Dave and I got married on January 1st, three years ago, after being together since late 1999. So we get to celebrate every year together with the heralding of the New Calendar Year.
This year we cooked a theme dinner. It took all day. It was WONDERFUL!
Our favorite TV show - the only one we watch on purpose - is Iron Chef America. It's on the Food Network on Sunday evenings and features several "Iron Chefs" who've won their position with outstanding culinary skills. Every episode features a "Challenger", outstanding chef in their own right, who chooses one of the Iron Chefs to compete against. The menu is based on a "secret" ingredient that is revealed at the start of the show. Some of the most interesting involve such things as Kobe beef, suckling pig, Yellowfin Tuna, carrots, chocolate, eggs, etc. The chefs and their two assistants then have an hour to make 5 separate dishes featuring the secret ingredient. These dishes are judged by a panel of 3, sometimes foodies, sometimes not, judges. They're scored on originality, taste and presentation. It's all very interesting and inspiring.
Dave and I chose 10 different items that we thought would make fun themes and not be too expensive or difficult. We did NOT choose truffles! Those 10 went onto pieces of paper and into the hat. I pulled out POTATO. YUM!
It didn't take too much time to come up with a menu:
We each chose dishes to be the "lead" on. One of our recently processed chickens was already thawing, so we incorporated it into the dinner. Still, we needed a few groceries, but mostly we had the ingredients.
First things first - the chicken stock and cooked chicken were needed for the soup and the hash. Into the pot went carrots, onions, garlic, herbs and chicken pieces - wing tips, back, neck, liver, heart and gizzard. The filleted breasts went in to partially cook.
The leeks went into another pot to saute and await the chicken stock.
The spudnut dough is yeast risen, so it was started at the same time as the chicken stock. Into the mixer with the dough hooks that I'd never used! (They worked great :-)
The dough had to be kneaded and set to rise for about an hour...
...before rolling and cutting into doughnut shapes. I used to have a biscuit cutter, but all I found was the fluted thing shown. I used a combination of that and a large diameter glass and cut the holes with some little plastic thing I found in the "junk" drawer. Of course, we saved the holes.
Once we got cooking in earnest, the photos tapered off. Here are the dishes as they were "plated"
First course - vichisoisse: made with our own chicken stock, russet potatoes, leeks, whipping cream for decadence and topped with green onions and garlic-butter sourdough croutons:Second course: a picnic plate featuring Potato Salad with Peas. Firm new potatoes paired with green peas, shallots and a sour cream dressing garnished with parsley.
The potato salad was accompanied with fried chicken drumettes, Dave's special deviled eggs, and crispy slivers of chicken skin.
Third course: Twice Baked Potatoes with Broccoli - Russet potatoes baked, then halved and scooped out. The potato was coarsely mashed and blended chopped broccoli, cheddar cheese and "Uncle Dan's" sour cream dip. Back into the oven for a final baking yielded these gems:
Fourth (and main) Course: Chicken Hash and Egg - cubed chicken breast is combined with cubed new potato and egg, then fried crispy and topped with a egg. (If we'd been real Iron Chefs, the egg would have been a quail egg! and truffle would have been grated over the top... heh.) Garnish is a fresh green onion.
Fifth (Dessert) Course: Glazed Spudnuts - Russet potatoes form the base for this fried airy delight. The spudnuts are flavored with lemon zest and a bit of nutmeg and topped with a simple powdered sugar glaze.
Enough cooking and talking. Here is the FEAST:
We were hungry after all that cooking! There was enough to feed us for 2 days, plus. :-)
Things we learned:
It was fun cooking together - well, we *re*learned that one.
An incredible number of recipes are available online (and are easily modified).
Without the resources of a "Kitchen Stadium" and multiple "sous chefs" a time limit for our "theme dinner" was unreasonable.
Plating and presentation were the most challenging areas.
We can cook!
Happy New Year All!