Monday, April 7, 2008

Good Friends, Good Food

I'm still lamenting my return to LA after having spent a (beautiful) week in New York. But there's one thing that consoles me: being back in LA means being back in the kitchen. I was reading Julia Child's My Life in France during my stay in Manhattan and not only was it an absolutely delightful read, I could feel myself itching to get back and make something. Yes, I might as well confess it out loud - when I was in NY, part of me missed Los Angeles...but ONLY for the kitchen!!

Truth is, not a lot makes me happier than cooking for people I like. It's really not JUST the food (although, of course, that makes up a huge chunk of it) but the idea as a whole. Argh, it's hard to put into words...the point is, I already had my heart set on cooking for the girls the first weekend we all got back. Saturday.

I decided to go with a Salmone in Cartoccio dish with herb and cheese puffs on the side. I'd never made this before but I think I now LOVE this cooking method (baking the fish in individual parchment "steam packets")! When reading My Life in France, one thing that really caught my attention was Julia Child's description of the beurre blanc sauce (Butter, white wine vinegar, flavored with shallots). There was a copy of the recipe in the book and I knew I HAD to try in a way, I guess going with the fish was just an excuse to try out the beurre blanc. Julia Child called it a "wonder sauce" and she was soooooo right!!!! At first, I was scared that it would be overkill if I added the sauce to the Salmon...but thank God I DID add it. It's now officially my new favorite sauce. Thank you Julia.

And what's food without wine? Of course, I'm still only a poor college kid so I had to make do with whatever we could afford. At least most cheap wine doesn't taste like absolute shit anymore - especially whites...which was good since that was what we went with. Quickly whipped up a couple of bellinis which, in my mind, are perfect when paired with salmon...and CATCHING UP!!

Foodwise, the real highlight of the night, though, was the pomegranate gin cocktail. Sososososososo good! I bought the world's cutest cocktail glasses as well so you can only imagine how stoked I was (great drink in a great cup...yes, I'm a huge serveware nerd).

And to round off the night, I made a coffee mousse cake. Yes, this was the labor of love (it took 2 days to prepare). A sponge cake base (which was dipped in vanilla syrup), topped with caramel latte biscotti and a coffee mousse. This dessert was actually an adaptation of a recipe from Claire Clark's Indulge (I bought the book a week ago and it's GREAT! I can't wait to try more things from it). The original asks for an almond sponge flavored with marzipan but: a) I was too lazy to do that and b) having blown enough money on serveware and cooking supplies already in the past few weeks, my wallet wasn't in the mood to ""splurge"" on marzipan. It also uses amaretti but neither Ralph's or Whole Foods carried it (I'm surprised they didn't at least have it at Whole Foods!) - I would NEVER have had this problem if I was back on the Upper West Side...I could just pop into Zabar's! Oh well, I used biscotti instead and it still worked fine. This dessert also gave me an excuse to try out the chocolate transfer sheets I got in New York (YES - I FINALLY have transfer sheets!!)

This was my second attempt at the whole individual mousse delices thing and, though far from perfect, I'm slowly getting the hang of it (my first go was a white chocolate and hazelnut delice...but I hated it and didn't bother taking photos at all. We shall not mention it again). I'm having a mousse cake phase right now so if you happen to live near me...I'm VERY sorry - you're going to have to put up with a lot of those in the next few weeks.

And again, with transfer sheet chocolate discs

All in all, I loved Saturday. I'm hoping I'll have more time to cook this term (after all, I do have 2 days off school). In all honesty, this is all you need: Good Friends, Good Food, (Good) Wine

...oh, and Love!!

Pomegranate Gin Cocktail

2 parts gin
1 part Simple syrup
1 part lime juice
1/2 part pomegranate molasses

Shake in a cockatil shaker with ice. Strain into tall glass and top with slub soda.

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