My new kitchen is also most done. All the appliances are working so Karen and I thought we should have a “soft opening.” We invited just one couple – good friends who were willing to be test subjects – over for our first simple dinner party.
I decided on this menu:
- Butternut Squash Ravioli
- Grilled Veal Chops
- Home made French bread
- Fresh Silver Queen Corn Risotto
- Roasted Asparagus
- Boozy Blueberry Thyme Sorbet
Like I said, just a simple dinner party.
Following is a description of each element with my comments on how I put it together. My Wolf Steam Convection Oven is already starting to be come a key tool in my cooking arsenal.
Butternut Squash Ravioli
The Franklin Farmers Market is held every Saturday morning here in Franklin, TN. While the market is year around, during the late spring and summer months it get’s quite busy. One of the vendors during the summer is Alfresco Pasta. I purchased their Butternut Squash Ravioli as an appetizer.
I prepared it by sautéing with a little water in a covered pan adding about two tablespoon of butter after seven minutes or so. The more traditional preparation is to simmering in gently rolling water. I think I like that method better.
I really wanted to try the bread setting on my new Wolf Convection Steam Oven so I decided to make French Bread. To make the dough I used my very old Black & Decker Bread Machine. In the future I will make the dough from scratch but for this night the bread machine was the easy option.
I did brush a little Olive Oil on the dough during the final proofing but did not prepare an egg wash. Once the dough was ready I placed it into a Baguette baking pan and put in the oven using the wire rack on shelf #2. I set the oven to the Auto Steam Bake Mode and hit start. The experiment began.
I have discovered that the documentation for the Wolf oven is sparse at best. I have not been able to find very much information on how each mode works and how it should be used. One of my goals for this site is to be able to share what I learn along the way and include with tips and tricks.
Unfortunately I forgot to write down the timing of this mode. I think it took about 30 minutes to complete. The steam phase was in the first 10 minutes or so. In the future I will provide more specific information.
Toward the end of the baking cycle it looked like the crust was getting too brown so I stopped the cooking process with about 3 minutes left. The bread was fine so in the future I will let the cycle run to completion.
The bread was a hit. Crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. Some good Irish butter made it almost a meal in and of itself.
Fresh Silver Queen Corn Risotto
This is a dish that I have made for years. I think the original recipe came from Bon Appetit, but I have modified it quite a bit along the way.
I used fresh Silver Queen corn from the farmers market. I steamed the corn in the Wolf oven following the quick start guide. I shucked the corn and steamed for 25 minutes on the Wolf steam mode. 25 minutes might have been too long. I will experiment with shorter steaming times.
This is a dish that is an easy vegetable to cook. I take the woody ends off by holding the spear and snapping off the end. Where the stalk breaks is where the tender part of the asparagus starts. Just toss in good olive oil and lightly salt and pepper to taste. I place into a preheated 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes. The time will vary depending on the size of the spears. When plated I added just a dusting of Parmesan cheese left over from the risotto.
Grilled Veal Chop
I usually use simple seasoning when I grill good meat. In this case just kosher salt and fresh pepper. I did let the meat sit for about an hour to come to room temperature and let the seasoning penetrate the meat. I pre-heated the grill on high for about 15 minutes.
When I put the meat on the grill I turned down the grill to low heat on each of my three burners. Cooked the meat for two minutes on one side and turned over for another two minutes. Then turned back for one minute and finished the final turn for one minute. The thickness of your meat and your desired final temperature will determine how long to cook each side. But, I have found the best way to get the right temperature is to time your cooking.
I like to plate in the kitchen and serve when possible. As this was a simple dinner the plates were easy to put together.
Boozy Blueberry Thyme Sorbet
I usually like serving a lighter dessert when I can. I discovered this sorbet recipe in a blog post and thought it would be perfect. I like thyme quite a bit and use it a lot when cooking. But I had never used it for dessert and wanted to try it.
I simply followed the recipe instructions. When I pureed the blueberry the mixture turned a little gelatinous. I’m not sure if this was normal. Adding the rest of the ingredients turned it into a more normal liquid. Next time – and I will make this again – I might use a smaller strainer. The final product might have had a bit too much blueberry pulp.
The flavor was interesting and complex. The guests thought it “interesting” and different. I served it in a small bowl with a sprig of fresh thyme. In the future I will make it a day ahead of the party so it has time to harden in the freezer.
I think it was a success
Overall the night was a success. Karen received a text the next morning from our friends that said: “[her husband] arrived cranky and left joyful… that alone was a gift.” I can’t think of a better compliment to an evening.
Good friends to share good food, good wine, and good conversation certainly made for a successful “soft opening.”