Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Week of Cooking Dangerously -- Part 1 -- Office Party

After a year-end burst of blogging, I have been too lazy to post for the first couple of weeks of the year. But I have just completed a week of furious cooking, with some  highs and lows worth discussing.

Apple Tart Mémé
Last Sunday night I prepared dinner for the wonderful team at Joan's gallery, an annual event. The centerpiece was to be slow-cooked lamb shoulder over pommes boulangères. For some reason, everything went wrong, starting with the fact that the lamb shoulder I had ordered turned out to be a different cut altogether. I called Citarella to do an exchange, but the correct meat arrived too late for true falling-off-the-bone texture that this the essence of the recipe. It tasted okay but after 5 1/2 hours had not reached the desired stage and had to be served.

I then put way too little flour in the dough for my apple tart, but managed to salvage it by careful surgery once it was in the tart shell.

Hors d'oeuvres consisted of smoked sturgeon and smoked ricotta sprinkled with dill over German style super-multi-grain bread that I bought from She-Wolf Bakery. Even on a bad day, I couldn't screw this up.

Smoked sturgeon and smoked ricotta crostini
I did, however, screw up the shrimp that I steamed in Old Bay Seasoning and served with sriratcha mayonnaise: overcooked! And I also managed to drop a beautiful Baccarat flute filled with champagne soon after the guests arrived.

The appetizer was my beet and turnip salad with Alain Passard's unbelievably complex and delicious honey lime vinaigrette aigre-doux. The beets took twice as long as expected, did not peel easily and generally were a nightmare, but the final result was fine.

Beet and turnip salad with mesclun and vinaigrette aigre-doux
The aforesaid lamb was not bad but I was so mad at it that I didn't make a photo.

There followed a cheese course consisting of spectacularly pungent vieux cantal from 2012 that I brought back from France on New Year's Day, served with walnuts and Spanish fig cake to cut the divine rotten taste and aroma of the cheese.

Super old Cantal with walnuts and fig cake
Finally, Jacques Pépin's Apple Tart Mémé, pictured above, was fine even if the crust was really really thin.

Most important, the company was great and the event a success despite my messes.

So I managed to overcome my demons for the most part, but not as well as Shoki, the Japanese mythological demon-queller, would have done). A challenging day that ended well.

Bobby Jay

No comments: