As a recent owner of Chef Ludo Lefebvre's cookbook Crave: The Feast of the 5ive Senses, I just couldn't wait to try out one of the recipes from his gorgeous book. The pictures literally make you want to lick the book. Here's my attempt at his Skate Wing with Salsa of Cucumber, Tomato & Seaweed. The colors of this dish are beautiful and just pop off the plate. Yummy!
I am participating in a 100-mile bike ride from Irvine to San Diego to fight against Multiple Sclerosis. As part of my fund raising efforts, I hosted a charity dinner, naturally. I love eating, especially in groups and I love cooking, especially for groups. There's just something so wonderful and communal about eating together, nourishing our bodies and our souls alike. This was also a nice time for me to spend some much needed quality time in the kitchen. I've been rather absent from the kitchen between training for the race and studying for the CFA. :( Since Autumn is well upon us, I planned the menu around Fall inspired foods, such as seasonal squashes and spices that conjure up the thoughts of nights curled up next to the fireplace. I began the meal with a few different amuse bouche to whet the palate. Some rosemary spiced cashews and caramelized onion-asiago palmiers entertained my generous guests as I began to prepare the first course of Grass Fed Bison Bone Marrow Toasts with Parsley, Shallot and Caper salad. I roasted them on a bed of rosemary for about 30 minutes, until the marrow was soft, but not melting away. At the last minute, since the marrow was too hot to handle, I served my spinach salad with roasted acorn squash, grilled endives and dried cranberries first. I wanted to keep the flow of the food steady, so my guests wouldn't get too stuffed on crackers and nuts. I dressed the salad with a mix of lemon juice, dijon mustard, honey, shallots and olive oil - a simple dressing that lent just the right amount of acid to the salad.
Next Susan and I started a marrow toast making assembly line. Aren't we efficient? As she scooped out the marrow onto the crostini, I topped it all with the parsley salad and a sprinkling of sea salt. This was my personal favorite course. The marrow is delicious and creamy. Doesn't my friend P just make the perfect marrow toast eating model?
This dinner required mucho prep work. I didn't want to be stuck in the kitchen the whole night, so the previous evening I had made 70 raviolis and one of the desserts. I had actually made the pasta dough and the chestnut and mushroom filling a few nights before, but waited until Friday to actually assemble and freeze them. If chestnuts don't scream Autumn, I don't know what does. Chestnuts are wonderfully meaty and sweet. My thumb was sore from de-shelling these guys, but it was all worth it. I knew there would be a few vegetarians at the dinner, so I wanted to plan my menu accordingly. The frozen raviolis just needed a few minutes in the simmering water to cook and a quick dip in the sage brown butter sauce. A sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan and the main course was ready to go.
We all let our stomach digest a bit before moving on to the desserts. We were all stuffed and I wanted everybody to be able to enjoy the desserts. I began by setting out two beautiful fruit topiaries made by my friends *Johnson and Pisey*. These were so impressive that I really do have to give the biggest thanks to them for their generosity and talent. I think every single person at the dinner asked me if you guys worked at Edible Arrangements. :)
These topiaries were both delicious and beautiful. I choose fruit flowers over real flowers any day. Next came the panna cotta. Originally I had wanted to poach pears, for the dessert, but thought it might be difficult with so many guests and a small refrigerator for storage (The two topiaries were also in there). I decided to go with a pear panna cotta with a ruby port gelee. Sorry I don't have a picture of this one. I had also made chocolate truffles with candied chestnuts to echo the chestnut theme in the raviolis.
All in all this was a successful dinner party. I was able to meet my fund raising goal and spend time with good friends. Thank you all for donating to a worthy cause and for supporting me. For information regarding the event please visit http://www.biketofinishms.com
I was quite taken by these blue beauties at the market. They were so damn cool looking and really outshone the muddy black tiger shrimp. I scooped up a pound and decided to plan dinner around these eye-catchers. It's just a shame they don't stay blue once they're cooked!
I seasoned the shrimp with some ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, light/dark soy sauce, and throw them on the grill with their shells on. I prefer to leave their shells on when grilling, since it keeps them juicy and really enhances the flavor. The only downfall to cooking shrimp shell-on is that I know I'll have to peel B's for him. What a princess. :) Such a sacrifice for flavor, but all worth it in the end! Careful not to crowd the grill pan, I grilled them in a few batches. I found that 2-3 minutes on each side was sufficient cooking time. While the shrimp was working, I sauteed some fresh rice noodles with Japanese spinach, snap peas, onions, Serrano chilies and scallions. I flavored the noodles with sesame oil, mushroom sauce, dark soy and a pinch of sugar just to balance the heat.