Monday, April 22, 2013

Ballet Cook Book: Dinner with Melissa Hayden

We were so thrilled even before we started cooking the sixth installment of the Ballet Cook Book Dinner because had a very special guest, Stuart Coleman (Melissa Hayden's son).  He was coming to try our version of his mother and grandmother's recipes. His presence make this meal count even more than the others.  As excited as we were the pressure was on!  We started very relaxed as we thought the recipes were simple and should be easy to do.  It didn't take us to much time to realize that although they were easy, they were also time consuming. Everything seem to have multiple steps.  So to relax into our situation, we poured ourselves a glass of wine.  I am not sure what was different about Melissa Hayden's recipes but I have to say that this was the most fun we have had in the kitchen during all the Ballet Cook Book Dinners. We were especially naughty and comical.  It made me wonder if she had this much fun making them.  My guess would be yes!

What Ryan neglected to tell us was that he told everyone to come at 7:30 and not our customary 8 PM. So when our guests arrived we were still in the throws of cooking. Luckily, our guests were patient and had vodka to share.  They went to the lounge and awaited for dinner to be served. 

We open the dinner with her chicken wings.  When I think of chicken wings, I think of Buffalo wings...these weren't your typical wings.  These didn't have sauce nor were they spicy.  However, they tasted great and came out juicy and crunchy.  On a side note, we were lucky to have fresh herds from Susan's garden to use in the breading of the chicken.  This really enhanced their flavor.  

Our main course consisted of 3 recipes. We decided that Katie's Sweet and Sour Meat Balls would be the focus and the Stuffed Cabbage and Latkas would be side dishes. I have never made stuffed cabbage but Hayden's recipe was very easy to follow.  After prepping all the ingredients including boiling 2 heads of cabbage and combining onions, potato and ground beef, I put my sous chefs (Michael, Jeff and Ryan) to work stuffing the cabbage.  As we went through the steps of making the Sweet and Sour Meatballs, we were worried that we were not preparing them correctly.    However, after an hour and 1/2 of cooking the onions got caramelized and the sauce reduced.  All the favors combined wonderfully and Katie came through for us. The hit of the evening was the Potato Latkas.  I mean, who doesn't like fried, crunchy potatoes?  I liked them so much I could envision using them as a base for tapas in the future. Sadly, we only made enough Latkas for one serving.  On the other hand, Stuart's favorite was Katie's Sweet and Sour Meatballs and happily we had made plenty, even enough for him to take home.  He was in luck.

Our lovely Host and dessert master, Susan LaRosa got a head start on the Fruit Compote the night before and she did a wonderful job.  You can read more about the dish on Susan's blog.

The biggest compliment of the evening was Stuart's enjoyment of the food.   He mentioned how the flavors made his mother feel close to him again.  I was honored. 

(p.s. - the last minute is my stay tuned until the end)

No comments:

Post a Comment