Both appetizers were from the Canal House cookbooks - I love these! The deviled eggs were good, but the pickled celery was really the hit of the night. It sounds strange, I was definitely worried about it, but it was really excellent. It was pickled in mirin and rice wine vinegar with ginger and some other spices, and had a very complex but still subtle flavor.
For the salad, I combined a couple of recipes. First, I made a roasted artichoke recipe from Ina Garten. Then, I started to make a preserved lemon vinaigrette from Canal House, but I got lazy and realized that the artichokes were also marinated in a vinaigrette, so I ended up adding my minced preserved lemons to the artichokes, throwing in some extra olive oil, and calling it done. I served it on top of mixed greens and also added some olives for color.
Ina's pasta was even better than I hoped it would be. The hardest part was ordering the truffle butter and the pasta she recommends! I prepped the other ingredients before dinner - I dutifully shaved 3 oz of parmesan with a vegetable peeler as she instructs, although I didn't think it was necessary and would probably just grate it the next time - and got the water boiling before we sat down. Then, the whole pasta came together in five minutes. This wasn't an inexpensive entree, but we loved it. I'll definitely be making it again.
Before the eclairs, I served David Lebovitz's green apple sorbet. This was good, but not amazing. It tasted just like frozen applesauce. I shouldn't have been surprised because that's exactly what it was, but for some reason I was hoping for more from it. I also wasn't completely happy with my eclairs. The eclair part and the glaze worked beautifully, but my pastry cream was way too thin. I couldn't piped it like I'd wanted to, so I had to split the pastries in half, spoon it in, and cover them back up. It still tasted great but I was mad at myself. For some reason, I listened to the instructions which said to stop cooking the pastry cream as soon as you see bubbles. I've made pastry cream enough times to know that you really need to cook it until it coats the back of the spoon. Oh well, I still enjoyed the left-over eclair I ate after lunch today!
2012 is off to a good start! I didn't make any resolutions this year - they never seem to last anyway - but I do hope to keep cooking, and keep enjoying the food with family and friends. I'd also like to be more consistent with this blog. My goal is to catch up with French Fridays with Dorie - I joined a year after it started, and would love to make all of the recipes I missed!