The journey started on a recipe-testing kick I went on. I tested personal recipes and tried some holiday delicacies from Food and Wine, Gourmet and Bon Appetit. Here were some of my favorites:
Meyer lemon and shrimp fritto misto with a blackberry horseradish
Strawberry pistachio "Bon Bons" with a strawberry coulis
For breakfast the next morning, I tested my crepe-making skills and cleaned the fridge all in one sweep. I made crepes stuffed with pepper turkey and Swiss and topped it with the strawberry balsamic coulis I served with the bon bons.
Zucchini ribbons sauteed with lemon and garlic
Spiced pork tenderloin atop fried plantain chips with a pear and currant chutney
Deconstructed Asian shrimp salad with bok choy
Baked chicken with a wild rice stuffing
Eggs Benedict trio with a traditional hollandaise and asparagus
Radish salad with cilantro, scallions, queso fresco and a spicy lime vinaigrette
Two nights later, my chef business partner and I had two personal cheffing events- two cocktail parties back to back (one for 100, one for 45).
Skirt steak quesadillas with red onions, brie and a chimichurri
Spiced chicken kabobs with a romesco sauce
Assorted melons wrapped in prosciutto with a balsamic glaze
Vegetable spring rolls with a peanut siracha sauce and a wasabi aioli
Polenta with a tomato jam and fontina
The menu was delicious and so much fun to make. The spring rolls, in particular, were my favorite and are great vegetarian hors d'eouvres. For spring-roll-making first timers, the first few are the worst. Once you get a rhythm going, they are actually quite easy to make. Below is the recipes for my spring rolls.
Before beginning, have an assembly line ready with paper towels, veggies and spices to stuff the rice paper with. I chose julienned carrots, red cabbage, zucchini, blanched asparagus spears, a healthy dose of chopped cilantro, salt and red pepper flakes- that's it.
To get the hard rice paper pliable, soak it in hot water for a couple minutes then delicately dry between paper towels and lay flat. Arrange veggies, cilantro, salt and pepper flakes on the side closest to you. Then, carefully roll the end over the veggies, tuck the edges in like a burrito, then keep rolling to get the spring roll shape. The rice paper will seal itself.
Now, for the sauces...wasabi aioli and peanut siracha- so simple and flavorful. For the wasabi mayonnaise I mixed half a tube of wasabi paste (I like it hot), mayonnaise, a bit of olive oil, salt and chopped cilantro. For the peanut sauce....peanut butter, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, siracha, olive oil and soy sauce.
Salmon mousse atop cucumber rounds with chive
Turkey croquettes with a cranberry jalapeno salsa
Pulled chicken and brie phyllo with a balsamic glaze
Vegetable spring rolls with a wasabi aioli
Profiteroles with a strawberry coulis
Chocolate fondue with cayenne and cinnamon
Both parties were so much fun and all guests were pleased- another Christmas party this Saturday!
Last week I also spent a night in Dallas dining at Craft in the W and staying the night with a group at Hotel Zaza. Craft was overall pretty delicious and the service was impeccable.
I started off with a dirty Belvedere martini and the braised octopus with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette and white beans. The octopus was so tender- it cut like butter and the vinaigrette was a perfect accompaniment with the creamy white beans.
Next, we ordered the shaved fennel and blood orange salad with a chive vinaigrette. For me, there was too much fennel, not enough blood oranges and the vinaigrette lacked salt. I love fennel though so I didn't really care.
For the proteins, we went with the roasted rack of lamb and braised lamb shoulder and the Wagyu skirt steak. The braised shoulder was perfection and definitely trumped the roasted rack (too fatty) and Wagyu steak (flavorful, but not medium-rare as we requested).