Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When you have too much Saffron

This is what I’m talking about! This is the thing that Sunday Dinners are made of.
Not that Sunday Dinners have been infrequent. In fact they have been more and more frequent. I just haven’t been living in the present and viewing our gatherings with an eye to share them with you.

The last few weeks I have felt like I’ve emerged from a deep sleep or a heavy fog. I’m getting back on track and holy laugh-until-it-hurts Batman; I’ve got some funny friends!

I threw a big post-holiday bash and was amazed at what a great blend of friends I have. Most all of them are foodies in one way or another, even if being a foodie just means appreciating great food. So many of them are just carrying around a pent up chef waiting for the right occasion to wow their friends and a post-holiday bash was just the thing to scratch that itch.

I went to a pirate party with my best friend, who was festooned as a wench.

She took to the stage (yes, there was a stage) and belted out a Buffet song like she was born to wear a corset and sing while doing so. I was kissed on the lips by a very OLD pirate. And I picked up a few pirate tips and lyrics that will find their way onto Spill the Wine, the love of my life, when we sail again soon.

There were nine of us this night as we converged on Chris and Nancy’s house for a meal that we once again deemed, “The BEST dinner ever”… We say that every time. But it doesn’t matter!! At that moment it is the BEST dinner ever. It does get loud and raucous and there is a lot of wine consumed. Wait, and this is a problem?

Chris roasted chickens on his big green egg. Perfect! Beautiful! I dare you to not want to take a bite! Moist and tender and perfectly cooked. He has quite the geek system with computer and probes and fans and … well, if I didn’t know him as well as I do I’d consider him the nutty professor of grilling. Whatever he makes is always the star of the show and these girls were no exception. Dressed to the nines in nothing but bronze they made you want to stand up and sing.

I had to refer back to my own post in 2009 when I made Saffron Pappardelle. I wanted to make it again for this dinner. I learned that not only do I not like to use recipes but when I do I don’t record important information like yields and amounts. Anyway, it all worked out and it was fun making the pasta. Nancy had just purchased some mushroom base for me at Big John’s PFI (Pacific Food Importers) in Seattle. I used that along with a hefty amount of crimini mushrooms, sherry, shallots, garlic and a little kiss of cream to make a sauce for the pasta. Unfortunately, my intention had been to reduce the sauce
down but the saltiness of the base forbid me to do so. I made a slurry and kept my fingers crossed that the saltiness would balance out when combined with the pasta. I personally couldn’t get past the saltiness but no one complained. A lesson learned. If you’re going to go to the trouble of making pasta by hand you might want to use a stock for the sauce that you’ve also made from scratch. If you want great results you MUST use great products. Sigh.

We tossed some cauliflower in olive oil that had been infused with saffron and dusted it with kosher salt and pepper. That roasted about 20 minutes at 425 degrees and what emerged were golden nuggets of sweetness. So yummy.

Finally, Peter made a wonderful salad of spinach, candied bacon, red onions and hard cooked eggs. It was simply delightful tossed with a slightly warm vinaigrette that he had also made. We moaned, we laughed and laughed and laughed some more.