Welcome to the final week of January! As I write this it is snowing outside which will give is some much needed moisture even if it is cold and wet. Thank you to all who attended the Kitchen Tour on Friday, we hope to do it again soon.
So the Soup this week is Italian Wedding Soup. Years ago when I was younger and less skeptical, I was told by an older, [presumably wiser] Chef that the name comes from this soup being served at Italian weddings to give the newly married couple the extra...energy they might need for the event and afterwards. That same day, a prep cook who was making hundreds of tiny meatballs for the soup told me that it was only served at weddings because it was such a pain in the you-know-what that no one wanted to serve it unless it was a special occasion. You all know I never let the truth get in the way of a good story but I have to dispel these legends from my culinary upbringing. First of all, there is a strong case that it's not originally Italian at all but originated in the city of Toledo, Spain. Many Italians might be outraged at that suggestion, and they have a strong historical case too. The name minestra maritata has been translated to mean "Wedding Soup" (in Italian, not Spanish), but a better translation might be "Married Soup" referring to the marriage of different flavors and the fact that it gets better the longer it lasts. I choose to believe this version. Anyway, our soup has pork sausage, spinach, vegetables, and orzo pasta in a rich broth. It is both delicious and comforting on a cold day, just like marriage.
The appetizer of the week is Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms, served with a house made tomato sauce with lots of garlic and red wine.
The Cheese this week is Hook's Five- Year Old Cheddar. This is a family dairy in Wisconsin which makes wonderful award winning cheeses and as the name suggests, this one is cave-aged for a full five years. The taste of this cheese is amazing, and as it ages the lactose crystalizes giving a unique texture and softening the sharp flavor. We will serve with fresh apples and crackers.
For a Vegetarian dish, we are serving whole Portabella Mushroom caps marinated in fresh herbs and olive oil, grilled-to-order and served with sauteed fresh collards, and Quinoa Cornbread. this is served with a buttermilk and avocado sauce with just a hint of lime.
The pasta this week is freshly made in-house Saffron Spaghetti with Castelvetrano olives, roasted red peppers, fresh parsley and Marcona almonds. This is topped with shaved Manchego cheese, and drizzled with a really nice Spanish extra virgin olive oil.
At lunch, we have a good old American-Style Cheeseburger with steak fries. Nothing fancy really, but of course we use Certified Angus Beef for our burgers and they are made with love which makes them really special.
Speaking of Beef, we have a classic Beef Wellington at lunch this week with CAB tenderloin, topped with foie gras paté and wrapped in pastry. This is baked to golden brown and served with green beans and a light Dijon Cream.
We have a Bayonne Ham Panini with Brie cheese. Bayonne Ham is produced in the Southwest of France in the Basque region. It is prepared very similarly to Prosciutto, but of course the Baques would argue that theirs is uniquely flavored and of course superior. anyway this is served with tarragon aioli and as a side, some baby arugula is tossed in extra virgin oil.
For daily specials look for such Classics as Veal Parmesan, Chicken Pot Pie, and Shrimp Scampi. Not so classic will be the Mini Duck Burgers-ground duck flavored with bacon and truffles and look for Guava-Barbecued Ribs with black beans and sweet plantains.
On the Dinner Buffet, look for Halibut in Pastry with a light citrus cream, Pork Osso Bucco, and Grilled Game Hen with Charred Tomato Salsa. Carving items will include Flank Steak with Chimichurri (parsley, garlic, olive oil, cilantro and lime), Parmesan-Crusted Lamb, and of course Prime Rib.
We look forward to opening to a full composed menu soon, please help us by keeping yourselves safe and healthy.
As always, please come and join me at the Culinary Corner meeting Monday mornings at 10 am for a more complete description of the menus and to give suggestions and feedback. And, for more photos, stories, recipes and culinary happenings, check us out on Instagram @ViHiveHighlandsRanch.