April: April is May

April 19, 2009

Evidence: Lunch, April 23, 2008

Evidence: Lunch, April 23, 2008

Because of scheduling conflicts, April’s dinner will actually take place May 2. Looking back at years past, we had asparagus by then, but this spring’s been chilly and there’s no sign of it yet. The menu so far is heavy on the spring produce, and I’m going to be a bit screwed if I can’t get my paws on any.

Normally I only start to get stuff a few weeks into the season because while I love food, I love sleep more, so I’m not one of those 8 am greenmarket people. I’m willing to do that to make this dinner work, though. Only two weeks for the sparegus to sprout. It’ll be a nailbiter. Developing…

March: Prep

March 29, 2009

Ruggles helps with the tester rib

Ruggles helps with the tester rib

Sorry I haven’t been around, internet. I was on vacation, but this month’s dinner happened nonetheless. I’m feeling sort of proud of myself, because despite two major mishaps, I neither got all frustrated nor threw anything out. Maybe I’m getting better at this stuff?

The menu changed quite a bit since the last post. It’s difficult, like I said before, because March is just crap in terms of stuff in season. No spring foods, but the winter foods are gone (case in point: originally, I wanted the salmon dish to be with pomegranate seeds, and I went to every store I could think of and no pomegranates. Guess they just ended. Nertz!)

So yes, the first big issue was the lack of poms. My idea was to have them in with the salmon to kind of look like roe and pop like roe, but be sweet. I thought it would go well with the ceviche-style salmon cubes, but now I will never know.

stripey!

stripey!

I ended up just doing avocado chunks, which is much less interesting and kind of cliche, but I’d already invested in this lovely hunk of fish and I only had three hours till dinner so I had to think fast.

The other major issue was this:

I don’t know what I was thinking with this plan. I had made these chipotle chocolate cakes before so I knew how dense and pudding-y they were. The idea was to do a dessert about spiciness, so I wanted ginger and chili to come together in a sweet way. I was going to make ginger pastry cream and bake the cakes with holes in the bottoms, so I could hide the pastry cream under the cake and it would be a little surprise.

prep: broccoli marrow bones

prep: broccoli marrow bones

Any smart person would’ve baked and unmolded the cakes, then cut a hole, but instead I had some weird idea to bake them with little cups in them, take the cups out, unmold, and have these perfect cakes-with-holes. Of course I got a messy wad of sticky cake.

I ended up mashing the cake into plastic wrap, putting down a blob of pastry cream, them using the plastic to make a little orb. Kinda ugly, but not terrible.

Frank does his duty

Frank does his duty

The only other real challenge was that I was doing this short rib dish I couldn’t taste (since I don’t eat land animals.) Frank was kind enough to help out in that department, and I think everything was okay.

The sous vide machine worked awesome, and all in all this was the least stressful, yet in some ways best, of the dinners so far. Am I jinxing myself to say I might be figuring some of this stuff out? No doubt. Stay tuned for dinner pictures…

So after some reflection and bouncing off of ideas, I think for now the menu looks sorta like this, which is similar to what I posted yesterday, for obvious reasons (and theses are not in order yet):

Raw fennel salad with candied blood orange and olive puree

Brussels sprouts custard (bite-sized) with roasted Brussels sprouts leaves

Citrus cured salmon dice (tartare? ceviche? cevitare?) with pomegranate seeds and fennel fronds

Cauliflower miso mustard puree, pickled red cabbage with mustard seeds, fried (or sv?) quail egg

Pimenton-infused carrot cube with carrot-lemon-cumin broth and a candied carrot curl

Broccoli “marrow bone” filled with cheesy broccoli puree, roasted broccoli salad with raisin vinaigrette, shaved raw broccoli

Rancho Gordo flageolet beans with bacon, red onion confit, sv short rib, and kale chips (no I will not be eating this course. Frank is tasting the tester for me.)

Dessert will be some combination of chocolate, chilli/pepper, and ginger

So now testing shall commence. I definitely need to try out the whole meat dish. I am sort of torn about it, because I’m doing all that work and I don’t even get to find out if it tastes good, but I’m curious about trying more meat cookery. I hope Frank has good suggestions. I will probably try the cauliflower egg dish in its entirety because I have leftover puree, the Brussels sprouts definitely, the carrot cube definitely, and the rest I’m not sure.

It’s weird because if I were charging money for this, or if I were in any way a professional, I’d test all of the dishes a bunch of times, but I’m not and I’m not and I don’t really have the resources to test and fix everything. Sometimes I regret only having one time to make everything and never improve on each individual dish. Ah well. Hopefully guests’ll like it anyway.

March: Menu Planning

March 2, 2009

planning planning

planning planning

Like I said before, there is nothing exciting in season in March. The winter stuff is gone, and we’ve got at least a month until ramps and asparagus show up. My thoughts with this one is doing a sort of last gasp of winter. Here are some flavor combinations I’m thinking about:

cauliflower miso mustard puree with pickled red cabbage and quail egg

pimenton-infused carrot cube with frothy lemon carrot broth and candied carrot

broccoli “marrow bone” with roasted broccoli salad and raisin dressing, shaved raw broccoli

small dice salmon cured in citrus with pomagranite seeds

Brussels sprouts custard with roasted Brussels sprouts leaves

fennel salad with candied citrus and olives

something with Rancho Gordo flageolet beans, onion confit, toasted kale chips–maybe a meat course?

escargot?

I’ll keep you posted…

March: Setting the Date

February 25, 2009

Pining for summer produce.

Pining for summer produce.

March’s is dinner is officially on for the 28th. Plenty of time to plan, though I’ll be gone the weekend before at SXSW. Whoo! Anyway, March sort of sucks, in terms of ingredients. All that there is at the market right now are old apples and sad, withery parsnips. We don’t usually start getting spring food until April, and even the citrus is kind of petering out. I’m still debating doing a meat-based dinner and not eating with the guests. We’ll see. DEVELOPING!