Tag Archives: polenta

Dinner Party

16 Nov

Last night I played chef for 2 of my favorite clients. They asked me to go with them to a friend’s house to make dinner. I didn’t have much time to plan, so I kept the menu simple. A classic combination of French and my own personal flare. I love making things that are fresh and flavorful, but not overcomplicated. Here’s the menu:

Cheese Course
Le Coutances and Foi Epi with apples and French bread

Appetizer
French Onion Soup

Dinner
Honey Mustard Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Ratatouille and Creamy Polenta

Dessert
Classic lemon crepes with ginger cream

I wanted to start with French Onion simply because it’s classic, and easily turned vegetarian. With one client being vegetarian, I wanted to make something that wouldn’t make her feel like she was having a different meal than everyone else. French Onion Soup is typically made with beef stock and is not veggie friendly, but my version is. I substitute mushroom and vegetable stock to maintain the intensity of flavor that French onion usually has. By adding dijon mustard instead of worchestershire sauce you get a delightful bright flavor without the extra saltiness that worchestershire sauce can sometimes bring to the party. Top the whole thing with buttery nutty guyere cheese and this is one flavorful vegetarian version of French Onion soup.

Dinner needed to have the same intensity of flavor that also had a fulfilling flavor in a vegetarian version. The polenta and ratatouille made a satisfying main course for my vegetarian client, and adding pork tenderloin medallions to the other dishes, made for a well rounded meal. I served the pork with a honey mustard sauce that was equal parts whole grain dijon mustard and clover honey. I cooked the pork to a perfect medium and then added the sauce sparingly. The pork was so perfectly cooked, I didn’t want to mask the flavor or the color of the meat.

The flavor that tied all the dishes together was thyme. Thyme in the soup and thyme in the ratatouille pulled both courses together. Someone once told me that repeated an ingredient in 2 courses was repetitive, and repeating them in 3 was a theme. But, I think that the thyme was so subtle that it didn’t come off as the same thing.

Dessert was very simple. Hand whipped cream with a 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, 1 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon, and 2/3 cup of powdered sugar. The cream was rich, but still light and refreshing. It was served on top of the lemon crepes. The crepes were made with a basic sweet crepe recipe and filled with a combination of lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar. The combination of lemon and ginger was a refreshing way to finish a meal of hearty flavors.

It was a great night. I had a lot of fun cooking and chatting with my clients. I hope to do it again soon.

Always thinking of the next meal.

-Katie

Inspiration in strange places

1 Aug

So tonight’s dinner was inspired by a classic drink, the Bloody Mary. I love taking flavors that I know work well together and making something completely original with it. So here’s the recipe:

IMG_0711

Bloody Mary Roasted Shrimp over Polenta

for the polenta-

1/2 cup white wine
1 cup water
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 cup polenta
2 tablespoons sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

for the shrimp-

1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup green beans
6 shrimp
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon horseradish
salt and pepper to taste

Start the polenta by bringing all the ingredients except the polenta and sour cream to a boil. Quickly wisk in the polenta and continue to wisk until the grains are cooked through. Wisk in the sour cream and season. Set aside and keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl toss the shrimp, beans, and tomatoes with the spices and hot sauce with a drizzle of oil. Roast the shrimp and veggies for 10-15 minutes or until the shrimp are opaque. Once the shrimp is cooked, toss with the horseradish and salt and pepper. Pour the polenta in a serving bowl and top with the shrimp and veggies. Serve hot…

I love making recipes like this one. It really does taste like a bloody Mary. The key ingredient is the celery seed. You can make this as spicy as you want… just add more hot sauce. The green beans in the dish came from the pickled beans that you sometimes get in a Bloody Mary. I guess you could use celery, but I’m a big fan of the beans. Next up… something inspired by a piña colada 🙂

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie