Eating*Laughing*Nesting

Last weekend I hosted a dinner party.  I invited my dear friends Alex and Lane along with Alex’s mother Dominique, who is moving to Colorado from Paris.  I wanted to have a proper four course dinner but I also did not want to be so busy that I could not enjoy the wine and conversation with my friends.

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First course–cream of zucchini, leek and potato soup.  This recipe was adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook.  There she calls it Zucchini Vichyssoise.  Not being a superfan of the cold soup I chose instead to serve it as a volute.  After sautéing 4 chopped leeks in butter in my deep stockpot, I added 4 peeled and chopped white potatoes and 2 cups of chopped zucchini.  The vegetable was fresh from the garden of my friend Loni, another talented cook in her own right!

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Add 1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock to the pot–I used store bought this time as I did not have any of the good stuff in my deep freezer.  Then add kosher salt and cracked pepper and a handful of fresh chopped parsley.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.  Cool the soup and then run through a food processor.  I use a handheld blender and process the soup right in my stock pot.  It takes a while to really get that velvet consistency.  Right before serving I squeezed some fresh lemon juice and 1/3 cup of heavy cream into the soup.  Serve in a pretty shallow bowl with a lemon peel or julienned zucchini as garnish.

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Second course–mixed greens in a traditional vinaigrette with a breaded and fried goat cheese crouton.  I purchase organic mixed greens and add them to a large metal mixing bowl.  For the vinaigrette, in a jar or salad bottle add 2/3 EVOO, 1/3 champagne vinegar, salt, pepper and a squirt of yellow table mustard.  Shake it well and toss the greens right before serving.  Add some more salt and pepper to the greens.

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For the goat cheese croutons, start with a log of goat cheese and slice the log into 2 inch rounds.  Dip each piece of cheese into an egg wash and then dip into panko bread crumbs (I used a gluten free Italian version).  Heat 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a small saute pan on medium heat and add the breaded goat cheese in small batches.  Cook 1-2 minutes each side, being careful not to burn.  Remove with tongs and allow to drain on a piece of wax paper.  I arranged the greens on a  square plate and topped each with 1 crouton.

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Third course–A whole filet of beef tenderloin that I prepared with kosher salt and cracked pepper and allowed to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.  With a good cut of meat, keep it simple!

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Jeff gets the grill to a medium-high heat and prepares the rack by spraying it with EVOO in the can.  When the grill is nice and hot, add the tenderloin, turning it frequently over about 20 minutes.  With a whole filet this will result in some of the end pieces being more medium and getting rare toward the center.  Allow the meat to rest after coming off the grill for 10-15 minutes so it can finish cooking and the juices really come out.

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I served the beef tenderloin with oven roasted red skin potatoes and onions which were flavored with fresh sprigs of rosemary and kosher salt and cracked pepper.

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Fourth course–the delicious Tiramisu Cake from Tony’s Gourmet Bakery.  Alex made some strong cuban instant coffee and poured that over the cake right before serving.  It was light and rich and delicious!

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My friend Alex, pictured below on the right, is due with her first baby any day now!  In the waning days of her pregnancy I am doing my best to fatten her up with French inspired dishes, plenty of protein and her favorite oven roasted rosemary potatoes.  Hard to believe the next time we are all together our little party will be bigger by one tiny bundle of joy.  She won’t get to taste my Thanksgiving Turkey with gluten-free stuffing THIS year, but next year will be a whole different story.  And I can’t wait.  Ready to try my hand at some home crafted baby food.  I may become the Wolfgang Puck of baby food!

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