For six people the meal plan was:
- mushroom risotto
- fennel, leek & cheddar frittata
- steamed lemon asparagus
- and ginger green tea ice cream for dessert
I started the ice cream in the afternoon so it would have plenty of time to freeze before dinner. I read a dozen or so recipes for ginger ice cream and green tea ice cream, but could only find one that had both. I ended up half winging it and sort of following this recipe. In retrospect, I should have thought more about color. The tea turned it a little grey and the ginger turned it a little brown, which I think was saved by Tom's nutmeg addition. Here's how I made it:
Ginger Green Tea Ice Cream
- 4 egg yolks (I saved the whites for the frittata)
- 1/4 cup coarsely grated peeled fresh ginger root
- 4 teabags of fresh green tea
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1.5 cups whole milk
- 1.5 cup heavy cream
Ginger Syrup Swirl
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1/4 c coarsely grated peeled fresh ginger root
- Whisk yolks in small bowl.
- In medium pot cook sugar, ginger and water over medium heat, stirring until everything dissolves and most of the water cooks off
- Add the whole milk and bring to a simmer.
- Remove tea from tea bags (or use loose leaf) and add to mixture, let steep 5 minutes
- Strain ginger and tea out through fine mesh sieve.
- Temper in egg yolks, add vanilla and heavy cream and return all to pan
- Bring mixture back to barely a simmer
- Transfer ice cream to ice cream maker
Ginger Syrup Swirl
- Crush the shredded ginger in the bottom of a small pan with the back of a spoon
- Add sugar, water, honey, simmer until thick.
- Gently swirl mixture into ice cream when it is nearly frozen
A note on timing: I prepped all of the veggies and eggs before cooking. Since everything I was making needed to go from stove to plate as quickly as possible, I waited to start the risotto until everyone was here and snacking on cheese, crackers, figs, & jam in the living room. Then I timed the frittata and asparagus according to when I thought the risotto would be finished. I turned out to not have enough hands and my friend Tom stepped in to do some of the final stirring while I took care of the asparagus and frittata.
Fennel, Leek & Cheddar Frittata
Aside from the switch in cheese, I followed a recipe from the have a nosh! blog (she uses goat cheese, but I didn't have any on hand). (Sidenote: There are a ton of other great looking recipes on that blog).
I prefer to make frittatas in a cast iron skillet, sauteing the veggies in the same pan before adding the eggs and then popping the whole under a broiler. A good cast iron skillet evenly distributes the heat perfectly and the egg comes away from the pan edge cleanly and much more easily than any glass dish or other frying pan I've tried. The fennel in this recipe was totally a shot in the dark for me. I don't cook with fennel much, but there was some in the fridge so I thought I'd give it a go. I also used a New Zealand cows milk cheddar I picked up from Trader Joe's. It had a really rich flavor to it that I had worried would overpower the leeks and fennel, but luckily it turned out to be a great balance.
I followed this recipe for Mushroom Risotto, with only a few alterations. I used vegetable stock instead of chicken (duh I suppose, since I'm a vegetarian). I used a kind of buttery chardonnay for the wine because that's what was open (and it tasted just fine). I also used a different combination of mushrooms. Jay had a bag of some unidentified mushroom in the fridge. I'm 75% sure they were chanterelles, but they could have been something else. I also used about 4 oz of baby portabellos, 8 oz of white button mushrooms, and then the 1 oz of dried porcini mushrooms (which I always forget need to be wiped of grit... they're so tiny that I'm not sure how one would even go about doing that, but then I sometimes end up with a bit of sand in my risotto, which is so not the right texture). I also used dried thyme instead of fresh.
I really like making risottos. While they are time consuming, I always think that the heartiness of a good mushroom risotto is a great center for a vegetarian meal. This recipe made way more than we could eat. For six adults, I would cut it down in the future to 1 1/2 c rice if it's the main dish or to 1 c rice if it's a side (and adjust the other ingredients accordingly).
Asparagus with Lemon Butter
When I first saw the title of this recipe I thought it involved making lemon butter, but it did not. Delicious and simple anyway. I made this right before everything else was ready to go on the table. And I actually followed this entire recipe for once in my life.
- 1/2 lb asparagus, rough ends snapped/cut off
- 2 T butter
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 T lemon juice
- salt to taste
Steam the asparagus in a pan with some water, strain water and then toss with butter, zest, lemon juice, and salt.
Pretty much your standard salad. I think we used red leaf and green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, cured black olives, feta cheese, and I made a mustard vinaigrette.
All in all it was a super fun evening and the meal turned out well (aside from forgetting about the fritatta long enough to let the top get just a little too overdone).