Faithful Friends Who Are Dear To Us…

3000 tiny white lights, 200 feet of green garland, 13 wreaths, one 10 foot Christmas tree, miles of wired ribbon and sinamay, silver and gold beads, precious ornaments, bells, pinecones, candlesticks, votives, heralding angels, nutcracker princes –  I am decorated!

I am hosting my friend Sheila’s birthday dinner tonight. Sheila, Christie, Diane and I have been celebrating our birthdays together, for years. Given that I am, most often, the designated cook, I am worried that the ‘witches‘ might be getting tired of my dining room table – yikes!

I started writing this post, as I was preparing dinner…

Tonight, we are starting with tiny fois gras mousse crostini topped with a raspberry chili jelly, which I will serve with ice-cold prosecco.

I couldn’t really tell if the tiny canapes were a hit – I served 16 and threw five in the garbage. I would say, ‘probably not’… Instead of prosecco we had a bottle of GrandPre Champlain – compliments of Christie –  fantastic!

Our first course will be a winter salad of shaved fennel, orange and asparagus in a grainy mustard and orange syrup vinaigrette.

The salad was delicious! Christie threatened to drink the leftover vinaigrette.

Next we will have hand-made potato gnocchi with gorgonzola cream.

I could smear gorgonzola on a piece of wood and the four of us would gobble it up.

For our main, I prepared pan fried chicken breast stuffed with fontina wrapped in proscuitto served on wilted spinach and garnished with slow roasted vine ripe tomatoes drizzled with a tomato – balsamic reduction.

Truth be known, we could have stopped at the gnocchi – so rich! But it was a birthday feast… This is a great dish for entertaining. The tomatoes are roasted, the chicken is stuffed and wrapped, the sauce is mixed – in advance. All that is required is the final saute time and the build.

For dessert – iced lemon cupcakes with fresh raspberries.

The cupcakes did not happen. Half way through the afternoon, I ran out of steam. I decided on Christie’s mom’s chocolate mousse recipe. Christie and I sold gallons of this sinful pudding, when we were catering, so I can make it with my eyes closed.

It’s been a difficult year for the four of us. We have learned how profoundly life be can altered with little notice. That knowledge has left us reaching towards the unknown. The unknown was not in our plans.

As we sat together last night, I had a clear image of us many Christmases from now. We are old. All of the hurt and sorrow eased by the passage of time. And we are laughing…

Chocolate Mousse from Bobby Walker’s recipe box

serves 8

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

3 egg, seperated

1/2 cup milk

4 tablespoons butter

6 ounces semi sweet chocolate

1 tablespoon cognac

1 cup whipping cream

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, flour, yolks and milk –  mix ingredients well.

Place over medium heat and stir until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and stir in,one at a time,  4 tablespoons of butter

Stir in 6 ounces of chocolate chips

Mix well and set aside to cool completely.

Beat 3 egg whites until stiff, carefully fold into cooled chocolate mixture

Whip 1 cup whipping cream, fold into chocolate mixture.

Cover and chill for three hours

Thanks for reading