Monday, January 26, 2009

Friendly Get Together

This week I have unfortunately not had very much time to cook. I have been busy with work and also profiting from the winter installment of New York Restaurant Week. During this weeklong gastronomic bonanza over two hundred New York area restaurants feature three course lunches and dinners priced at $28 and $35 respectively. It is a wonderful chance to eat at some of the better restaurants in the City on an average budget. Last week my good friend Nick was in town and as I have mentioned we love to cook together and discuss all things food. After reminiscing about the holidays we decided to cook a mostly vegetarian meal in order to detox from the rich foods we had been eating. We invited our mutual friend Jessica to the party and sat down to a tasty meal driven mainly by fresh vegetables. Nick prepared a savory French mayonnaise-less potato salad that is one of my favorite recipes borrowed from Nick’s mother. The warm potato salad is made with boiled Russian banana potato’s that have been cut in half and soaked in a bit of chicken stock and white wine. Nick added a bit of crispy sautéed pancetta cubes, scallions, and a ton of freshly chopped parsley and tarragon to the hot potatoes. He tossed all the ingredients with a generous amount of vinaigrette made with Dijon, champagne vinegar, and olive oil. This is one of my favorite potato dishes period and is a perfect accompaniment for fish, meat, game, and even sandwiches or cold finger foods. 

I prepared one of my favorite dishes that I cook fairly often for myself when I feel like eating something fresh and healthy with little effort. I roughly chopped some fresh kale and sautéed it in a hot pan with a bit of olive oil. After the kale had begun to wilt I added a splash of water to create some steam, some red chili flakes, and about a half a cup of reconstituted golden raisins. I plated the mixture and topped it with freshly grated black pepper and pecorino. The spicy fibrous greens pair so well with any nutty cheese and the sweetness of the plump raisins compliments the slight bitterness of the kale nicely. We finished the meal with a large green salad of Boston lettuce and radicchio before I launched into the dessert. 

I went on a tear through the refrigerator and pantry before assembling a ragtag group of ingredients that I hoped to throw together into some sort of sweet treat. I found a ball of pie dough that Valerie had left from her pie baking extravaganza, some vanilla ice cream, and a small jar of cranberry sauce leftover from Christmas. I baked a tray of small circular cookies from the dough and topped each with a different condiment to make three types; raspberry, butter-maple, and hazelnut. I placed three cookies on each plate with a scoopful of ice cream and a drizzle of orange-cranberry reduction for dramatic effect. Everyone was impressed that I threw together such a seemingly complex dessert and were delighted to end the meal on a sweet note. Nick and I always throw together delicious meals and this was no exception. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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