Last Saturday I did a “practice” dinner for an event that is to be auctioned at a gala week after next. The celebration is the 25th anniversary of the opera company I founded, well, 25 years ago. I ran the company for its first 15 years and then went off to Denver. So the deal is that I will cook a four-course dinner for 8 using recipes from my recent book, “A Cook's Book for Cooks.” Actually I will cook three of the courses and the dessert chef will be my sweetie, Peter.
A great deal of thought went into this food and the results were quite successful. As is my wont, I do not intend to write up detailed recipes. Let's face it, we don't cook each others' stuff. We like seeing the photos and reading the lovely stories that go with the food. So I ask you to enjoy my stories and be inspired to make some amazing stuff for those you love (or those to whom you owe a dinner).
Today is (obviously) course number one: soup and breadsticks.
Egg blossom soup; breadsticks
Authentic dashi broth is make by boiling some kombu (seaweed) and then adding dried bonito flakes for a few minutes. Everything is then strained out and, voila, you have dashi broth. It is the preferred vehicle for egg drop soup and/or miso soup. I like to call mine egg blossom soup for my own esthetic reasons. Go figure. The trick to the soup is to beat up the eggs a bit and then stir your broth to create a sort of whirlpool. Then you drizzle the egg into the faster moving edge of the eddy through the tines of a fork. Sounds annoyingly complicated? It absolutely isn't. I like to decorate my soup with a tablespoon-full or so of peas. The addition of some lemon juice is nice also.
Puff pastry makes magnificent bread sticks. I brushed one puff sheet with a bit of sesame oil and then scattered sesame seeds and some salt over it – sliced it across into 9 strips and bent them around into a “U” shape. Baking takes about 14-15 minutes at the remp recommended on the package (which at the moment I do not remember).