Recipe Test Nest » 5 Star » July 8 – Steak and Sorbet
July 8 – Steak and Sorbet

I was really excited about my July 8 menu, specifically because of the sorbets. I pulled these from a sorbet feature in Martha Stewart that featured six different recipes. I decided I couldn’t just do one but a sampling would be the only way to go. My guests were fabulous (Mala Grewal Harrell, Joon Shin, Jason Bond, Mindy Booth, Jane Madsen, Gabriel Jones and Heidi Klomp) and we had a great evening together.

We ended up discussing bad tastes – for example, I love strawberries and when I was little I would eat so many I’d get sick. One time my mom left me to wash and cut the strawberries. I’d eat one, wash a few, eat another, and so forth – until I ate one that was rotten. I went running to my mom screaming, “It tastes like a coat,” meaning that it tasted like the smell of a raincoat. We learned Joon has a unfavorable relationship with Cilantro because of the smell and Mindy shared a story about eating Pad Thai once that smelled like feet – ewww, can you imagine? Interesting how vividly the nose affects us.

Mocktail: Lemon Verbena Lemonade (4 Stars)

A word of caution – Lemon Verbena is amazing, but quite the difficult little herb to find. I was freaking out that I wouldn’t find it in time and then the morning of the 8th I stopped at a farmer’s market on the way home from Yoga and it was there – staring me in the eye. I can’t even explain how happy I was. Everyone at the market thought I was crazy as I’m giving hugs to the workers and singing praises and thanks. At first this lemonade was too tart and then it was a little too sweet. I think maybe the best way to do lemonade with fresh squeezed lemons is to make it by the recipe and then have some extra simple syrup for those who might like it to be a little sweeter. This would also be really good with a little bubbly with it (Sprite or Sparkling water).

Appetizer: Avocado-Grapefruit Salad (3 Stars)

I found a few recipes out there with this concept. I think the flavors actually compliment each other very well, and it is fresh and summery. I’d suggest slicing the avocado and drizzling the grapefruit over it rather than serving as a bowl (even though it does look really cool this way). One guest said that it left them wanting more – so there is room for improvement.

Main: Skirt Steak with Cilantro Garlic Sauce (4.5 Stars), Pan-fried Potatoes with Lemon (3 Stars), and Mushrooms with Tarragon on Toast (Throw)

Skirt steak is long and lean so it was a little difficult to get the same doneness throughout, plus I was nervous to over cook. The cilantro garlic sauce was a perfect compliment to the dry rub. I messed up the potatoes (over cooked so I had to mash them), so I’ll have to try this recipe again. We felt the flavor was a nice idea but didn’t come out enough. The mushroom with tarragon was also a nice idea and went well with the stake, but I think I can find a better recipe. It needed more, maybe adding some onion, salt and garlic would enhance the flavors.

Dessert: Sampling of sorbets – Cantaloupe and Bay (5 Stars), White Peach and Tarragon (3 Stars), Blueberry and Lemon Verbena (4.5 Stars)

I loved this dessert. Each sorbet was flavorful and refreshing. The winner was a solid favorite across the board. Joon made a good point that it was going to be the stand out because it was light and new. A little tarragon in each course made the herb too strong in the white peach (I’d like to try it with bay) and the lemon verbena was still on the tongue from the drink. I really like the idea of repeating an herb in a later course, but it does need to be subtler. I couldn’t find a link to the recipes, so make a simple syrup and infuse the herb (a couple springs, add more to taste). Blend a couple cups of each fruit with 2 T. water and then stir in 2 T. lemon juice and syrup, then push through sieve. Add to ice cream maker per manufacturer directions.

Thanks again to Joon Shin for the FABULOUS pictures. I wish I could have him at every dinner so my pictures would always look so professional.


4 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. joonbug (August 6, 2010)

    So just to quickly clarify my comment about my relationship with cilantro, it's not that I don't like it. I just find at-times, when people tend to use too much of it, it kind of taste like dish washing detergent. Not that it was overused during this TEST NEST or that I've ever tasted dish washing detergent – it's just based on my olfactory senses. LOL

    I'm definitely a meat and potatoes kind of guy and I'm always "down" for sorbets during hot summer days, but the avocado-grapefruit was both my most anticipated meal, due to how atypical the dish was against the rest of the menu items, and my most anti-climactic letdown. Although it definitely has promise, with some tweaks, the part of me that was wanting more was both in texture and taste. First, texture because of how soft the ingredients were. My mouth was wanting to bite down on something crisp like cucumber or fried cheese or maybe even crunchy like croutons. Second, taste because I felt the fat from the avocado cut the tartness of the grapefruit and was left with two flavors cohabitating in my mouth without a bridge flavor to fill the gap. Any seasoning/ingredient that would introduce a sweet (i.e., grapes, strawberries, honey, etc.), spicy (i.e., diced jalapenos, smoked paprika, etc.), or savory (i.e., pancetta, gruyere, etc.) component to this dish would be a nice bridge flavor.

    By the way, I tried nibbling on a rain coat recently and admit that it isn't all that appetizing. I also heard that it doesn't possess any nutritional value. :-/

  2. Monster Mary (August 9, 2010)

    I agree that if you repeat a speical spice or flavor in the same meal it should be fairly mellow. Tarragon is not one my favorites, I think I had too much in one meal and it ruined me. I bought some strawberries today and everytime I do I think of you. We get a few coats here in AK since you pretty much need to eat them immediately after purchasing them.

  3. Jane (November 15, 2010)

    This was the perfect summer meal!! The steak was perfect. I couldn't get enough of the cantaloupe sorbet. Such a great and unexpected pairing with the bay.

  4. dutchgirl89 (November 15, 2010)

    Sometimes I still dream about those sorbets. I actually registered for an ice cream maker because I've been dying to make all of those sorbets that Amber made. Seriously though, they were quite delish. Strangely enough, I've also been having a craving to try a cilantro steak marinade. Now I realize that I've been dreaming about this steak cilantro since the summer as well. Haha. What a fun time. Good food. Fun people. Perfect dinner.
    Now, I will admit that I wasn't too fond of the Avocado-Grapefruit Salad, but I actually don't like avocado or grapefruit, haha.
    The lemon verbena lemonade was great. I think that some type of lemon verbena sorbet would be worth trying to find a recipe for, as well.
    (Heidi)



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