Mother’s Day is a very special occasion, and a perfect opportunity for an amazing meal. A couple times a year, Chef Richard and I match minds for a small plates evening. The concept is always good, but usually we bring too much food to the table. We hit it pretty well this time around, with a six-course evening with each stage being just the right amount. Small plates create a bit more work, but allow you to showcase more tastes.
We especially like to entertain small plates around our kitchen butcher block. But we had a few too many guests, so we went with the fancy eatin’ table for the ladies, while Chef Richard and I hung out in the kitchen.
It was a wonderful evening. Enjoy!
Prosciutto with Melon and Asparagus
This is a fabulous salad, albeit labor intensive, that Chef Carole loves to make. The centerpiece is melon wrapped in prosciutto, mixed with white and green asparagus, raspberries and arugula, with shaved Parmesan reggiano, balsamic and raspberry vinegar and orange juice. You can find it in Salads from Parragon Books.
Porcini Dusted Scallops with Cauliflower Puree
A month ago Carole and enjoyed a fabulous small plates evening at the Beach Bistro on Anna Maria Island in Florida. The highlight was a signature dish – porcini dusted scallops on a bed of cauliflower puree. We love scallops and this was a fabulous new recipe for our repertoire. It’s simple to prepare. Simply brush the scallops with white truffle olive oil, and dust with powdered porcini mushrooms (create the powder by breaking up dried porcinis with mortar and pestle), and pan sear in the same olive oil. The cauliflower puree is simply mashed cauliflower. Here’s a simple recipe from Epicurious.com.
Chef Richard opened with a fabulous eggplant. The eggplant was grilled, then rolled with riccota cheese and a marinara sauce inside. Exquisite!
White Asparagus Risotto
I’ve long been a fan of white asparagus since being introduced to spargel season in Bavaria many springs ago. White asparagus, which is produced by depriving normally green asparagus of sunlight, has a much creamier taste. I experimented with this dish a few months ago. It simply involves a traditional risotto with onion, white wine and chicken broth, but with about 1/2-inch pieces of white asparagus mixed in. My friend Emeril has a similar recipe if you need notes. With white asparagus, do peel the outer layer and chop off the tough bottoms.
Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb
Chef Richard wrapped up the dinner small plates with an amazingly rich herb roasted leg of lamb, which we served with the risotto. The lamb had been marinated in oil, wine and herbs, then roasted to medium rare to medium. It was a great combination with the risotto.
Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie with Pecan Crust
Every meal is simply a step-by-step path to dessert by Liza. Everytime Bon Appetit puts a scrumptious dessert on its cover, it’s time to call Liza and get her baking. We’ve had this dessert before and would welcome it again. Ice cream pies are generally pretty easy to make – simply melt ice cream into a shell. This one is a bit more complex, with the addition of lemon curd and a meringue, fired before serving with a blow torch. This is worth checking out – from April, 2007 Bon Appetit, based on a similar dish at Jamie’s Restaurant in Pensacola, FL.
Wines and Beers
Chef Richard and I went the dark beer route for the evening, focusing on our favorite Ayinger Dunkel (dark). For the ladies, we selected one of our favorite light starter wines, a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. This is one of those super bargain wines, selling in the $15-20 neighborhood but tasting more than double that price. Our next white was a bit bolder, one of our standard Clos du Bois Chardonnays.