Experimental Entertaining

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Generally, when we have friends for dinner, I make something that I’ve made before. I don’t like to treat my guests as guinea pigs. Sometimes, you make dud dinners and I usually don’t like to risk it. Last Wednesday night, however, we decided to have dinner at our house at the last minute (5-4-Dinner) and decided to use completely new recipes.

I neither poisoned our friends nor did I put a strain on our relationships. Yea. In fact, we bonded over Cambodian Summer Rolls , as an appetizer, and Pan Fried Trout with Fresh Herb Salad and Roasted Cauliflower. For dessert, fresh berries with World Peace Cookies (o.k., I’ve made those before).

All three of the recipe links above are, in my opinion, close to flawless.

The first two come from Cooking Light magazine. I know. Light? Generally, I do cook healthy, but I don’t cook “light”. But, in the summer magazine clean-up, I ripped out a few recipes from issues of this magazine. Why did I have any issues of Cooking Light? Well, it all stems from the school fundraiser. Magazine sales. I hate those types of fundraisers and have decided to try to avoid letting our kids sell to friends or family. Instead, I buy myself magazines and send them to people as gifts. I thought I’d give Cooking Light a try, for the sake of the school.

Shrimp RollShrimp Roll PlatterShrimp Roll Prep

First, the Cambodian Summer Rolls. I am a big fan of Vietnamese Shrimp/Pork Salad Rolls and these looked very similar. The recipe includes Shrimp, Rice Noodles, Basil, Mint and Red Leaf Lettuce, wrapped, burrito style, in rice paper (that has been smeared with a smidge of Hoisin Sauce). Then, this roll is dipped in a sauce of low sodium soy sauce, water, lime juice, sugar, garlic, ginger, cilantro and chili paste.

Easy, fresh, healthy, scrumptious. Divine. This roll was a great blend of flavors and textures. I can’t wait to make these again and know that the girls will love them. Well, L will – J will want hers with chicken. In fact, I think these would be great with chicken, pork or even sliced beef.

As for the trout, I always see it at the grocery store in the fresh fish department. But, I’ve never actually cooked it. This preparation is absurdly simple. Take a fillet, score the skin side a few times, sprinkle the flesh with a little salt and pepper. Cook in a small amount of oil, in a hot pan, skin side down for 4 minutes, then flip it for one minute on the flesh side. I made an herb salad for an accompaniment, as suggested, and dressed it with lemon and olive oil.

Frying TroutTrout Plate

But, the stroke of genius came when our friend, JK said, “Bring over that dipping sauce. I think it would be great on the fish.” It was a revelation. The fish was, if I must say so myself, delicious with just a simple piece of lemon. With the dipping sauce, it was fantastic. A whole new level. It reminded me of a dish that S & I love at our favorite “hole in the wall” Vietnamese in San Francisco, Minh’s Garden on Clement. At Minh’s they have a dish called “pan fried troutfish” which we order every time we are there (and we’ve gone countless times over 15 years).

Finished off with a few berries and a World Peace Cookie, dinner was a success. The test subjects went home full and I dreamt of World Peace….actually, I had garlic dreams, but they were peaceful.

World Peace Cookie

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