Iron Chef Millman V

You know the drill:

Prelude: Latkes three ways: – topped with goat cheese, melted leeks and smoked salmon – topped with pea and roast garlic puree and roast lemon salsa – topped with persimmon and apple puree and sushi ginger

Soup: a duo of soups: – roast olive and garlic – roast red pepper and carrot – served together with a dollop of herb pesto

Crudo: thin-sliced hamachi topped with slivers of jalapeno, green lemon-infused olive oil, and sea salt

Salad: fennel and apple salad with tarragon and a lemon and olive oil dressing

Pasta: ricotta and swiss chard malfatti (like giant gnocchi) with sage brown butter sauce served over a bed of butternut squash pureed with mandarin orange-infused olive oil

Main: broiled arctic char dusted with ground porcini mushroom and fennel seed, served atop an oven-roasted tomato and a bed of white beans and wild mushrooms

Dessert I: crema fritta, deep-fried breaded cream

Dessert II: Rosemary lemon olive oil cake

Menus from years one, two, three and four also available.

This year we also had a signature cocktail – the maghreb martini. Gin, vermouth and preserved lemon brine, garnished with a wedge of preserved lemon. Color was a bit yellow; I think the brand of preserved lemons I used had saffron in the brine. But the flavor worked wonderfully, and paired very nicely with the latkes.

In fact, this is the first year that I can recall that really every course worked. The only hiccup was that the first batch of malfatti dissolved upon hitting the water. I had formed them in advance and frozen them, but I’ve done that before successfully, so I think either they didn’t have enough flour (I don’t think that was the problem) or the ricotta and chard between them retained too much water (I suspect this was the problem). Anyway, I heated up another pot of water, defrosted another batch quickly and re-formed them (you twirl the dough in a wine glass with a bit of flour to make the football shapes), and the second batch came out fine if a little bit late to the party. But other than that hitch, everything came off well and everything worked, in terms of flavor and presentation. If I had to pick standouts, I’d choose the soup duo, the fish, and the crema fritta.

I really enjoy doing this. I don’t entirely know why. It’s in part because I love to be the entertainer, the provider, the host; I like showing off, but I also like making people happy. And it’s in part because I love to eat. But it’s in part because cooking is one of the very few activities I engage in where I really use my hands. I don’t play a sport; I don’t paint or do woodworking or futz around with motorcycles. But I do cook. And when I cook, I still use my brain, but I use it differently, and I don’t feel so much as if I’m living in it, more like it is living in the world. Which is a very good and too-rare feeling with me.

And it seems to work for my guests.

As always, recipes available upon request – and please, don’t be afraid to email me and pester me if I fail to post something in response to a comment. Sometimes I don’t notice that a new comment has been posted; I can be bad that way. My email is available on the “About” page of the site.