taste of summer

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Appetizers, Soups, Fish and Seafood, Meat, Veggies and Sides, Desserts, Dinner Party, Sources, Wine Line, Posted on August 28, 2015 by Sandy Bergsten

Last week I was the guest chef at Moraine Country Club. We decided on a tasting menu to showcase all the season had to offer. It was such fun working with the staff and being back in a professional kitchen. As I uniformly chopped crates of vegetables for my gazpacho for sixty and wrestled the massive Hobart mixer the memories came flooding back.

The best part was teaming with head chef, David Drapes. While all the recipes were mine I really appreciated how he added his own personal flair to each of my signature dishes. A tasting menu is a great way to give your guests a sample of many different courses.

Figure two to three bites for each appetizer and about three ounces of protein per course. The end amount of food should total what you would typically serve in a regular meal. Peter Davies, the club’s general manager, put together wine pairings to accompany the courses. Top on my list was the French rosé- Ott Les Domaniers Cotes de Provence 2014 and the red blend from Argentina- Clos de los Siete Michel Rolland 2010. Chris Ryan, the dining room manager, and his waitstaff did an impeccable job of serving up the evening.

We started with two canapés. The first- croute au fromage. A fancy title for a hot hors d'oeuvre made from cheese, freshly chopped herbs and a little mayonnaise. Spread on top of naan bread, cut into irregular triangles to give them character, and bake until bubbly. They are simple to make and simply delicious.

Next was my smoked trout stack. The base of this delicately built bite is actually a baked wonton wrapper. A sprig of fresh arugula is then topped with flaked smoked trout. Chef David smoked his own fish and the result was phenomenal, but you can purchase smoked trout at many high-end grocery stores.

The guests sat down to a cup of gazpacho. My recipe has a few twists to this summer classic. First I make mine with tomato and clam juice, second I add a bit of ketchup to give the soup a hint of sweetness and depth. David poached some Florida rock shrimp and we finished the garnish with some diced avocado.

The second course was grilled asparagus topped with fresh Wisconsin burrata (a creamy form of mozzarella) and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. To add a pop of color David roasted slices of roma tomatoes. I must admit his addition made this dish look better than ever.

For the third course we served grilled salmon on top of a cauliflower mash alongside grilled broccolini. The citrus marinated salmon is one of Suzanne Goin’s recipes. She is the LA chef and owner of Luques, Tavern and A.O.C. In my opinion hers is the simplest, most delicious and foolproof way to prepare fish.

The fourth course was marinated flank steak with creamed corn and a wild mushroom ragout. I love how David plated this course. Instead of serving the meat beside the two vegetables sides he stacked them with fabulous results. The base was creamed corn from Thomas Keller’s “ad hoc at home” cookbook. It is fresh and divine. Then came slices of grilled flank steak marinated in my mashup marinade of Italian dressing, soy sauce and honey. And for the crown a light mushroom ragout that David made by adding some diced tomatoes and their juices to the sautéed mushrooms.

We finished the evening with one of my favorite desserts from the legendary Marcella Hazan. If you are not familiar with this culinary icon she is the Italian equivalent of Julia Childs. “The Classic Italian Cook Book: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating” is a must for every kitchen library. In it you will find the recipe for chocolate foam. While I typically make this light as a cloud dessert for six, at Moraine I made it ten-fold. The process was slightly comical as I beat flats of egg yolks, egg whites and unsweetened cream into peaks in the huge commercial Hobart mixer and then attempted to fold them all together. David swooped in like a guardian angel and tweaked the final presentation with a dollop of heavy cream, some chocolate shavings and a side of macerated berries.

The night was a hit. I had a blast. The guest raved about the food. And they loved my culinary commentary in between courses. You see the point of the night was not only to give the guests a sampling of summer fare but a taste that they too can create a magical evening and entertain with ease!

post a comment

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.