Alan and Kathy Gourmet Dinner in New Berlin, WI

Alan and Kathy had a Gourmet Dinner with 6 couples while living in Wisconsin. Alan created the menu and each couple brought one item.
Here is the food we had.

Greek yogurt, if you can find it, is incredibly thick and creamy and a delight to eat. It shows up in several guides on the Greek table — as a savory dip, in sauces, or for dessert.
Active time: 15 minutes
Start to finish: 1-1/4 hours (includes draining)
Makes 4 servings.
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt (14 to 16 oz; preferably Greek)
1 (14- to 16-oz) seedless cucumber (usually plastic-wrapped), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cored
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 medium garlic cloves
If using a regular supermarket brand of yogurt (not Greek), drain in a paper-towel-lined sieve set over a bowl 1 hour. Discard liquid.
While yogurt drains, cut cucumber into 1/2-inch cubes. Transfer to another sieve set over a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, then let drain 1 hour. Rinse cucumber and pat completely dry.
Mince and mash garlic to a paste with remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt using a large heavy knife. Stir together yogurt, cucumbers, garlic paste, and salt to taste in a bowl.
Cooks' note:
Cucumbers in yogurt can be made 2 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Internet Review:
Refreshing dip that goes well with grilled meats or seafood. Greek yogurt is sold at Dean and Deluca's (Total brand). I also use Lebanese yogurt found in Middle Eastern markets. Greeks generally grate the cucumbers and you may even want to add a splash of red wine vinegar. Serving tip: thinly sliced fried zucchini tastes great dipped into this dip.
Review By Alan: Tasty and easy to make recipe. Barb brought a bread that I didn't try and zucchini. Of course, since I love zucchini it was the best dipping item, but just about anything would taste good in this appetizer!

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Makes 4 servings.
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups sliced leeks, white part only, rinsed and drained
5 cups chicken stock
2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 pound kielbasa, diced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup thinly sliced arugula
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper, for garnish, optional
In a small skillet toast the fennel seed over moderate heat until very fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. In a large saucepan melt the butter and cook the leek until very soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in stock and potatoes and bring to boil. Simmer the soup until the potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the toasted fennel, kielbasa, cream and salt and pepper, to taste. Before serving stir in the arugula. Garnish with red bell pepper.
Internet Review:
I made this recipe earlier this week. The one change that I would recommend would be to use low sodium chicken stock/broth, or a mix of regular and low sodium. I used regular broth and thought this was a little salty. Other than that, this was an easy, light recipe that my husband and I enjoyed very much.
Review By Alan: Very good. I wasn't sure about the leeks (I grew them in Tennessee and they are definitely pungent). Hattie used a low-sodium stock, but since I don't use much salt, it was perfect. Hattie mentioned the times given in the recipe are way under estimated.

Active time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings.
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (4-oz) piece soft mild goat cheese from a log
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup couscous (3 oz)
1/4 cup diced (1/4 inch) red onion
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) zucchini
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) red bell pepper
1/4 cup fresh corn kernels
1 small beet (about 2 inches in diameter), trimmed
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
4 thin prosciutto slices (optional)
  Special equipment:
A Japanese Benriner or other adjustable-blade slicer
A 4-oz "ramekin" - 1. individual baking dish (3 to 4 inches in diameter) that resembles a miniature soufflé dish. Ramekins are usually made of porcelain or earthenware and can be used for both sweet and savory dishes - either baked or chilled. 2. A tiny baked pastry filled with a creamy cheese custard.
Accompaniment: flatbread or "grissini" Italian for "breadsticks" (the singular form is grissino ), referring to thin, crisp breadsticks that originated in Turin, Italy. They're available commercially in many supermarkets.
Stir together dill, chives, and pepper on a plate, then roll cheese in herb mixture to coat sides (not ends). Wrap cheese in plastic wrap and chill.
Bring water, salt, and 1 tablespoon oil to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in couscous, then cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onion, stirring, 1 minute. Add zucchini, bell pepper, and corn and cook, stirring, until zucchini is bright green, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.
Fluff couscous with a fork and stir into vegetables, then season with salt and pepper.
Peel beet and cut half of beet into very thin slices (less than 1/8 inch thick) with slicer (discard remainder), then stack slices and cut into thin matchsticks. Rinse beets and pat dry, then transfer to a bowl.
Whisk together vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/2 tablespoon dressing to beets and toss to coat.
Fill ramekin with couscous, pressing it firmly into mold with a rubber spatula. Invert ramekin onto a salad plate and carefully unmold couscous, then make 3 more couscous mounds on 3 more plates.
Drape each couscous mound with 1 prosciutto slice (if using), then top with some of beets.
Unwrap cheese and cut crosswise into 4 equal slices with a lightly oiled knife, then arrange 1 cheese slice alongside each couscous mound and spoon remaining dressing around mounds.
Cooks' note:
Couscous can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before stirring into vegetables.
*Available at Asian markets, some cookware shops, and Uwajimaya (800-889-1928).
Internet Reviews:
My husband, who swears that he hates couscous, couldn't stop eating this. I used chicken broth instead of water and skipped the prosciutto. Delicious!
Already made this dish twice! my hubby and I loved it. Replaced water with veggie broth and added a dash of lemon juice to the couscous mixture. The beets add a definite flavor and the goat cheese with the dressing is the perfect tangy accompaniment! Server it with a sprig of cilantro and voila... it looked as yummy as it tasted!
Skipped the beets altogether. very yummy! light, summery--would be great with grilled salmon.
Review By Alan: Michele was initially worried that the Couscous wouldn't stick together, but the presentation was close to the photo and the flavor was wonderful. A time consuming, but flavorful treat.

