I scraped together the few ideas I had and came up with this menu. I had planned a "Friday Night Bites" idea but I couldn't completely finish my other ideas and just tried to perfect 2 courses plus the dessert. I saw a picture of a dish that a chef made in a magazine called "Food Arts", it was a fancy scallop and micro greens dish that looked very fancy (no recipes in this magazine just ads for restaurants). I don't like scallops but tried to make a dish that looked similar with something else...and after much thinking I came up with a warm potato-leek salad. In the same magazine I saw a dish that had chicken legs with these really cool looking "orange rice balls". I imagined them to be like an arancine with saffron for color. The other component, Georgian Cilantro Sauce came from a pod-cast I was listening to called "The Splendid Table". There was a lady on the show raving about this sauce and so I had to make it. I thought the cilantro sauce would go nicely with the flavorful Hoisen chicken I thought of doing. Dessert was from the new Martha Stewart magazine, which was a Rhubarb Lattice Tart. To go along with the tart was an idea I got from a friend of a friend of a friend named Mara who is a vegan, she told me this way of making "ice cream", that I have to say is pretty amazing!!!!Warm Potato-Leek Salad with Sprouts and a Crispy Bacon Chip
I thought of slow braising the leeks, standing up on their ends, which I will have cut into 1-2 inch whole pieces. Then once they are melting-ly tender remove any tough outer layers and maybe fill some of the bigger tender rounds with mashed potatoes. I wanted something like a dressing but creamy, I thought a little cottage cheese seasoned with salt, pepper and thinned with a little milk (I used almond milk). I made a chive oil by going out to my back yard and grabbing a handful of fresh chives from the earth and using a small blender, I combined the chopped up chives with olive oil and salt, blend until a smooth bright green oil appears. So when plating I placed the previously braised leeks (some filled with potato) into my bowl, covered with aluminum foil and heated in the oven. Remove the foil and spoon some of the cottage cheese mixture around the leeks and drizzled some chive oil on top of that. I garnished the bowl with some watercress and some funky sprouts I found at Whole Foods (pea tendrils, lentils, chick pea and alfalfa). I pounded out some thick cut bacon and slow cooked them in to oven to make these really big but very thin "chips"...well they shrunk down to a regular looking piece of bacon (oh well), I placed the bacon along side the salad.
Braised Hoisen Chicken Thighs with Crunchy Saffron Rice Balls and Georgian Cilantro Sauce
I made a marinade with a jar of Hoisen sauce, a splash of white wine, a few garlic cloves minced, about the same of fresh ginger minced, Siracha hot sauce to taste and placed boneless-skinless chicken thighs in it for 9 hours. I took them out of the marinade letting as much excess marinade drip off as you can casually do. I seasoned them lightly with salt and pepper and cooked them in a few tablespoons of hot canola oil in an oven proof pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side, turn over and cook for another minute then cover the pan and into a 350 oven for 25 minutes. They were probably done but I took the cover off the pan and let them cook 5 more minutes just to brown the chicken slightly and reduce the sauce a bit. For the rice balls I made a risotto using Saffron and some Turmeric for an orange color. I rolled them and coated them with flour, egg wash and then Panko bread crumbs. Let them sit in the frig for at least 15 minutes to set the breading. I cooked them by deep frying them in canola oil just until browned, continue to heat them through for 5 more minutes in the oven if necessary. The Georgian Cilantro Sauce was from a pod cast called The Splendid Table and I put it on the plate as a sauce for the chicken and it worked perfectly.
Rhubarb Lattice Pie with Vanilla Bean "Ice Cream"
This lattice pie was in the Martha Stewart magazine June 2011. The rhubarb is out now in the markets and looked really good so I thought it was a good time to use it. I made the crust using Spelt flour, which I never did before, usually I use all purpose flour. Spelt is native to southern Europe and has been used for millenniums, with a nutty flavor its got more protein then wheat and its highly nutritious. I follow Jacques and Julia's recipe in there book "Cooking at Home". It was very good, it wasn't as light and delicate like with all purpose but it was still flaky and deeper in flavor and color. Now here is the big new thing...The "ice cream". Mara (from above) said..."cut up slices of bananas and freeze them in a single layer. Once frozen put them in a food processor and process to break them up adding vanilla extract for flavor. Slowly drizzle in almond milk with the machine running until you get "ice cream"... Don't add too much almond milk, just enough to make it look like ice cream. You will be amazed at how this mixture is...you would sware it's ice cream. The mistake I think I made was not using a good ripe banana (it was not sweet enough). So I will do this with riper bananas and maybe the sweetened variety of almond milk. Thank you Mara!!!