Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Nana and Mom W, this post is for both of you.  I wish we could have all been together on Sunday; you both were in all of our thoughts.  On Sunday, I had my mom and dad over for a little five course meal (ok, so I'm counting the cocktail as one course).
Second meal ever using wedding china
As soon as they arrived, I mixed a mango / lychee cocktail for them to sip on as they were waiting to sit down.  My mom enjoys going out with friends and having a nice cocktails, so after a couple of nights of experimentation (someone has got to do it), I came up with a cocktail that I thought she would like: a refreshing mix of tropical fruits that are a little sweet and tart at the same time (though not too sweet).  In my never-used Martha Stewart cocktail shaker that I received as a shower gift almost two years ago, I poured over ice: 1 shot of Ketel One, 1/3 shot of Monin lychee syrup from Surfas, 1 shot of Mango / Mangosteen juice from TJs, 1 shot of sparkling water from TJs.  I shook up the shaker until my hands couldn't stand the cold and poured into a (new) martini glass

The second course was dedicated especially to Nana; she loves her shrimp cocktail!  To go along with the martinis, I made roasted chili shrimp with international cocktail sauce.  It was very easy to make and can be made ahead of time since it does not need to be served hot.  For the shrimp: I peeled 1 lb of shrimp from Costco (go Costco for de-veining the shrimp for me), leaving just the tails on.  I put the peeled shrimp on a baking sheet, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled some salt, pepper and chili powder (I use the Whole Foods 365 brand), then tossed the shrimp around and arranged in one layer and bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes, until they are pink and firm.  I call the cocktail sauce international because I combined about 3 different recipes and used a variety of ethnic condiments.  I mixed together: 1 cup of ketchup, 2 TB of prepared horseradish, 1 tsp of worcestershire sauce, 1 TB of red wine vinegar, 1 tsp of mirin (a sweet Japanese cooking wine, maybe you can substitute a little honey for the sweetness), juice of 1/2 of a lemon, dash of Sriracha sauce and a dash of Chohula hot sauce.  You just mix it all together and refrigerate it for a couple of hours and it is ready to serve.  The shrimp and cocktail sauce were a great combination: I really like roasting the shrimp; I feel like its a lot harder to overcook that way (vs. boiling or pan frying), and really brings out some nice flavors in the shrimp and the chili powder gave it a little kick.  The cocktail sauce was the perfect combination of sweet, spicy, salty, savory.  I will definitely be making this dish again.
For the main course, I made Corn Ravioli in Tarragon butter.  I pretty much followed Giada's recipe exactly; the only changes I made were using a whole ear of corn from the farmer's market in the sauce,  1 TB less of butter, and using premade wonton skins instead of making my own pasta dough.  The ravioli was really good for the first couple of bites, but ended up being too heavy as a main course.  Between the marscapone filling and the butter, it was just way too rich for us.  If I were to make it again, I would maybe use a lighter filling than marscapone, maybe ricotta, and cut down the butter significantly and use olive oil instead.  Maybe browning the butter would have been better; I'm not sure.  I'm just not used to that much butter; a little for flavor is ok, but it quickly becomes too much.
As a side dish, I made roasted beets over sauteed beet greens with almonds and goat cheese.  I pretty much followed the recipe from the kitchn, just added a little freshly squeezed lemon juice at the end.  We all liked the dish; it certainly was very pretty and had a hearty, slightly bitter bite to it, which was a good contrast to the ravioli.  I may have roasted the beets just a touch too long (I was distracted by the prep for the next course), contributing to the bitterness.  The goat cheese and almonds helped add texture and dimension.  It was also a nice way to use the beet greens, which I usually discard.
For dessert, I made a dark chocolate mousse.  Dessert was definitely the most challenging part for me, as I am a dessert amateur; there were several instances where I was afraid that the dish was just going to self destruct.  Not only was I combining a couple of recipes which all had slightly different ways of preparation, I also halved the recipe(s), which is always potential for disaster.  Desserts are tricky that way; there's certain chemistry involved with chocolate, and I was very nervous until the last minute.  I was pleasantly surprised however.  I mostly used the recipe from my family friend which was more complex than other recipes I found online, although I made some substitutions and used guidance from other recipes on how to put it all together.  The following recipe serves 3-4 people.  I started by melting 1/4 lb of bittersweet chocolate from Surfas, 1 TB of butter (not sure if you need this), 2 TB of Grand Marnier, 1/2 tsp of vanilla, 1 tsp of espresso over a double boiler.  Then, I whisked together 2 egg yolks (reserving the whites), with 1 TB of sugar.  To this bowl, I added a little less than 1/2 a cup of heavy cream, which I had heated up (not boiling) on the stove.  I'm not sure if I am supposed to do this, but I then heated up the egg yolk and heavy cream mixture on the stove a little, and then added it to the double boiler chocolate mixture.  One recipe I saw said to heat it up to 160 degrees, which I didn't really do, but I did heat it a little.  Once combined, I let the chocolate mixture cool down.  In my kitchenaid stand mixer with the whisk attachment, I beat together the two egg whites with a little less than 1/2 a cup of heavy cream until it formed stiff peaks.  I then stirred in a couple spoon fulls of the whipped cream mix into the cooled chocolate sauce to lighten it.  Then I very slowly and carefully folded the rest of the whipped cream mix gently with a silicone spatula, until it was all nice and fluffy and uniformly combined.  I spooned the combined mixture into martini glasses, popped it into the fridge for a couple of hours, then brought it back to room temperature as we were taking an after dinner walk, then served it with some fresh blackberries.  It was delicious.  I'm not sure I made it totally correctly, but it worked for us!
With dinner, we had a bottle of 2006 Foley Pinot Gris, which I picked up during the Santa Barbara trip last month.  While I like the wine a lot on its own, it doesn't really stand up to the food enough to really pair well.  I think the corn ravioli was just a little too rich for the wine.  Perhaps I needed a wine with a little more acid and liveliness.  Hopefully mom enjoyed the meal, I enjoyed making it!

Shrimp "before" picture
Fresh tarragon; I've never cooked with it before, it has a slight anise scent
 Ravioli stuffing
Raviolis before going into the water


  1. Sounds like a great dinner. Hard to pair fancy shrimp cocktail and then what appears to be a buttery ravioli with the same wine I think? Maybe an unoaked Chard? Seems like the middle ground option. Otherwise, a grenache blanc? I don't know much about white wine, but that's what I'd try the next time you make this awesome meal. :)

  2. Yeah, I was thinking either a chardonnay or the other direction, a gewurztraminer or gruner veltliner might have been better. Maybe the ravioli was too boring; it needed one more dimension of flavor. The pinot gris just got lost. I have another bottle of the pinot gris, I will try it with something else, maybe if you are around!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...