Arguably, it is just a subcategory of too-much-of-a-good-thing. Anyway, here’s something you might not have known about me: not everything I attempt to cook turns out perfect.
2 days ago we had our friends A & D over for dinner, and I was very excited to show off the midsummer harvest I brought back from the garden. My new potatoes were making their debut, and last year they were just so delicious. Also, my Belorussian soul always elates whenever potatoes are involved.
I settled on a menu that in my over-excited imagination was to unfold as some kind of a Mediterranean-Upstate NY fusion. I asked James to make the super trendy (and totally worth the hype) kale chips as a pre-dinner munch. For the main course I bought 5 butterflied branzini (European seabass) at Chelsea Market that and filled it with caramelized fennel, sun-dried tomatoes and French tarragon. And last but not least, the potatoes were to shine in a vegetable napoleon, combined with several types of garden squash.
As for the latter, I got loosely inspired by the general idea of this recent article (and the recipe within) in the New York Times: A Vegetable Torte Starts at the Grill. I substituted eggplant with potatoes (pre-boiled and sliced) and used chanterelles instead of portobello mushrooms. The torte came out looking really impressive (sorry, I didn’t have time to take any photos of that dinner). The squashes soaked up a wonderful flavor from garlic, asiago cheese and fresh herbs (I used some sage, tarragon, thyme and basil). The potatoes, on the other hand, totally flopped. Although pre-boiled, they remained pretty al dente. I probably cut them too thick (those 1/4″ slices should have been much thinner)…
But most importantly, the flavors of my fabulously looking torte ended up competing with those of the fish. In a nutshell, the torte left me wishing I had gone with reason instead of inspiration and used the squashes for this (much more appropriate for a summer side dish) Zucchini With Almonds recipe from the Amateur Gourmet.
Oh well, there’s always the next time… What did come out exceptionally well and summery was this No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake that’s been on my shortlist of things-to-make-with-blueberries ever since Marina had suggested it. I don’t feel very confident when it comes to making desserts, so I followed every word of the recipe (thanks to which I made a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond, and finally own a spring set form and a hand-held mixer!). It was super easy and turned out absolutely gorgeous and delightful. The texture is much lighter and fluffier than that of a traditional cheesecake and the crust made with graham crackers and rolled oats is quite amazing. The paradox of this recipe is how light it tastes given the amount of full-fat ingredients that went into it. Or, perhaps, it is the secret of its success? I’ll be making it again for sure. Maybe in the future I might try using some lower-fat options as suggested by a bunch comments on Epicurious but for now it remains quite perfectly the blueberry lining on my hard potato cloud.