Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dinner out on the Patio

Friday morning was windy and a bit cool and I was not too happy about that since I was having a little dinner party that evening and I was planning on sitting out on the patio.  By mid afternoon, the wind had died down and it turned out to be a lovely evening. 
We started with margaritas that I served in my hand etched glasses from San Miguel de Allende along with guacamole and chips. 
Then I served a Tuna Tartare.  I first drizzled the chilled plates with wasabi.  The I place a ring on the plate and filled it with chopped tuna.  On the rim of the plate I had thinly sliced cucumbers, julienned strips of jalapena and red Fresno chilies and thin slices of red onion that I had dressed in rice vinegar and olive oil.  I topped the tuna with pieces of pickled ginger then drizzled a dressing of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sherry over the tuna along with a sprinkling of roasted black sesame seeds.  Not only was it colorful, it was pretty tasty too.
It was Suzy's birthday the day before and Len and I had a few friends over to celebrate.  As you can see in the background, the Catalpa tree is in full bloom and with all the blossoms on the ground, it looks like Christmas in May.  After Len blew off the patio of all the Catalpa tree blossoms that had fallen, I had him set up a big round table out on the open area of the patio.  By the way, I painted that table top years ago.
For dinner, we moved to the covered part of the patio.  I love using my Talavera Picasso-ish plates that I had bought many years ago over in Dolores Hildalgo (about a 30 minute drive from San Miguel de Allende). 
I made my favorite Watermelon, Arugula and Feta salad; always a big hit and so refreshing.  I wanted to do something different with the lamb that evening and I found a great recipe in Cindy Pawlcyn's cookbook, Big Small Plates.  I cut the rack of lamb into individual chops and marinated them over night in a Mongolian Marinade (hoisin sauce, sugar, tamari, sherry, rice vinegar, sriracha sauce, hot garlic sauce, minced fresh ginger, minced garlic, chopped cilantro and sesame oil).  I grilled the chops for about three minutes per side.  Plated them with the bone ends sticking out.  Then I drizzled the chops with a Chinese Mustard Sauce (a combination of sugar, Colman's mustard, balsamic vinegar and egg yolk that had been thickened in a double broiler. When cooled, sour cream was added).  The final touch, a sprinkling of chopped cilantro leaves.  The chops had such wonderful, intense flavors.  It was a huge hit and Len had the left overs for breakfast two day in a row!
The dessert, Double Trouble Chocolate Mousse Torte, came from the same cookbook.  I don't know what the heck I was thinking when I decided to make this.  The photo looked great in the cookbook but I did not really read the whole recipe very thoroughly to see that it had a million steps to it!  Fortunately it can be made ahead of time which I did the night before.  Made in a springform pan, there is a chocolate wafer crust, then a layer of chocolate mousse, then a thin layer of the wafer crust and then a layer of white chocolate mousse.  When served, each slice is topped with bits of espresso flavored meringue cookies.  Well... each mousse consisted of three steps, which meant washing the mixing bowl and whisk attachment every time between steps!  Then the afternoon of the party, I piped strips of the espresso meringue onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and cooked it at a low heat for 2 1/2 hours.  But wait, then I had to break up the strips so I could later garnish the torte with them.  
Thirty minutes before I wanted to serve the torte, I took it out of the freezer so it could temper before I cut into it.  At least it was a huge success and I impressed the hell out of my guests.  To enhance the decadence of the dessert, Len served a wonderful port.
It was a wonderful evening but next time, I better read the recipe all the way through. Who knows, knowing me, I bet I make it again but not anytime soon!
Buen Provecho!


  1. O.M.G. I am now content after just READING about the torte!

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