Monday, April 2 –
Dinner last night was… well… expensive. And the flavors were… kind of bland. I’m having a hard time writing this one because most of the people who came to join us for this really, really loved it. Let me tell you about it, and then we will see where my tastes would have preferred something a little different.
First, let me say thank you to everyone who came over: Wonderful Boyfriend (AKA MudFlaps), Roommate Extraordinaire, CurlyCue (AKA PoopyHands) Hot Momma, Mr. Hero, MoneyShot, SlotMachine, and GingerNuts. Not in attendance (but got a take-home dinner) was Grandpa Bear and Baby Bear. As you can tell by the AKAs, the nicknames I’m giving people might start evolving. Each dinner there are more
terrible funny stories and jokes that drive the names. So by the end of this adventure I will build a chart of the names, who they are attached to, what they have changed to, who they really are, and how they are connected. Should be really entertaining after four and a half years of this! I also want to say thank you to everyone for bringing wine. It was wonderful to have everyone come together, eat, drink, and be ridiculous merry.
On to the dinner – It started on a wild lobster chase, turned into a four-person veggie chopping workshop, and ended with sauce and beet juice all over my kitchen. Epic, right? So Roommate Extraordinaire and CurlyCue chopped, grated, sliced, and diced all of the veggies for this recipe (keep in mind we tripled the amounts to have enough food for all of the dinner guests). GingerNuts washed the stack of dishes I was making as I whipped, folded, and poured my way through the cake and salad recipe.
The cake was extremely easy to make and baked at the same temp that the beets were in the oven. The mascarpone, gelatine, raspberries, and cream made for a beautiful topping that went into the fridge to chill.
Then Roommate Extraordinaire, CurlyCue, and I de-shelled and de-poop-veined the shrimp (hence the PoopyHands name). We were ready to cook! Except we had too much food to cook all on one stove, and so GingerNuts and I cooked the lobster and shrimp with the sauce and also the noodles for the patties upstairs. Roommate Extraordinaire and CurlyCue cooked all of the veggies downstairs. As the sauce was simmering I peeled and diced the beets and got the salad ready. The veggies were done, and food was ready to be served. (Writing this whole adventure didn’t take very long, but it took about three hours for all of this to happen. Eek!) Because we were running so late, I decided not to fry the noodles. I figured that we could pour the sauce on just the same and it would work out alright.
We set the salad stuff out for people to dish up themselves. And then I plated the noodles, veggies, seafood, sauce, and raw veggies on top for everyone. Dinner was served!
The noodles were a little overcooked because we didn’t have enough hands to make all of the different dishes turn out at that large of amounts of food. The sauce was bland and runny – probably because I didn’t have time to let it simmer down and thicken properly. The seafood was a little tough for me. The veggies were good but almost too much for the dish. And the salad was good except I still don’t like beets. This was just my take on it, anyway. Fortunately, most of the people at the table really liked the flavors and ate until they were stuffed.
Now, if I got to do it all over again, here is what I would do. I’d only make these dishes for four people maximum. I would make the cake and salad and set them aside, just like I did this time. Then I would have steamed the shrimp and lobster and set them aside. I would have sauteed the veggies that went with the shrimp and then made the sauce in that pan. Then right when I was ready to serve everything I would gently mix the seafood back in. (Spending that much money just to make tough lobster was pretty much a tragedy.) I also would have actually made the fried noodle cakes instead of leaving them loose. I think it would have changed the texture enough to make me like it more.
The dessert on the other hand was simply incredible. The cake came out the texture of a molten chocolate cake. The mascarpone and cream were light, fluffy, and plate-lickingly good. That was by far my favorite part of this evening.
Things I have learned: Trying to triple a recipe like this made it a disaster (at least to me). Next time a recipe calls for that many steps, just keep it to a very minimum number of people. Also, trying to eat a dish that had a cream base absolutely killed my crohn’s. It was a miserable night for me after having only a mediocre dinner. I’m super glad that most people loved this food more than I did! Also, I learned that it is “mascarpone” not “marscapone” like I have been saying it for years. Good to have the right name for things, even if it takes you years to get it right.
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.caymanrestaurants.com)
Aragosta Di Buba
- 1 1/4 lb lobster tail
- 1 lb peeled shrimp
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 1 yellow squash
- 1 zucchini
- 1 red onion
- 1/2 tsp dry or fresh chopped tarragon
- 3 oz brandy
- 3 oz dry vermouth
- 16 ox heavy cream
- 2 green onions
Julienne the following vegetables:
- 1 carrot
- 1 red pepper
- salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
- 4 vermicelli cakes (see below)
Cut lobster into bite-sized pieces. Heat olive oil in large pan. Sear lobster and shrimp in pan for 3-5 minutes, add garlic, shallots and sauté. Add ketchup, seasoning, deglaze with brandy, vermouth. Add cream. Reduce. When sauce becomes thick, taste and re-season if necessary. Add julienne of vegetables and chopped green onions. Toss. Serve on a vermicelli cake. – serves 4
- 1/2 lb vermicelli pasta
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 roasted red pepper, chopped fine
- 1/2 white onion, diced and sautéed
- salt and pepper to taste
Cook vermicelli and cool slightly. Add the remainder of ingredients and mix thoroughly. Form cakes, using your hand. Let cool. In a hot pan (preferably with a nonstick surface) fry cakes until golden brown. – yields 4 cakes
Goat Cheese, Beets and Arugula Salad
- Goat Cheese – 1 Lb. [crumbled]
- Beets – 5 each [roasted or boiled]
- Arugula – 1 lb
- Pine nuts – 1 cup [toasted]
- Apple Cider Vinegar – ½ cup
- Olive Oil – ½ cup
Method: Wrap the fresh beets in aluminum foil and bake in oven for 1 hour at 350º F. Let cool, peel skin and quarter. (Or Boil in enough salted water to cover for an hour or till cooked.) To make the dressing: Combine apple cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, add salt and fresh cracked pepper and whisk well. Place beetroots in large bowl, toss with the vinaigrette. To Serve: Arrange the arugula in the centre of the plate. Place the beets on it and sprinkle the goat cheese over it. Spoon the left over dressing over it and garnish with pine nuts.
- 4 oz bitter sweet chocolate, chopped
- 5 oz milk chocolate, chopped
- 4 oz unsalted butter
- 1 vanilla bean
- 3 oz egg white
- 3 oz egg yolk
- 3 1/2 oz granulated sugar
Melt chocolate, butter and vanilla bean (only the inside). Whisk egg yolks and 3 oz sugar and add to the chocolate mixture. Whip egg whites and 1/2 oz sugar and fold under the mixture. Spread into pan and bake for 10 minutes at 350° F.
- 10 oz Mascarpone
- 4 oz sugar
- 2 oz whiskey
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 sheets gelatin
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
Whisk Mascarpone, sugar, whiskey, and lemon juice together, then add softened gelatin. Whip heavy cream to soft peaks and fold into the mascarpone mixture. Take a triangle mold and lay out this mold with the chocolate cake, fill half with the cream, place raspberries in the center and pout the rest of the cream over. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Take the triangle out of the mold and coat with a chocolate ganache and let it set. Garnish with fresh berries marinated in simple syrup and Grand Marnier.