Friday, June 15, 2007

Dinner Around the Globe...?

This last Sunday we had another elaborate family meal, but we did something we don't usually do: we had a variety of dishes instead of sticking with a central theme. Each course was from a different part of the world, which I guess could be a theme in itself but its cuteness/creativity is lost in the fact that it was an afterthought. Ah well, onto the food. The menu for our "around the globe" dinner was:
  • Cocktail: Ocean Club Specials (The Bahamas)
  • Truffle pate and crackers (France)
  • Ceviche (South America)
  • Moroccan Lamb (Morocco)
  • Cumin Almond Rice (Morocco)
  • Green Beans with Orange and Rosemary Gremolata (Italy)
  • Ice cream (Amazon region and Thailand)
Our cocktail for the evening is a classic around our house: The Ocean Club Special. This is a drink that our parents had while staying at the Ocean Club Resort in the Bahamas back in the day (like, 30 years ago now?) and have been recreating at home ever since. The ingredients are pineapple juice, creme de banana, coconut rum, and white rum, and the proportions are 3:1:1:1, respectively. We happened to have some pineapple rum in the house so we used a little of that this time as well. This drink is AMAZING and it's a great party drink (it can easily be made in large batches). We served ours with a maraschino cherry on top.




With our OC Specials we had a little snack of truffle pate and great mediterranean crackers from Calvert Woodley, our favorite place to stock up on wine and cheese, located in Woodley Park in northwest Washington, D.C. Visits to Calvert are always a lot of fun, especially since we get to see "our guy" Pepe, who always has a warm welcome for us (and lots of delicious recommendations!). We love Pepe!



Next, we had ceviche. The hardest part of preparing ceviche (in my experience) is making sure the fish is "cooked" enough by the acid in the citrus juice. The recipe we had said it would take 45 minutes to cook about 1.5 pounds of snapper, shrimp, and scallops, and that is NOT what happened. We had the fish marinating in lime juice for hours in the fridge (and we even changed the lime juice!) and it still wasn't cooked enough. Since refrigerating marinades slows the process down, we left the ceviche out at room temperature for the last 45 minutes before we were supposed to eat it, and that actually worked very well to finish it off. Although it is not "safe" to leave fish out for too long, the last few minutes seemed okay and got the job done. Plus, we like to live on the edge.

To the cooked fish, we added a mixture of jalapeno, cilantro, green papaya (it's pretty sour, not sweet like a ripe papaya), hot sauce, and capers, amongst other ingredients I'm sure I'm forgetting. It was delicious (especially because the fish was finally cooked!) but VERY spicy - Dad didn't check the jalapenos before putting them in!



Next was the main attraction: Moroccan Lamb. We were originally going to make shish kebabs but we decided we would just grill the lamb and forget about the skewering. Dad butterflied a leg of lamb (meaning he cut the meat so it went from the shape of a roast into a much flatter piece of meat so it could be grilled more easily). Then, the lamb was marinated in orange juice, lime juice, garlic, chipotle peppers in adobo, olive oil, and cumin. Again, I think this recipe was modified a bit so all of the ingredients may not be listed.



After marinating all day, we grilled the lamb. Dad used the instant-read meat thermometer and it worked great (as usual) - the meat was perfectly cooked!


We served the meat with cumin rice, a recipe from Rachael Ray (Note: we're not big fans, but she does have a decent recipe here and there. The trick is to just look up her recipes online, or watch her on MUTE!). We wanted to recreate the yummy, oily rice topped with almonds that is often served in middle eastern restaurants. The rice didn't turn out exactly that way but it was still a wonderful recipe that we will be making again. Basically, you boil water, then add cumin seeds, currants, lemon or orange zest, and butter to the water, and then add the rice and return the water to a boil. (She calls for both currants and golden raisins but we nixed the raisins.) Cook for about 20 minutes, then top with toasted sliced almonds and chives (though we used flat-leaf parsley instead). Note: The recipe says to stir the rice occasionally, which was unusual because generally you are supposed to leave rice covered when it is cooking. However, we followed the recipe and stirred. In the end, the rice was a little gummy and we think it was because of the stirring. We think. Despite the gumminess, it was DELICIOUS. The rice was infused with the flavor of the cumin, and the currants provided the occasional bite of semi-sweetness. Yummm.


For our vegetable, we made Green Beans with Orange and Rosemary Gremolata, a recipe we've made before, including during Thanksgiving 2004, a 35-person Thanksgiving extravaganza! A story for another time, for sure. Anyway, it's an Epicurious recipe and it's really wonderful. First, you cook the cleaned and trimmed green beans in boiling water until they are crisp-tender (be sure to rinse with cold water to stop the cooking). Next, you make the gremolata with garlic, rosemary, orange peel, lemon peel, and flat-leaf parsley. Cook up the gremolata in butter (reserving a bit for garnish). Then you are supposed to add chicken broth, orange juice concentrate, and lemon juice, but we faked it a bit and just added lemon juice, orange juice, and a little water. No biggie. Then add the beans and cook for a few minutes to heat the beans through and coat with the sauce. Garnish with the reserved gremolata. So good!





Here's what the finished plate looked like:


Of course, we ended the evening with some Haagen Dazs, but this time it was two flavors from their Reserve collection: Amazon Valley Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle. The chocolate one was good - very intense, not too sweet, and a complex chocolate flavor. The toasted coconut ice cream was INCREDIBLE. I am a chocolate and peanut butter kind of girl, but this ice cream is at the top of the list for favorite ice cream flavor EVER. The coconut ice cream has bits of ginger-infused sesame brittle in it along with bits of coconut. HOLY CRAP THIS IS GOOD STUFF!




Hopefully next time we can keep with a theme a bit better!

Happy eating,
E & X

ps. We couldn't resist putting in a few pictures of Gellie the Wonder Dog from the evening, as he is our constant companion and a great source of entertainment during Sunday dinners:




3 comments:

  1. Does your Dad drop ship lamb orders? I couldn't agree more about the Rachel Ray comment. She drives me nuts. Have you read any of Ruhlman's or Bourdain's rants about the evil Food Network on http://blog.ruhlman.com/?

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  2. Wow, what an amazing meal! This takes you guys all Sunday, I bet, but the finished product is knocks-socks amazing looking.

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  3. Wowee. I have to say your Sunday dinner posts are my favorites. I love that there is always a coctail. I never make them because my husband only drinks beer! I think I have to start a Xani/Erin recipe file so I remember to make all of these yummy things!

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