Friday, December 26, 2014

December 20, 2014 - Christie's Birthday Dinner

So once in a while, we make a meal that is just out of this world.  Beyond expectations, blows it out of the park, completely unexpected.... this was that meal!  John and Jenn made me a birthday dinner that was positively insane.  Get ready for this...

Chosen ingredients - Cocoa, Mint, Salt... that's right.  Seemingly basic, huh?  NO!  This is a CS blog, not some amateur hour... here we go....

Cocktail - Cocoa Puff Smash

Not exactly our favorite cocktail ever, but it encompassed the ingredients and was completely out of left field!  A mint and cocoa puff infused chartreuse mixed with soda water and lemon.  And the cocoa puffs completely bringing us back to childhood!

Before I get into each dish, let me post this... it's the website that J&J bought the salts for this dinner.  This was no table salt, people!

Appetizer - Mint Salad with Cocoa Crusted Bacon

Ok, let me break this amazingness down.  Salad - a simple combination of romaine, thinly sliced cucumbers, chopped mint and a light vinaigrette made of yogurt, mustard, olive oil.  This was topped with the Bali Hai salt.  (From the island of Bali in the Indian Ocean.)  Crisp, refreshing, and the perfect backdrop for what was the most amazing piece of bacon I have ever eaten.  This cocoa, brown sugar, chipotle crusted bacon ended up like candy.  Seriously - CANDY!

Appetizer Wine - 2013 Muses Estate 9 White

This is our FIRST Greek wine!  It was splendid!  Very crisp and dry with a heavy taste of mineral, stone, and grass.  The lack of fruit or sweetness completely balanced the crazy bacon and mint salad.

Entree - Mint Braised Beef Brosato over Cocoa Tagliatelle

Let me take a moment to wipe the tear from my eye as I slowly remember this amazing dish.  Where do I begin?  How about the pasta?  Jenn made homemade tagliatelle.  (Kind of like fettuccine.)  And the actual dough has cocoa in it.  ZOMG.  Not only was it delicious homemade pasta, but it had cocoa!  I mean, seriously... who came up with this idea???  Now let's talk beautiful morsels of tender beef.  They followed the recipe exactly, braising beef shanks in a beautiful mixture of tomatoes, wine, and mint.  The result was phenomenal.  Tender and fall apart in your mouth goodness!  And what about the salt?  A healthy topping of the Trapani sea salt.  (From the famous Salt Road in Sicily.)

Entree Wine #1 - 2012 90+ Cellars Nebbiolo d'Alba

What's not to love about this rich Italian blend?  It has cherry, flowers, and a light spice with a harmonious finish that doesn't leave a bitter aftertaste.  Perfection.

Entree Wine #2 - 2011 7 Deadly Zins

Okay, let's be honest... it's a cool label and a cool name.  And its also delicious!  Wild berries and slight spice with a mild oaky tannin finish!

Dessert - Mini Chocolate Stout Cheesecakes and Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bites

Okay, so two different cheesecakes bites were made.  They are both chocolate stout cheesecakes, but one was topped with a regular mint infused salted caramel sauce and the other with a salted chocolate stout sauce.  Both were insane!  Totally different flavor profiles that were amazing.  The salt used was Aussie Snow salt - from the Pacific waters off Australia.  These were amazing.

So there you have it... my birthday dinner that was quite possibly the most inspired one to date!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December 9, 2014 - Persimmon

Hello, CS followers!  It's been a long time!  December will be a great month... we have last night's post and then my birthday dinner on the 20th!  (The ingredients are EPIC!)  So we chose the mystery ingredient of persimmon for tonight's blog.  Why persimmon?  Why not?  None of us have ever tasted one, and they are only in season for a few months in the winter, so it begged to be used.

What is a persimmon?  Well... it's a fruit that looks exactly like a tomato.  It also has a very light flavor - like a pear - but an extremely chalky aftertaste.  Extremely chalky!  Unbearably chalky!  (In our opinion... and I'm sure there is someone out there who is yelling at their computer right now because obviously, we must have picked out the wrong persimmons.)  But let's get started...

Cocktail - Maple Syrup Persimmon Old Fashioned

Okay, so this is how it works.  Muddle some chopped persimmon and orange slices.  Add bourbon, orange juice, a splash of maple syrup, and bitters.  Mix it up and garnish with a cinnamon stick.  Surprisingly, it was delicious!  A sweeter version of an old fashioned for those that may not be the biggest bourbon fans.

Appetizer - Prosciutto with Persimmon, Pomegranate, and Arugula

Delicious!  The mixture of the crunchy pomegranate seeds, the hint of pepper, the mild persimmon, the spicy arugula, and the smooth prosciutto was perfection!  A delicious and beautiful salad!

Entree - Chimichurri Marinated Skirt Steak over Persimmon Risotto

Let's break it down.  The skirt steak is fantastic!  Why haven't we tried chimichurri before???  We marinated the steak from the morning, simply grilled it 2 minutes per side, and it was delicious!  The acidity of the chimichurri perfectly matched the sweetness of the risotto.  And the risotto - it was good!  But can you really mess up risotto?  It was a basic risotto recipe, with the addition of pomegranate seeds and diced persimmon.  While not our favorite meal ever, it was still very good.

Entree Wine - 2012 Bedell First Crush Red

This is a merlot/cabernet franc mix that is delicious!  It is light and has minimal smooth tannins, with a bright berry finish.  A perfect combination!

Dessert - Persimmon Cardamom Sorbet

Ummm... yeah... ok... remember how we said that persimmon is chalky?  Well... it doesn't get any less chalky when made into ice cream.  The saving grace was a quick pomegranate seed caramel sauce we doctored up.  

So yeah... there you go... a rather odd meal dedicated to the lowly fruit that most people have probably never eaten.  (And let's be honest... we'll probably never eat it again.)  But that's what we are here for!  To experiment and explore!

Coming Up - Christie's Birthday Dinner