Last weekend Secret Kitchen event was a great success. I’m very pleased with the progress I make from one event to the next yet there’s always many ways to improve. This time the weather was on our side and we set the table outside in the beautiful balcony. With the sun disappearing slowly, the dusk breeze strokes, candle light and colorful lights of the balcony starting to sparkle, there was a wonderful atmosphere. As the guests started to arrive, we welcomed them to our house with a Refreshing cocktail of red fruits, vodka, orange juice and mint. I liked this combination in a cocktail, that will probably be the last red fruits cocktail of the season. Summer fruits are coming soon. My guests this time were a mix of friends, family, co-workers and people I met for the first time.
This time was also the first time for me to whip up a meal all specially made by me. Especially, the big change was baking the bread myself (three types) and making all the ice-creams (four different kinds!). It was a challenge but I’m so happy with the outcome. Although my recently (second hand) bought Gaggia gelateria ice-cream maker proved right once again, the (second hand) bread maker blew a fuse three times before I gave up on it sadly. Finally I took out the dough and baked it in the oven, which turned out to be great tasting as well as good looking bread. So there were Little French bread rolls that I baked like little muffins (Yael’s idea). I also made Dark brown whole wheat bread with some cornmeal crispy crust. The third bread was Olive oil Focaccia that believe it or not, was my first ever experience of making focaccia. Thank god I had Rafi to lend a hand with this. I found a great looking recipe for it: fermenting a starter a night before baking. It came out so liquid but the end result was fabulous with just some olive oil, few springs of thyme and coarse salt. Next night’s focaccia came out even better. I thought of baking it on the hot stone Anat brought to me but it didn’t fit the mold and the dough was too wet to pour it over the stone directly inside the oven, so I’ll do it next time when I’m more prepared. The bread was served with Yellow and green butter, olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar and an Apple and raisins chutney.
The Amuse Bouche dish was another trail of doing ravioli after the cocktail party two weeks ago when I made 120 units and they started sticking to one another and a whole big mess. I gave it another try this time. As now I know, storing these with a limited refrigerated space was the big real obstacle. I had Hagar, Rafi and Dad’s help with this dish that finally came out pretty satisfactory: Ravioli with shrimp and red basil leaf, lemon-basil sauce, chives. Also for the first time I had a chance to ask my guests if they have any dietary restrictions, and I got this information right after they signed up. Four of them don’t eat any seafood so I made a non seafood version with goat cheese for them.
Next dish was the Carrot Dish. I love an all-one-vegetable first course dish and so I took the carrot for the challenge. Carrots are wonderful because they can be so diverse: raw, cooked, sweet, salty, cold, hot, soft, crispy… I used this diversion in the dish that had many of these elements in it. First the hot soup of caramelized carrot which is the flag recipe from the Modernist Cuisine At Home book. They have a really fun trick to give it a caramelized fragrance without adding sugar and it came out fantastic. The cold part was the ice-cream: raw carrot juice with some orange juice and a dash of cream ice-cream. I could eat a liter of this without noticing. The third part was the tepid temperature with crispy savory carrot chip and foamy carrot cream. First night I tried using the micro-oven chipser pad but I wasn’t that happy about it in the end. The second night we deep fried it and it came out better. People said they liked to experiment with the dish, mixing cold with hot and they loved the concept. I’m happy overall but it’s a dish that needs some work to make it more amazing.
Then came the steak tartar. I love steak tartar. It’s one of my favorite French dishes. What stands out about this dish to me is that I love it when it comes to the table with the yolk on top. I love the excitement of mixing it inside the raw beef and I love how I feel afterwards – not too heavy. My take on this classic dish was Classic – Modern: Steak Tartare coarsely cut with a knife, capers, pickled onions, yolks and mustard ice cream, pickled mustard seeds, cornichon, parmesan and paprika. Served with crispy toast. It’s not overly modernized but I think it’s still with a twist. I love these pickled mustard seeds and the ice-cream I made could be used as a sauce to practically anything!
The dish that followed was the one which wasn’t received as well as the others. Sous-Vide Strikes Back: Chicken breast cooked at low temperature, tarragon cream, crunchy chicken on a stick, champignon salad with walnuts, crispy chicken skin, Cappucin. The only problem with this dish was that it was chicken breast, simply as is and not heavily spiced or crispy or anything, but the contrary – delicately cooked at low temperature with sous-vide technique. There was nothing wrong with it except it didn’t fit to the Israeli mouth. Oh well, I liked it…
The next dish shot directly to the Israeli mouth with bold flavors and Spanish influences – Comforting and good: lamb lion, Chèvre, Chestnut-pumpkin and sweet potato safaron risotto, black olives tapenade, chimichurri and dried tomatoes. The lamb came out perfectly pink and succulent from the sous-vide bath and then seared in a pan with herbs and garlic. The goat cheese blended wonderfully with the lamb surprised as a novelty combination for some. The risotto with all the condiments was excellent. Everyone was pleased. I will definitely do this dish again soon.
Then we rested a little bit before dessert. The first one we served was a fruity dessert with a far east influences: Dessert for the advanced: tapioca in coconut and ginger, white chocolate ganache – wasabi, lychee – chili sorbet with chili oil, radish sprouts. I wasn’t sure how will it all blend together and how well people will connect to it. It ended up rising above expectations – they loved it! It had some sweet and some spicy, and some more sweet and then some more spicy, but it all worked in harmony together. I’m very happy because not only it was a total risk putting this dessert together made for the first time ever, I also invented it myself and everyone were both surprised and satisfied with it.
The last dish I called unofficially “The bitter end” because it had some bitter flavors of beer mixed with the usual sweet dessert pie to balance the dish. The corner pub dessert: oatmeal pie, whipped cream, beer ice cream, caramelized popcorn. The oatmeal pie with the unsweetedned whipped cream was the same one from the cocktail party and it’s one amazing pie that I love but despise at the same time (for all the butter and sugar in it). The addition of not too sweet beer ice-cream breaks the expected sweetness and heaviness of this pie and also lighten it up. The popcorn, just a cute crunchy bits that pops it all together and makes everyone happy. Everything together really reminds me of the bittersweet essence of sitting in a pub and drinking beer.
After all this we suggested some hot beverages and the famous Fudge, this time with Brandy mixed in just to give it a small kick.
It was a hell of a dinner, I believe. I’m glad these nights are going so well.
Thanks everyone that helped: My dad for carving cardboard boxes for the raviolis and took all the beautiful pictures, for my mom who knows how to style the house and responsible for the beautiful balcony and my crew this time: Hagar, Yael, Rafi, Alice, Itay, Amir and Tal.
Of course, a big thanks for my Guests. If you’re one of them, PLEASE write down a note in the testimonials page or leave a comment in this page and I’ll make sure it gets there.
Future guests, I would love for you to join next time which is planned to be at the beginning of July. The registration isn’t open yet but in order to get the update first, join my mailing list (sits are sold out pretty quickly!).
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