Friday, February 1, 2019

What I've Been Cooking - 5

We had two small dinners in January, and I made some old favorites and some new dishes, too. I like to make something I am comfortable with when I have guests but also to experiment a bit; this way at least some will be good.

For Joan's old high school friend and his new wife, I made an eclectic meal. As an hors d'oeuvre, I served my own creation: sun-dried tomato, lemon zest and ricotta crostini on toasted baguette croutons.

Bobby Jay's sun-dried tomato and lemon zest spread
Although I rarely start with a salad, that night I served an appetizer salad inspired by one we had at Grüner, in Portland, Oregon. It consisted of thinly slice mushrooms, even more thinly sliced radishes, radish sprouts, arugula, lots of chopped dill and chives, parmesan slices, toasted pumpkin seeds and a pumpkin seed oil vinaigrette. Sounds like a lot is going on, but somehow it works.
Next up was Marcella Hazan's lamb stew with artichokes, a classic that I hadn't made in about ten years. Still excellent, with the subtle earthiness of the artichokes complementing the lamb perfectly. I served it over simple slow-cooked polenta, with roasted asparagus with almonds, capers and dill as a side.

Lamb stew with artichokes, polenta
For dessert, I tried apple tart Normande, based on a recipe from David Lebovitz' blog. It came out beautifully and tasted great, although it is a rather rich tart due to the addition of a fair amount of cream (hence "Normande").

Apple tart Normande
Later in the month, we had the assistant director of a major museum, who goes by the name Kintaro, for dinner. We had simple but elegant cauliflower soup from Food52 Genius Recipes, garnished with chopped pumpkin seeds and pistachio oil,

Cauliflower soup
followed by roast halibut with tahini-herb sauce (see post of January 30), accompanied by green beans sautéed with almonds and herbes de Provence.

After a simple salad with a hearty Caesar-like vinaigrette, I served a blackberry and raspberry batter cobbler, based on a recipe from Food52 Genius Desserts, which came out exactly as pictured in the book.

Blackberry and raspberry cobbler
Almost forgot that I made chocolate and coconut filled macarons mutines, slavishly following a recipe from Pierre Hermé, the king of macarons, for Joan to give to her clients and colleagues at The Winter Show, New York's premier art and antiques show, where she is an exhibitor.

Macarons mutines
These are really great! Making them is a great way to become popular, definitely worth the considerable effort they take.

Bobby Jay