Thursday, June 22, 2006

Saturday Supper at The House: Father's Day

I purchased the much-lauded Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook a few months back and had waited for the right opportunity to put it to use. Since my dad has had such an influence on my love of food and my ability to cook in general, I knew that Father's Day would be a great chance to serve up my attempt at Suzanne Goin's dishes.

After learning that the weather would be hot that Saturday (ok, so it was Father's Eve...), I nixed my original plan to make the Wild Salmon A La Lutece w/ Sweet Corn, Green Cabbage and Brown Butter Vinaigrette since it would require me standing over the stove. Instead, I chose things that could either be made in advance or on the grill, and made sure I stuck to the Summer Menus highlighted in the book. The cookbook is divided by seasons, not courses, so it teaches you how to eat what is good NOW instead of spending tons of time trying to make out-of-season food taste decent.

Since corn is particularly plentiful and fresh during the summer, I started with the Sweet Corn Soup w/ Avocado Cream & Cilantro. This was probably the most time consuming but TOTALLY worth it. I made the soup in the morning while it was still cool out, then reheated it right before serving. I love that this recipe doesn't use any stock. Initially I was afraid that it may turn out bland but I now realize that stock would mask the fresh flavor of the corn, which is the main star here. After sautéing corn cut fresh off the cob along with sweet butter, one cup of diced potato, yellow onions, jalapeno and 1 whole arbol chile, I just simmered the mixture in water and then blended it in batches. Although the recipe doesn't tell you to strain the soup, I think it's a necessary step to get the heavy cream-like consistency that the book does state it should be. I just used a fine-meshed colander and the soup did indeed come out velvety smooth and delicious. The dollop of avocado cream added a nice contrast to the slightly spicy soup.

Sweet Corn Soup w/ Avocado Cream & Cilantro

I had noticed a few heirloom tomatoes at the Farmer's Market and made a simple side dish of sliced tomatoes topped with torn basil and a balsamic vinaigrette. The next Lucques recipe turned out to be our favorite- Summer Squash Gratin was succulent, sweet and just plain delicious....and easy! The preparation involves slicing several kinds of whatever summer squash is available and tossing it with a salsa verde (made from parsley, mint, garlic, oregano and olive oil), browned butter breadcrumbs, gruyere cheese and topping the whole thing with more of the same bread crumbs. I assembled this in the morning as well and just popped it into my toasted oven (no need to use the big one!) about an hour before we sat down. After 45 minutes the squash is tender and the topping is absolutely irresistible. This would make a nice main dish for your favorite vegetarian!

Heirloom tomatoes with basil and balsamic

Summer Squash Gratin

The main dish also involved the salsa verde used in the gratin- Grilled Veal Chops w/ Salsa Verde. The veal is simply rubbed with a combination of herbs, olive oil and garlic and left to sit overnight in the refrigerator. After a few minutes on a hot grill, it's topped with a spoonful of salsa verde. The meat goes SO well with the light touch of mint in the sauce and again- what could be easier than this?

Grilled Veal Chops w/ Salsa Verde

For dessert, I knew that I just had to try the Plum Sorbet Sandwiches w/ Molasses Cookies. Can you guess what's in the sorbet? Plums (skin on), sugar, honey and a squeeze of lemon. Period. No water, no corn syrup. The result? Pure, plum goodness which was made to be eaten with the spicy cookies. I baked the cookies two days earlier and simply put them in an air tight container. The sorbet came together in just a few minutes- macerate the plum halves in sugar and honey for 30 minutes, add a squeeze of lemon and blend into a smooth puree. Chill liquid and pour into ice cream maker. Done. No cooking, no standing over a stove for this one. I spread the sorbet into a square cake dish lined with waxed paper so I could use biscuit cutters to cut out rounds of sorbet to put on the cookies. I can't wait to try these again and experiment with different flavored sorbets- lemon would be fantastic with these cookies. And oh- the cookies. You know when you read in a cookbook that the dough "is a dream to handle?" This dough certainly fits into that category. Trust me- no one hates a fussier dough more than I do, especially when you're making cut-out cookies. There are few things worse than cracking, sticky dough. This one held together so well through rolling, cutting, baking and cooling that it's going in my "favorites" box.

Plum Sorbet Sandwiches w/ Molasses Cookies

Another peek........

The food was a hit and personally, a pleasure to make. There is something so appealing about cooking with the seasons, and Goin's carefully thought out recipes and menus are a joy to follow. Now I just have to make it out to her restaurant!

Oh- and Happy Father's Day Papa! Even though you always try to deny it, you really did put the love of cooking into our hearts. I don't know anyone else whose dad made them Welsh Rarebit for dinner or perfect lemon tarts for dessert.



yoony said...

omg those plum sorbet sandwiches look so beautifully delicious! i'm happy to read about your lucques recipe adventures. :) it's work but so worth it!

aww man, i don't know if i'm ready to leave the spring menus yet! i think you, me and grant of Well Fed will all be cooking summer lucques recipes soon enough. it should be fun to read up on everyone's individual post. :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Oooohhh, I love the looks of those cookie sandwiches!!! Your menu must have been very fine...

Erin S. said...

very impressive! I've done recipes here and there from the book, but not a whole meal yet. This is fantastic. I really want to do the soup. Thanks for sharing the pics/info.