Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Entertaining with Kathi" food column ~ August 30, 2007

“It is sunny and gorgeous almost every day. Wish you were here! The parties are to die for! Love and Kisses….” the vintage postcard from The Hamptons read.

“Great Gatsby! Inspirations and ideas are everywhere!” I said to my New Yawker bud who had joined me that Saturday morning for an antique jaunt through the shops of Havana.

Within minutes a vision for an elegant “Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams” soiree bloomed in my imagination. I could see the classic motorcars arriving, the chic 1920’s attire, the tented pavilions and the dining and dancing by the shore in an over-the-top evening of glamour fashioned in the delicious decadence of a Great Gatsby style party.

What could be more fun than a garden party for a good cause that whisks guests to a golden era when flirting and small talk was an art and wearing the perfect apparel was a necessity?

Beginning with a champagne reception in the garden with crystal flutes of Perrier Jouet champagne, butler-served blini with caviar and a magnificent fruits de mere display with bejeweled treasures from the sea and magically flavored-sauces from the workshop of a culinary artist, here-in lies the perfect launch for an evening splashing with sophistication and popping with purpose.

At the appointed hour the guests would retreat to the tented pavilion for a plated sit-down dinner served by white-gloved attendants while a full orchestra provides musical refreshment.

The evening concludes in the wee hours of the morning after hours of dancing and indulging in an ornate Death-By-Chocolate Dessert Buffet and free-flowing coffee bar.

Here you have a soiree that your guests will revel in partaking of and graciously swing open their checkbooks in support of the charity or foundation of your choice.

Go ahead make it over the top! But make it for a cause that will serve a higher purpose. For what could be more delicious than passing on a small portion of your blessings to an organization that can accomplish mighty things with your gift? The season of fund-raising is approaching and our community’s needs are many. Novel ideas and inspirations are everywhere, from vintage treasures to the latest craze.

Yukon Gold Potato Blini

Light, creamy and refined blini offer a most elegant way to begin a feast. These melt-in-your-mouth treasures can be adorned with a wonderful and eclectic flourish of toppings. From the simplicity of caviar or jewels of the sea, to tiny exquisite bites from nature’s bounty, blini are indeed the ultimate edible mini canvas for culinary creativity.

For a basic how-to recipe I consulted The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. If you are not familiar with The French Laundry, you should be! The French Laundry is considered one of the top restaurants in America and for very good reason. The food is absolutely exquisite. But if a jaunt to California is not on the horizon anytime soon, The French Laundry Cookbook can be the next best thing. Published by Artisan in 1999, Chef Thomas Keller shares some of his delicious culinary secrets with the world.

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes2 tablespoons all-purpose flour2 to 3 tablespoons crème fraîche, at room temperature2 large eggs1 large egg yolkKosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
Place the potatoes in a saucepan with cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are thoroughly cooked and tender.
Peel the warm potatoes and press them through a tamis. Immediately weigh out 9 ounces of puréed potatoes and place them in a medium metal bowl. Working quickly, whisk the flour into the warm potatoes, then whisk in 2 tablespoons crème fraîche. Add 1 egg, whisking until the batter is smooth, add the second egg, and then add the yolk.
Hold the whisk with some of the batter over the bowl. The batter should fall in a thick stream but hold its shape when it hits the batter in the bowl. If it is too thick, add a little more ore me fraîche. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees F. Note, if you do not have a griddle, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Spoon between 1 and 1-1/2 teaspoons of batter onto the griddle or skillet for each pancake. Cook until the bottoms are browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Then flip them to cook the second side, about 1 minute. The blini should be evenly browned with a small ring of white around the edges. Transfer the blini to a small baking sheet and keep warm while you make the remaining blini, wiping the skillet with a paper towel between batches. Serve the blini as soon as possible.

Kathi Dameron cooks up culinary collaborations. She is a culinary arts professional, food writer, former caterer and CEO of Kathi Dameron & Associates.

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