I had dinner with my friends Carrie and Denise the other day. Actually, I made dinner for them, for the first time in our over 10-year friendship. It’s weird to have known them for so long and only gotten around to a dinner party now, but better late than never and we had a fantastic time. It started with martinis made with Hendrick’s, vermouth, and a cucumber. I only had one but they were intense and delicious, and so cold they were slightly slushy. Then we had some appetizers. I made a chevre and tomato tart on puff pastry and a little Moroccan pastry called bisteeya. Bisteeya is traditionally a large pie made with chicken, butter,cinnamon, saffron, almonds and warka (a thin dough like phyllo), covered with more butter, then baked and then covered with powdered sugar. I made mine bite-sized, with a little less butter.
Here’s the recipe for the Tomato Tart: (in this picture I used red onion instead of shallot, because that’s what I had)
Provencal Chevre Tart
1 package puff pastry, thawed
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2 pints grape tomatoes or small cherry tomatoes, sliced thin
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced thin
1 Tb chopped fresh thyme
1 Tb chopped fresh basil
1 Tb chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 Tb heavy cream
Heat oven to 425. Open up the package of puff pastry and separate the two pieces. Place each one on a sheet pan and pinch up the edges to make a little ridge. Divide all ingredients in half (you can do this in your head). Layer the ingredients- goat cheese, tomatoes, shallot, herbs, salt and pepper. Drizzle 2 Tb heavy cream over each tart and place in the oven. Bake until pastry is puffed and brown and tomatoes have begun to soften, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve hot or warm.
After the martinis we moved into the dining room and ate dinner. I had decided that Moroccan was the theme of the day and made a lamb tagine with vegetables, chickpeas, dried cranberries, and sweet potato. Along with that I made a roasted eggplant salad, a carrot salad with brown mustard seed and cumin, and herbed couscous. We drank Menage a Trois merlot (I think) and had poppyseed shortbread for dessert. We spent most of the evening sharing information and laughing our heads off. I love having dinner with just girlfriends. The dynamic is so much different when you add men and/or kids to the mix.
Now for the KC part.
I went to Kansas City to watch my incredible parents kill at the Heart of America Ballroom Dance competition. They won. They won it all, first place in all categories, again. Mom had a red dress with sparklified hibiscus flowers all down the front and back and she and dad just looked incredible. As soon as I have them I’ll show you photos.
I went with Warren and Ann to a place called R bar in the Bottoms and it was fantastic. Sort of a little narrow old-westey dark bar with a bad Django-gypsy band playing. The cocktail menu was exciting. I had one with ginger, jasmine, and some sort of crazy bourbon. Warren had one with ginger, some herb, and three kinds of whiskey. They tasted like perfume smells and had a sort of dizzying effect that made the band seem better than it was, and guests prettier.
We ate amazing things. The chef there had an alchemist’s sort of approach. Nothing was cute or ironic, but all of the combinations were interesting, unusual, and well done. Warren had fried green tomatoes with fresh mozzerella and pepperoni. Ann had a delicious mesclun salad with ricotta salata and walnuts. I had heirloom tomatoes on grilled Texas toast with parmesan-truffle mousse and basil vinaigrette.
It was a postmodern pepperoni pizza and bruschetta, in case you missed the joke. The salad was just a good salad. For entrees, I had smoked pork cheeks with a potato cake and grilled okra with a light cumin-flavored broth. The pork cheeks were tender and gelatinous and not to smoky and the grilled okra was great, crispy and sticky and slick. The potato cake could have been used as a doorstop, nobody liked it at all. Warren had incredible fried marinated chicken thighs on a cornmeal waffle with lima bean succotash. The waffle was not that great. They were having trouble with starches that night. The chicken was so good that it could have started a fight had there not been three pieces of it. Ann had giant mutant prawns in a Thai-esque coconut curry on a sticky rice cake. The rice cake was pretty good (it had been deep-fried) and the sauce was creamy and spicy AND the prawns were delicious and perfectly cooked, but altogether if I want Thai food I’ll go to a Thai restaurant.
Then we had a chocolate mousse custard with black cherries, whipped cream, and Mr. Pibb sauce. Sort of a weird take on an old fashioned drugstore soda jerk concoction. It was good, but sort of weird. A stretch. It was, however, the only chocolate thing on the dessert menu, so of course we had to eat it.
News: New classes at Social with Adriene Rathbun. findyourwingsocial.com
September 2, 6 pm. Indian cooking. Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer, Parathas, and more. $ 40.00
September 24, 6pm. New Fall Soups, with special guest Bread Pudding. $ 40.00
September 27, 6pm. Repeat of New Fall Soups.
Call Adriene today to reserve a spot! 316-990-4493.
I had a great time on Wednesday at Mike’s Wine Divehttp://mikeswinedive.com/ doing my closing reception/wine tasting. The food was amazing and I didn’t even have to cook it. I collaborated with Brad Beyer, their culinary partner, to make a summery tapas-style menu that would pair with some fun wines. We put the food on platters that I made (porcelain and gold, very fancy!) and poured wine for about 40 people.
