Sunday, October 17, 2004

A “Relaxed” Dinner in New York

In the end it all came together – it was fun, it was beautiful, and most of all it was delicious. But relaxed? No. Bob, Chuck and I made most of the dishes featured in the October/November Fine Cooking article, “A Seattle Chef’s Relaxed Menu” last Sunday while my parents and I were visiting with Bob and Chuck in New York. Because of other plans we had for the weekend we weren’t able to do some of the advance preparations suggested in the article, so Sunday evening got a little crazy. My parents are used to eating around 5:00, but our dinner was on the table at a fashionably late 8:30.

We started with the “Homemade Bianco with Icy Grapes” which is Sauvignon Blanc wine infused with rosemary, mint and lemon zest and served over frozen red globe grapes. This was the recipe that had originally caught my eye in the article. My mom usually drinks her wine with ice because she likes it very cold. I thought this was such a clever and attractive presentation – the frozen grapes keep the wine chilled (at least for a little while) without diluting it. We didn’t make the perperonota, but Bob served several different cheeses with the wine including an aged Gouda that was really wonderful.

The “Mustard-Crusted Roast Chicken” was simple, delicious, and completely stressed us out. First there was the matter of finding space in Bob and Chuck’s NYC-sized refrigerator for two chickens to sit uncovered and coated in mustard paste for several hours. Then we had to figure out how to fit them both in the oven at the same time. Finally, there was the problem of deciding when the chickens were done. We used a thermometer to measure doneness, but had little confidence that we were doing it correctly. Somehow when we finally decided they were done (the second time), they were perfectly cooked.

As sides, we had Bob’s unbelievably rich mashed potatoes and the “Warm Green Bean, Pancetta & Tomato Salad with Parmesan”. Part of the salad prep had been done earlier, but cooking the beans and preparing the hot dressing were to be done at the last minute. Earlier that day Chuck had been visiting my blog and saw the comment that Michael left. He warned that the dressing explodes when the vinegar mixture is added to the warmed fat and oil. We were glad to have the heads-up. Chuck very carefully prepared the dressing and fortunately there were no explosions.

Everyone was very hungry by the time dinner was finally served, but it was worth the wait. The table was beautifully set and the food was delicious. We finished up with the “Cornmeal Rosemary Cake with Pine Nuts & Orange Glaze”. I love corn meal, and had been looking forward to trying this recipe. It has an unusual touch – blanched rosemary leaves are mixed into the orange glaze. The cake was as lovely to look at as it was to eat.


Reid said...

Hi Cathy,

I was so excited by all of this. I'm glad it was a success even though you were a bit stressed during the preparation of the food! I guess the "relaxed menu" bit is because the article was probably written by a chef with a huge kitchen and lots of time to prepare. Nice job!

Anonymous said...

Yum, it all sound so good, especially that cake! The 5:00 dinner turned 8:30 instead is (unfortunately) a common experience for me. Things always take so much longer than you think they will! Congrats to you all for such a wonderful meal and overcoming the NYC kitchen space dilemma.


Cathy said...

Hi Reid - Thanks! I'm sure you're right about the chef with the huge kitchen!

Thanks Alice! It's a common occurrence for me as well. Any time a magazine or cookbook gives the prep time required, I can count on it being two or three times that!

Brian W said...

A thought about the chickens, for future reference: Maybe if you butterflied the chickens, you could flatten them and stack them on top of each other in the fridge!

(Your whole meal looks absolutely delicious! I really like your photos!)

Cathy said...

Brian - thanks so much! What a great idea! I've never butterflied a chicken, but it seems like a skill that would be worth learning!