Monday, June 22, 2009

Dinner And A Strange Movie

The mood to cook struck me mightily this morning brought on by an inspiring meal. To celebrate my spark of inspiration I invited my friend Jessica over for dinner; a big time foodie that knows her shit in the kitchen. Last night I had dinner at Gennaro, a local cash only Italian joint that serves up incredible food with a lengthy list of evening specials that rotate constantly. By the time you have fallen in love with a seasonal dish it is off the menu and replaced by something equally intriguing. The meal was, and always is, truly memorable and I thought it would be fun to replicate some of the highlights for Jessica before we sat down to a movie. The first course we had at Gennaro was a watermelon and creamy goat cheese salad; a little treat to wet the palate served with crusty bread and peppery olive oil. I basically followed the same general idea for our first course this evening, crumbling Coach Farms goat over watermelon cubes drizzled with quality olive oil, Hawaiian pink sea salt, and thyme. This is a really tasty summer salad that is a snap to prepare and even easier to eat an entire plate of.

The second dish of the three that really blew me away at dinner last night was the grilled shrimp salad, a tasty dish that blurred the lines between hot and cold appetizer. The salad had corn, bell peppers, avocado, and plump charred shrimp all tossed in a perfectly acidic vinaigrette. It really was a triumph for a relatively minimal dish and I could not wait to try it at home. I made a simple vegetable ragout by sautéing sweet corn kernels with roasted red peppers, shallots, and olive oil. Instead of grilling my shrimp they were tossed with olive oil and sea salt then flashed in a skillet. The prize ingredient in my shrimp salad was the salad itself, the micro greens harvested upstate at my mother’s own Red Hen Farm. The prized mix was baby mesclun with chive blossoms, cilantro, and curly parsley all grown organically and driven down to the city with care by my loving mother. The sweet corn, hot shrimp, and spicy salad with herbal hints throughout really made the dish spectacular, almost but not quite as good as last night. I should have added avocado, everybody loves avocado.

The third dish I used to inspire my movie night meal with Jessica was something that I have never ordered personally but always looks and sounds amazing; baby lamb chops with broccoli rabe and roasted potatoes. The side dishes I could do without but baby lamb chops are a thing of beauty. It really is the best part of the lamb although a good leg of lamb or shoulder is hard to beat. I had wanted to grill lamb chops but the price was exorbitant to say the least and quickly swayed me in favor of a boneless leg of lamb. The piece was thick enough to sear and then roast in a hot oven with a nice layer of fat surrounding it. That is exactly how I cooked it after a quick marinade in olive oil, thyme, garlic, and salt. The meat was more tender in some places than others therefore a few thin slices layered on a plate was the ideal way to serve it. Instead of broccoli rabe and potatoes, I piled the sliced lamb on a bed of wilted chard and topped the dish with a dollop of curry-mint yogurt sauce. My dinner was very good and Jessica was happy but I don’t think I hold a shade to the fine food of Gennaro. The film we watched after we stuffed our bellies was Scottish and very weird about a teenage boy that is a voracious peeping Tom and hardcore mama’s boy. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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