Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cooking Up A Storm

I'm not sure how it quite came about but I have been having one cooking event after another for the last week or so.  A week ago Saturday, we had our friends Cabinet Lady and Dr. Debbie over for an Asian meal.  The next day on Sunday, I did a custom retirement party dinner for good friend Agent W.  On Tuesday lunch time I had two of my business colleagues over for a 'Euro' style lunch.  And just yesterday I did another Pewter Chef impromptu meal in Santa Fe that I had auctioned off at a charity event.  The details

Introduction to Asian Dinner

Neither Cabinet Lady or Dr. Debbie have had much experience with Asian cooking.  Ever since we got the new gas cook top and brought the trusty infomercial wok out of retirement, I've been cooking Asian with a passion.  We had arranged this meal the last time the two of them visited just before we had left for Europe. The meal was focused on two dishes that I had done when I had my last Pewter Chef dinner in January.  I prepared some pot stickers (pan fried dumplings) as the first course, then two fish dishes - a Cambodian Fish Amok and a Chinese style fish with noodles flavored with a fermented tofu.

Cabinet Lady loves making cocktails and wanted to know if a blood orange Margarita would qualify as Asian.  I said it does now.

CL really gets into her cocktail making 

All of the ingredients for my two dishes.  Starting from the bottom:
Shitake mushrooms and Napa cabbage for the noodles
Garlic, ginger, scallions, and cilantro - flavorings for the noodles
Carrots and green pepper for the Amok
Fish for both dishes
Along the back right various flavorings - coconut milk, shrimp paste, fermented tofu, homemade Amok paste, fish sauce.

Cambodian Fish Amok

Chinese style Fish Noodles

Retirement Dinner

As I was unable to make Agent W's official retirement party, I asked her if I could do a custom meal for her...and I would bring everything to her house!  Because of scheduling and already having committed the Saturday evening to CL & DD,  we made this a big Sunday lunch.  Agent W's special request was for Chicken Marsala.  The Marsala preparation (be it the original veal or chicken as is more common nowadays because of cost) has never been one of my favorites because it is usually sweet as a result of the Marsala wine.  But when I researched the recipe, I found it called for dry Marsala.  I didn't even know they had dry Marsala.  I was fortunate to be able to find it at our local Total Wines.  What a difference it made in the dish.  Now I know why it is such a classic.

All the prep before leaving to go to Agent W's

In the first picture is pre-cooked Fennel, grated cheese, and Escarole with garlic and olive oil

Strawberries, Chicken broth, Pounded flat chicken breasts

Home made pasta

Then it was off to the Agent W secret hideaway

Gaius Derf evidently lost status somewhere along the way in the Agent W hierarchy and was assigned to sous-chef duties

Fennel final cut for the Baked Fennel and Cheese

Plated Baked Fennel with the Escarole in olive oil and garlic

On to the Main Course

Cooking up the Chicken Marsala

Plated with the fresh pasta
(needed some kind of more colorful garnish don't you think?)

Happy Agent W in Chicken Marsala bliss

The Dessert

Eggs and sugar being whipped for Sabayon (a wine custard)

Whoa - trying too much wine

Strawberries with Sabayon

The Business Lunch

(Sorry no pictures for the last two)

I told my colleagues that if I was going to make lunch for them, I was going to serve wine and they should have nothing planned for the rest of the afternoon.  This we did even though it was a Tuesday.  They came at 1 PM and left at 4:30.  That's the way to do lunch!  I made a salmon salad with roasted salmon, home made aioli (garlic mayonnaise), fennel, hearts of palm and capers.  I also had a fusion frittata with cabbage/onion Amok flavored filling.  There cheeses from the Netherlands and tomatoes with olive oil and fresh oregano.  Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine) was the accompaniment. 

The Pewter Chef Meal

The guests brought three proteins - ground beef, pork tenderloin, and a whole chicken.  There were fresh green beans, a variety of berries and brown rice.   I made:
  • Moroccan inspired grilled beef sausages with a cucumber/yogurt sauce
  • Pork Tenderloin Escalopes with a wine/cream and caramelized green beans
  • An Old Style Chicken Fricassee with Gewurztraminer wine and fresh rosemary served with brown rice
  • Fresh Berries with Sabayon (yes, yes, yes I know I just did that but this group didn't have it)
Probably time to take a break!


Renee Michelle Goertzen said...

Yum! I love sabayon. I'm surprised you're not exhausted after all the cooking. You treat your friends well.

Xani said...

All looks delicious! I am a big fan of the "Kitchen Crash" as we call it- preparing/serving a meal at friends' houses. This is especially good for socializing w/friends w/young kids, who get put to bed at home and then the parents are free to enjoy the evening w/o rushing home to a babysitter. But I have learned to bring ALL supplies w/me- the friend's kitchen is never as well stocked as mine! Also I am lucky to have Dave serve as a dishwasher- i cook, he cleans, friends relax!

Tim said...

AMOK !!!

alexis said...

wow, what a cook-a-thon!

and omg, Xani, I LOVE this idea! Now I just need to get some friends to do this for me. LOL. Although next best is to have people to our house.

Agent W said...

What a fabulous dinner, Chef de-I! I am one happy retired lady now!! Grazie!

Pulisha said...

Yum! And congrats to Agent W on her retirement!!