juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

KITCHEN EXPERIMENTALIST

on June 5, 2012

KITCHEN EXPERIMENTALIST

           I love to cook but I’m neither the PB&J nor the meat and potatoes type.  If I’m going to spend hours in the kitchen I want them to be spent somewhat creatively.  I’ve recently begun to host out-of-the ordinary themed dinner parties. There is no way I’d do one based, for example,  on the Fourth of July, with teeny-tiny flags all over the table and a cake frosted in  red, white and blue. It is a culinary challenge to dream up such a theme and an appropriate menu.  Makes me feel like a contestant on The Food  Channel,  competing with Bobby Flay,  only I don’t  have a mystery ingredient – I have a mystery theme.  In the hope of stimulating your kitchen creativity, here are the menus for the last two

          The Feast of the Seven Fishes – an Italian tradition on Christmas Eve commemorating the wait, the Vigilia di Natale , for the midnight birth of  Jesus. (I’d like to know how it  is possible to determine he was born at midnight.)  I admit this was an odd choice since my guests were neither Italian nor Catholic but I couldn’t resist the challenge it posed.

Appetizer:         Smoked salmon spread on crustini; marinated asparagus spears.

Salad:               Greens tossed with shrimp and crab, Asian vinaigrette dressing –                        melon slices

Entree #1         Japanese pan-fried trout filets; roasted tomatoes and peppers

Entrée #2         Broiled salmon steaks, lemon yogurt sauce,  mushroom risotto

Intermezzo;       Codfish Balls with lime sherbet

Entrée #3         Deep fried ocean perch nuggets on a bed of ricotta stuffed   manicotti

Entrée #4         Whole sweet & sour red snapper, sweet rice pilaf,

Green beans, slivered carrots & toasted almonds

Desert              English Trifle

Drinks:           Irish Coffee

Italian Souave

It was no easy tri ck to come up with seven fish dishes.  That was a lot of kitchening but I was well rewarded by rave reviews.  A couple of months later I decided to do it again, this time featuring international foods.  Here’s that menu:

International Menu

Appetizers:       Egg Rolls (Chinese) and dipping sauces

Spanakopita (Greek)

Salad:               Israeli Salad

Entrée Buffet:    Paella (Spanish)

Pad Thai (Thai)

Gorgonzola Pasta (Italian)

Mongolian Beef with Pea Pods

Cuban chicken

Sweet & Sour Pan Fried ocean perch filets (Japanese)

Persian rice with raisins and almonds

Deserts:            Apple Crumble (Irish)

Krumcake  (Norwegian)

Drinks:           German Beer

Italian Red and White Wines

Along the way I found the following dipping sauce recipe and it now occurs to me that maybe the next such dinner will consist of various such sauces and the ingredients to be dipped in them.

Now let me think – avocado dip, humus, smoked whitefish, blue cheese, something lemony, something minty, something hot/spicy, key lime salsa, spiked apricot marmalade – and  chocolate and caramel, of course.  Won’t that be fun?

BEST THAI PEANUT SAUCE

Blend:   1 ½ C peanut butter, 1/2 C coconut milk

3 T each: water, lime juice, soy sauce

1 T each: fish sauce, hot sauce, minced ginger

3 crushed garlic cloves

1/3 C chopped cilantro

Bon Appetite

Julie Rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

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