We broke way out of our comfort zone about a month ago and prepared a three-course meal for 12 strangers, in an unfamiliar kitchen in the South End of Boston. We’d volunteered to be part of an online auction, and someone actually bid on us—well, to be completely honest, I volunteered and Chip, with his eternal good nature, went along. We worked with the host to create a menu, which ended up as:
Orange and Pomegranate Sparkly Starter Salad (aka Jewels on a Plate)
Grilled rack of lamb with cilantro honey sauce
Cauliflower cake with roasted red pepper sauce
Roasted asparagus with hollandaise
Poached Anjou pears in a dark chocolate sauce
Almost all of the meal was prepped in advance and finished on site, which was essential, since we had no idea what we were going to encounter. We learned from our last experience and brought EVERYTHING we thought we’d need, including salt and pepper, because you never know.
Ingredients for the salad (serves 4):
4 navel oranges
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 hot red chili pepper, thinly sliced into rings
1/3 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
1 cup fresh arugula
1 cup feta or other goat cheese, crumbled
4 tablespoons fresh parsley
4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
Peel the oranges, removing the white pith. I do this with a knife so that I can get all the pith off. (Yes, I know, pith off.) Cut the oranges into ¼ inch thick slices.
Boil the vinegar and sugar for 3 minutes, then add the chili and cook for another few seconds, just so the pepper softens. Pour over the orange slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, drain the juices from the oranges into a bowl. Whisk the oil into the juices and add salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble the salad, starting with ¼ cup of arugula. Then layer the oranges over the top, and add the cheese. Top with parsley, and pomegranate seeds, and drizzle the dressing over the top.
The dinner party was a big success—maybe there’s a boutique business there someday down the line. All I can say for now—we had a ton of fun, everyone ate every bite and asked for more, and we would have been delighted to find this meal on our plates in any restaurant. We’re getting pretty good at this.
Maybe one of the top ten (20?) most fun days I’ve ever had.