I thought that a lighter menu would be better, since it is August, and on Wednesday it was still over 100 degrees hot out. We made proscuitto and parmesan-wrapped melon balls with olive oil and pepper:
La Methode: Make melon balls out of ripe melons. Put a shard of excellent parmesan or ricotta salata on top. Wrap in excellent prosciutto cut as thinly as possible. Secure with a toothpick. Grind black pepper over and drizzle with excellent olive oil. The key word here is “excellent.”
We also had Milk-Roasted Pork Loin, which was tender and fragrant and bathed in herby-creamy-lemony sauce made from pureeing the pan juices.
1 large pork loin, about 5-7 pounds, cut in half lengthwise
4 cloves garlic
½ cup fresh parsley
3 Tb fresh rosemary leaves
12 fresh sage leaves
Zest of 3 lemons
½ cup olive oil
1 Tb salt
1 Tb sugar
1 Tb freshly ground pepper
½ gallon whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
Put the pork loin in a large roasting pan. Combine all other ingredients except milk in a food processor and blend into a paste. Rub the paste all over the pork loin. Marinate overnight. When ready to roast, pour milk over, cover with foil, and bake in the oven at 400 for 1 ½ hours. Remove foil and bake 30 minutes longer, until meat is tender and liquid evaporates a bit. It will look curdled. Remove meat from pan and slice thin. Pour milky pan juices into a blender and puree with the cream. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the meat to serve.
The Shrimp, Saffron, and Artichoke dip was well recieved and many thought it would make a good pasta sauce. This recipe makes a huge amount, like a gallon or so, so cut it down accordingly unless you REALLY loved it and don’t mind eating it for a month.
4 Tb olive oil
4 Tb butter
8 Tb flour
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic,minced
1 quart artichoke hearts, diced
2 pounds shelled shrimp, diced
3 cups pitted kalamata olives, chopped
2 cups tomato, diced small
1 tsp saffron threads, soaked in water
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup sherry
2 quarts heavy cream
2 pounds cream cheese
4Tb chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried breadcrumbs for topping
Melt butter with the oil in a large pot. Add flour and cook into a golden roux. Add onion and garlic and cook until transparent. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook until shrimp are cooked and mixture is thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a casserole or heat-proof dish, sprinkle breadcrumbs over, and bake at 400 until crumbs brown and dip is bubbling. Serve hot with bread or crackers.
The next recipe is for Spanish-style bruschetta, called Pa amb Tomaquet. It’s easy, but again really essential to use the best possible ingredients for maximum flavor.
Ciabatta, baguette, or other artisanal bread, sliced ½ inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
Peeled garlic cloves, whole
Ripe tomatoes, cut in half
Salt and pepper
Brush the bread with the olive oil on both sides. Grill or broil until bread is very brown and maybe even lightly charred in spots. Remove from heat and rub one side gently with a clove of garlic, then rub with the cut side of the tomato. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve. Keep scrubbing away at the tomato until it is mostly gone.
I made Thyme Roasted Sweet-Spicy Almonds and served them in my porcelain bowls.
1 pound blanched almonds
2 Tb butter, melted
1 egg white
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tb chopped fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it generously with non-stick spray. Mix almonds with all of the other ingredients until everything is coated evenly. Use your hands. Pour almonds into the pan and pat into a single layer. Bake until brown and toasty smelling (your house will smell fantastic, that’s how you know they’re done). Take them out of the oven and let cool. They’ll be all stuck together so break them apart with your hands and serve. Store in an airtight container away from humidity (or in the freezer).
It was a totally great experience. I also got to reconnect to some old friends and make some new ones. I even sold some porcelain. I hope to collaborate with them again, they were so friendly and amazing. The wines were delicious, a rose cava from Spain, a soft and floral sylvaner, and a beautiful light red whose varietal I have now forgotten…but will find out and post asap. I am ready to do it all again! My show at the Wine Dive is over on Saturday, so for those of you whom have not been to see it, go have a nice cold glass of wine, a salty snack or two, and look up at the walls. If you drink enough, you might even want to buy one! If you do, please contact Trish Higgins (the gallerist for the Wine Dive)http://trishhigginsfineart.com/ and she will happily arrange it.
It’s hot out so I’m staying in. I cleaned up the kitchen and made a green-bean-potato salad with creamy tarragon vinaigrette and some pesto with pecans because I ran out of pine nuts. I didn’t want to get all hot and complicated (although generally I am sort of hot and complicated) so I stuck to easy things. Mom and Dad are coming over for a BLT dinner and I wanted some sides. Mom is bringing the precious tomatoes, as mine are all shrivelly and not so nice right now. I’m also going to make a Chinese sausage salad with lime, red onion, and cucumber. That goes with rice, because if Dad doesn’t have rice, it’s not a meal, it’s just a snack. We can be totally Filipino like that. I’ll share those recipes too, don’t worry. Mom is also hopefully bringing peach pie. What we don’t eat of that I will take to the Sunday TrueBlood Estrogen Fiesta.