Makes 4 servings.
Basting Sauce
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, diced
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 large ears fresh corn, husked, each cut crosswise into 4 pieces
1 small eggplant (about 1 pound), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 large red onion, cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, cut lengthwise into 6 strips
1 large yellow or green bell pepper, seeded, cut lengthwise into 6 strips
1 large zucchini, trimmed, quartered lengthwise
8 asparagus spears, trimmed
1 large carrot, peeled, cut on deep diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Grilling And Serving
Fresh herb sprigs
Lemon wedges
Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until butter melts and sauce is well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 3 hours ahead. Cool. Whisk over low heat to rewarm before using.)
Arrange corn pieces, eggplant rounds and onion wedges in single layer on large baking sheet. arrange bell pepper strips, zucchini spears, asparagus spears and carrot slices in single layer on another large baking sheet. Transfer 1/2 cup sauce to small saucepan and reserve for dipping. Brush both sides of vegetables lightly with some of remaining basting sauce.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill Corn, eggplant and onion until tender and lightly charred, brushing occasionally with basting sauce and turning with tongs, about 6 minutes. Transfer vegetables to small platter as vegetables finish grilling. Tent with foil to keep warm.
Grill bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus and carrot until tender and lightly charred, brushing occasionally with basting sauce and turning with tongs, about 6 minutes. Transfer vegetables to same platter, arranging alongside other vegetables. Season all vegetables with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs and lemon.
Place pan with reserved 1/2 cup sauce over low heat or at edge of barbecue and whisk sauce until warmed through. Transfer to small bowl. Serve vegetables, passing warm dipping sauce separately.
Internet Reviews:
One the best, easiest veggie dishes I've ever tied! Made it for 4 construction workers as a side for steak. I didn't expect any comments, but they raved!
Very nice, simple recipe for vegetable basting sauce/dipping sauce. Shallots need to be chopped fine, or they will burn on the grill. Quartering zucchini + eggplant is the best way to grill these vegetables, and much easier to control on the grill.
I added yellow squash and messed up with my spices by adding tarragon instead of thyme. Otherwise I followed the recipe to a T. The spice confusion didn't really matter cause my guest as well as myself thought this to be a very good combination. Next time I will try the thyme :-) Most of all my guest said the dish was a fresh approach to grilled veggies and the flavor was fantastic!
Review By Alan: I love grilled vegetables and typically don't put any on them. The sauce was good. The only bad part is the time consuming process of cutting up the veges.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes 2 servings.
1 cup cooked, chopped, and drained fresh spinach
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 cup Gorgonzola
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup homemade chicken stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Make the Stuffing: In a bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, Gorgonzola, and bacon and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Add the egg, mix well, and set aside.
Make the Sauce: Combine the wine and stock in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a sauce-like consistency. Whisk in the mustard, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
Make the Chicken: Place each chicken breast between 2 doubled-up sheets of plastic wrap, and pound to an even 1/4-inch thickness with a meat-pounder or rolling pin. Divide the stuffing between the breasts, mounding it along the center of each. Fold the bottom edge of each breast over the stuffing, fold in the sides, and roll forward until completely wrapped, to form a tight rolled package. Secure each flap with a toothpick. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Cover the skillet, turn the heat down to low, and cook until just cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the sauce into the skillet over high heat and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon.
Slice the chicken into medallions, divide among plates, and spoon some of the sauce over each. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
Internet Reviews:
We saw this dish on the show the week before New Years and decided to make it for our New Years celebration. It is awesome. Great blend of stuffing and chicken without the carbs and the sauce is yummy!
Unable to pound chicken breast thin enough to roll properly & stuffing was too much & kept coming out. It looked very easy when I watched show, but glad didn't try this for guests.
Excellent and easy to prepare! Everyone loved it. Easy to prepare a head of time and freeze enough for a future meal!!
The chicken I bought was more long and narrow than on TV, so the stuffing was coming out the sides even with lots of toothpicks, plus I pounded too thin in some areas and it split. So, I decided to bake it in the oven instead of pan fry - it was tremendous. I rubbed each breast with a little olive oil, then salt and peppered and baked in casserole at 350 for 35 minutes and it was to die for. I doubled the recipe and made 5 breasts (not 2) with blue cheese (subbed for the gorgonzola) and 5 with mozzarella. I added Parmesan & Romano cheese to all and that gave it another kick. I sprinkled crumbled blue over the ones with the blue cheese and then the sauce and it was pretty as a picture. I stuffed 5 breasts (instead of 2) with the amount of spinach the recipe called for, so plan on making more than just 2 breasts! It was such a hit!
My wife doesn't like blue cheese - I do. I made 1/2 w/ blue cheese and the other 1/2 w/ feta. I must say that I actually preferred the feta version! Very easy to make but can understand how some folks might have trouble w/ the pounding of the chicken. I used a large plastic mallet from my shop to pound the chicken - seemed to be easier than what the chef uses. Don't pound it too much or it will disintegrate the chicken. try and keep it even and about 1/4" all the way around. I also varied the sauce by adding 1/4 cup of cream, 2 tbs butter and a little low-carb thickener.
For a lower fat version, combine the blue cheese with fat free feta, use turkey or soy bacon, use less oil, and make the sauce with chicken stock and wine. I also added three cloves of garlic to the oil, heated it up to draw out the flavor, and removed them before they became bitter, then added the chicken. I didn't have any problems with the pounding of the chicken, just do it well and it's a great stress reliever.
This recipe was fantastic. The lemony white wine was great. I kept putting more on because it tasted so good. I had a little trouble cooking the stuffed breast in the pan, so I baked it in a casserole dish instead. I didn't have to mess with turning it in the pan, plus I stuffed it so full that I was worried it would fall apart if I flipped it. The oven worked out just fine. I will definitely make this again. It looked like it was a lot more work than it actually was to prepare.
Review By Alan: Everyone said they really loved the entree. But it was a nightmare to create. Pounding the chicken flat without breaking apart is nearly impossible. After pounding 4 chicken breast to death and pieces, I ended up slicing the breasts almost in half. I had seen thinly sliced chicken breast at the store, but didn't purchase due to the increased price. The first 4 pounded breast were extremely difficult to roll up and hold with 4-5 toothpicks. The sliced breasts only took 2 toothpicks. I was afraid the cheese would melt out of the sliced breasts, but it didn't. Also the recipe for the stuffing ended up being double the necessary. All in all, this is a really tasteful entree. We frozen the leftover stuffing. I think I'll try it in sliced tenderloin next time. By the way, this is NOT a 30-minute meal.

