Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wednesday Night Supper

As I mentioned in my previous post my college buddy George is in town visiting from Los Angeles. We have been on a culinary tear, running wild in a frenzy of gastronomic tourism. Some of the highlights were the Fatty Crab, a magnificent Malaysian place downtown, and Tempo in Park Slope. Brooklyn is a borough that I am discovering slowly but surely, gradually checking out the neighborhoods, restaurants, and bars the city has to offer. George and our other college friend Shawna went to Tempo after a mutual friend suggested it. The restaurant boasted an Italian menu with New American hints, super casual and quaint with a staff insanely attentive to detail. The three of us had a lovely meal and I would definitely go back. The night before our evening out in Park Slope I cooked the second of the dinner parties thrown in George’s honor. The first course was a frisee salad with cara cara orange, powdered hazelnuts, and citrus vinaigrette. Cara cara are a new strain of oranges that are sweeping produce aisles with a floral sweetness and beautiful golden cast.

The second course was a large platter of zucchini with olive oil and mint. I have had variations of this dish many times in Italy and Mediterranean restaurants. Grilled zucchini is a principal component of Italian antipasto plates and Greek cuisine features dishes like fried zucchini with yogurt sauce. I cut very thin slices with my trusty mandoline and then arranged them on a baking dish with a little olive oil. At first I thought to grill them but that would have taken up too much stove space so I broiled them until they were nicely browned. I finished the zucchini with a drizzle of Spanish olive oil, pink Hawaiian sea salt for color and flare, and a sprinkle of fresh mint. The flavors were light and flavorful, with little manipulation of the inherent flavor of the zucchini.

The main course was boneless Rib-eye steak with my version of Chimichurri sauce. Chimichurri is a sauce and marinade for grilled meat originating from Argentina. The sauce is commonly served at Brazilian and other South American restaurants along with huge slices of steak cut by waiters laden with pounds and pounds of beef. The Chimichurri of Argentina is traditionally made from parsley, garlic, vegetable oil, white or red vinegar, and chili flakes with additional spices depending on the chef’s personal or regional tastes. My version consisted of parsley, oregano, tarragon, capers, olive oil, sherry vinegar, and kosher salt mixed in the Cuisinart. My sauce was a bit thicker than the traditional Argentinean one and had more of a Mediterranean kick though the herbal flavor and acidity were there. I pan roasted the steak to medium rare, pink and toothsome, and topped thick slices with Chimichurri sauce. We passed around an additional bowl of the heady sauce to munch with the tender steak. I served some beautifully browned roasted shallots alongside the meat. These roasted shallots are incredibly simple and wonderfully palatable. Just toss whole peeled shallots with a little olive oil and kosher salt and roast in an earthenware dish for about a half hour until crisp and tender.

As those of you following Pomander Saveur know by now, I hardly ever make desserts. The idea of baking or working with sweets slightly terrifies me. I feel that patisserie is best left to the professionals; way too much of an exact science and high margin of error. I rarely eat desserts, which is another reason why I am not inclined to make them. This was a rare exception. I macerated some raspberries and blueberries in aged balsamic and honey to draw out the juices and create a luscious syrup. The yogurt was mixed with maple syrup and a touch of both cinnamon and nutmeg to sweeten and intensify the dessert. I would say this is the first spring dinner of the year; hopefully the weather will agree and let loose the sunshine. The casual supper was a big hit and all the flavors, textures, and tastes were right on par with what I hoped. I think George was impressed and would gladly come back to town to get another meal at my pad. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

1 comment:

George said...

gladly come back? nail that down as a definite