Thursday, July 30, 2009

Images from my nine-course truffle dinner party

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I'm not done with the recipes from our nine-course truffle dinner party, but I hear a picture's worth a thousand words...which means I won't have to write again for several weeks after I show you all these amazing photos. My friend Noelle Swan Gilbert, who is a beautiful photographer, somehow managed to coax these shots out of my little point-and-shoot Canon. Talent indeed.

We pushed the dining table against the wall and set it up as a buffet. The tray below held the tartines with radish and truffle butter (see the recipe, if you can call it that, here).

I also served crostini with fresh ricotta, a drizzle of honey, grated black summer truffle, and fresh thyme (the recipe is here, on my LA Cooking Examiner column). This was inspired by a starter I had a few weeks ago at The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry, New York - theirs used truffle-infused honey, and I have to say, I think the fresh truffle was a teeny tiny bit better.

I put out a bowl of truffled egg salad with crackers. It's just chopped hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, creme fraiche, white truffle oil, truffle salt, and shaved fresh truffles. Pretty much heaven on a cracker.

Lisa Fielding, a delightful entertainment-mogul-turned-personal-chef (and a good friend), helped me with the roasted potato chips with fontina and grated truffle. I knew what I wanted, but I wasn't sure how to execute it. Lisa knew exactly what to do: She peeled and sliced the potatoes, then soaked them in water for about 15 minutes to get rid of some of the starch. Then she bathed them in a combination of butter and olive oil and roasted them in a hot oven for about half an hour. We added a dab of fontina, grated the truffle over, and done. These were completely addictive.

The salad was a variation on Emery's salad, my 10-year-old son's first original recipe. I sauteed pancetta until it was golden, then added it to the bitter green lettuce, which was dressed simply with truffle oil, Meyer lemon juice and truffle salt. Then I grated truffles over the top and tossed it together. The first bowl, which included two huge heads of lettuce, was gone in less than five minutes.

Can't have truffles without pasta, can you? I did it as simply as possible: Spaghetti tossed in butter, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and lots and lots of grated truffles. The smell permeated every inch of the kitchen. In all, I made four pounds of pasta for 30 people, and there was not one single strand left over.

The truffled corn pudding was the only dish I wasn't too keen on. I used a basic recipe - fresh corn, milk, flour, eggs, butter - but because I tripled the original quantity, it didn't cook through or set properly. It sort of looked like corn mixed into very mushy scrambled eggs. It tasted great, though, very sweet and creamy. With the fresh truffles grated and mixed in, it had a truly unique flavor.

The filet mignon bites in truffle butter didn't photograph well, but they were absolutely the most tender and flavorful pieces of beef I have ever eaten. We cut the meat into bite-sized chunks, and I sauteed it in butter in a very hot pan for less than a minute, then tossed it in truffle butter.

My husband chose a lovely Provencal rose to go with the truffle feast - light, fruity, just perfect.

I made two kinds of ice cream for dessert: Fresh fig (the pink one), and truffle-honey (the white one). The fig ice cream was sweet and sticky, basically a frozen mixture of fresh fig jam, lemon juice, and cream. The truffle-honey had a very subtle flavor: It looked like vanilla, but the first bite made it clear this was no ordinary white ice cream. I was surprised at how much the kids at the party liked it - the flavor was quite sophisticated.

I've already told my dealers - er, I mean contacts - that my truffle addiction is far from satisfied. The Oregon white truffles will be available in a few months. Better start planning the next party.

P.S. Up next, white truffle season - see this article on white truffles by Michelle Stiner, the Salt Lake City Gourmet Food Examiner (who knew you could get truffles in Salt Lake City? Okay, my coastal bias is showing).


Lauren Montgomery said...

We were so glad to be there. I enjoy the memories of the great afternoon / evening...and someday will get you some sweet pics of the kids together there....

Anonymous said...

Sounds fantastic -and great pictures!

Anonymous said...

Oh my, all this time I didn't know that I could find a great meal next door

Erika Kerekes said...

Anonymous - whaddya mean, next door? Who are you anyway?

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