Wednesday, June 2, 2010

weekend dinner party

Just about three years ago, when I started my first job out of college, I just happened to find myself on the set of Tyler Florence's Food Network show, Tyler's Ultimate. For me, this was the ultimate. I had peaked. I had landed my dream job on the first go around. Where could I possibly go from here? My job entailed seeing, watching, and interacting with a guy with immense talent and undeniable passion for his craft on a daily basis. Oh, and getting to steal a bite or two of whatever he was whipping up for that day's show.

So on the first day of filming, it was Tyler's Ultimate Grilled Leg of Lamb. To put this into context, I had just won the damn lottery. Lamb? Lamb is my jam. And lamb cooked by Tyler Florence himself? Put a fork in me.

And then give me an actual fork, please.

A tiny plate of sliced, grilled leg of lamb atop a cushion of soft, lemony chickpea puree, and thoughtfully sprinkled with a raisin-caper salsa verde, and mache salad was handed to me. And when I put that bite into my mouth, I kid you not, I had an overwhelmingly emotional reaction. I must have let out a laugh. And then a look of straight up awe. And then looked around to see if anyone was watching me (read: judging me) have this celestial experience. It was above and beyond one of the most perfect bites I had ever encountered. Tyler, hats off, my man.

Of course I rushed home with the recipe and made it one Summer night for friends and family (I believe Arax recently mentioned to me that it's still one of the best things she thinks I've ever made) and the rave reviews kept coming. This recipe, for lack of a better word, is special. And I mean really, really special. The flavor profile is deeply complex yet approachable and it's one of the most impressive spreads I can think of. And with that, I hope you give it a try.

Jon Troutman from Cork'd is back with your wine pairings for this week's spectacular menu:

gres des vosges cheese, baguette, green grapes, olives
Alsatian Riesling: "As a soft, more mild cheese, you're not going to want to overpower this with a big, intense red wine. Instead, opt for something more nuanced and subtle. As they say, if it grows together, it goes together. This cheese is from the Alsace region of France; pick up an Alsatian Riesling and you'll have the perfect pairing."
Southern Rhone Red: "I hate to sound like a broken record, but if it grows together, it goes together. A classic pairing for lamb is a red wine from the Southern Rhone region of France. The Southern Rhone has a bit of a Mediterranean climate influence from its location in the south of France, and it's not unusual for these wines to pick up rustic olive flavors. With the capers in the salsa verde, this dish has its own slight Mediterranean feel to it. Combine the two and your mouth is in for a serious treat!"
peach cobbler
Quarts de Chaume: "I love peaches. Outside of seersucker, there's nothing that screams Summer more than a fresh, juicy peach. This special moment deserves an equally special wine! Quarts de Chaume in France's Loire Valley is a minuscule region producing some of the best dessert wines you'll ever find from the Chenin Blanc grape. Find a friend to split a bottle though, as half bottles start around $30 and can climb higher. Believe me, they're worth every penny."
A Ridiculously Easy Peach Cobbler
Serves 6
1 stick salted butter, melted
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat oven to 375°.
Pour melted butter into a 2-quart baking dish.
In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir to blend. Stir in the milk and vanilla until blended. Pour the batter over the melted butter.
Toss the peaches with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Arrange the peach slices over the batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. The top will be browned and the cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Serve warm with a little heavy cream, whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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