We began our Nor Cal menu with a Welcome Cocktail called a "S.F. Passion":
1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
5 oz. Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine
2 drops vanilla
With the drinks, we served Michael Chiarello's popcorn with browned butter, rosemary and lemon. (no photo)
Our Amuse Bouch was a goat cheese fritatta with bacon, fennel and gruyere.
5 eggs, beaten
7 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 bulbs fennel, finely chopped, sauteed in 1 T. butter for 4 min.
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp, chopped
2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
Combine eggs and goat cheese; blend until almost smooth. Add flour, baking powder and butter; stir in fennel, bacon and gruyere. Pour into a lightly greased 8x8 baking pan; bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly; cut into squares. Serve at room temperature.
Here is the WINNING Appetizer Plate:a Blue Bradley Ogden's Twice Baked Maytag Blue Cheese Souffle, Michael Chiarello's Roasted Pear Soup and Blue Cheese Crostini on Raisin-Walnut bread, garnished with pea sprouts, candied pistachios, and dried cherries.
Twice Baked Maytag Blue Cheese Souffles: Bradley Ogden
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup cold milk
6 ounces Maytag blue cheese, crumpled, room temperature
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, for molds
3/4 cup heavy cream
Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 280 – 300 (F) degrees. If using a convection oven, preheat to 250 (F) degrees. 2. Butter six, 4 ounce souffle molds. (or twelve 2 oz. souffle molds) 3. In a 1-quart stainless steel sauce pan, add the 2 tablespoons of butter and place over a moderate heat to melt the butter. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook for 6 minutes, stirring often. Incorporate the cold milk, whisking very slowly to make a thick cream sauce. Once the milk is added, continue to cook for 8 minutes over a slow heat. 4. Pour the cream sauce into an electric mixing bowl. 5. Using the whisk attachment, add the crumbled blue cheese. Turn the machine on low to blend the sauce and cheese. Let the mixture cool slightly, turn to a high speed and add one egg yolk at a time. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the mixture to another bowl and let cool completely. 6. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks and fold into the cheese. Fill molds to the top with the mixture. Bake in a water bath at 280 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven; let cool almost completely. Remove from mold and place onto buttered parchment paper, with top side up. Refrigerate until needed.
For Service: Preheat oven to 400 (F) degrees. Pour 3/4 cup of heavy cream into a non corrosive 10 inch saute pan. Add the souffles, top side up, and place over a high heat. Bring liquid to one boil then place in the oven and bake for 8 minutes or until the souffles have absorbed most of the cream. Remove from the oven. With a metal spatula gently remove the souffles from the saute pan and serve.
Roasted Pear Soup: Michael Chiarello
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
Blue Cheese Bruschetta, recipe follows
Peel, halve and core the pears. In a large bowl, toss pears with lemon juice to prevent oxidization. Melt butter in an ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat, let cook until butter begins to brown. Add sage to butter, allow to caramelize. Add brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Add pears to mixture, and roll them around to coat thoroughly.
Broil pears in skillet, stirring occasionally, until pears are light brown, about 15 minutes.
Puree pears and brown butter mixture in a blender until smooth. Pour into room temperature soup plates and serve with Blue Cheese Bruschetta. If preparing ahead of time, refrigerate and reheat slightly before serving.
Blue Cheese Bruschetta:
1 loaf walnut bread or raisin bread
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, crumbled
Slice loaf into finger-wide slices. Cover each slice with butter, then top with blue cheese. Place bread on cookie sheet and broil, with the door open, until the cheese begins to melt, about 30 seconds.
Yield: 5 to 8 servings