Various cases of atypical circumstances made this past week's Thursday night an on-the-fly effort. Food poisoning, international travel and a number of unavailable last-minute substitutions dropped our Club numbers to a meek two. With this summer already providing fewer meal than we had hoped for, Teddy and I didn't want to waste the opportunity to gorge ourselves on home cooking. During the day, we threw together a menu and shopped for items that might not have necessarily been on a menu for the usual 3+ person group. We swapped some extravagant ingredients in for traditional dishes. Why the hell not, right? Here's the menu....
Pate with Green Peppercorns
Stuffed Hungarian Hot Peppers
- Avocado Mousse, Sour Cream & Caviar
Braised Short Ribs
- Mushroom and Truffle Butter Risotto
Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream
The only short cut of the night was taken for the first course. Before stopping for wine, I thought I'd step into the local specialty shop to see if anything piqued my interest. With no previous time to prep and some actual work to do, we clearly needed something to eat while getting everything in place. I picked up a big block of pate and a crusty baguette. That hit the spot perfectly with a spicy glass of red.The peppers were dead easy from start to finish. Mild sausage meat, salty romano cheese, plain breadcrumbs and parsley were tossed together with an egg to bind it all. That mixture scooped in the half pepper only took about 12-15 minutes in the oven, complete with a nice and crusty top. The filling basically sat on top of the pepper and would definitely double as a good start for an Italian-style burger or sausage meatloaf.The lobster dish was not so easy to prepare. I've never seen an animal so full of life......especially after it's head had been removed from it's body. This bumpy little crustacean freaked the shit out of Teddy at every opportunity, which provided great comedic value for me. However, my laughter turned to twitchy expletives when the tail meat which was completely removed from the shell contracted at the slightest touch from a kitchen blade. I've never seen anything like it and will definitely think better against handling a lobster in this fashion again. Next time it's getting hucked in a pot of boiling water.......or getting a stake driven though it's heart......if I can locate it. The dish turned out great though, definitely worth all the trouble and horrific lobster nightmares I am sure to encounter in the near future. Nice crisped batter, sweet lobster meat and two creamy spreads to compliment those flavors and textures. No salt was necessary as the caviar bursted with salty flavor in every bite.The short ribs were well under way in the oven by the time I had arrived. This did wonders for the tenderness of the meat and the apartment's kiln-like temperatures. The sauce that the ribs sat in for hours was reduced down to nearly nothing and added a sweet, rich and tangy coating to the meat. At this point I was getting a touch full, but I couldn't help but selfishly shovel the creamy risotto in to my face. I could distinctly smell truffles on each mouthful before it even hit my lips. Maybe truffle butter is the way to go whenever butter is necessary? On toast in the morning, melted in a pan before frying an egg, how about a dollop of that on a broiled ribeye........yes, yes, and yes twice.Much like the sauce that covered the short ribs, I was too reduced to a thick puddle by the end of the last course. Tired. Full. Hot. But, one thing could turn around all of these symptoms.......ice cream. The sweet and tart strawberries kicked my salivary glands back into gear and woke me up for the long walk home.