I promised the lemon mousse recipe and here I am, delivering it! There are raw eggs in it, so beware. Don’t feed it to infants, the ancient, or the easily food-poisoned. You will use a lot of bowls.
Lemon Mousse , serves 4-6
4 whole eggs
4 separated eggs. Put the whites in a mixing bowl, they’ll be beaten later.
1 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup of lemon juice (about 4 lemons). Please use real fruit.
Pinch of salt
1/2 package gelatin
1 cup heavy cream
Get a double boiler situation ready. Beat the whole eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest, salt, and most of the lemon juice in a stainless steel bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining lemon juice (save about 1 TB) and let it absorb. Put the lemon mixture on top of the double boiler and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. It will have the consistency of soft pudding. Congratulations! You have just made lemon curd! You could stop here and you would have lemon curd, but you want to make mousse, so add the gelatin mixture and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
Cool this mixture off quickly by putting it into an ice bath and stirring until it cools. Whip the egg whites until stiff. Whip the heavy cream until stiff. Plop them into the curd and fold gently. If you fold too vigorously the mousse will lose volume. Pour into cute dishes or a bowl and put in the refrigerator to chill until firm-ish. Serve with more whipped cream and some fresh berries.
A few weeks ago on Facebook I started a conversation about roasted chicken that resulted in an insatiable craving for roasted chicken…so I made one.
It was good, because roasted chicken is always good. Even if it’s from the store. If I were stranded on a desert island and I could only bring one ingredient along I would bring roasted chicken.
The house always smells incredible when chicken is roasting. It smells like love and home and mom and like you are really putting an effort into it. I always serve mashed potatoes with it because how else will you be able to absorb all the fantastic gravy? I also use vegetables as a natural rack (ha!) and then I serve those chicken-fat-saturated vegetables alongside.
Here’s the recipe:
One roasting chicken, the best you can buy, about 5 lb
1 lemon, cut in half
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of fresh thyme sprigs
Handful of fresh rosemary sprigs
1 Tb fresh tarragon if you like it
2 Tb butter, softened
1 onion, cut into chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
3 stalks celery, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup dry white wine
Preheat oven to 425.
Remove giblets from the chicken. Do with them as you will. Rinse and dry the chicken. Rub the chicken all over and inside with the cut sides of the lemon. Put the lemon in the roasting pan. Rub the chicken all over and inside with the cut sides of the garlic. Put those in the pan also. Put the vegetables in the roasting pan. They will serve as both roasting rack and aromatics for the pan juices (and you can eat them later, all covered in buttery chicken fat).
Put the chicken on the vegetables. Chop up about 2 tsp of each herb. Mix the herbs with the butter. Toss the remaining herbs into the pan with the vegetables. Rub the herb butter UNDER the skin of the chicken breast, as far in as you can. Try not to tear the skin. Any butter you can’t get under the skin you can dab on top of the bird. Season everything with lots of salt and pepper and pour the white wine into the pan. Try to avoid pouring it on the chicken or the salt and pepper will wash off.
Put the chicken in the oven and roast for about 1 ½ hours. Baste occasionally with pan juices. If the chicken seems to be getting too brown, tent it with foil. The chicken is done when juices of the thigh are clear when poked hard with a skewer, and the internal temperature near the thigh joint needs to be at least 160 degrees. Remove from the oven and transfer the chicken to a platter. Make gravy with the pan juices and save the vegetables to eat along with the chicken.
My friend Michael suggested that one might drape the chicken with bacon in the first part of the roasting process to infuse it with smoky lusciousness. I have yet to try that but I will very soon.
Bacon pie. Makes 8-12 pieces.
2 cups flour
2 sticks cold butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 pound of bacon
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 Tb chopped fresh parsley or thyme
Heat oven to 350.
Make the crust: Put the flour and salt in a bowl and mix together. Grate the butter into the flour using a cheese grater. Rub the grated butter shreds into the flour with your hands until it all looks like coarse sand. Add the water all at once and stir with a fork until things start to come together. Knead gently on a floured surface. Shape into a disc and let rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Fry the bacon on medium heat until crisp. Sometimes I put it on a rack and bake it in the oven at 350 until crisp. It’s up to you. Drain the bacon, reserving a little bacon fat. Fry the onion in the bacon fat until transparent and beginning to caramelize. Let onion cool a little while you dice the bacon.
Get out a biggish pie pan- I used a 10″ pyrex one- and roll out the crust to fit inside the pan. Press down edges or crimp. Put the parsley or thyme and the cheese in the bottom of the pan, then fill with the onion and bacon. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pour the egg mixture over the bacon and let settle for a few minutes. Bake at 350 until the entire thing is browned and puffed in the center, about 45-50 minutes. A knife inserted in the middle should come out clean. Remove from the oven and serve hot, warm, or cold.