Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dinner is Served!

Erica emailed that she and Ronnie were going to be in OC for the weekend. It is not like she lives far but as a young single girl with a job, a life and a new fiance who lives in Vegas, life gets busy! We had only seen each other once since Christmas. So we made a plan. Dinner at my house! Jacqueline also wanted to see Erica and give her a birthday gift. Besides there were a LOT of wedding planning details to hear about!
PS: I am a MESSY chef!

After seeing a lot of talk out there about cookbooks, I decided to dust a few off and check them out. One was a random book that was probably a hand-me-down from my grandmother. It's called, California Bed & Breakfast Cookbook. In it was a recipe for goat cheese soufflé that had Jacqueline's name all over it. But then there was this recipe from Laura for Veloute of Prawns that just looked heavenly. But of course my husband will eat SO little (Mr. Picky!) and I have to think of the kids. Amy's Marinata Diavola sounded so fresh and perfect for spring. I also decided I wanted the meal to feel Mediterranean without specifically coming from a certain country.

I didn't hit the market until around 10:30 am on Sunday. In addition to the ingredients for the dishes above, I picked up some orzo, asparagus, mint, oregano and limes.

First up: Marinate the chicken.
Marinata Diavola Amy used:
  • Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
  • Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher Sea Salt
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Cayenne Pepper, about 1/2 tsp
But then there was this recipe in Bon Appétit for Grilled Citrus Chicken that sounded good. So to Amy's ingredients, I added:
  • Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • Chopped Oregano
  • Onions
I just guess at the amounts. It is a marinade. Dump it all in a bowl, whisk it and pour it in a bag over the chicken and keep in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to one day.

On to the soufflé! The recipe says it makes 12 servings so I halved it.
Goat Cheese Soufflé from Sand Rock Farm You can find the recipe here!

Paul took control of grilling the chicken while I boiled the orzo, watched the souffles and started Laura's shrimp. Meanwhile, I had also tossed the asparagus with olive oil and a little salt and put it out to be grilled.

But I still needed a sauce or something for my orzo. I wanted to keep it fairly simple and fresh so as not to compete with the other dishes. So I started with olive oil in a pan and added garlic until lightly colored then I put it on low and tossed in some freshly grated lemon peel, chopped oregano and chopped mint. Oh yes... I also threw in just a couple of chopped kalmata olives. When the pasta was cooked al dente, I tossed it with my olive oil/herb mixture and put in a serving dish. Then I topped with caramelized leeks and fresh tomatoes for garnish.

I plated the goat cheese soufflés on a bed of field greens drizzled with a lemon, olive oil mixture. It was good. But I had envisioned more or something better. It wasn't goat-cheesy enough for me or something. Blair said it was "like a brownie made with gold," however and everyone seemed to gobble it all up!

I put the rest of the food in serving dishes at the table.

The chicken came out sooooo well. It was delicious all full of citrus and flavors of the sun. And the asparagus was so flavorful and tender from the grill. I hadn't prepared it in this fashion before and I HIGHLY recommend it, especially if you already have the grill going.

Laura's shrimp was nothing short of absolutely amazing! I sprinkled just a few of the caramelized leeks on top for garnish. The veloute sauce was SO delicious!!! Thank you, Laura! Her recipe calls for curry (optional). I think the curry MAKES it! Even those who don't find curry to be a favorite were sopping the sauce up with bread. And Paul, who doesn't like much and would NOT eat a shrimp, thought the sauce quite good and asked if I couldn't do the same sauce for chicken some time. I don't see why not. But it does seem more suited to a shrimp or fish dish.
My made up orzo and sauce was nice and light. I was worried the mint might conflict but really it just freshened up the pasta and was a wonderful accompaniment.
Apparently everyone liked it because seriously... they ate almost everything! I had very little left-overs. That is a good sign.
The once well dressed table is now demolished and pretty unappetizing looking. But it is a sign of a good meal. Now the hard part. Clean up! I hate that part.


MamaGeek said...

Oh man, will you be my personal chef? THAT looked FANTAB (except, like you said, for the cleanup part)!

Anonymous said...

WOW!!!! I love the additions you made to the marinade! As I was reading it I thought that those itms added a certain level of sophistication to the base marinade - great job!

