Finishing off on the whole catching up on dinners thing (I’m exhausted, I need a vacation, don’t be surprised if we shut down for a couple of weeks coming up soon). Three private dinners last week, all pretty much leaving things in our hands as to what we wanted to cook, with only a couple of minor allergy or dislike issues.
First up a group of eight from California. No nuts and preferred a non-fish main course. Easy enough. We launched the evening with our textures of tomato dish.
A roasted red pepper soup. Wasn’t in my original plans but I sent Henry out for a bag of eggplants and he returned with a bag of red peppers, so changed some things around on the menu at the last minute. He still had to go back out for the eggplants. Roasted red pepper and potato soup spiked with a little jalapeño, sour cream, fried potato skins.
We needed the eggplant because next up was a green tea raviolo filled with a charred eggplant, garlic and herb puree, served over a fresh tomato sauce and topped with crispy fried smoked salmon and a parsley salsa verde.
Top round, roasted medium rare, served over spicy carrot hummus and accompanied by some “melted” leeks (i.e.,, cooked very slowly in butter until soft) and some sauteed mushrooms. The sauce, a reduction of the roasting juices and some red wine finished with chili-spiked mustard and butter.
Remember apple butter from last week? Turned that into a tart filling by mixing it with brown sugar and beaten eggs. The crust, a straightforward pie crust with the addition of cheddar cheese, which just wouldn’t seem to crisp up quite the way I wanted it, actually, the bottom surface was fine, but the oil from the cheese rose to the top and created a layer that wouldn’t. To be played with. It’s a crust I’ve done before, so I have to assume it’s this particular cheddar cheese.
Then a night off, finally, followed by a group of six gents, also from California, with a few allergy restrictions but none of which affected our menu planning. We started the evening off with the eggplant tonnato from New Year’s and continued with the red pepper soup from above.
A reworking of the Christmas dinner calamaretti filled with lamb merguez sausage, replacing the sweet potato puree with the carrot hummus idea from the roast above. Also kept the tentacles this time and did a quick “salt and pepper fried” version to add some texture to the dish.
Slightly too large slabs of roasted pork loin served over more spicy black eyed peas as we made for New Year’s, also the rosehip jam glazed roasted beet. The sauce, as with the previous roast, a reduction of the cooking juices, this time with white wine, and finished with spicy mustard and butter.
A minor reworking of our apple cheesecake, moving the crust aside and cooking it like a chip – spiked with a little curry and cheddar cheese (here, the cheddar worked perfectly), bourbon caramel sauce and apple butter.
And, onto the last dinner for last week, no restrictions. First up the textures of tomato and red pepper soup.
Similar to the raviolo above, but I left the pasta plain and in lasagna-like sheets, two layers filled with the charred eggplant puree, topped with a saute of the smoked salmon, peas, cashews and some basil tossed in at the last minute and the whole thing drizzled with warm green lemon oil.
The main course, a panko crumb and parsley crusted fillet of corvina, “drum” or “croaker”, served over a rich roasted carrot puree, a saute of chinese cabbage with shichimi spice, and topped with our kiwi relish.
Finished the evening off with another apple cheesecake.
Whew! Breathing space. Sort of. Back into the kitchen to start a string of four dinners for this week.