Recipe Test Nest » 5 Star » August 25 TEST NEST
August 25 TEST NEST

I’ve been working really hard this year to try to perfect cooking fish, so I was extra nervous about this menu and the sea bass since the last few times I’ve done Halibut it turned out a little dry. I watched the fish extra carefully this time. I was very excited to be joined by two of my old co-workers Meghan O’Hara, Bennie Sham as well as dear friends, Joon Shin, Suzi Yebio, Lisa Higbee, and Rich Atkinson. We had a great evening and everyone was extra patient with me. I had such a busy week that I wasn’t able to do as much prep as I needed prior to the night of, so I was very behind when guests arrived.

Mocktail: Strawberry Hibiscus Lemonade (5 Stars)

This was definitely one of the best drinks I’ve made so far. The heating of the strawberries with sugar extracted the juices from the strawberries and sweetened them as well and they tastes oh so good. Richard filled his whole glass with the strawberries and would have licked the pitcher clean if he could have.

Appetizer: Crispy Eggplant Fritters with Smoked Mozzarella (4 Starts)

I haven’t had a lot of success with frying lately and I was so behind that I decided to change this recipe – which also made it a little healthier. We mixed the eggplant and breadcrumb mixture as the recipe called for and then I heated the mozzarella slices in a frying pan for a couple minutes on both sides, then I topped with the eggplant mixture. Good paring of flavors with roasted eggplant and cheese. The appetizer was a little too salty for Lisa and not salty enough for Suzi.

Main: Summer Sea Bass topped with Saffron Tomato Sauce (3.5 Stars) and served with Watercress and Green Bean Salad (4.5 Stars)

I really thought the sea bass recipe was going to be perfect, but it was a little too light. The fish turned out soft and flaky, I broiled it. The pairing was very fresh and clean but needed a little more bite. It could have used more salt and saffron. Joon wanted some crunch somewhere in the main, maybe pepper crusted texture on the fish or sliced almonds or crouton in the salad. The green beans and cucumbers were crisp and refreshing and overall the salad was really quite complimentary. The dressing was a perfect blend of flavors.

Dessert: Blackberry-Peach Trifle (4 Stars)

As testers show up I give each one a task, usually they just need to help with the table set up. I had Bennie help with the whipping cream, which she had never done before, so it whipped a little too long. Instead I found a “creamy” way to improvise. I put the cream on the bottom of the bowls and topped with the shortbread, fresh fruit and a scoop of ice cream. It turned out very well and no one had any idea it wasn’t suppose to be that way. I suggest adding some confectioners sugar and vanilla to the whipping cream to make it sweeter and more robust.

Thanks once again to the fabulous Joon Shin for the FABULOUS photos! Everyone was suppose to do a silly face in the group shot, but looks like only Richard and I got the memo!

2 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. joonbug (September 24, 2010)

    Wow, it took me forever to get around to this post didn't it? Geez Louise! Yes, the conversations and the strawberry hibiscus lemonade are still fresh in my mind. :-)

    One of my favorites was the crispy eggplant fritters with smoked mozzarella. Although they weren't like any fritters I've had, the flavor profile was nice and savory and coupled well with the mild flavor and texture from the mozzarella.

    Although I might have wanted a bit of crunch from the sea bass, the texture that was most disappointing to me was the whipped cream in the blackberry-peach trifle. I didn't voice this during the TEST NEST session but in retrospect it kind of made me a bit nauseous between how sweet the whipped cream was and the combination of how runny/curdled it became. I know there's technically nothing wrong with it and wouldn't make me sick but the reason why I didn't voice anything is because I was busy envisioning the dessert interlaced with nice stiff piques of whipped cream and superimposed that flavor profile/texture during consumption. Sure, I could have said something then but I was really rating on the merits of the recipe itself as opposed to the execution…or maybe I was just too engrossed in my mental process of blocking out the bad and substituting it with my "happy place."

    Fortunately, I still had some of that yummy strawberry hibiscus lemonade to wash everything down, which came out to be really awesome, since it wasn't cloying and not too tart. ***Don't ask me why but try imagining an Irish accent starting here*** It's one of those drinks that bring me back to yesteryear when I was a wee lad.

  2. Lisa H (October 22, 2010)

    It was absolutely lovely. Thanks Amber!!!!

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