Corn Velouté with Fried Green Tomatoes

Today, I wanted to make some fried green tomatoes, but figured the acidic baby tomatoes would be a great topping for a sweet corn velouté. A velouté is a French term meaning velvet. It refers to soups that are thickened with butter and cream and eggs. I have made a Celery and Asparagus Veloutés with Bacon Croutons, both are Nico’s favorite soups. My friend Anwar handed me 8 ears of corn earlier this week, which felt like a rarity for the season, I decided they would make a perfect velvety soup! In this iteration, I thicken the soup with cream, potatoes, and a bit of duck fat to pair with the Fried Green Tomatoes which are fried in duck fat.

Cassoulet

When I was inviting friends to dinner, I had to explain what Cassoulet was to our non-French friends. The best description I could come up with was “pork and pork and pork and pork, duck and duck fat bean stew.” Cassoulet involves 8 different type of pig and duck meats/products. It is an incredibly rich and warming meal, perfect for the change of the weather. The complex flavor is developed by slowly stewing and roasting ham hocks, pork shoulder, pork skin, prosciutto and pancetta and made further complex by the use of duck fat and duck confit. The Tabais or cannellini beans disperse the meatiness to create what tastes like chili for the gods.

Chanterelle and Lentil Stew

Red wine is delicious with lentils, and I knew these flavors would pair really well with the earthiness of my Chanterelle mushrooms.  I was not wrong! This is a delicious dish, and really easy to make. Just combine the ingredients and simmer for a half an hour and you are ready for dinner!

Yose Nabe (Seafood Hot Pot)

This dish seemed like a perfect representation of our Communal Dinners. The Yose Nabe (Seafood Hot Pot) is a mixture of all of the fish you can think of, like a gathering of friends. Some even add chicken thighs and tofu to the mix. To make it even more communal, the dish is generally served in separate parts on the dining table with the broth simmering directly on a butane stove in the center of the table. Everyone adds whatever they would like to eat, cooking together and bringing more and more complexity to the delicious broth!

Dashi

This simple broth is the base for many Japanese sauces and soups. Unlike Western broths, which gain their flavor from time and slow simmering, Dashi is imbued with umami from dried kelp and bonito flakes which release their goodness after a quick simmer.

Red Snapper and Clam Hot Pot (Sugata Nabe)

Next weekend, we are throwing a huge Japanese-Hawaiian fusion dinner, so I wanted to get a head start on trying out some of the flavors. Red snapper is beautiful, it is one of my favorite fishes for dishes in which I want to present the whole fish.

For the dinner party, I will serve this dish alongside a second hot pot called Yose Nabe, generally referred to as the Anything Goes Hot Pot where I will have a plethora of flavors, so I will keep the broth simple for the Snapper Hot pot.

Tonight, I wanted to add a bit of nuance to the flavor by adding some clam meats to the broth. The pairing is delicious, but if you want to go for a more traditional flavor, omit the clams.

This can be cooked on a hot plate right at the table or cooked beforehand in the kitchen. If you are cooking it table-side, it might take a bit longer to cook through.

Burnt Eggplant Soup with Seared Wild Tomatoes

Eggplant is so tempting this time of year! My obsession lives on. My favorite way to prepare eggplant is by burning it directly on the stove top. Roasting the eggplant in this way gives the flesh a delicious smoky flavor which pairs magnificently with a bit of lemon juice.

This is a really simple and delicious soup on its own, but I love how elevated it becomes with the pairing of seared wild tomatoes. I find these little beauties at the Waverly Farmer’s market here in Baltimore, however, if they are not readily available, some heirloom cherry tomatoes will do the trick!

Roast Tomato Braised Lentils

I wanted to create something hearty and reminiscent of the harvest. I have a plethora of tomatoes growing in my garden, and am actively seeking for ways to use them up. Nico has been talking about eating more lentils, so I wanted to incorporate lentil and tomato here. I decided to roast the tomatoes with some garlic cloves, onion, and bacon for about an hour before slowly braising with the red wine. If you are in a hurry, you can simply sauté the bacon, tomato, and onions for a similar result.