Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sharing is Caring . . .

When ambition gets the best of me, I tend to throw caution to the wind. We were invited to Theo and Nancy’s for their Annual “First of the Summer” gathering “Under the Oaks”.

Under the Oaks . . .

In my previous post, I made mention of the “Crostini with Gorgonzola, Carmelized Onions and Fig Jam”. I even included the recipe should you wish to partake in the most delicious nibble. The multiple layers of flavors tickles the palate with bursts of sweet and savory, crunch and munch and lip smackin’ good. You can’t have just one. (Look here.)

So what happened to the absent appetizer? I ran out of time. Yes, shame on me. This culinary school trained professional ran-out-of-time! No excuses. Just didn’t get the ball rollin’.

I had the pasta dish assembled and plated. I had transformed the Artisan Bakery Sourdough Baguette into toasted crostini. The Gorgonzola spread was blended and ready to “shmear”. The coveted Fig Confiture was pulled from the pantry shelf. The onion marmalade sat cooling on the burner. So what happened to assembly? Ander calling out “It’s 2:00PM and cars are turning into the driveway! Do you really have to wash your hair? You’re gonna wear a hat anyway! C’mon, woman, get the lead out! I’m H-U-N-G-A-R-Y!!!” I return with “Uh-huh…I’m coming, Dear”, straining to keep both middle digits clenched in my hand. Since the Oaks are just around the bend of the driveway, I proceeded to make a substitute on the spot – “Crunchy Carrots with Fresh Dill Salad”. Wouldn’t you know, it became the hit of the potluck buffet. A hit, I say, as it distinguished itself by guest making compliments and asking “How did you make this?” This question, which I’m often posed with, translates to “May I have the recipe?”

Pasta and Carrots . . .

We were pleasantly entertained by the different guests in attendance. It was nice to meet new acquaintances, such as lovely Ruth who taught us the game of "fruit basket" and sang to us of “where paw-paws grow.” I had a rare opportunity to pull trivia out of the annals of my brain. I explained, “A paw-paw is the largest edible fruit native to America. The fruit appears plump, similar to the mango or papaya and has the same flavor profile as the cherimoya or custard apple. “

Lovely Ruth . . .

We also had the chance to catch up with old community comrades like John and Karen, Nancy and Harold. John, with his handy-dandy digital, captured several “candid” moments. Karen, sweet and charming, sharing the accounts of a doting aunt to her teenage nephew, Spencer. Nancy, vivacious and fun personality kept our table lively. Chairs kept getting pulled up alongside each other. Harold, being a Navy man, and I exchanged tales of Naval activities I’d heard from my father. Harold revealed some of his own adventures during his time in the service. There was a certain familiar glint in his eyes when I mentioned the “shellback” ritual. This is a ceremonial occurrence when “pollywogs” cross the Equator. One thing I learned from my Father, I have become skilled in getting to know people and encouraging their spirit to come forward. I always enjoy hearing their stories and seeing the joy on their faces when memories of things past arise.

Harold . . .

While training at the CCA, a favorite instructor told me, “As a trained chef, it is expected to guard your best recipes”. However, it is in my nature, I am my Father’s daughter, after all, to share my gifts. I introduced our group to the allure of Limoncello and how it is the traditional thirst-quencher of the Italian Amalfi Coast. I served up samples of Bellini’s made with Sir William Pear purée and our local Paradise Ridge, Blanc de Blanc “champagne”, explaining that the original cocktail was created at Harry’s Bar in Venice. The original is customarily made with White Peach fruit purée or juice and the Italian Sparkling Wine, Prosecco.

And now, without further ado, I share my recipe for “Crunchy Carrots with Fresh Dill Salad”.


Dear Nancy and Harold,

Below is the recipe I promised you. Hope your family reunion at "Lake Paw-Paw" is full of fun and adventure. Bon Voyage!

Chef Anni




CRUNCHY CARROTS WITH FRESH DILL SALAD
(NOTE: Ander and I first tasted this delightful side dish at a quaint California café. Upon asking for the recipe, they denied me the pleasure. Making the most of my culinary training and Food Science background, I began to dissect the savory dish to come up with a recipe of my own.)

Special Equipment: Mandoline or VERY sharp knife and proficient knife skills

Ingredients:

6 large Fresh Carrots, thinly sliced
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup Fresh Dill, finely chopped, fronds only, no stems
1/4 cup Fresh Italian or Flat-leafed Parsley, finely chopped, leaves only, no stems
1 large Fresh Lemon, zest and juice
6 Tbl. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Method:

Combine garlic, lemon juice, zest and Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a large bowl to make a marinade or vinaigrette. Add thinly sliced carrots, fine chopped dill and parsley. Toss all together. Salt and pepper, to taste. Can be served at room temperature or chilled.

Yield: Approx. 4 – 6 servings.

Variation: I also like to include thinly sliced radishes for a colorful display. As an hors d’oeuvre, I spread sweet butter on a slice of rustic bread and place the herbed carrots/radishes on top. Pairs well with Kunde Estate Chardonnay.

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