Escargot

Escargot is quintessentially French, isn’t it! You say snail’s in reference to anything else, and the most common retort is “ew”. But escargot is a delicacy! The snail itself is mostly a vehicle for a delicious garlicky butter sauce.
I found many recipes for escargot and it felt like all of them were lacking in garlic, but I went with the flow, afraid to over-season. In the end, I wish I added more garlic, so I am doubling the amount of garlic in my recipe for your use.

Duck and Apricot Terrine

For me, this meal was an opportunity to indulge in some of my favorite things! I am turning 30 after-all…so Escargot was a must for this meal, and so was beef wellington! I couldn’t quite afford to serve foie gras to 16 guests, so I decided to create a terrine  paired with a delicious shallot jam. The terrine’s single most important ingredient is the chicken livers, which my friend Anwar (who runs International Grocery and Halal Meats Inc. on 33rd and Greenmount – go there it is amazing!) has been saving for me for a few weeks! The livers mixed with pork, chicken, and duck, create an amazingly complex flavor. The mustard and cornichon juice give it a bit of an extra kick!

Olive Crisps with Green Olive Tapenade and Riclettes de Sardines

For our first course, the aperitif, I made a traditional Parisian cocktail, the 1789, created to celebrate the revolution! I wanted to create some nibbles while we sipped our cocktails, so I made these delicious Olive Crisps and served them with a Green Olive and Almond Tapenade with some Anchovy for extra flavor and some creamy, and delicious Riclettes de Sardines.

Sardèle in Saòr Crostini

Gonzo and I argued about this dish a bit when I first introduced it during the Venetian dinner. Sweet and vinegary, “they won’t go for it”, he said. I was almost convinced to take out the raisins, but I am glad I kept them. Sardines are amazing! I don’t know why everyone here is so afraid of sardines and anchovies. Dusted with flour and fried, they turn decadent, especially when paired with the vinegar flavor of the marinated onions and the sweetness of the raisins. Make this dish several days in advance, it gets better with time. And don’t be afraid if you have too much liquid, the sardines soak up a lot.

Hummus

This simple chickpea spread is such a crowd pleaser, folks ask me for leftovers every time it is served (there are rarely leftovers, so I keep doubling the recipe)! Don’t be afraid to double the batch and save some for later, it can last for around 2 weeks in a sealed tub. The recipe as it stands makes enough for two dip bowls or a large dish.

Baba Ganoush

All versions of burnt eggplant are delicious, I am obsessed!  I like to roast mine directly over the flame of my stove for that perfect smoky flavor. If you don’t have a gas stove burner, try slicing yours in half and roasting them under the broiler.

I originally created this recipe for our Jerusalem Dinner last year (find all of our Jerusalem recipes in Chez Nous: Communal Dinners). We originally served it with a buttery Malawach – a combination of flaky croissant and soft naan and paired it with a Tabboueleh and a homemade Hummus with a Lemon Parsley Sauce. I brought the recipe back for the book launch of my first cookbook Chez Nous: Communal Dinners this past Saturday. To make my life easier, we served it with some Buttered Naan which is incredibly easy to make.

Poke Four Ways: Spicy Ahi Tuna, Shoya Ahi Tuna, Miso Tako, and Carrot Ginger

This is the fist dish I knew I wanted to make for our dinner this past weekend, everything else was built around the idea of fresh raw tuna in delicious sauces. I researched dozens of traditional and contemporary Poke recipes and decided to try to recreate some of my favorites from our trip. We made a creamy Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke with Avocado and Tobiko Roe and a Shoya Ahi Tuna Poke with soy and sesame. For a different fish flavor, I made a Miso Tako (Octopus) Poke and a light and colorful Ginger Carrot Poke. The flavors all worked so well together, it was one of my favorite dishes of the night!

Temaki Hand Rolls – California and Spicy Tuna

When everyone thinks Japan, they think sushi! I wasn’t exempt from this presumption, but I figured since my maki and sashimi skills are not quite up to par, I would make some Temaki Hand rolls as part of our first course.

I made two varieties, Spicy Tuna, with the highest quality sashimi tuna I could find and a California Roll made with real lump crab. I follow Morimoto’s recipe for sushi rice which I find to have a more nuanced flavor than the traditional rice vinegar and sugar recipes I have found online.