Recently, the hubby, Greg invited some friends over for dinner. Greg completed medical school in 2010, at age of 32 and never looked back. He is in his fourth year of a surgical subspecialty residency in otolaryngology at a large, level-one trauma center in New Mexico. The medical establishment serves many underprivileged patients. Greg’s hospital work is both extremely challenging and intensely rewarding.
Each year, on the same day in March, his five-year surgical program (and thousands of residency programs across the country) match one newly-minted physician from somewhere in the United States or abroad. This day is called “Match Day,” and it’s a time filled with great anticipation and excitement. I still remember Greg’s match day, back in 2010, when he finishing medical school at Case Western in Ohio.
Over the years, we have had many new residents to our home for dinner, and this year was no exception. The new, 2014-2019 resident and her fiancé, along with her mother, came to dinner over the weekend. The couple lives in Vermont and were in New Mexico house hunting for a new abode to plant roots during residency.
As you know, I love any excuse to cook and bake. There is nothing better than hosting a meal: great conversation, good food and drink and lots of fun. This time around, I cooked up a storm while Abba cleaned the entire house. What?! I am still in a happy, yet befuddled, state of amazement. Talk about a perfect day! Cooking without cleaning, followed by a food-filled visit with new friends.
As it turns out, the resident and her partner recently suffered a devastating loss. While looking for a home in New Mexico, their home in Vermont burned to the ground. During dinner, they explained that they had been travelling and had not yet returned to their home to see what once was. Imagine this: a month before you are to be married and two months before you move to start your first job as a physician, you lose all of your physical possessions. Unfathomable and heartbreaking. Fortunately, the couple was in New Mexico and not at home in Vermont when the horrible fire occurred. This dinner reminded me to be grateful for the security of my belongings, but even more importantly, the safety of my precious family and loved ones.
Despite the sad news, the scrumptious supper party was fun and the food tasted super. We began with a cheese platter adorned with my favorite roasted, caramelized nuts. The appetizer was followed by a velvety acorn squash-red lentil soup, based on a previous Curls and Carrots recipe. The main course included fresh ocean cakes with yogurt sauce and a roasted vegetable platter (recipes below). Persian saffron rice with crunchy Tah Dig rounded out the meal. For the rice, I recommend my recipe or Kiyo’s recipe from the My Lilikoi Kitchen food blog.
Hosting dinner parties has long been a my favorite activity. Even during college, I thought there was nothing more fun than planning and preparing a beautiful feast with friends. Over the past decade and a half, not much has changed… except for the introduction of kids to the party picture. Our kids are very young and are fast asleep by the time the adults eat. However, this time my four-year-old woke up just in time for dessert: my flourless chocolate brownies, adorned with dulce de leche, almonds, sea salt, balsamic-chocolate glaze and served with a scoop of creamy hazelnut gelato. Snu Magoo sat, politely, with the adults. She was dressed to the nines in her princess pajamas and used her best manners. After eating the chocolate treat, she promptly fell asleep at the table.
Her mother’s daughter.
Fresh Ocean Cakes with Yogurt Sauce
Adapted from the August 2008 Gourmet Magazine recipe.
Makes eight small “appetizer-sized” cakes or four large cakes. Double this recipe for a crowd.
Ingredients for ocean cakes:
1 pounds fresh, assorted fish, such as wild salmon, tuna and halibut, cut into small, 1/2″ inch squares
2 standard slices artisan sandwich-style bread (I used a kalamata olive farm bread), pulsed into bread crumbs in food processor
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup plain, 2% Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. each: coriander, fennel, cumin, turmeric
1/4 tsp. red chile/pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons each: fresh chives, dill, parsley, cilantro, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
the zest of one lemon
dash of salt and pepper, to taste. Use more or less depending on the saltiness of your fish.
sunflower oil, for frying
Ingredients for yogurt sauce:
3/4 cup 2% Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice, or more, to taste
1 Tablespoon each: fresh chives, dill, parsley and cilantro, finely chopped
kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil infused with garlic, for drizzling
- Mix all of the ingredients, through the lemon zest, in a large bowl.
- Use an ice-cream scoop to form into small patties, or form large patties with your hands.
- Heat sunflower oil, a tablespoon at a time, in a large pan over medium-high heat. Fry the ocean cakes in batches, browning each side.
- Place the cakes on a greased cookie sheet. Spray the tops of the cakes with cooking spray and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- If you are preparing the cakes in advance for a party, you can stop at this point and refrigerate the cakes until your guests have arrived.
- Preheat the oven to 375•F. Cook the cakes for about 10-15 minutes, until they are crisp on the outside and cooked/hot throughout. You can turn the cakes partway through the cooking process.
- Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the yogurt sauce, through the fresh herbs, in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle the top of the yogurt with the garlic oil.
- Serve the ocean cakes alongside the yogurt sauce.
Roasted Spring Vegetables
Serves four to six as a side dish.
1 bunch of asparagus, tough stems removed
1 pounds multi-colored, heirloom carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into sticks
1 small red onion, cut into eighths
1 small white onion, cut into eighths
3 large, on-the-vine tomatoes, cut into sixths
2 Tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400•F.
- Spray two large cookie sheets cooking spray.
- Lay the vegetables evenly on the cookie sheets.
- Spray the vegetables lightly with cooking spray.
- Drizzle the olive oil evenly over the two trays of vegetables.
- Season the vegetables evenly with salt and pepper.
- Bake for about thirty minutes, turning halfway through, just until the vegetables are tender and light gold.
- Arrange the vegetables on a platter and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
- Serve, room temperature, as a side dish. Or, serve as a salad, drizzled with a French vinaigrette and sprinkled with roasted walnuts and soft goat cheese.
©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013-2014), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.