2003-06-04 - 8:24 a.m.
If you haven't already, check out the pictures from last weekend.
Dinner Party Plans
A few days ago, a co-worker asked me to come up with some menus for a dinner party for 8. Here’s what she ended up with. Keep in mind that they wanted filet mignon and wanted to grill. They’re also pretty traditional eaters. If I’d been cooking this for them, I would have talked them into ribeye – it grills better because of the marbling – but it’s their cash cow.
I asked her to par-cook the bacon, so that it would still protect the filets, but would end up crispy after time on the grill. Wrapping the bacon around the filets and securing with kitchen string also helps keep them uniformly thick, which ensures an even cooking time. If you’ve never grilled sweet potatoes, you must try it. Slice ‘em about a quarter inch thick, toss with some olive oil, and put on a low grill until marked and soft. I’ve made dinner out of a few and some grilled shrimp with a lime squeezed over quite happily.
Zucchini ceviche. Here’s how: scrub some very young, very tender zucchini. Slice vertically paper-thin on a mandoline or with a knife; toss with a soft extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. To serve, pile the salad on plates and, using a veggie peeler, shave some hard cheese over the top. Cheeses that would be good include parmesan, asiago, Rumiano dry jack or ricotta salata. If you have any flat-leaf parsley or fresh mint in the house, mince up a tablespoon or so and toss it over with the cheese. Serve with crusty bread. Peasant food all the way, and good with cheap Italian Pinot Grigio.
Grilled bacon-wrapped filet mignon served on grilled asparagus and grilled sweet potato planks, sauced with compound butter. Just mash together some soft butter with blue cheese and minced scallions; taste it on a cracker to make sure you’re happy, then roll it into a cylinder in plastic wrap and refrigerate. (I asked her to buy some jarred green peppercorns to add to the butter, but I'm pretty sure she didn't. Her loss.) Slice off what you need and let it melt atop the meat. Whatever you do, don’t overcook filet mignon. If anyone’s interested, there’s a great article about composed butters over at a la carte. His articles in general are thoughtful, well-researched, and informative. I recommend the site highly.
Wine: Zinfandel all the way. No need for Cabernet here; it’d overwhelm the beef. The Zin will be spicy enough to hold up to the blue cheese, but not so much that you can’t taste the grill-given smokiness.
Trifle, West-Coast style. Strawberries, blackberries and cherries marinated in Grand Marnier and a tiny crack of black pepper, then layered with buttermilk pound cake (I'd cheat and pick one up at Freeport Bakery) and honey-sweetened crème fraiche. Serve in brandy snifters so that you can see the layers. Omit the alcohol if you have kids, then marinate the fruit in honey and mint instead.
Nutter Butter Mother
My mother is driving me up the wall. If you recall, she's good at this. I never did get an apology for all the nasty things she said. In fact, she didn't speak to me for a week or so. Then out of the blue, she called and within ten minutes, was criticizing me again. (I was at work; she knows I have to answer the phone.) Since then, she's left a series of pissy messages on my answering machine. She knows damned well that I have voicemail on the cell, but refuses to use it. On Sunday, after the debacle with getting my car stuck, she called literally as soon as I was back in cell range. Her greeting? "Where the hell have you been?" Well, Mom, since you ask, you called at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. yesterday (Saturday night). If I wasn't home at 6:00, did you really think I'd be home at 10:00? And do you forget that other people have lives and sometimes leave the house?
What she wanted was for me to walk over and buy her a ticket to a specific show at the U's shiny new performing arts building. Gee, Mom, you have both a computer and a telephone; they have this magical thing called "will-call" these days; buy your own damned ticket. I swear, I'm this close to breaking my promise to Daddy and telling her off. He asked me not to because it will set off months of family infighting, but I've had about as much as I can take. She has yet to ask me how I am during any of these conversations. When I do tell her about anything, she launches into hyper-critical mode.
I love my mom more than anything in the world, but she keeps driving me further away, and our relationship can't take much more. We're supposed to have lunch on Sunday so that I can give her the ticket (!). Here's to hoping that I come out unscarred.
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