My husband and I belong to this dinner group. We rotate houses every month or so, enjoying lavishly prepared meals and drinking wine. For the past couple of years, there has been a theme. I think I may have publicly groaned about the themes a time or two, but all in all, it’s a fun night.
This year, we drew “famous chefs”. Of course there was Julia Child. Easy. And Rick Bayless. Also easy. Guess who we drew? Chistopher Kostow. Yes, that’s right. A ^%#@$%$&)* Michelin 3 starred chef who operates a very high level dining establishment in the Napa Valley. Holy cannoli. I think this picture sums up about how I felt at the time.
Without further ado, I wigged out and refused to think about it until about the week before our dinner. All the recipes I’d researched took no less than two days to plan and execute. Impossible.
My diligent husband came to the rescue when he found this video of Kostow on a morning show. Making an “easy” dinner, and on a budget! Even better, since we’d be feeding eight people.
We did pretty damn good I think.
The first course: Tomato and stone fruit salad with fresh ricotta and basil. This one was the easiest to prepare and the prettiest to look at. Perfect tomatoes and summer fruit at the farmer’s market and in our backyard, fresh ricotta from Corti Brothers. Topped with some lovely Bariani olive oil.
Second course: Cod with corn and bacon. The recipe says “grilled cod”, but I worked from the video, where the chef just cooked it in a pan. We bought pre-filleted and boned cod at Sunh Fish in Sacramento. They are great and 10 portions of cod was only $15. Easier. The “corn” is actually a pain-in-the-ass corn pudding. We had to cut all the kernels off the cob, then “juice” the kernels. We just pulverized them in the food processor, then strained the juice through a sieve. Cooked all that starchy juice on the stove till it thickened. Bacon, well it’s bacon, cut into tiny perfect cubes.
Third course, dessert: Strawberry soup. Also slightly a pain, but it was all easy. We had to cook a few baskets of strawberries, sweet wine and sugar in a metal bowl, wrapped with plastic wrap inside a pot of simmering water for several hours. Then strain, reserving the strawberries. To serve, we put a dollop of plain yogurt in the bottom of a bowl with a few reserved berries, grated on a bit of lime zest and then filled ‘er up with the strawberry soup. I served it with the remainder of the wine I used in the soup–Corti Brother’s HPO. A really delightful, slightly effervescent, low alcohol wine. Try it if you can.
Anyway, I would really recommend this menu to anyone with a little sense of adventure. It was light, snazzy and delicious–and not too much of a challenge. It all came together without any problems and was perfect for late summer.
All the recipes can be found HERE–at the CBSNews Website