Ages ago I was tagged by CookieCrumb of I'm Mad And I eat and Julie at Kitchenography with this meme created by Angelika of The Flying Apple. Angelika asks Which Menu Would You Serve Blogging Friends
For A Welcome Dinner Upon Their First Visit to Your Home? This is not about choosing a favorite meal or dish (at least that is my take on it) meme. Rather, it asks us
to describe a sort of signature menu revealing our personal
cooking style and culinary preferences. This set me to thinking for several days and I realized that I don't have a cooking style or preference. If other people can spot one, please let me know. I grew up watching my mother prepare meals from a variety of cookbooks containing recipes from around the world. She tried to master them all and her efforts gave me a broad appreciation of food. I realized that when I cook, I do a lot of it by whim, by what appeals to me at the moment. And a lot of things appeal to me.
When I prepare a meal for a dinner party, I first consider my guests. Will there be people there with diet restrictions? Do they enjoy a particular cuisine? Once that's settled in my mind, I scan a zillion cookbooks and annoy my friends with endless discussions about possible recipes. Finally, it all comes together. I didn't scan any cookbooks this time, or discuss it with friends. This is what feels right at the moment.
To start, I'd serve a Martha Stewart Heirloom Tomato Tart recipe that I've prepared several times in the past. It's very simple, just fresh tomato slices layered in a tart shell, with a sprinkling of gruyere cheese and julienned fresh basil. The picture above was taken several years ago and I still remember how fresh and perfect it tasted.
Following that, I'd serve Sweet Pea Soup With Morel Mushroom Cream. The pea soup is vivid green, topped with morel mushroom cream. It's so good, everyone will remember it with great fondness. I know that because one of my guests still talks about it. The mushroom cream is whipped into a froth and piled on top of the green soup, creating a cappuccino effect.
One of my favorite foods is Copper River Salmon, which I would serve as a main course. Every Spring the first salmon of the season return to the rivers and streams of Alaska, headed towards the Copper River. Because the Copper River salmon's journey is so long, they must store extra fat and oils in order to survive the long trip. This high fat and oil content is why Copper River salmon are recognized as one of the world's best tasting salmon. I would serve it grilled simply with no adornment, so that the flavor can be fully appreciated. Fresh asparagus, cooked briefly, would go nicely with it.
For dessert, fresh berries with creme anglaise.
Now I must tag people, always a difficult job, as there are many bloggers that I respect so much and it's hard to choose. This time I tag:
Gattina at Gattina
Burcu at Almost Turkish Recipes
Mae at Rice and Noodles
Lisa at Champaign Taste
The Chocolate Lady at In Mol Araan
And I also tag anyone reading this!
Sweet Pea Soup With Morel Mushroom Cream (Food & Wine)
1/2 ounce dried morel mushrooms
1/2 cup very hot water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
5 cups frozen peas (1 1/2 pounds), thawed
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped mint, plus 8 small leaves for garnish
In a small bowl, cover the dried morels with the hot water. Set aside until the morels are softened, about 15 minutes. Lift the morels out of the soaking liquid and rinse under water to remove any grit. Set aside 8 small morels for garnish and coarsely chop the rest. Reserve the morel soaking liquid.
In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the chopped morels and half of the shallots and cook over moderately high heat until the shallots are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and the reserved morel soaking liquid, stopping when you reach the grit at the bottom of the bowl. Boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and simmer over moderately low heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season the morel cream with salt and cayenne and remove from the heat.
Transfer the morel cream to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the morel cream to the saucepan and keep warm. Rinse out the blender.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the remaining sliced shallots and cook over moderate heat until they are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Add all but 1/4 cup of the peas. Add 1 tablespoon of the chopped mint and simmer over moderate heat until the peas are just tender, about 4 minutes.
Working in batches, puree the pea soup in a blender and pass it through a coarse sieve set over a heatproof bowl, pressing on the solids with the back of a wooden spoon or a plastic spatula. Return the soup to the pot, reheat gently and season with salt and cayenne.
In a small skillet, melt the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter. Add the reserved whole morels and peas and season with salt. Cook over moderately high heat until hot, about 1 minute.
Ladle the pea soup into 4 shallow bowls. Swirl in the warm morel cream and scatter the whole morels and peas over the soup. Garnish the soup with the remaining chopped mint and the mint leaves and serve immediately.
MAKE AHEAD The morel cream can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently before serving.