Recipe Test Nest » Feature » Charlotte

My parents are sad that they can’t participate in many Test Nests so I try to fit one in whenever we’re together. While in Charlotte for a couple weeks, I invited some friends who I spent quite a bit of time with in Bolivia years ago. Since we tried a lot of interesting food in Bolivia I knew they’d be up for some Test Nest adventures. Jordon Burton and his wife Julianna, my parents (Steve and Ann) and my best friend Lindsay Clark Hart (who was one of the first people I met in college Freshman year) were all fabulous testers. I especially enjoyed playing with my china (actually, Mom’s china that I’ll inherit in the future and I’ve loved since a little girl) and having a real table to set. We were even lucky enough to have some fresh flowers out of my Dad’s beautiful garden (and he arranged for us). My mom was a superb sous chef and really helped me pull this dinner of, pretty much making everything in one day.

Razzmopolitan (3.5 Stars)

A mix of orange and cranraspberry juice with lime and seltzer, this ended up turning out okay but wasn’t a standout. It was a little too sweet, but still refreshing.

Peach, Ricotta, and Prosciutto Crostini (4.5 Stars)

This was the favorite part of the meal for quite a few of us. I think this is 5 star recipe but there were some good suggestions to tip it over the edge. If I was in NY when making this I would have used a fresh ricotta (which the recipe suggests a fresh sheeps milk ricotta). Lindsay suggested using goat cheese, which was seconded by Julianna, but repealed by my dad who doesn’t like goat cheese (or even feta). I agree that pure goat would take away from the flavor but a stronger, fresher ricotta would enhance the honey and procuitto. I ate one of these before dinner to see if they needed anything, and I ate 2-3 more later in the evening and the next day.

Cold Yellow Pepper Soup (4 Stars)

This was a refreshing option and the kick of jalepeno is a nice touch. My mom thought it was a 5, Lindsay said it was her least favorite of the meal. Julianna thought it would be better warm, so I’ll have to try that in the early fall. My testers would have thrilled to have the cold soup if this had been in my Manhattan apartment…but my dad keeps the house pretty cold. A drop of crème fraiche would be great if made warm, maybe even with the cold. One downside to this soup is that it take a lot of work. We were having so much fun that I totally forgot to take a picture of this dish…crap!

Grilled Swordfish with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Chickpeas (4.5 Stars)

I think I’ve only had Swordfish once before and this was a first for most of the testers. Dad thought it was “very impressive.” I second that, there is so much going on in this recipe that it is a party of flavors. The color is great and the salad combo a nice compliment. The sauce was a 5 star and would be a good marinade for other fish and poultry.

Cherry Clafouti (3 Stars)

I’ve never had a clafouti before so this was a challenge as I wasn’t sure what the consistency or taste was suppose to be…and I set the time for it to cook 5 minutes longer and didn’t hear it so they cooked a little too long. Bitter! The cherries didn’t add a lot of flavor and when presented Jordon thought the cherries was chocolate and then that ruined it for him…but adding a little bit of chocolate might be a good idea…chocolate sauce? My mom didn’t have a cherry pitter and we needed to save time so we used frozen cherries. I actually wish I had made them with fresh unpitted cherries (which the recipe says adds more flavor…just make sure to remind your guests that there are pits).

4 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Kaye Hunter (July 23, 2011)

    You do a fantastic job of “plating this food up” as Rachael Ray would say. Wish I could taste it.

  2. Mary (July 23, 2011)

    Sounds like pop pop is getting more adventerous these days. Glad it went well. Everything looks great as always. I’m ready for you to come back and do another AK testnest. 😉

  3. jordon (July 26, 2011)

    everything was so delicious. we had a great time. thanks for putting it all together!

  4. Ann Henrie (July 29, 2011)

    I am so proud of my little daughter. I watched her plan the menu, shop, prep, decorate, cook and serve it up in style. The fun part is that she really enjoys all of that. I was great to have a test nest in Charlotte. It was like eating in a fancy restaurant and trying foods you have never had before.

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