Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Patented Goodbye Mixed Grill

Tonight was a very special night. We had plans to have dinner with Nicole and Aaron. Nicole, our great friend, is moving back to Rhode Island. She moved to New York shortly after I did and has been a great neighbor ever since. We use the term neighbor to identify anyone who lives within 100 blocks of us since we live in the far reaches of Manhattan where man seldom dares to travel. She lives barely within the 100 block limit (88 blocks) but is still one of our closest neighbors who has not abandoned us by moving away to a far away borough with a strange-sounding name such as Queens or Brooklyn.

We tried to put out one of the tapenades we'd gotten in France but we were foiled at every turn. We didn't have enough bread, and the bread we had was of low quality. We opened up a box of crackers but they were remarkably stale so that was out. So we put them on the table while we tried to find an accompaniment then we ended up just putting the tapenade away. So it goes.

Jen had the idea to use the celery to make a cream of celery soup. I was skeptical about this but we did have an abundance of celery and it sounded interesting to make something that featured it prominently. Celery is always playing second fiddle to something else. Why not give it a chance to shine?

However, my instincts were telling me that celery is not very tasty or exciting so I was reluctant to do this. Abundance eventually beat out common sense and I elected to make a cream of celery soup. Normally I would use something like celeriac to lend a bit more flavor to celery which is generally watery and tasteless. The celery we got from the farm share was so flavorful that I thought it might stand a chance on its own. Besides, I wasn't about to get off my lazy behind and get any celeriac so it would have to do.

It was pretty simple, just garlic, onion, celery, chicken stock, skim milk and a splash of dry vermouth. The result: celeryish. I'm not sure if that's necessarily a good thing or a bad thing.

For the next course: salad! We finished up our red leaf lettuce, some mixed baby greens and some of the farm share tomatoes with a balsamic mustard vinaigrette. More importantly we got to use the salad bowls that Nicole had gotten us for our wedding. How's that for appreciation? We invite you over, cook dinner for you and use the kitchen gadget(s) you give us as a gift.

Note: This offer stands for anyone. Particularly if you wouldn't mind getting us a Viking range and convection oven. We'd be happy to roast you a chicken for dinner. Just please bring wine over -- that's just proper etiquette.

For the main course we got to use the plates we'd gotten in France again (and forgot to mention last time).

Right before we'd gone to France I picked up some nice lamb rack and pork tenderloin so that we'd have the opportunity to make a couple of nice dinners when we returned. Instead of using them separately I opted for the third option: mixed grill! I haven't actually ever made a mixed grill at home before. I've only ever done it at work so I thought this would be an interesting experiment and, more importantly, allow me to have enough dinner for four people without leaving the house. I truly am a sorry, lazy man.

To accompany the meats I made a tomato and parsley risotto with just a splash of sherry and a healthy amount of grated Parmesan cheese.

Also accompanying the risotto was some steamed corn on the cob with melted butter and olive oil, and some garlic sauteed green beans. I know this is a repeat of Monday's dinner but when the vegetables are as tasty as the ones we've been getting it's a waste to doctor them up too much outside the realm of their natural state.

We paired this up with a wine that had far too many syllables in its name. I just call it "That Fratelli Wine." It's much easier that way.

We watched the US Open while we ate and I, foolishly, did not get any pictures of Nicole or Aaron on Nicole's last night in New York. For that I feel like a prize fool.

For what we lack in pictures of our friend we make up for in ice cream that she brought over for dessert that we were all too full/tired to enjoy. So I guess as we eat that ice cream over the course of the next few weeks we will think of Nicole and how life is treating her in the great state of Rhode Island.

Good luck! I hope they have Häagen-Dazs there too!

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