News from the Tennessee Valley Food

Kendal Moores samples a mixed green salad for the Gala XXIII menu.
Daily photo by Patrice Stewart
Kendal Moores samples a mixed green salad for the Gala XXIII menu.

From filet of beef to a tiramisu tart, menu set for Gala

By Patrice Stewart · 340-2446

What’s a creative new way to serve a green vegetable and dress up bland potatoes for a black-tie event?

Are blue cheese and pine nuts OK on the salad at a formal dinner for 700?

How do you work a bit of seafood in with filet of beef, and what sauce or butter would be best to top the filet?

Which dessert would be different and yummy, too?

The women asking these questions have been searching for months for the perfect menu for Gala XXIII.

The committee members working on food selections, led by Kendal Moores, know that a tasty, well presented meal will help raise more money for the Decatur General Hospital Foundation. That means more money for the cancer center and for employee scholarships.

This committee has hosted three tastings at Decatur Country Club, where the Dec. 14 Gala will be held. For the dinner, they also secured the help of Ron Casey, now executive chef at Canebreak Country Club in Athens.

Each member brought recipes and ideas to the table. They looked at colors and combinations, sauces and dressings, ingredients and taste.

Meg Curry suggested topping the filet with a couple of interlocked grilled shrimp, while Mandy Backe mentioned a Bearnaise sauce. Others suggested Hollandaise sauce or seafood-stuffed portobello mushrooms.

Carol Sartain, Mary Pettey, Margaret Fite, Kay South and Mary Margaret Beggs debated the merits of sweet and sour green beans (their fancy French name is Haricots Verts) vs. balsamic vinaigrette green beans. They also considered asparagus with Asiago cheese and almonds, and looked at scalloped potatoes and potato soufflé, as well as potato gratin.

Final menu

The menu finalized Tuesday includes a salad of Mixed Winter Greens with Sautéed Pear Wedges, Blue Cheese, Pine Nuts and Sun-dried Cranberry Vinaigrette. Accompanying the Filet of Beef finished with Garlic Herbed Maitre’D Butter will be Seafood Au Gratin atop a Portobello Mushroom, Scalloped Potatoes Gruyere, Balsamic Shallot Haricots Verts and assorted breadsticks and rolls.

Decadent Tiramisu Chocolate Tart with Kahlua Anglaise is the dessert choice.

Accompanying the meal will be a white wine from Western Australia, Houghton Chardonnay Verdelho 2005, and a red wine bottled by Chateau St. Michelle in the Columbia Valley of Washington State, Orphelin 2004.

If you want to reserve your taste at Gala, call the Foundation office, 341-2187.

Some recipes considered by this Gala committee will work at your holiday table. Here are the favorite salad and potato recipes:

Mixed Greens with Sautéed Pear Wedges, Blue Cheese and Sun-dried Cranberry Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:

21/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons dried cranberries (whole or coarsely chopped)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the salad:

1 large Bosc pear, peeled or unpeeled
11/2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts, unsalted cashews, slivered almonds or walnut halves
1/2 pound baby arugula, baby spinach or watercress (about 6 packed cups), larger stems removed
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

To make the vinaigrette: Mix the salt, pepper and vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil to make a smooth mixture. Gently stir in the cranberries and set aside. (The vinaigrette can be made several hours ahead of time; cover and refrigerate).

To make the salad: Cut the pear into 8 wedges, removing the core. In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the pear wedges, flesh side down, and sauté for 4 minutes. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Gently flip the pear wedges over and cook for another 4 minutes on the other side; the pears will turn a golden brown and should be just tender. Remove and drain on a paper towel.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter remaining in the pan over medium-low heat. Add the nuts and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until they are golden brown. Remove from heat.

Put the greens in the bottom of a salad bowl or on a medium-size serving platter. Arrange the pears around the outside of the greens. Sprinkle the salad with the blue cheese and sautéed nuts.

The salad is best served while the pears and nuts are still a bit warm, but you can make everything ahead of time up to this point. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad just before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Gruyere Potato Gratin

11/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
Butter, unsalted
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, about 4 ounces
2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the potatoes and onions in heavy large saucepan; cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes until potatoes are just tender. Do not overcook, as you still have to bake them. Drain the mixture well.

Put half of the potato-onion mixture into a very lightly buttered 11x7-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture with 1/3 cup Gruyere cheese and then 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese.

Arrange remaining potato-onion mixture atop cheeses. Pour cream over it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the remaining Gruyere and Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered until cream thickens, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Preheat broiler. Broil gratin until top is golden, about 2 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

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