I made a birthday dinner for my shellfish-centric pescatarian friend. I absolutely love vegetables and shellfish so this would be no glitch at all. The first course was a refreshing heirloom tomato gazpacho made with a mixture of heirloom tomatoes blended up with Perisan cucumbers, red peppers, garic, sherry vinegar and unfiltered extra virgin olive oil. Before serving I garnished the soup with diced tomatoes, red and green peppers, cucumber, chives and a final drizzle of meyer lemon olive oil and sherry vinegar. I loved the sweetness of the tomatoes and the tang of the vinegar in the chilled soup.
Second course was straight up fries and aioli. My friend loves French fries so I did a twist on the classic by frying up sweet potatoes and dusting them with ras el hanout when they came out the oil. I realized ten minutes before my guests were arriving that I forgot to make aioli for the fries so I had to cheat and serve mayo with grated garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice. I used Greg Malouf’s recipe for ras el hanout which included cardamom and fennel seeds which added such a unique kick to the spice mixture. The ras el hanout mixtures I’ve made previously did not contain them. It was delicious on the sweet potato fries even though the fries did not come out as crispy as I wanted them to. Anyone have tips on making crispy sweet potato fries?
For the main course I went with gigantic shrimps marinated with chermoula, a marinade I am getting very addicted to. The lemon juice and olive oil really brings a nice zing to the spice mixture. I cooked the giant shrimps in a parchment pack along with half moons of zucchini and couscous with pistachio and herbs. When I opend up the parchment pack at the table the steam carried out the savory aroma of the chermoula shrimps out to the diners.
I did a complete flop and accidentally served the cheese course after dessert but here is where it’s supposed to be. I went this whole season without eating a single fig and I was mourning my loss when I came across a small batch at Whole Foods. A small part of my guilt washed away and I was able to serve these sweet beauties with the creamy fourme d’ambert along with honey comb.
The birthday boy loves cheese cake but instead of making that I ran with the idea of cream cheese as the star ingredient. So I had a go at cream cheese fritter using a ricotta fritter recipe as the blueprint. But they came out too dense and I should have thinned the batter a bit with milk but I wasn’t thinking on my feet too quickly. I served the fritters on top of wine syrup I made by reducing a bottle of pinot noir with sugar, cinnamon stick, white peppercorns, and lemon juice to which I added a few tablespoons of Frog Hollow’s cherry conserve.
I served Grof Degenfeld’s Tokaji Furmint, a light and fruity Hungarian white, with the meal. Here is Alder Yarrow’s Vinography review since I am bad with describing wine:
Pale green-gold in the glass, this wine has a waxy nose with subdued but juicy aromas of starfruit. In the mouth it offers nice flavors of unripe apple and starfruit, combined with a slightly waxy quality. Unfortunately the wine doesn’t possess quite as much acidity as it should in my opinion, which makes it fall a little flat on the palate, despite delicious flavors.
I was actually looking for Velt. 1 Gruner Veltliner but it wasn’t in stock and I was pointed in the direction of this lovely Hungarian white as a substitution. With food, wine and conversation flowing I think my friends had a great time and left very satisfied. I had a great time cooking this meal.