Well, last night's dinner was a real success! We started with Eddie's Scottish sausage rolls which were great, as usual. Everyone begs him for the recipe, but he makes it all by "feel" and finds it difficult to convey the method and amounts, although it's simply made from rolled-out puff pastry, ground pork, chopped onions, salt and pepper. Simple, huh? But he has a certain way of making them, just perfect size for an appetizer.
The saffron chicken broth with spinach matzo balls was by far the best I've ever made. The broth was super-easy to make. The matzo ball dough was a breeze also. Best of all, it all could be made a day ahead and just reheated at time of service. This is a real winner of a recipe and I'll be making it again.
The sweet and sour brisket also was made a day ahead. The afternoon before dinner, I sliced the meat, placed it in a nice serving/baking dish, smothered it with the onion sauce, covered it and warmed it for an hour in a 300 oven. Wow! Yummy!
Barefoot Contessa's caramelized shallots were a huge hit. I just served them right from the pan they were made in, which gave them a nice right-out-of-the-oven look, with the sides of the pan nicely browned from all the buttery sugar and vinegar mixture.
I made two half sheet pans of roasted new potatoes ahead of time and reheated them in the same 400 degree oven as the shallots finished in.
The maple-walnut espresso torte came out really well. The sweet and spicy simple-syrup sauce that went with it was a great complement. There's enough left over to sweeten a batch of home-brewed iced tea. Can't wait!
Again, the night was a lot of fun, the food and wine were great; but all this is insignificant in light of the news we received this morning that one of our guests died during the night of a massive heart attack. We are all in shock. Bob was a great guy, a real bon vivant type, the life of the party. But over the last few years, we've seen him go downhill steadily. And last night, he was laboring for air, even with his air tank attached, and he just didn't look good. He was in a great mood, but little did any of us know.........