Monday, November 2, 2009

Sous Vide debuts for our Weird Science Halloween Party & Culinary Extravaganza

Halloween is John's favorite holiday.  He's rat-holed quite an accumulation of decorations, costumes and accessories to prove it.  Every year, Big Ugly, our utility/Newfy van, comes home from the storage unit jammed packed with boxes.  Every year, UPS knocks at our door with new stuff.  Women, don't even try to fight it.  Men will be boys, and boys love their toys.  As a result, we are now the proud owners of a museum-size Plasma Globe.  It's quite impressive, as was the price (sorry I asked).  It was exhibited on the table in front of our window for the past few weeks, and then served as one of the star attractions for our Halloween Party.

I believe we acquired these pumpkins last year, but John updated the stack with a few more lights and changed the color of some of our outdoor lights.

Earlier in the week, Big Ugly was unpacked and all the boxes stored in our next door neighbor's garage.  Jim & Melinda graciously offered their patio for the party.  It's the perfect venue for our intimate group and John's collection of props and toys.


The big tree secures the canopy of lights, spider webs, skeletons and vampire bats.

The theme for this year's party was Weird Science.  We challenged the chefs in our group to carry that theme into the kitchen in preparing a dish to share.

John dressed the part, and I was his Not-So-Sexy Lab Assistant in my over-sized lab coat, leopard-skin tights, and Newfy slippers.

Pirate Jim's driveway served as the Weird Science Lab, complete with John's self-constructed Jacob's Ladder

The lab wouldn't be complete without jars of skulls, biohazardous material, and test tubes filled with bodily fluids

Perhaps even more impressive than the Plasma Globe, at least when it came time to eat, was the Thermal Immersion Circulator.  John borrowed two of these from work so we could experiment with Sous Vide cooking.

He prepared Bobby Flay's Coffee Rub for his Sous Vide Flank Steak, which enjoyed a 12 hour Jacuzzi at 60.4 C or 140.7 F.  John vacuum-packed individual servings of steak to allow everyone the opportunity to fish out a bag, cut the top off, and retrieve their own succulent piece of meat.

I cracked open Thomas Keller's Under Pressure:  Cooking Sous Vide, and found a recipe for Sous Vide Pork Belly.  After brining with curing salt overnight, my pork belly floated about in its vacuum-sealed pouch for 12 hours, at 82.2 C or 180 F.  After a brief sear, I served it with Mark Miller's Charro Beans and New Mexico Hatch Green Chile Sauce, from TacosPork & Beans, Keller-Miller style.

Chefs Kai and Alec took their cooking to a whole new level

Kai focused on the "weird" in Weird Science, with his fun and creative presentation. 

Here, we have Mr. Pumpkin with a meat cleaver embedded in his temple.  Arranged beneath his esophagus, you will observe some ribs broken away to reveal a heart, two full racks of barbequed ribs, and a coil of sausage bowels.

Alec tended his burning embers in preparation for his Salt-Crusted Beef Tenderloin, a trimmed beef tenderloin crusted with a half pound of salt, wrapped in a cotton cloth, and charred on the bed of fiery embers

It's prepared using the oldest of the five methods of live fire cooking: roasting in the embers. You lay the wrapped beef tenderloin on a bed of hot coals long enough to burn the cloth wrapping and salt into a hard black shell, but briefly enough to keep the meat inside medium-rare and tender.  The result looks like a burnt log, but when you crack off the crust, some of the most tender, succulent beef tenderloin in the world awaits.

Simply amazing!

Alec's beautiful Nina, came as a pregnant, wine-drinking, Nun.

Nina's Layered Crepe & Caramel Cake

Hill & Nina

This was my dessert offering, Vanilla Panna Cotta Brain with Port-Cherry Sauce.  I used Food & Wine's Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe, but made a port cherry sauce instead of the honey glazed apricots.

Here's the lovely, bewitching, and devilish Carmen

Carmen prepared Antipasto Sandwiches, with pickled and marinated melazane, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and fava beans, with layers of fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, prosciutto and peppered turkey.  She spread the hollowed out bread with a mixture of two pestos - basil and artichoke heart.  She also shared two cheesecakes from Collins Bakery, October birthday gifts shipped courtesy of her mom.

A Halloween Party wouldn't be complete without Jim's Jell-O Shots and Vodka Gummi Worms, made with lime Jell-O, vodka, and peach schnapps. The Gummi Worms were soaked in vodka for three days and tripled in size! Jim and Carmen suggest using sugar-free, Gummi brand worms and draining on paper towels.  They're also a great snack to sneak into a movie theatre!!!

Pammy aka Rosie baked up some Severed Witch's Fingers with Marinara Sauce, but it was Rosie herself who was a feast for the eyes, as she confidently strutted about with her voluptuous breasts and rather large, but firm derrière.  Dr. Brad enjoyed his lap dance, as did all of the other men at the party! 

Baby Beaubeaux and Grace joined us for some Halloween cheer

I think Peter must have found one of our bags of discarded Newfy fur to make his wig

Peter belongs to Julie, on the left, and Jackie, in the middle - the two Fruity Licious Pumpkin Spice Girls, who were joined by Ohura from Star Trek

Once again, this group outdid themselves with entertaining costumes, culinary creativity and Halloween cheer!  John and I are truly blessed to have such a wonderful group of friends and neighbors.


Carmen said...

Wow! What a great party! How did I miss Nina's cake ... ?! BTW, your pork was the best thing there. Love the Pammy and Dr. Brad photo!

Pam said...

The blog post is wonderful, as always. That was such a fun party! The decorations were over-the-top and really made it special. I was sooooooo impressed!

Thanks again for putting such a fun and creative event together. Great food, great company, great memories. I agree with your final sentiment....we really ARE so blessed to have each other.

Love you bunches

Mary said...

Thank you and John for a great party Friday was great to see everyone and the decorations were fantastic!

Nina said...

We had so much fun Friday night, what a great mix of food and friends...

The cake is a friends' secret family recipe, called "Torta Mil Hojas" (A Thousand Layers). It's a layering of a pastry dough rolled out thin, and cut using a template, then baked individually until bubbly and flakey. Once they cool, you layer the caramel and stack anywhere between 8 to 16 layers (mine was lucky number 13 for the occassion). Then wala, you are finished. It's not the most attractive cake in the world, so it helps to 'over-garnish' garishly (or ghoulishly as the case may be).

Please thank John for Sonoma's wonderful bag of weird science! She got such a kick out of it, and is really loving the little rocket; she has been torturing the cats with it.

Sandra Younger said...

What an extravaganza! Makes our group date at Andiamo! look like a kindergarten party. Bravo!

Melinda said...

GREAT PARTY!!! Even better when you just show up at your own house and everyone else provides the food (FABULOUS) and the decorations!! I thought we were in Dr. Frankenstein's lab!! Can't wait until next year when...THEY WILL RETURN!!!! AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!! Thanks for everything!! Melinda and Jim

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