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Happy New Year, Foodie Friends! Can you believe it’s 2013 already? I hope 2012 was good to you and that 2013 will be even better! Let’s get together on Saturday, January 12 to celebrate the start of a new year of good tidings, great food, and fantastic friends.

JANUARY 12, 2013 MENU

ABOUT THE MEAL The Happy New Year Dinner will be an open concept, self-serve, seating optional meal. This will allow for everyone to move about throughout the evening and get to know each other more easily. We’ll start the evening off with ginger carrot soup served with artisan bread. The gentle bite of ginger complements the sweetness of carrots in this creamy soup and prepares your palette for all the flavors to come.

In recent years I’ve become a huge fan of salads with warm elements and lots of texture. In my quinoa and tomato salad, the quinoa is seasoned with one of my homemade dressings; then layered on top of a bed of mixed greens. Grape tomatoes and parsley are pan-seared in sesame oil and layered on top of the quinoa which creates a delicious contrast in flavors in what appears to be a simple salad. One taste and you’ll understand the complexity of this salad though. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, quinoa is pronounced keen’-wah.

Next, in the version of stuffed eggplants that will be served next week, roasted eggplant shells will be filled with eggplants, mushrooms, red bell peppers, and leeks sauteed in a light red wine marsala sauce.

As an add-on, you can’t go wrong with sticky rice. I love sticky rice for its simple flavor that goes well with any dish and it’s great as a snack! Although most of you have probably had the traditional white sticky rice, I’m going to bet that most of you have not had the more nutritional version of this. Purple sticky rice is richer in nutrients and has a deeper flavor than traditional white sticky rice. That’s the best way to describe it. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on how to describe the flavor after you’ve tried it.

Now, on to the main courses! Herb-stuffed tilapia is a traditional Hmong fish dish where a whole tilapia fish is seasoned and stuffed with fresh herbs such as cilantro, basil, scallions, red peppers, etc. The fish is then broiled (or grilled) to perfection and served with sticky rice. Don’t be afraid to dig in with your hands for this one (on your own plate, of course)!

For the red meat lovers, my basil beef roast will surely hit the spot so make sure to save room for this! I take a premium cut of thick and tender chuck and season it simply with coarse salt and pepper. Then, I add a thick coating of fresh basil and slow-roast it for over two hours. Lastly, a delicious basil gravy is made with the drippings and spooned over the sliced roast. This simple dish is mmm-mmm good.

Dessert will be a surprise. But, I promise not to disappoint! 🙂

Remember, this dinner includes four wine pairings of two red wines and two white wines. Filtered tap water and an assortment of hot tea tea will also be available.

Only 16 guests will be admitted. To check availability, go to http://chopsticksorafork.eventbrite.com/. Should you have questions about the meal, send an email to chopsticksorafork@gmail.com. I look forward to seeing you at my table! Happy dining!

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