Sunday, August 21, 2011

A birthday dinner under the stars

Now I know why restaurants have different chefs for different things. Although it sounds simple, this menu needed bread for the aigo bolido, pizza dough and pate sucrée for the pies. Plus prep on all the pizza ingredients - one of which was eggplant that had to be slow cooked in garlic and olive oil so it would melt into the other ingredients on the pizzas. Pastry cream for the pie... glaze... getting everything in advance either from our garden or the farmers' market. 

The aigo bolido is simple - fresh thyme, sage and bay leaves thrown into some chopped garlic and boiled with some salt and pepper. At the end, the herbs come out, the garlic is blended and the broth is thickened with an egg yolk. This is then poured over French bread that's been liberally doused in olive oil, salted and peppered. Normally this would be more of a soup, but it works great as an appetizer this way, with the broth soaking into the bread and the olive oil giving richness and depth.

There was no meat in anything - only eggs and dairy. This made the pizzas different since I couldn't just load on pepperoni or sausage for flavor. Everything had to be fresh and at its peak. Once you've had a pizza made with heirloom tomatoes,  you won't want to settle for that stuff out of a can. There was a quick sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper with a bit of fresh grassy extra virgin olive oil poured over the top, then on went the toppings: braised eggplant, bell peppers, garlic (heirloom from Corti Brothers), sliced onions, fresh basil, pine nuts, mozzarella, goat cheese, and even some thinly sliced squash.

Funny, but nobody wanted to try tossing a pie - although one person was interested in the process.

The party started at 5:30. All the prep was done at 5:29, and the only thing left was plating and putting the pizzas together as needed. Why couldn't my timing be that good in Pro Cooking?

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