For our second event, we had the return of Chef Grace from Lola Latin Bistro in Metuchen. It was a fantastic event and Chef Grace was a lot of fun to work with, as always!
1st Course: Fresh beet salad with pears, goat cheese, arugula and pecans
2nd Course: Grilled swordfish with rock shrimp and poblano cream sauce 3rd Course: Veal osso bucco with wild mushroom risotto and vegetables
4th Course: Angel food cake with mango coulis and fresh berries
Where the magic happens.
The Gents hanging around, chatting, before the real work begins.
This was for the swordfish dish.
Mango puree for the coulis.
You can see Chef Grace over by the kitchen doors, talking to Ron.
Efrain goes over who is on what course.
And the event begins!
Ron really does have eyes in the back of his head. (right side of pic)
Al peels beets…..and there were a LOT of beets.
Larry's making the first of three Flintstone car wheels.
The sifting operation.
Mike and Andre discuss the menu.
Check out that bag of arugula….it's a veg-et-a-bal. (Steve Martin in "My Blue Heaven" reference)
George made quick work of the cilantro.
Red cut the squash on a bias.
Which of the following is true. #1,Azzi is just a happy fellow all the time. #2, This is why you wear gloves when handling beets. #3, Ron just realized he left the oven on at home.
John Peneda stirs the mirepoix. For you guys wondering about an item mentioned on the menu, this pot is a "Rondeau" (see Risotto recipe). Obviously, they do come in different sizes, and since we made risotto for 25 people, we had a large one.
Chef Grace checks out the fingerling potatoes.
The first course table.
The guys are going over their recipes.
Jon's talking potatoes.
The Chef is checking out what's going on.
Another view of the dessert prep area.
Larry is separating out the yolks from the whites.
Jay lends a hand.
Like I said. Azzi is always smiling!
Too much!!! too much!!!!!
Mike is slicing the swordfish into steaks, while other work goes on with the vegetables.
There was a LOT of eggs to separate.
If you listen closely, you can hear Angels singing……
….and that's just for the marrow…..
Then, of course, there's the meat.
Seriously, you should've been there to witness this. It was like the pot had no bottom!
Check out the third from the left….front row.
Doug assembles the stand mixer.
John is dicing the yellow peppers for the mirepoix.
Azzi assembles the components of the viniagrette.
That's a LOT of arugula. It was awesome, too. Much tastier than you'd get at the supermarket.
The fish station.
Ron checks the recipe against what's in the blender.
MANY limes were squeezed tonight. Maaaaaany.
Here's a good view of the dessert station showing all the ingredients.
Anyone reading this who doesn't have one at home, everyone needs a chinois. Seriously. It's like a good set of knives. It's a must-have for any serious cook.
This was what the veal was braising in for hours. The sauce (jus) was made from straining this through the chinois and thickening it up a little and pouring it over the final dish.
Those candied pecans were in the perfect place for stealing one or two as you walked by while you "checked on what was happening at the stove"
How could you not…..and the best part? After the salad, Ron was walking around with the extras in a big bowl to everyone who wanted more like it was trick or treat. They were really great.
Ed was in what seemed like his 10th hour at the stove on the risotto. He did do a great job, though -- risotto needs to be looked after constantly, and it pays off.
All the mushrooms, porcinis, shiitakes…..really great.
Ed prepares to cast a spell.
These mushrooms became part of the risotto.
Ed checks out the mirepoix.
Ed and John.
Chef Grace and John converse about the risotto.
George checks on the potatoes while Pat keeps everyone in line. Or maybe he's making sure the pecans aren't being stolen.
Beets!!! Beets are great.
We only needed the whites of the eggs for the pound cake, so Al took some yolks home.
The best part of these events? The smiles. Everyone always has a great time. Good food, good friends.
As an aside, the bay leaf itself is an interesting plant. Called the "Noble Laurel", or Laurus nobilis (scientific genus and species name), it was used to fashion the wreaths in ancient Greece and worn by those of the highest status (hence the "noble" part of the name). The symbolism carried over to the Romans, who held this as a symbol of victory which is why it is the source of the words "poet laureate" and "baccalaureate".
The coulis is tasted.
And blended a little more.
Arborio rice for the risotto.
And lots of it!!
Here are the mushrooms all finished and waiting to be added to the risotto.
The mirepoix for the swordfish dish. The colors are great, aren't they?
Many things going on.
George and Ed are having a discussion.
Ed stirs the rice.
Chef Grace is transferring the candied pecans to a bowl for the salad in the other room.
Ron, Al and Azzi are assembling the salad plates.
Al fixes up some beets.
Like a well-oiled machine!
Azzi adds the dressing.
When the Chef takes pictures, you know she's impressed!
The goat cheese….very, very good.
Al adds the goat cheese to the salads.
The finished product!
The coulis is sampled.
Azzi explains what went into the salad preparation.
Al "the wine guy" Rivas tells us about the wine selection for the dish.
The bowl and the BOWL.
Mike is showing how the swordfish steaks are to be prepared for the oven.
All ready to go into the oven!
The potato mixture for the fish.
Different piece of fish.
John Peneda talks about what went into the dish.
Al talks about why he chose this wine for the fish dish.
Chef Grace is pleased with the dish!!
Risotto before the addition of the mushrooms.
And the mushrooms waiting to be added!
Al and George chat about wine.
The plating of the osso bucco.
Veal osso bucco with wild mushroom risotto and vegetables.
Eric talks about how the osso bucco was selected and prepared.
Ed talks about the risotto preparation.
Chef Grace is very pleased with how the dish turned out.
The plating of the dessert.
Like an assembly line.
The plates are constructed as Chef looks on.
With a sprig of mint, the dish is finished!
This was extremely tasty.
We all thank the Chef for her visit.
Chef Grace's laugh is infectious, as is her disposition.
Everyone had a wonderful time!
By the way, that wine in the corner was the dessert wine and it was amazing. I will try to get all the info and post it on the site.
It's always a pleasure with Chef Grace, and this was no exception!