Friday, November 12, 2010

A Night Full of Nuts... Oh and Food As Well

There is very little more that I could add to dinner #22 that Tamy has not mentioned in her previous post. In fact, I won't even give it a shot as she pretty much created a great example of how that night went down. The truth is that it was truly a night full of surprises and one for the record books. I have never laughed and cried so much in a very long time. And agreed, there are many variables and excuses that helped, but there is a lot to be said regarding group chemistry and energy. Call me esoteric or what you will, but there was some amazing energy in that room that night. It seemed as if everyone gathered around were long lost friends... all it took was half an hour to get to know one another and then all of a sudden friends were catching up on everyone's lives. BUT, none of the guest had ever meet each other, nor did they have anything in common, no shared thread. 8 people, completely different, but coming together in almost perfect harmony.

Energy, that inexplicable force that draws us together, the pure essence that we cannot see, nor taste, nor smell but we can feel it. That is how dinner #22 can best be defined... that plus the fact that we were all completely nuts!

And now for the menu:

3 Spreads on quinoa crackers.
- Spaghetti squash with pine nuts
- Smokey artichoke with pistachios
- Goat cheese and walnuts

Lamb kabobs with pistachios on a bed of almond basmati rice
Brussels Sprouts cooked in pancetta oil and honey

Warm chocolate cake with a serving of pecan/Madeira caramel

As I dish the spreads, I try to create some sort of design with the goat cheese and walnuts, only to realize that I probably would not make a great pastry chef. However it tasted delicious. 

I finally figured out a great recipe and use for the quinoa. About a month ago I tried to make quinoa cakes, which proved not as successful as I had envisioned. This time around I created crackers and they came out delicious. The (red and white) quinoa crackers are topped with almonds, accompanied by the three different spreads. The recipe is not that hard but a bit long for the crackers. If there is enough demand I will post the recipe here.
The raw kabobs just before they went on the grill. You can see the the pistachios all over the meat. The recipe is very easy straight forward, but we had secret ingredient that came straight from Greece. 2lbs of ground lamb with a cup of chopped up pistachios, salt, and the special spice mix (it included mint and marjoram). Mix all the ingredients together, then roll into separate pieces and place the stick through it as above. Grill the meat for about 10 minutes on medium high heat. Make sure to turn the meat continuously to make sure all the meat is cooked through.
The final presentation of the meat laying on a bed of basmati rice with almonds and brussels sprouts sauteed with pancetta and honey. The mix was very different but absolutely delicious. When preparing the brussels sprouts, make sure to cut them in half and peel off the top layer of leaves. The pancetta was cooked first in order to release all the grease. I removed the 4 pieces of pancetta sauteed the sprouts then added it back chopped up into tiny pieces for flavor.
The warm chocolate cake was a great finale to the dinner. What really made this plate special was the pecan/Madeira caramel that we served apart (but meant to mix together). This recipe is simple. 1 cup of Madeira wine and about 1/2 cup of sugar. Let the mixture boil down to a caramel. Add the pecans and let cool down a bit in order to get a smooth caramel texture.
And this is the nutty group! Thank you all for making this such an amazing night!
A very special call out to the wines of the night need to be made! The following were the top three wines of the night in no particular order:
An unfiltered white from the Alsace region of France. The Binner was Amazing!
An amazing red from Lebanon, yes I know Lebanon. Spectacular and full bodied. Chateau Musar
The Donati was the clear winner of the night. Nobody expects the flavors that come out of that bottle. Its somewhere in between a sparkaling white and a beer. Don't believe me? Get one at Frankly Wines!

1 comment:

  1. Tamy y Felipe, ustedes son lo máxmo.. los envidio.. la forma de compartir una pasión, de la manera más exquisita y divertida.. los sigo mucho y vivo muy pendiente de ustedes!! les mando un abrazo grande!!

    Rodrigo Lozano