You set a beautiful table! Was your husband balancing you on his shoulders for the photograph?

xoxox Amy

Kim in the Kitchen said...

Nicole, I am amazed! Everything is so beautiful! What a lucky bunch of folks that came to eat at your place:)

Jared said...

That chicken looks great! I like the idea of using a citrus marinade.

Single Girl and The City said...

So I tried out the marinata diavola on chicken and made into a grown up sandwich using toasted seven grain bread, dijon mustard, red/yellow tomatoes and butter lettuce. The marinade was absolutely delish. Great dinner idea, Nicole!

Emily said...

Your table looks gorgeous and every thing sounds so tasty.

Kate said...

I love messy cooks - but seriously, what a gorgeous table you set!

Sherry said...

I'm a messy cook, too. But things have to start out clean and organized ;)

Everything looks so yummy. Our restricted diet limits what recipes I can try right now, but your chicken marinade doesn't contain anything "illegal". Can't wait to try it.

Michelle said...

Think I'm going to copy this exact same meal for a party I'm giving soon. How did you get that picture of the table? I'm also a fan of Orangette's and was inspired by her since we both share the same hometown.

taste memory said...

everything looks delicious + beautiful. What a gorgeous post!

btw, I finally began + posted about the BWAP award today w. the links...having a hard time lately breaking away from the gorgeous outdoors!

Have a great one....

Nicole said...

Mama Geek- I would love to cook for you! Let me know if you are ever in CA! Of course all my eaters must clean though.

Amy- Thank you. I don't know if the additions made it more sophisticated or not. But I had some oranges on their way out and ??? I always like to mix things up. As for the photo... My brother-in-law is 6'5" and he was standing on a chair to take the photo.

Kim- Thank you! Thank you!

Jared- Citrus is a great marinade. I also use a lot of citrus in my carne asadas.

Single Girl- Your sandwich sounds great. Nothing like flavorful chicken.

Emily- Thank you!!

Kate- Well you would love me then. Total mess. That pic was at the beginning before all hell broke loose too.

Sherry- Yes. The beginning IS clean and organized. Then it goes to shambles. Glad I could offer you something befitting your diet.

Michelle- Welcome!! That is very flattering that you are going to copy my meal. Let me know how it turns out. My brother-in-law took the photo. At 6'5" and standing on a chair, he has serious height!

Taste Memory- Thanks! I will come check it out. I am going to be a little less present in the bloggosphere for a few weeks too. I HAVE to prep for my trade show and design new items. I have to get in Christmas mode NOW!!! Enjoy the sun!

Kate said...

An answer to your inquiry: I actually get the chicken chorizo at trader joes. Technically it's precooked, but it still crumbles great and for some reason I have a difficult time eating/cooking sausages in casing, so I remove it for even the cooked ones.

L Vanel said...

Beautiful, Nicole!

Nicole said...

Thanks Kate!

Lucy V- Welcome! I am so happy you came to visit my blog. Yours is just amazing. And thank you for the compliment.

Flanboyant Eats said...

no leftovers are a great sign. dinner parties can be tricky.

how do you manage clean up? I hate that with a passion!

love your blog name, by the way.

Nicole said...

Hi B! Welcome to my humble abode. Clean up is a B**ch sometimes. Often my guests are good enough to help. But in this case my sister had to rush home with her 18 mo. old daughter and my cousin had to high-tail it to LA... working the next day and all. The only good thing is that I can clean a dish here and there the next day as the kids run about. I would seriously entertain twice a week if it weren't for cleaning. And now I ramble....

A World in a PAN said...

Not that you need anyone else telling you how lovely the table looked or how mouthwatering the meal seemd, but the table looks beautiful! I am happy that you - and you guests - enjoyed having a well dressed table!

Robin Sue said...

Have fun in NY. Hope your show goes well. Your dinner table is so pretty. That shrimp looks so good. I will miss your blogs while you are busy. But I will keeep checking.

Nicole said...

Laura- Thanks! You got me motivated to pull out the china and dress it up a bit.

Robin- The shrimp was great! Do keep checking back. I am addicted to posting so there will still be some. But hopefully I can reign myself in and make them short!!!

Lulu said...

what a beautiful dinner, i bet it was yummy too!

Jaime said...

wow, that marinade looks delish!