Saturday, June 30, 2012

Crisp, June 29, 2012

Inspired by my latest catering event, I decided to hold another Crisp dinner, address unknown. You know you can be invited, but it is by invitation only.

I quickly went back to look at past menus for inspiration. I knew that although I was repeating a menu, the results would be very different. As a chef, and someone who has no formal training, every time I make a dish, it's never the same dish twice: it's sometimes better, sometimes the same, but always fun to make. As many of you know, I don't like following structured recipes, and I always add new, unexpected ingredients---I'm like a mad scientist in her lab!

Ten people immediately signed up for this dinner. The group was interesting, with a touch of international flair. We had a couple, newly arriving in Albany, originally from Uruguay, and recently from Marseilles, France. They were delightful and I was excited to meet them. 

There was also Wayne, originally from Kenya, whom my husband fell in love with immediately, and a group of four friends whom I haven't caught up with in a while: Monica, Kim, Lisa P. and two of her friend, and Andrea.

I love it when an eclectic group comes to the table to enjoy a good meal and share lively stories. It was a lovely evening.

The menu was Moroccan-inspired. Here is what was served.

zitoun bil hamed
warm olives with lemon and herbs

burtuqal salatha
organic baby spinach topped with fresh and dried fruit, served with an orange blossom dressing  

Main course:
kseksou bidawi
Moroccan seven veggie with quinoa, seasoned with turmeric, paprika, saffron, cinnamon, and coriander. Served with harissa (hot chili paste). 

rozz bil hleebsweet rice pudding served with dried fruit pastries (figs, dates, and almonds rolled in filo).

Mamma Q's B-day, June 9, 2012

I was approached by my friend and famous dancer Kitty "Bang Bang" Halloway. Her parents were coming from Boston to celebrate Mamma Q's B-day. Kitty was looking to have an intimate day, with a group of 20, at the farm where she and her beau live. 

My first question for creating the menu was, "What is Mamma Q's favorite food?" The response: lobster. The task: How do I feed 20 people lobster without it costing an arm and a claw? Mission accomplished. Here is what the menu entailed:

Lobster Bruschetta: fresh tomatoes, corn, shallots, avocado, lemon juice, and steamed lobster chunks on toasted bread.

Arugula Salad: arugula, roasted fennel, carmelized shallots, tomatoes, and radishses with a light vinaigrette dresssing.

Ratatouille: eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, fresh herbs served with polenta squares.

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream: made with agave and Green & Black organic dark chocolate served with fresh fruit.

I was honored to be among this great group of people. Happy birthday, Mamma Q!

Mamma Q and Jonathan