Monday, August 29, 2011

The First Dinner Party

We had our first guests over to our new apartment last Monday—and very rightly so, it was the person who introduced The Urban Chef and me a little less than 2 years ago, Ms. Christina, also known as “Bean.”  I wish I could say that we did this deliberately, but sometimes fate and pure chance just make things happen in such a way that I wonder just how much we have control over.  I think it was so fabulous, that in the Urban Chef and my new home, that the first person who enjoyed the culinary treats was the woman who introduced us.

During the unpacking process something happened, I lost the screws to the Urban Chef’s chef table (gasp).  Not on purpose… the screws were really small and I think I accidentally threw them away… ok ok, I know, worst girlfriend ever.  But, I figured, we were going to Home Depot the next day, how hard could it be to replace them…famous last words.  Let me tell you how hard.  We are at Home Depot, waiting in line for paint, and the Urban Chef comes back from the bolt section looking like a defeated puppy.  They didn’t have the bolts, didn’t know anyone who did, and couldn’t order them—they didn’t even know what they were called!  Yeah, thanks Home Depot.  So now, I feel AWFUL!!!!   The next day the Urban Chef scourers EVERY hardware store in a 5 miles radius from our apt.  Nothing.  But we did learn that we were looking for metric set screws, thin weave.  So we decide to go online, we think we have a pretty good idea about what size they are and we find them on  Good prices, nice store, but we can’t get the right size.  More scouring on the internet, I go to a contractor supply sites and find a store called Fastenal—which is only open during contractor hours, M-F 7-3pm in Brooklyn.  The Urban Chef finally makes it there, this last Monday (14 days after we moved in... believe me, he was counting) and finds his bolts!!! YAY!  So if you ever need weird crazy bolts, go to Fastenal.  Although, the funny thing was when the Urban Chef walked in, he was like “Please tell me you have these screws, I have looked all over Brooklyn.” And the clerk responds, “Well you should have come here first.”  Deadpan.  Ha ha! So Brooklyn.  But I digress, happiness ensues, and the Urban Chef's chef table is ready in the knick of time for our first guests.

Christina and Jorge arrive last Monday evening armed with the most amazing plant I have ever seen.  It was a large green flowery orb with hanging habanero peppers! Awesome (and hot)!  Christina said people were stopping here on the street asking her where she got it.  I made salsa with one of the peppers this weekend and it was so hot I could barely eat it (but I did…note to self, 1 habenero make it plenty hot, 2 will make is sweltering!)

It was so nice to have people over, The Urban Chef and I love to entertain.  And the Urban Chef’s 1st meal did not disappoint.  The first course was a scallop crudo—scallops poached in acid to cook them (like a civiche) leaving you with almost raw fresh scallops.  The dish was tart, light, and savory—a perfect way to start a dinner on a hot summer night.  To accompany, Christina had brought an Albarino whose citrus notes played perfectly with the scallops.  Albarino is a Spanish wine grown in the North Eastern region, it is very similar to that of Viognier, Gewurztraminer and has hints of stone fruits.  The wine produced is light and generally high in acidity… my choice for a hot summer night, refreshing and light.  

2nd course was shrimp tacos!!! YUMMY!  You think you have had shrimp tacos, but you haven’t until you have eaten the Urban Chef’s.  Succulent shrimp topped with pickled spicy cherry tomatoes, crispy kale, and hot habenero cilantro crema.  Firm grilled shrimp, accompanied by a pop of a pickled tomato, the bitter of the kale, finished with the savory spicy notes of the light drizzle of crema. All the flavors worked together without overpowering each other, the tomatoes were perfect without taking away from the succulence of the shrimp.  These tacos went in record time!  

 The Urban Chef is a little hesitant to post the recipe for shrimp tacos, as he doesn’t want the “world” to see it.  I did reassure him that only like 10 people read my blog (thanks Mom & Dad) and that his secrets were safe with them… but still no dice.  If you do want the recipe, you can email him personally and he will send it to you.  Just be warned, you may be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (kidding!)

This past weekend was a bit of a bust as Hurricane (wait I mean Rainstorm) Irene placed the city of New York into a panic.  Some parts of the Eastern Seaboard are still without power—here’s hoping you get it back up soon (my Grandma called me and was worried that her cat Lucy was bored without the TV…likely story Grandma!)  But if you do have a gas stove and are still without power… here’s what to do with a can of cannelloni beans, bread, and an onion.  I also make this on a fall afternoon when I want a simple and hearty lunch.

Italian Bean Lunch

1 yellow onion (medium)
2 clove garlic (optional)
1 can of Cannelloni (white) beans
2 T Olive oil
1 T marjoram (if you don’t have Italian seasoning will work)
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Bread (toasted)

Slice onion into medium rings and dice garlic.  Preheat a large cast iron pan on high heat.  Add oil when hot.  Saute onion for about 2 min, until fragrant, add garlic, sauté 1 minute.  Open Cannelloni beans and add to pan (including liquid from beans).  Stir and bring back to a boil.  Add seasonings (salt, pepper, marjoram or Italian seasoning).  After returning to a boil, lower to medium heat, stir beans and let lightly simmer until sauce thickens a bit (4-5min). 

Meanwhile, toast bread (I like day old baguettes, as with toasting give you the crunching which is good to sop up the sauce from the beans.)  And for those who have never toasted bread without a toaster, your gas broiler works for the purpose too—just make sure to watch it, it goes quick and there is no bell!

Put toasted bread on a plate.  Butter toast if desired.  Pour beans on top of toast.  Sprinkle with Parmesan! 

Hello gourmet canned food meal!  Don’t let a lack of power stop you from eating well…enjoy something delicious!


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  2. I am glad to be able to take (a very small amount of) credit for bringing two such wonderful people together. The tacos alone were worth it.
    Thank you both so much for inviting us into your lovely, warm home! With Jessica as the perfect hostess and Jon at the pulpit of his chef table nary a better evening could be had.