Art of the Table

Art of the Table

My SeaCookery boat is currently docked, but I haven’t stopped cooking. A few weeks ago I got reacquainted with some old friends, Steve and Amy. About 24 hours later, Steve emailed and asked if I might be interested in helping him pull off a secret birthday 40th birthday dinner party for Amy in a few weeks’ time.

When we met over coffee to organize our plot, I suggested we add an additional secret: the ingredients. Amy is the owner of a gourmet food and kitchen store in Grand Rapids, and I decided to ‘hide’ one ingredient from her store in each of the dishes.

Steve picked the wines from their cellar and I put together an exotic, globe-trotter of a menu. It was a ton of fun.

Monday’s Menu
Snack
Pappedew peppers stuffed with whole anchovies and an artichoke-cottage cheese pate
Soup
Peppery parsnip soup topped with crème fraîche and wild mushroom salt
Salad
Braised leeks, barely hard-boiled egg, bacon, and butternut squash seed oil
Vegetable
Butternut squash croquettes with tupelo honey and cinnamon
Seafood
Curried paella with snow crab, shrimp, chicken and pork
Meat
Lamb lollipops in a Mexican salt-n-pepper chocolate sauce, with cinnamon candied nuts and fried chilies
Fruit
Ginger goat cheese cheesecake with a golden raisin compote

The ingredients from the store included:
– White anchovies
– Wild mushroom salt

– Butternut squash seed oil (not cheap, but I highly recommend you go out and get some)
– Tupelo honey
– Masala curry dip (I used this dip seasoning to coat the shrimp and the chicken before searing – so good)
– You can buy these racks of 16 lamb lollipops at Amy’s store. They take only a few minutes on both sides on the grill. High heat seals the outside and keeps the flavor in.
– Mexican salt and pepper chocolate (I was able to make a savory sauce for the lamb by simply adding milk to these chocolate disks and melting them in a pot. I added a little more salt and pepper, and you could add cinnamon and cayenne for a more intense mole-like experience.)
– Ginger juice (I bought this a while ago, before deciding to use it in the cheesecake – it makes a great little cocktail when mixed with bourbon)
– Effie’s homemade oat cakes (I used these to make the crust)
– Fig and golden raisin mostarda (used to top the cheesecake)

You can also get goat cheese and pappedew peppers at Amy’s store – and, as I discovered after multiple trips, an excellent wine selection. If you live in West Michigan and are buying wine at Meijer, stop. Amy is a sommelier with an well-trained palate and can help you pick out a bottle to suit any pocketbook.