Stranger than Kitchen Part Deux

Oh, none of this “I’d” talk. So unlike the STK master. I will hook you up with plenty of the summer’s dried porcini’s, YOU will supervise the preparation, and then we’ll know exactly how this should taste. Deal?

That was me being called out by Preston, the host of the last STK after posting an un-tried recipe. Never one to back away from a challenge, I headed back to his home for round two. In attendance was an entirely new group of very interesting folks all eager to taste the goods. I deviated slightly from the plan conjured in the prior post. I also broke a few of my own STK rules this night as the menu was pre-planned and less improvisational. However the exact preparation, I schmay-drayed (as my mom would say.) I  knew a couple of the participants, so the group wasn’t entirely stocked with strangers, and I gave Preston some pre-prep directions on marinating the meat and soaking the porcini’s in oil. Sue me.

(schmay dray: To fake it, fudge it, wing it or other wise fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants)

Inasmuch as I am the toughest critic when it comes to my own cooking, the lamb was nothing short of spectacular. If you like lamb and porcini mushrooms, this was a home run. It paired well with a few choice Bordeaux wines graciously provided by some of the participants.

Lamb and Pork Loin Meat Marinade: Marinate overnight

Red Wine
Porcini mushroom stems
Fresh thyme
Orange Zest
Olive Oil

I went with thyme rather than rosemary as listed on the prior post as I thought that rosemary might be overwhelming for the mushrooms. The thyme really added a lovely autumn essence and paired well with both the pork and the lamb. After a night of marination, the meat was easily cut into chunks for skewers.

Skewer and coat with pesto;

Porcini Pesto: Blend together in a food processor or blender all ingredient and about 1/4 of the oil. Slowly add in the rest of the oil to emulsify the pesto.

3 cups Porcini infused olive oil
2 cups Soaked  dried porcinis
1/2 # pine nuts: lightly toasted in saute pan
5T lemon juice
2 ea shallots
1T salt
2t pepper
1/4 cup Feta cheese
2 T Fresh thyme
Grill kebabs on a hot grill, watch for flare-ups the oil from the pesto and the oil from the lamb can incinerate your meat if you aren’t careful.

We had plenty of pesto left over, which is great because it would make an amazing topper for gnocchi, ravioli or just plain ole fettuccine. I also think it would make a helluva salad dressing.

Lemon Soaked Red Potatoes with Orange and Lemon Zest and Fresh Oregano

10 med Red Potatoes cut into 1/3 inch slices  (par boil in salted water)
Drain and dry , spread on a roasting pan
2/3 Cup Olive Oil 
Fresh chopped garlic
Fresh Oregano
Lemon zest 
1 cup Lemon Juice 
Orange zest
Roast in a 400 degree oven until browned 

Tomato Cucumber and Feta Salad with Fresh Dill: Mix together all ingredients, drizzle with balsamic syrup

2 Cucumbers, peeled and de- seeded cut into  1/2 moons
3 Tomatoes, cut in chunks
1/2 bunch fresh dill
1 Cup Feta Chunks
1 T Fresh Garlic
1 Cup celery hearts (cut thin on bias) including leaves
1/2 C Olive Oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar  (reduce in a saucepan to create a syrup for garnish)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt tt
Pepper tt
Sugar tt

Preston made some porcini risotto for the group. I was reminded how much even the best of home cooks can stress when preparing for an audience. The risotto was wonderful the stress was needless.  If I could impart anything substantive about cooking to anyone who may read this blog, it would be this:

Tips on how to cook for a group:

  • Cooking should be fun! Most disasters with food can be avoided, averted, or fixed so enjoy yourself.
  • Food preparation should not be a stressful experience.  RELAX, it will all be ok, or it will be a- little- less- than- ok and that’s ok…….IT’S JUST FOOD!  Less stress, more wine!
  • Cook with wild abandon, try new things, experiment, become a kitchen eccentric! Why not? In the immortal words of my grandmother, although a bit crude;

“It all turns to shit in the end”  -B. Moskow

I’ve chosen to remember that as it pertains to food, I think you should too.


One response to “Stranger than Kitchen Part Deux

  1. I loved your post. Everyone should remember to relax. I read this post 4 times I enjoyed it so much. Thanks for sharing your wise thoughts.

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