Mango Margarita Tilapia Seviche

wine selection: Vouvray

4th Course

Spaghetti with Garlic, Garden Tomato & White Wine

wine selection: Meritage

5th Course

Penne Pasta with Red Wine & Pancetta

wine selection: Meritage


Rum Soaked Grilled Fruit Compote Over Grilled Angel Food Cake

Grand Marnier Cheesecake with Honey Drizzle

wine selection: White Port


Grand Marnier Cheesecake


  Amount  Measure   Ingredient

--------  -------   --------------------------------

    1/4     cup     chocolate graham cracker crumbs

                    unsalted butter for pan

Butter bottom and sides of an 8-by-3-inch pan (if you use a

springform, it will have to be a very tight fitting one that won't

leak).  Sprinkle crumbs into pan and turn pan carefully to coat

bottom and sides.  Coating will be very thin and spotty.  Refrigerate.


  Amount  Measure   Ingredient

--------  -------   --------------------------------

      2     lbs     cream cheese, room temperature

    1/2     cup     whipping cream

      4     Tbl     Grand Marnier (liquor available at most liquor stores)

      1             Grated rind of 1 large orange (orange part only)

      4             eggs, large

  1 3/4     cup     sugar

      1     tsp     vanilla extract

    honey for drizzling over the top when finished

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Place cream cheese, cream, Grand Marnier,

orange rind, eggs, sugar, and vanilla in bowl.  Beat slowly on low setting

until ingredients bland, then increase speed to high.  Beat until

ingredients are smooth.  Pour into pan and tap pan gently to level batter.

Bake for 1 or until top just starts to brown. Take out of oven and let sit for 5 minutesbefore moving to refrigerator cool for 2 hours. seperate from wall of ban by sliding a knife along the edge, then unmold. Cut into slices and drizzle the top with honey.