Who says you have to go out to enjoy a 3-course meal?
Now, don't get me wrong, there is something about getting all gussied up, going out to a great restaurant, drinking amazing wine, and enjoying a scrumptious meal that is such a pleasure right?
Lately, though, we can only utilize the take out option for restaurants with this global state of isolation.
Nathan, my son, and I have been glued to the series "Hells Kitchen" with Gordon Ramsay. It's one of his older series, but we are just getting around to watching it now. The show really inspired us to really dig deep into our culinary skills. Nate mentioned the idea of doing a 3-course meal for our family, and venture into dishes we have never eaten or even made before. We did our research, purchased the groceries we needed, and planned the date. It's good to note, the recipes we chose, were all very affordable food choices. We felt it was important during this time.
I wanted to keep the table simple but incorporate what I had on hand. Deep in my linen closet, I found this beautiful green french inspired fabric and thought it would look so pretty for a table runner. Out came my vintage brass and wooden candle holders and my favorite woven placemats and the table was perfect.
So on to the cooking.
We plotted our strategy and prepared the 3-course feast.
The First Course.
Apple and Walnut Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette served with Pan-Fried Scallops
We wanted to try something really different, for our first course. We have never prepared scallops before, so this was a bit of an adventure for us. The combination of the fresh salad and juicy scallops together was exquisite.
Ingredients for Salad
Fresh Boston lettuce
Honey Crisp Apples
Ingredients for Salad Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
2 large lemons (juiced 1/3 cup)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey or maple syrup
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
8 large scallops
Olive oil for frying
Fresh Rosemary or Thyme herb twig
If using frozen, be sure they are thawed prior to frying.
For instruction to cook scallops, we found this youtube video which is very easy to follow
Place lettuce on a small plate, add julienned sliced apples, green onions, and sprinkle on the chopped walnuts. Drizzle on the vinaigrette. Place two scallops per plate and serve.
The Second Course.
Lamb Chops with Balsamic Reduction and Pomme Puree.
I have to say, this course was even better than we thought it would ever taste like. Every layer of this dish seemed to work so well together with their individual flavors and textures. It was simply mouthwatering, to say the least.
15 minutes prior to frying, add a rub to the chops
3/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Once ready to fry, make sure your pan is hot.
Using butter to fry, cook each side of chops 6 minutes each.
2/3 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
Add into a small saucepan and simmer until it's reduced by 2/3. Set aside to cool
Inspired by Gordon Ramsay
1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp nutmeg
2 bay leaves
12 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
3 large or 6 small potatoes (Yukon are best), peeled and diced
1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
1⁄4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the heavy cream, bay leaf, oil, and garlic. Bring to a boil and reduce the cream by one fourth taking about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Strain the cream through a sieve into a small saucepot to keep warm. Smash the garlic into the sieve to expel as much flavor as possible. Bring diced potatoes to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook 7 to 8 minutes. Pour the cooked potatoes into a strainer and allow to drain for 30 seconds to fully release excess water, then add back into the saucepot. Cover and bring to medium heat to let the potatoes steam for 1 to 2 minutes. Mash potatoes with a potato masher.
Slowly fold a third of the cream into the potatoes with a rubber spatula. Lightly whip the potatoes and add another third of the infused cream. Fold in a few cubes of butter at a time until all of the butter is incorporated. Whip the potato mixture ( I used my food processor) until creamy.
We oven roasted some julienned cut carrots, with a drizzle of honey, balsamic vinegar and salt, and pepper to taste. Chose any vegetable of your choice.
On a large dinner plate, place a dollop of pomme puree to start, place lamb chop on top of the puree, top that with your favorite vegetable, and pea pods to garnish. Drizzle reduction over.
The Third Course.
Inspired by Chef John - All recipes
They say making souffle is a bit tricky. I would have to agree. There are many little steps to make these delectable treats. Mine fell a bit, but they still tasted incredible and chocolatey rich. A great ending to a wonderful meal.
Chocolate Souffle Ingredients:
1 teaspoon melted butter, or as needed
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 ounces 70% chocolate ( I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 1/3 tablespoons cold milk
1 pinch salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 large egg yolk
2 large egg whites
1 pinch cream of tartar
1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Brush butter inside ramekins lightly. Add 1 tablespoon white sugar to ramekins. Rotate ramekins until sugar coats all surfaces. Pour off extra sugar.
Place chocolate pieces in a metal mixing bowl. Place bowl over a pan of about 3 cups hot water over low heat. Do not let the water boil or come to a simmer.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour. Whisk until flour is incorporated into butter and mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low. Whisk in cold milk until the mixture becomes smooth and thickens, 2 or 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Transfer mixture to bowl with melted chocolate. Add salt and a very small pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix together thoroughly. Add egg yolk and mix to combine. Leave bowl above the hot (not simmering) water to keep chocolate warm while you whip the egg whites.
Place 2 egg whites in a mixing bowl; add cream of tartar. Whisk until mixture begins to thicken and drizzle from the whisk stays on the surface about 1 second before disappearing into the mix, 2 or 3 minutes. Add 1/3 of sugar and whisk in. Whisk in a bit more sugar about 15 seconds; whisk in the rest of the sugar. Continue whisking until mixture is about as thick as shaving cream and holds soft peaks, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer a little less than half of the egg whites to chocolate. Mix until egg whites are thoroughly incorporated into the chocolate, 1 or 2 minutes. Add the rest of the egg whites; gently fold into the chocolate with a spatula, lifting from the bottom and folding over. Stop mixing after the egg white disappears. Divide mixture between 2 prepared ramekins. Place ramekins on a prepared baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until souffles are puffed and have risen above the top of the rims, 12 to 15 minutes.
The evening was a great success, and it was really fun to plan, prepare, and execute this meal with my son, Nathan. The four of us got to enjoy turning a normal dinner, into a meal for a King. The abundance of dirty dishes didn't seem to matter as we rambled on about how good everything tasted.
Even in the times we are in right now, you still can turn ordinary moments into extraordinary.