6.10.2010

Whew.


You know it was a party when, the next morning, your guests send pictures as evidence and call with stories of their maladies that occurred in the aftermath of the evening. That reminds me, someone promised a picture that I have not yet received...


No, really.

What a cool night. The setting was ethereal, the wine was flowing, the food turned out pretty great, and everyone seemed to have a blast. The only sad part is that this is all hear-say for me as I was in the kitchen the entire time. And I was a little crazed. But I was happy. I was in The Zone.

Vichysoisse atop a Hama Hama Oyster, Garnished with Caviar

But, with a few pacing and plating issues figured out (too little time between a few courses, way too much time between another and I need to plate slightly smaller portions) I believe this whole Dinner at Eight brain flower of mine might just take off!

Grilled lamb chops with mint and lemon over spring pea risotto and heirloom carrots braised in vermouth, sweet butter & sage

The next day (or maybe a couple of days later to allow everyone to cater to their recovery period) I emailed, called, texted and sent smoke signals to everyone for their - no-holds-barred - input. Theoretically this was why I wanted them to come in the first place. What I found the most interesting is that everyone found the salad course, and the pairing with it, to be their favorite. The salad??

It is an interesting salad, I must admit. It is composed of endive, which is great fun to eat with one's hands. In the spirit of Alice Waters, who prefers to eat salad with her hands, I had Heather (our awesome server for the evening AND one of my oldest friends) instruct everyone to do just that. And to add a little more fun to the course, Heather had suggested we provide the guests with rolled, hot hand towels both before and after the course was served for clean hands. I'm guessing the delicious salad was even more so with a little process, a little story.

So, from the maiden voyage of Dinner at Eight, I share with you today the recipe for the salad course. For last Saturday’s complete menu and pairings, and for future dates, reservations and menus, visit Dinner at Eight.


Endive salad with roasted garlic, walnuts and oil cured olives with Meyer lemon cream

Serves 6

1 Meyer lemon, very thinly sliced
5 Belgian endives, cores removed, separated into spears
Meyer lemon cream (recipe follows)
3/4 cup toasted walnuts, in small chunks
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 bulb roasted garlic (minus a couple of cloves for the Meyer lemon cream)
1/3 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Place the endive in a large bowl and pour the Meyer lemon cream over them. Add the walnuts, lemon slices, and sliced shallots. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to coat the endive with the dressing. Taste for seasoning, and arrange on plate. Scatter the olives and herbs over the salad.


Meyer lemon cream

2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
2 cloves of the roasted garlic
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the shallot, roasted garlic, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil. Gently stir in cream, add a few grinds of pepper, and taste for balance and seasoning.
 
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