April 6, 2008

a dinner for... bloggers?

For a few months now, we'd been trying coordinate schedules and find some time to get together with a local blogger and his family. Friday morning, we got an email saying that some time had unexpectedly opened up for Saturday night. So it was on... no way we were going to miss this opportunity! Since I was going to be snowboarding that day with another local blogger (whose wife also blogs), why not make this a little blogger soiree?

There wasn't much time to do cooking and prep since we'd be getting home from the slopes about an hour before dinner. The goal was to make some simple, interesting food that would be accessible to E&M's three children as well. I also wanted to feature some form of nori in each of the dishes--I'm currently in the midst of a serious nori infatuation and am trying to figure out some new ways to incorporate the deep, rich flavor of seaweed everywhere.


potato, leek and cauliflower soup
nori paste, croutons, cilantro, chili oil

tuna "carpaccio"
arugula, ruby grapefruit, avocado, dried nori

kabocha squash curry noodles
taiwanese wheat flour noodles, quail egg, dried nori

"ocean and land"
kalbi-marinated braised shortrib, sake-miso black cod, nori seasoning

meyer lemon mandarin orange curd tart
butter crust, dark chocolate ribbon

I love the rich creaminess of potato-leek soup. Here, I reduced the amount of potato and substituted cauliflower to lighten the broth a bit. I needed the flavor of the soup to be a more muted backdrop to the small drop of nori paste in the center. Croutons added for texture and a slight sourdough flavor, with cilantro and chili oil for subtle flavor accents.

I snagged a stunningly beautiful, deeply red block of sashimi-grade ahi tuna at the market. After slicing the tuna into individual portions, I gently pressed the tuna (covered in plastic wrap) with the cutting board to flatten and break down the tissue and form a carpaccio of sorts, making the flesh even more delicate--hopefully almost melting on the palate. Classic beef carpaccio is fantastic with a squeeze of lemon, leaves of arugula and parmiggiano, so we went the same direction here... sweet ruby red grapefruit, arugula leaves, some avocado for richness, dried nori and a wisp of sesame oil.

Lav found some fresh ribbons of Taiwanese wheat flour noodles at the local Chinese market. The texture of these noodles is awesome... soft and silky, but with a faint chewiness to them. She made a wonderful Japanese curry with kabocha squash, which turned creamy and sweet, along with carrots, bell pepper and onion. This was topped with a fried quail egg and lots of dried nori. The nori really transformed the curry to give it a different savory flavor dimension. A bit too spicy for the girls though... oops!

I have to admit, I was a bit worried about this one. I wanted to present the familiar Korean flavor of kalbi in a different context. Rather than having rich, thin ribbons of shortrib, I marinated whole blocks of shortrib in kalbi sauce, then slow-braised them for overnight to melt the collagen in the meat and develop the intensity of the resulting sauce. We matched this with small strips of broiled black cod, marinated sake and miso, which has a completely different element of richness. This dish really could have used something like spinach or pea shoots to cut through the decadence.

While the kids (and their father) feasted on jelly bellies, the rest of us wrapped up the evening with Lav's homemade lemon tart. Since there weren't enough meyer lemons, she substituted some mandarin oranges which actually helped to round out the tartness of the curd with some additional sweetness. The layer of dark chocolate in the crust was key. J declared it "the best lemon tart I've ever had!"

Each of the people at this meal has had an important impact on our life here in Seattle. It was nice to be able to have a little food together... but even better to share thoughts, laughs, and community for a little window of time on a Saturday evening.

1 comment:

  1. Your photos are so beautiful and your food always looks so delicious! Your friends are lucky!