Active time: 20 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour
Makes 8 servings.
8 firm-ripe Bartlett pears
1/2 cup raisins, chopped
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Sauternes or other white dessert wine
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Accompaniment: madeleines (store purchased okay)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Peel pears, leaving stems intact, then core from bottom using a melon-ball cutter or a sharp small knife. Stir together raisins, brown sugar, zests, and 2 tablespoons Sauternes and fill pear cavities with mixture. Stand pears upright in a buttered baking dish just large enough to hold them and pour remaining cup Sauternes over pears.
Cover dish tightly with foil and bake in middle of oven until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer pears to a serving dish or plates using a metal spatula to hold filling in place and pour cooking liquid through a sieve into a bowl.
Whisk together yolks and granulated sugar in a large metal bowl and add hot cooking liquid in a stream, whisking constantly. Put bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and vigorously whisk, or beat with a handheld electric mixer, until mixture is tripled in volume and registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer, 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve pears warm with sauce.
Cooks' note:
Pears may be baked 1 day ahead, cooled, then chilled, covered. Reheat in cooking liquid, covered, in a 350°F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes, before making sauce.
Internet Review:
A little challenging to make the first time, but well worth the effort! Beautiful presentation and our guests loved it.
I prepared this recipe for my wife's birthday party and it was the hit of the party. I would definitely make this again. In preparing the sauce the bowl should be almost completely immerse in the simmering water.
Review By Alan: This was by far the best part of the meal. I love pears and the sauce was truly delicious. Most everyone licked the plates of each drop of sauce. Gabriel used a real Sauternes wine and at $35 a bottle it was great. I will make this in the future, but I will probably try a less costly white dessert wine.