Friday, July 25, 2014

figs & prosciutto

This combination of figs and Prosciutto might be one of my favorite summer bites.
Quick to come together and easy to serve.  Every chef and cook I know is making some variation of this at this time of year. The only difficulty I usually have, is grabbing them at the Farmer's Market in the short window of time they are available. This summer it seemed they were only around for a couple of weeks - and only being sold by a few farmers. 
I, of course, scooped up whatever I could get my hands on and served them every chance I had. 

This appetizer started our most recent TK dinner.
I did some with Goat cheese and some with Parmesan cheese. I like both although usually I prefer the hard cheese. These were pan fried in the one non-stick pan I own (was just easier) Then finished with a drizzle of wildflower honey, fresh pepper and thyme.


Goat cheese or Parmesan cheese
Fresh thyme


Slice all the figs in half lengthwise.
Slice all your prosciutto so you have long thin pieces.
Pick your cheese then put a small piece right in the center of each fig.
Wrap each fig/cheese segment with Prosciutto.

Pan to medium/medium high heat.
Place several bites in the hot pan with the seam side down.
Doing this side first helps to keep the fig wrapped and everything looking pretty.
Cook just until the prosciutto is crisp. 
Then flip and cook the other side.
Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel.

When ready to serve, arrange as many pieces as you can onto your serving platter.
Drizzle with a scant amount of honey.
Add pepper then finish with the thyme leaves.


The following photo I am adding because these were the tiniest, cutest figs I've ever seen! Probably about the size of cippolini onions. So cute!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

TK dinner ~ July 2014

A while back I was told "you live a magic life". I can't remember who said this to me but I didn't really give it much thought beyond my reply of Thank You. Then this past weekend we had the monthly dinner and this photo was taken.

I have named this the Clown Car photo since it looks like "how many people can we cram into that itty bitty kitchen?!" And I love this moment. I can't tell you what was said, or what might have been so funny, but this was one moment during the dinner service where we all decided we needed to stop for two seconds and finish our laughter. Perfect. There have definitely been many moments in my life that I would wholeheartedly title "magic" - the above is one of them.
So, on to what we were all doing in the kitchen to begin with! 
July dinner was a larger group than normal with the usual amount of kitchen incidents and shenanigans.  (always shenanigans - see above photo)
We started the evening with little fig, prosciutto bites - some of these were stuffed with goat cheese and some had a little square of parmesan cheese. Finish with fresh thyme and a drizzle of wildflower honey.

Next were these little pluot crostini bites with ricotta cheese and basil. Nice and easy. Quick and simple.
We then served some fresh fruit before starting entree.
Main course for this meal were lamb chops served on a bed of greens. The greens were sauteed with onions, garlic and bacon. The lamb chops were seasoned with cumin, allspice and a lot of mint. DELICIOUS.
Confession time here - during the Sunday dinner I completely massacred one of the racks of lamb and of course THAT plate was served to the one person who photographed and posted to Facebook ( I cannot apologize enough to Greg for serving him such an ugly dish) The above photo is from the Thank you dinner I served last night to part of my kitchen staff. I guess it's sort of a redemption photo? Believe me, if you saw the original pic you would understand.
Anyway, the lamb chops were finished with pepper, sliced onions and cilantro.
With the lamb we served some roasted fingerling potatoes spiced with paprika.
We also had the most amazing looking red onion flowers.
These were gorgeous! And delicious. And super easy.

Finally dessert.
What can I say here? Have you ever made Piroulines?
I told everyone to enjoy these because they will most likely never see them in my kitchen again. Holy Hell! An entire day dedicated to rolling these little creatures. They were originally being served with chocolate mousse so I opted to not fill them - thought it might be too much richness. But, my stand mixer seems to be having some issues therefore chocolate mousse did not make an appearance. We had brownies instead.
Served the above brownie tart with raspberry coulis, some fresh berries and a semi-sweet chocolate sauce.
I did actually serve the Piroulines alongside the above. And they got rave reviews. And I sincerely hope everyone enjoyed them and knows where they might find them in their local grocery.

