From Market to Table
Ingredients for great entrees, appetizers, side dishes, desserts. Check. Kitchen tools. Check. Great aprons. Check. Flowers. Check. Wonderful dishes, napkins, placemats, napkin rings. Check.
I’m ready. You ready, Michele?
Indeed, Michele was ready and excited to begin our gourmet fantasy.
First up — Marvelous Mushrooms, using my Aunt Hazle’s recipe. Michele had never had them before. I knew she and Ken were in for a treat!
The ingredients are simple. Combine cooked sausage with minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, a little creole seasoning (we improvised because I hadn’t brought any — I used a little cayenne, a little garlic powder, and it was just fine), minced green onion, and cream cheese. Stuff the mixture into clean button mushrooms (after you’ve removed the stems), line them up on a cookie sheet, sprinkle on some grated Italian cheese(s), such as parmesan, romano, asiago, pecorino, and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the top is just turning golden. Serve immediately.
We added a little color to the plate with some frisee (known in this part of the country as curly endive) and some halved cherry tomatoes. We sprinkled a few chopped green onion pieces on top. Our first hit was born!
Next, we offered up a cool and creamy treat — stuffed cherry tomatoes. We seasoned cream cheese with garlic powder, a little salt and pepper, some Italian seasoning, and a touch of Splenda and piped the mixture into cherry tomatoes whose seeds we had removed. We garnished the tops with finely minced fresh parsley, fashioned a rose from the peel of a big tomato, threw on a few flat Italian parsley leaves below and declared it done.
If I had been at home, I would have used a tablespoon or two of dry Good Seasons dressing mix, rather than doing the spices by hand, but in a pinch this worked just fine.
While we were doing magic with the appetizers, the boys were up on the seventh floor, grilling the lobsters. We have to tell you about these lobster tails. They were the size of chihuahuas. Truly unbelievable. We couldn’t begin to estimate the length of time they would cook. I’m glad Michael was playing Master of the Grill. As Michele washed them in preparation for cooking, she kept saying Oh…my…God! They were monsters.
We kept the seasoning simple for our crustaceans. The guys at the seafood market had split them into halves, which really helped. It made it possible to cook them all the way through without drying out and it made it easy to see when the meat turned opaque.
Michael also grilled four colors of peppers — purple (they’re green on the inside, but a beautiful shade of aubergine on the outer skin), red, yellow, and green. They had been coated with olive oil and were to be used in one of our side dishes.
While the guys were grilling and enjoying the courtyard view, we took a ristra we had purchased down at the Market and positioned it as a centerpiece on our table. The colorful string of various types of peppers, purple statice and garlic heads would go well with our black and white dishes and red napkins. Heaven forbid we have a nonharmonious color scheme! It would give me nightmares.
Michele and I were scurrying around like Stepford Wives high on caffeine, determined to get the timing just right for our feast. The place was a virtual ding-fest with timers going off.
While the lobster tails and peppers were cooking, we baked crostini (toast points brushed with olive oil and melted butter and minced garlic, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and minced parsley, baked for just a few short minutes), made pesto cream sauce to top our side dish of pasta, and got the goat cheese crumbled (boy, did that take some doing — it had the consistency of cream cheese, so we spread it out on a plate, flopped it in the freezer, then managed to get it separated into cooperative little nuggets), made the vinaigrette, caramelized the baby carrots, and mixed up the ice cream batter. (May I say we did it all without breaking a sweat? Unfortunately, we didn’t rack up too many steps on our FitBit WiFi pedometers either. Apparently, scurrying involves a great deal of activity, but not many measurable steps. Rats!) Anyway, when the boys walked in from the grill, we pounced, ready to take what they had grilled and launch it on its one-night career as the star of our dinner.
Day one — Dinner is served! (At this rate, with so many meals and items to picture, this is going to take a while . . .)
Footnote: For those of you being precise about keeping track of when we did what, I confess — we did not fix this meal the first night we were in Seattle. That night, exhausted from the splendors of shopping, we wandered down the street to a tapas restaurant recommended by my cousin Lindsay (all right, all right, anal ones — she is my second cousin) and enjoyed yummy and beautiful treats prepared by someone else. Our lemon glazed bacon-wrapped scallops and ahi tuna with edamame salad appear below.
Okay, NOW dinner is served!