Secret Ingredient Potluck

This potluck theme was inspired by Food Network's Iron Chef. If you're familiar with the show you know the competing chefs must make several dishes with one secret ingredient. Their secret ingredient is a little more specific than what I chose for our potluck since we're not trained chefs. Here's the reveal of our secret ingredient... ALCOHOL!

Unfortunately I did not have my camera this night and you will you have to imagine the yumminess. However I took a quick phone pic of the feast! (I attempted photos of the dishes but they all turned out blurry.) Pictured [l > r] Beef medallions, Risotto, Penne with Vodka Sauce, Beer Bread, Penne with Wine Cream Sauce, Onion Rings, Braised Fennel with Artichoke. Can you spot the alcohol?!

Beer Bread by Holly
3 cups self-rising flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 warm beer
Mix and put dough onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 20 mins.

Penne pasta with veggies and a wine cream sauce by Holly
Cook and drain penne pasta
Heat some olive oil in a skillet
Put veggies (broccoli, asparagus, onion, tomato) in the skillet and add about 1 cup of white wine
Cover and sautee until veggies are tender. 
Add cream (heavy or half/half). Add enough cream and additional wine to have a nice sauce for the noodles
Add pasta and mix everything together in the skillet
**This would also be really good if you mixed parmeasan cheese into the sauce while its cooking to make more of a wine alfredo sauce.

Fennel Braised with Artichokes by Whitney
Heat 1/8 cup evoo in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown fennel (2 fennel bulbs, fronds trimmed and bulbs cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices) in the oil, about 4 minutes stirring occasionally, and transfer to a plate. Add 1 medium onion (halved and sliced) and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cloves chopped garlic, 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp dried thyme, salt and pepper, and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in 1 tbsp flour until the onions are coated. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine and heat to boiling. Add 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth and 1/2 cup canned, drained diced tomatoes and stir until boiling. Coat the slow cooker with 1/8 cup evoo. Layer half the fennel slices in the cooker, cover with half the artichoke quarters (of a 15 oz can, drained), and then half the sauce. Repeat the layers. Cover the cooker and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high, or 6 to 8 hours on low, until everything is tender. Scatter parsely over the top and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss

Beef Medallions with Red Wine Reduction Sauce by Richard
"Cut beef tenderloin into 1 in slices.
Season with salt and all spice (or your favorite meat spices).
Quickly sear each medallion with a small amount of butter and oil. Be sure that the pan is NOT a non-stick pan.
Place the seared medallions on a plate to rest.
De-glaze the pan with about 1 c red wine (I chose a red Bordeaux wine).
Add about 3 cloves of chopped garlic, about 2 sliced shallots, and a package of quartered white mushrooms.
Add about 1/2 c blueberries and 1 tsp brown sugar (or any substitute to sweeten the sauce).
Season to taste and reduce until the sauce is somewhat thick (about 15-20 minutes).
If you still want a thicker sauce, add some flour.
Pour the reduction over the medallions and garnish with fresh chopped parsley."

Beer Battered Onion Rings by Romin & Mimi
"For the batter: 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 1 egg, 1 tsp salt, several dashes of hot sauce, about 3/4 of a bottle of a golden ale and a few extra seasonings like garlic powder and oregano.  Cut 1-2 large sweet onions into rings, cover with flour, then dunk in the batter.  Fry the rings in canola oil for about a minute until golden."

Tomato and Sausage Risotto by Natalie
"Tomato and Sausage Risotto Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food
Visit the website:

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch flat-leaf spinach (10 to 14 ounces), washed well, tough stems
removed, chopped (about 7 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons butter

 1. In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.
 2. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
 3. Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.
 4. Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).
 5. Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools), and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired."

Penne with Vodka Sauce by Tim
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a frying pan over medium-low heat, melt 4 tbsp butter with 1 cup heavy cream. In a small bowl, dissolve 1/4 cup tomato paste in 1/2 cup vodka. Stir into the cream mixture. Add 2 tbsp fresh basil and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Season with 1 tbsp salt. Cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, add 2 tbsp salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and warm briefly over low heat to blend the flavors. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Add as much of the cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce and serve.

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