Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dinner party: First course

Last night I had a dinner party, as I mentioned in the post yesterday. I like having people over for dinner because 1. cooking is fun and a form of relaxation for me, 2. it forces me to clean my house, and 3. good food makes people happy!

The first course was a chilled asparagus salad over an asparagus coulis. Asparagus is in season therefore it tastes especially delicious and it is affordable.

The recipe was adapted from Thomas Keller, the genius of American haute cuisine:

2 bunches of asparagus
olive oil
canola oil
red wine vineagar
Dijon mustard
2 radishes, sliced thinly and in julienned strips
3-4 hard cooked egg yolks, chopped
sniped chives for garnish

Trim asparagus and save the tough stemmed. Cook the spears in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes until tender but not droopy. Remove from the water and place in a bowl of ice water. When cool, chill in the fridge.

Add the tough stems into the boiling water. Cook for 7 to 10 min until they are very tender. Drain and save a cup of the cooking liquid. Put the cooked stems in the blender w/ salt and pepper and 3T of cooking liquid. Blend until smooth. Add 1T olive oil. For a very silky smooth coulis, strain the liquid through a fine sieve like a chinois. I have a chinois expressly for the purpose of making smooth sauces like this one. Chill until cold.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together 1/4 c. red wine vineagar, 1/8c. Dijon mustard. Add 1/4c. canola oil. When emulsified, slowly whisk in another 1/2c. canola oil.

To assemble the salad, place 2T asparagus coulis on each plate. Top with 4 or 5 spears of asparagus. Drizzle each plate w/ 1T vinaigrette. Sprinkle chopped egg yolks and some salt across asparagus spears. Sprinkle radish on top of eggs. Garnish each with snipped chives.

This salad is very beautiful. It is a layer of colors: green, rose (from red wine vinaigrette), yellow, white and magenta, and green. It is so easy. The hardest part is slicing up radishes into julienned strips.

I think the dish was a success, especially for a vegetable! Everyone ate it and remarked at how pretty and tasty it was.

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