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15 Aug 2009

Black bean soup, beer bread, roast asparagus & potatoes with garlic cream dressing; berry and chocolate cheesecake. Black bean soup with beer bread and a side dish consisting of roast asparagus and roast (King Edward) potatoes drizzled with garlic cream dressing (made to include cucumber this time). A slight variation of berry and white chocolate refrigerator cheesecake for dessert.

This meal answers Chopped Challenge III. (Complete rules here). I decided to do two dishes, each with four of the ingredients. The side dish has asparagus, potatoes (yukon gold aren't available here), basil, and cucumber in it; the dessert has raspberries, blackberries, dark chocolate, and cinnamon in it. I wasn't as creative this time - I didn't make up my own recipes, merely adapted others. But I was really stumped for something to create, so in the end, I did this.

Frankly, I didn't think the side dish would work with the potatoes. To prepare the potatoes, I took a page from my future mother-in-law's book, and cut each potato into 8 wedges, and got a nice big pan (9"x11") and put about 1/8" oil in the bottom. I placed the potatoes in the pan, spread out a bit, laying on one side, and placed it in the oven at about 375F, for a total of about an hour. Halfway through, Chris turned them over. Since we were putting the dressing on later, we just did them plain like this, this time; they turn out lovely and crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. I also oven-roasted the asparagus, and as you can see, arranged them on a plate together, and drizzled over the sauce. The addition of the cucumber might have been what caused this dressing to be far runnier than it has been in the past, though Chris wonders if the mayonnaise here is different than the mayo in the US, citing the blue cheese dressing as another example where it's not as creamy as one would expect. I should really get around to making my own mayo sometime. Anyhow.

I expected the dressing to taste nice with the asparagus, despite (as far as I recall) never having eaten asparagus before; I expected it to just be kind of weird with the potatoes (so I served most of them on the side, un-drizzled). I decided (a) I can take or leave asparagus; (b) the dressing worked really well with the potatoes, even better than with the asparagus. Chris agreed with me on the latter point (he tried it tonight, but decided he still doesn't care for asparagus), too. We may do this again!

The black bean soup was good, too, though it needed more beans (and they all sank to the bottom, too, which is why you don't see them in the picture). Just some salt and pepper was all that needed, I was so pleased. I don't have great luck with soups, sometimes.

The beer bread ... um. Was too sweet, but part of that was because I accidentally put a little too much sugar in. Didn't rise quite right (actually had a big depression in the middle, but the outsides were fine), but that might be because our beer had gone flat. And took much longer than I expected for it to cook. I had this bread before, Candy's friend brought it with her to a Super Bowl party this year. That was made with Miller Light, and we had Guinness in the house, so we used that. I'll try it again, less sweet, and with fizzy beer, and we'll see if I need to change the type of beer.

The cheesecake ... yum! It is a success :-) It is really, really rich. I couldn't finish my slice. I modified it to meet the challenge by adding grated dark chocolate and cinnamon to the crust, dusting the top with cinnamon sugar, and using raspberries and blackberries. I can't actually taste the cinnamon, to be honest. Chris can, though. Tis very decadent; I was amused at Chris's reaction when I put the mascarpone cheese in the bowl: "The whole thing?!?! You're using the whole tub?!?!" Hee.

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