I mentioned above I had a little thank you dinner for part of my kitchen staff.
Here are a couple photos from last night. They totally deserved this. This is an awesome group of friends who tolerate me a great deal.
And the carcass.
I really love the carcass photo - it makes me happy to see people loved the meal.
I even made them the official dessert - sans Piroulines.

Now on to the next project right?

I know I say this every time - but I will get many of these recipes posted to share with all of you soon.

Tremendous Thank Yous to all the people who have been attending these dinners. It's sort of frightening and hugely humbling all at the same time. The response to these invitations blows my mind every time I send it out. Thank you.
And my absolute FAVORITE part? Standing in the kitchen and listening to all the chatter and tons of laughter floating in from the dining room. That part is magic.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

TK dinner ~ June 2014

Another dinner done. Whew!
We recently took a little trip to the Oregon coast and camped for a few days so I thought it would be fun to serve a few standard "camping fare" items at the next TK. 
Silly? Probably. 
Fun! Yes.

There was an oyster farm about ten minutes from our campsite, so of course, we had oysters. Two nights actually.
(i have ugly toes)

Tk dinner started with fresh oysters from Sunh Fish Market.

We had some raw, and then some with a sweet and spicy sauce. 
Add lemon and fresh parsley. 
Next up were the arancini with an lemon, asiago and pepper dip.

I then let everyone rest for a minute and we served a grilled pluot salad. The pluots were all over the farmers market this past weekend so I figured I should take advantage of them while I could - they are usually gone pretty quickly.
Here are the grilled pluots.

Here is the salad.

Thank you to elizabeth d. photography for this fantastic shot!

Entree this evening were mussels done with white wine and garlic (the usual) and served with slices of a spiced walnut bread.

There was also this lemon cinnamon butter to go with the bread.

Finally it was time for dessert.
We had been camping so of course s'mores had to make an appearance!

The s'mores above are homemade marshmallows rolled in graham cracker dust then drizzled with an orange, chocolate ganache.
Holy Hell.

I also made jello.

Or, you could call it a fresh peach and raspberry gelee.
I called it jello.

And that was IT. Whew!

By the way, I did do TK dinners in April and May.
April was all Korean food. May was a spin on some classic Cuban dishes. As soon as I locate the photos I will share those dinners.

Until next month...see you all soon!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

zucchini soup

It is hot. We do not have air conditioning in this house. I do not want to be in the kitchen. But then the new issue of Food & Wine shows up so here I go, into the kitchen. 

I had picked up a few zucchini from Hearty Fork Farm last weekend which I did not use during the last TK dinner event. And then today my neighbor left another bag of zucchini on my porch. 

How cute are my neighbors?

I've made a few recipes out of this issue already (for last weekends TK event) But decided I would share this soup recipe first. I know. I just said it is HOT and here I am making soup. Welcome to my addled little brain.

I imagine you can add whatever additional ingredients you love with your zucchini. I added lots of pepper, a dollop of sour cream and some fresh dill. I had a moment where I thought it should have a little cream in it and maybe some more spices, but then decided no, I enjoyed the purity of flavor and the uncomplicated ingredients list (and did I mention it is HOT in my house?)
And then a friend of mine said "it NEEDS bacon!" time.

recipe below adapted from July 2014 Food & Wine magazine

you will need:

tablespoon butter
couple tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion - diced
2 garlic cloves - thinly sliced
4 medium zucchini - washed, halved lengthwise and sliced into moons
2/3 cup vegetable stock
1 cup of water

for garnish:
julienned raw zucchini
sour cream
chopped fresh dill

to do:

In a medium soup pot, heat the butter and olive oil.
Add the onions and garlic.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
Cook until the onions are translucent.
Add the zucchini moons (see below)

Cook about ten minutes.
Add the vegetable stock and water.
Bring to a boil for five minutes.
Turn heat down to medium and simmer another ten minutes or so.

Remove from the heat.
Puree the entire thing - I used my immersion blender, but you can use a regular blender and just do it in batches.
Taste, then add more salt and pepper as desired.

Ladle into bowls, garnish and serve.