Friday, August 28, 2015

On the Homefront: Simply Dalmatian Table

Dexter and Delilah Dalmatian cordially welcome you to the third annual Dalmatian Appreciation Day celebration!  This year the table is kept simple with a black and white color scheme and lots of spots.  On a sad note, the loss of our beloved Dalmatian Gia in January means that we are without Dalmatians at the moment, but our terrier mix Ruby and setter/hound(?) mix Maddie are honorary Dalmatians for the day, so join us as we honor our favorite purebred dog breed.  After all, on Dalmatian Appreciation Day, every dog is Dalmatian!

Dalmatian print table runner; black fabric place mat; white dinner plate (Tivoli by Studio Nova); Dalmatian salad plate (by Karen Donleavy); Dalmatian-spotted flatware (from Cow Depot, although they are clearly Dalmatian- rather than cow-spotted, in my opinion!); GR8 Dogs embroidered Dalmatian hand towel used as napkin (brought home by my husband this year from one of his many trips); clear water glass; black-stemmed wine glass (probably Luminarc Domino Noir, but bought so long ago I don't remember).

Karen Donleavy Dalmatian mugs used as candleholders.

A close-up of the Karen Donleavy plate and three ceramic Dalmatians
at the head of the table.

The white platter and black napkin will hold the dinner rolls,
and the mug with the Dalmatian face teabag slot holding a
white ceramic spreader will be used for butter.

A simple but elegant meal with black and white elements continues the celebratory theme.  Each course has some version of black and white (or at least a close facsimile).  Although I am not much of a drinker, there is even a Dalmatian Cocktail recipe if you are so inclined!  The salad is pretty straightforward.  Use any cooked chicken you prefer, but if you need an easy recipe, I have included one.  For the rolls, you can simply buy bake and serve or frozen dinner rolls, brush the tops with some beaten egg, and sprinkle on black and white sesame seeds before baking (if you cannot find black sesame seeds, just use poppy seeds).  If you would rather bake your own rolls from scratch, try this recipe.  The Black Velvet Pound Cake is based on a decadent recipe I found for Chocolate Fudge Pound Cake.  I chose to make it even more indulgent by adding chocolate chunks and topping it with a Cream Cheese Glaze garnished with coconut.  WARNING: This dessert is extremely rich, so serve the cake in very small wedges or beware the dietary consequences!

Simply Dalmatian Menu:

Dalmatian Cocktail*
Mixed Green Salad with Baked Chicken Breasts**/
Peppercorn Ranch Dressing
Pasta with White Beans and Black Olive Sauce†
Black and White Sesame Seed Dinner Rolls/Butter
Black Velvet Pound Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Glaze††

1 1/2 oz raspberry vodka
1 1/2 oz. white chocolate liqueur
1 oz. milk or light cream
chocolate chips
corn syrup
chocolate syrup

Pour a ring of chocolate syrup the same diameter as your martini glasses onto a dinner plate.  Dip the rims of the glasses in the syrup to coat, then freeze the glasses to set the syrup.  Pour some corn syrup onto a small plate and dip the bottoms of chocolate chips in the corn syrup.  Adhere to the insides of the glasses to create a spotted look.  Chill the glasses while mixing the vodka, liqueur, and milk in a martini shaker.  Pour the mixture carefully into the centers of the glasses and serve.  Serves 2.

**Baked Chicken Breasts (for the salad)

1/4 C. olive oil
1/3 C. white wine
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Whisk together the oil, wine, and salt.  Pour into a small baking pan (I used a 7x11-inch pan).  Add the chicken, turning to coat in the oil mixture.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, basting with the oil mixture about halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.  Serves 4.

Pasta with White Beans and Black Olive Sauce

7 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 C. pitted and chopped oil-cured black olives
4 small tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 can (15 oz.) white beans, rinsed and drained
2 T. minced fresh parsley
12 oz. whole wheat farfalle (or other short pasta)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened.  Stir in the tomatoes and olives.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and mix in the beans and parsley.  Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least several hours to let the flavors meld.  Cook the pasta, drain, and stir into the sauce.  Serves 4.

††Black Velvet Pound Cake

1 C. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 C. vegetable oil
2 3/4 C. sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
3 C. flour
1/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 C. milk*
2 C. dark chocolate chunks
Coconut Cream Cheese Glaze (below)

Thoroughly mix together the butter, oil, and sugar in a large bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in the vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.  Add to the butter mixture one cup at a time, alternating with 1/2 C. milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (beat well after each addition).  Stir in the chocolate chunks.

Pour the batter into a bundt pan that has been greased (I like to save the butter wrappers for this) and dusted with cocoa powder.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool on a rack, then remove from the pan and cool completely.  Drizzle with the Coconut Cream Cheese Glaze and serve.  Serves 20.

*Since I did not have the Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder used in the original recipe, I decided to replace 3 T. of the milk with Hershey's Chocolate Syrup and make chocolate milk for this cake to add even more chocolate flavor (as if it even needed any more additions!).

Coconut Cream Cheese Glaze: Beat 4 oz. softened cream cheese until very creamy.  Beat in 1/2 C. confectioner's sugar.  Stir in 1/4 tsp. coconut extract and 2-3 T. milk (I prefer a thicker glaze so I used 2 T. milk).  Beat until smooth.  Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake and sprinkle with sweetened flaked coconut.

The candy on the table today is a big Dalmatian dog bowl full of Hershey's Milk Chocolate Nuggets (which of course no dog will be allowed to touch!).

Spot the Dalmatian can't wait to celebrate
Dalmatian Appreciation Day!

The honorary Dalmatians were not very willing to pose for the camera (they did not like the flash), but I did manage to get one sort of decent photo!  (They were much happier when allowed to lick bowls and pans used for the festive dinner preparations.)  I hope everyone, canine and human, has a wonderful time on this third annual Dalmatian Appreciation Day!

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