There are some dishes that I want to experiment with but just cannot make in a larger format for my group gatherings. Things that involve more technique, or greater attention to details when it comes to plating, are just harder to execute for bigger crowds and so I was delighted when my friend Eric, who is an amazing cook and foodie, was game to be my guinea pig when I wanted to try making a few new dishes this past Sunday.
Eric and I are relatively new friends, having met through our mutual close friend Rodrigo when we all went skiing in Vermont earlier this year, and we immediately got on. Eric and I realized very quickly that we not only both have a love affair with food, but also have a similar palate – we both gravitate towards Mediterranean flavors loaded with olive oil, lemon and fresh herbs.
I have long been admiring beautifully plated dishes on Instagram from Chefs Of Instagram and The Art of Plating for example and I really wanted to try my hand at actually making a dish that not only tastes good but is also gorgeous to look at. I found inspiration in a stunningly beautiful photo of a dish that was succinctly described as salmon cured in gin with pickled cucumbers and an unidentified cream next to it.
I set about researching how I could re-create it and decided that some kind of horseradish mousse would be the perfect accompaniment to the cured fish. I found a recipe for it here and followed it, expect I didn’t add any sugar since I found the heavy cream to be sweet enough to counter-balance the horseradish. For the cured salmon, I opted to follow a Jamie Oliver recipe I had done before but adapted it by omitting the dill and replacing the vodka with gin, of course. The cucumbers were quickly pickled in a bit of seasoned rice wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and some sugar.
The other appetizer I served was a super simple but very delicious crostini with basil, grilled peach slices and topped with the creamiest of burrata and a little proscuitto.
The other preparation I had been wanting to try is a slow poached Ahi tuna steaks in olive oil and I followed this recipe. There are a couple of things that I would change though. The rub for the tuna was overly salty and after cooking the steaks and tasting them, I ended up rubbing most of it off. I also would not cook the tuna for as long – I cooked the first steak for 6 minutes, following the recipe, and it ended up a bit too medium. I cooked the second one for just under 4 minutes and it was on the right side of medium rare. I also changed the salad dressing by using white wine vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar, which is not only a bit too cloying I think but also would have turned the vibrant green, yellow and red colors of the fennel and roasted peppers, into a muddy brown!
Eric brought some lovely cheeses for us to enjoy at the end of the meal, and I made some pickled grapes to go with them – from this recipe. I will definitely make them again – I love the flavors of rosemary, garlic and chili flakes that came through.