Sunday, October 16, 2011

The meal that was and the photos that weren't - updated

Last night's meal was fun to do, a lot of work, and the company was great. Part of my cooking journey is to have dinner guests that I would like to get to know better, making new acquaintances and gaining new friends. This weekend everybody had prior commitments and it appeared we would be only three for this huge meal. My friend Randy pursued it a bit, asking if I knew K and D. Yes, I said, I just met them Thursday night. He had their phone number. I rechecked old messages, and by the time we were through it was a full table of six as originally planned. Yay! Thanks, Randy. Fun lively dinner companions.

In fact, I had such a good time (or was very busy pulling the main course together) that I forgot to take any photos past the soup course.

Here we have the antipasto.

One bread dough made into a large loaf and a smaller one with olives. The olive bread is in the center with the cheeses. The other is on the sides with bruschetta. Two kinds of olives, salted pistachios, toasted almonds. We began with blood orange soda in champagne flutes and pinot grigio/pinot gris.

Here is the table.

And here is the butternut squash soup, wickedly containing whole milk and heavy cream. The fresh bit of thyme from the yard was described as the fly in the soup. "Are we supposed to eat the fly?" was the question.

The next course was stracotto, an Italian pot roast that was browned then braising in the oven for four hours. It was cooked with onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms, a can of diced tomatoes with their juice, chicken broth, beef broth, red wine, and a sprig of fresh thyme. As the meat rested I cooked down the liquid with a sprig of fresh rosemary (also from the yard), furiously reducing it to about one third. Omigod, the sauce on the meat was incredible. Served with a ladle of soft polenta, sautéed haricots verts, and sautéed mushrooms.

Dessert was blueberry gelato. I was going to make a sorbetto but did not have enough blueberry puree so I threw cream in and called it gelato. Served with cantucci.

Every course had some learnings, which is another reason I do this. I want to be a better cook with a wider repertory of dishes and techniques plus consistent results.

Very few leftovers but damn, we ate well.

Planning the next one in a fortnight.


Leftovers to the rescue. I had one large serving of leftovers from the main course and took it all to work today for lunch. I also took a dinner plate and my camera. So here is what the main course looked like (except on a harsh white formica background (sorry).

I must say, the stracotto recipe is a keeper. Dayumn, them's good eats! I must do this again.

And supper tonight is pure naughtiness, just dessert. Gelato di mirtilli con cantucci.

More came out of that dinner party. To be continued in the next post.

--the BB


Grandmère Mimi said...

Paul, I'm salivating on what you have pictured, especially the soup. I'm pleased you had a full table and passed a good time.

Cathy said...

Mmmmmm yummo me want to eat yummy meal too!!! (rubs tummy)

Lindy said...

Paul, your table looks fir for a Heavenly Feast.

Paul said...

Lindy, our friend Helen used to say, "Every meal is Eucharist."

Cathy said...

Paul, was the pot roast a Marcella Hazan number? ...

Gelato looks utterly delicious BTW!

wv - salogi - even the wv's sound tasty!

Paul said...

The pot roast was from Italian Classics by the folks who run "America's Test Kitchen" for Cook's magazine. The spend many pages discussing braising and cuts of meats. I may well post the recipe. It is so good.

Of course, I do have Marcella's Kitchen and her book on Classic Italian Cooking (the revised combination of her earlier two volumes).