Summer Menus for Celebrations

IMG_7763The last couple of weeks have been very occasion filled.  Of course for each occasion there needs to be an elaborate dinner party!  Or at least so I think.

A few weeks back was my friends Pam’s birthday party.  The concept I came up with was to make a “simple” elegant meal that focused on two things I know she loves: caviar and gravlax/smoked salmon.

More and more I buy will caught salmon and cure it at home instead of buying smoked salmon, which is expensive and isn’t home-made.  Gravlax is easy to make, you just have to start it a few days before you want to eat it.   Though my friend Chris makes a version that only takes a few hours, the fish is thinly sliced before its cured so the cure works much quicker.

A priority for any menu is to make the most of the season so I wanted to highlight the super sweet seasonal corn that is at the market along with the vast variety of delicious tomatoes that seem to be at every farmer’s stand.

Normally with caviar/gravlax I serve it on either latkes or corn cakes.  This year I got a waffle iron so the corn cakes became corn waffles. The waffles got a generous dollop of Crème fraîche then a spoonful each of paddlefish caviar and French Trout Roe.IMG_7762From the top left of this picture: Simple tomato salad with basil, Watercress salad with a tarragon Dijon vinaigrette and fried goat cheese, David Lebovitz’s faux foie and above next to the tomato salad a red currant sauce I made to go with it. The foie was a hit and especially good with the sour sweet currants, I would warn you to be careful with the herbs as it can veer towards tasting like stuffing if you add too much sage, rosemary and thyme.

Usually I write a menu out on my blackboard in the kitchen.  I did do this, but then erased it off for the next party before I took a picture. IMG_7783Here is one I managed to document before it got erased 😉

You can see tomato and corn play heavily in my summer menus.  The two big hits of this menu were the gougère and the Clementine Aperol jello shots.

IMG_7770Not your typical jello shots.  And actually in this instance made with agar agar not gelatin.  Recipes for both to follow this week.IMG_7797Ever since I discovered the cookbooks of Ottolenghi I have started to make more and more middle eastern dishes. I love making a dinner of mezze from his cookbooks, the only downside is you need to give yourself enough time to do all the prep required.

The real highlight to this meal for me was the spicy carrot salad which is seasoned with Pilpelchuma a Tunisian condiment which is like a garlic laced harissa.  Recipe also to follow this week (for the carrot salad as well).

I’ve felt negligent and wanted to give you all an update and I promise a flurry recipes in the days to come!

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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2 Responses to Summer Menus for Celebrations

  1. cbcreates says:

    You’re the consummate entertainer. And an inspiration. You’ve put a fire under my butt to do more dinners this fall. And you’ve convinced me to Think Mezze for them! Looking forward to the clementine shots recipe using agar agar—my adventures with that ingredient have been spotty. Finally, it’s uncanny you’ve highlighted gravlax! I decided this weekend it would be the subject of my September post.

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