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Culinary Corner, Week of September 11-16

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

I'm pleased to announce a special menu this week, celebrating the final Sounds of Summer Concert. We are serving a 4-course dinner with Charcuterie, Poached Lobster, Steak Au Poivre, and Opera Cake. We want dinner to be early and finish in time for the concert, so this is kind of a "Theater Menu" Jesus is doing an Ice carving, Libby is pouring wine, it will be a fun time but seats are limited.

Thanks to Mrs. Volki for this picture

Thank you to all who came and visited me at the health fair last week! I didn't discuss it much but my version of healthy was three different wild mushroom dishes (brain boosting, high in antioxidants), and of course house brewed beer (rich in probiotics, good for digestion and stress relief).

The Chanterelle and Cheese Toasts were a big hit as was the Vegetarian Lobster Mushroom Bisque, (more on bisques below).

Many thanks to Kat and Meghan who organized the whole thing as well as all the other departments who put it all together and broke it down.

The soup this week is Tomato Bisque. I am often asked: what is the difference between a bisque and just regular soup? Well, that depends on what year it is. Bisque as a culinary term dates back to Europe in the 17th Century, and always meant Langoustines (a fancy French Crawfish). If you have ever met a European Chef you know that they are very particular about not wasting anything, and I'm sure that this dish began with that in mind. The idea was that the shells and carcasses were simmered for a long time to extract all of the flavor, usually with cream which served to thicken it as well. Over time , Lobster and Shrimp shells were substituted, and thickeners such as flour or rice were included but still cream was a big factor and the soup had to be smooth and silky with no lumps. In the 20th century Lobster bisque began to have whole pieces of lobster or shrimp in it, becoming as much a main course as a soup in some places. The name Bisque began to imply something expensive or fancy and of course Chefs were happy to borrow the term to raise the status of other more mundane soups. Today the name is almost interchangeable with a rich velvety soup of any kind-- cream is not always used and vegetables are often puréed as a liaison. Our tomato bisque is rich and thick, with tomato paste and heavy cream as the only thickeners making it gluten-friendly and vegetarian as well.

The appetizer is an Orange and Miso-Marinated Scallop, served on a crispy wonton with soy butter. This is a great one, the orange and miso complementing the sweetness of the scallop. Try this with Sauvignon Blanc.
Artigiano Cheese image courtesy of Belgioso

The Cheese this week is a new one. Artigiano Blueberry cheese is made in Wisconsin, in a traditional style, but is then soaked in blueberry compote for a slightly sweet and sour finish that is interesting and delicious. I tasted it a few weeks ago and I think you will like it.

No, blueberry is not a common flavoring for cheese but if you keep an open mind you may find that there are lots of interesting flavor combination out there to discover. We are serving this with marmalade and crackers, and I think that beer would be the best choice here.

At dinner, try the Maryland-Style Crab Cake with Roasted Poblano Sauce. This is made with breadcrumbs, egg, lemon, and Old Bay seasoning. The sauce is made with avocado and lime, and has a bit of a kick to it. We are serving soft, steamed carrots and crispy potato sticks on top.

We have Double-Braised Beef Brisket this week. We take a nice beef brisket, braise it in rich stock with red wine, celery onion and carrots until it is nicely tender. Then we take it out, trim it, slice it and return it to the pot to braise a bit more. This goes with Olathe corn (yes, it is still here), and a twice-baked potato. Definitely go with red wine here, I would say a zinfandel or if you prefer, a Kosher-style wine would be good here too.

Try our Chicken Cordon Bleu this week, served with Hollandaise and asparagus. Now this is a boneless, skinless chicken breast, wrapped around shredded Swiss cheese and ham, breaded and then fried until crisp. we finish it in the oven, as I find that the fryer dries it out too much. A Good Chardonnay is correct here.

For a vegetarian special, we'll offer warm Grilled Tofu served over Tabbouleh. Tabbouleh is usually made with Bulgur wheat, but I have found that our residents are not fans of this particular tradition so we are making it with couscous, lemon, olive oil, cucumber, parsley and tomato. A nice cool light salad for these warm days.

We are pushing hard for fall with our pasta this week, Pumpkin Cream Rigatoni served with chicken and sausage. Yes, I know that it's early for Pumpkin in every dish, but if you get up early like I do the weather is in the low 50's and supposed to drop into the 40's this week at night so we are not far off.

For specials this week try the Southwest-Seared New York Strip Steak, Fried Walleye, Yellowfin Tuna Nicoise, or the Lobster Raviolis.

At Lunch Check out the Carved Ham, Swordfish Tacos, Meatloaf, Baked Salmon Rosette, or my favorite: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin.

As always, I look forward to seeing you all this week at the Culinary Corner, 10 am Monday in the Dad Clark Bar

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