I created this recipe for my 30th birthday this past fall, and it was a huge hit. For me, that meal was an opportunity to indulge in some of my favorite things! 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!
You must try the Sicilian Caponata, every guide book told me. It is the flavor of Sicily, they said. I did. I tried many varieties of the quintessential eggplant dish, and all were delicious. Generally, the dish involves eggplant, although my research has shown that it is the sweet and sour dressing of vegetables, not the eggplant that make a dish a caponata. But let’s be honest, most of the time it is an Eggplant Caponata!
I figured the midnight black of the bread would aesthetically pair well with the bright orange of the Sea Urchin Uni, and the light fishiness of the flavor would work well with my dish. I even did a test-run of the flavors for Nico and my anniversary dinner the week before. It was an incredible success.
To start our meal, we created some amazing Spinach Arancini. Arancini are sold all over Sicily, from bars, cafes, high end restaurants, fish stalls, to little carts on the side of the street or in markets. They are an institution. I have seen Arancini in other parts of Italy, but I have never seen the Sicilian Arancini, which sometimes grows to the size of a baby’s head. The tradition of making these dishes, like many other culture’s quintessential dishes, came out of reusing leftovers. The best Arancini are made from day old risotto, so I recommend making the risotto a day in advance and letting it absorb all of the flavors of the spinach and wine overnight for best results. You can also make the Arancini themselves up to a day before, but make sure you fry them the moment before you are ready to serve.
Escargots à la Provençale Daria Souvorova 3 hours 20 minutes serves: 2 We have been celebrating a lot here at Chez Nous Dinners of late! Over the past few weeks, we had our Catalan Dinner celebration, we celebrated Nico’s (my partner’s) 31st birthday with a Moroccan Feast, and the two of us threw ourselves a…
Catalan Sardines with Susquet on Toast Daria Souvorova 45 minutes serves: 8-12 We had the opportunity to try a variety of fish stews in Barcelona. I was feeling sick after taking one too many face-plants in the snow while learning how to ski in the Pyrenees, so the stews were a welcome revelation. The weather…
I was really excited to cook some mussels and decided that they would fit perfectly in the first course. I wanted something light and flavorful, that would give the guests an opportunity to make a bit of a mess and dip some bread into the delicious broth. The broth can be cooked in advance and reheated when you are ready to serve. The broth gives beauty to this fairly expensive and easy to cook dish. Slowly roasted veggies are extenuated with fish stock, paprika, and a mixture of white wine and vinegar. It is really amazing. I will keep the Escabeche on hand in my freezer for future mussel cravings! Serve it with some crusty bread like Baguette or Ciabatta!
To finish off our Russian feast, we served the famed Seledka pod shube (Herring Under its Fur). It is a quintessential salad that combines some of our favorite ingredients. Honestly, I have not eaten it that many times in my life, since my family almost always chose to make the Olivier, a more chop and mix kind of dish, but I relish it anytime it is on a menu. To make this dish properly, you need to accept that you will have red-stained hands that smell of salted fish…but boy is it worth it.