There are few things I love more than making a meal for someone I love, especially when I know that person will appreciate a little extra attention to detail. My friend Sadiqeh is one of my favorite people to cook for because she loves finding new ways to enjoy simple, fresh flavors. Last Saturday night, I had her over for dinner. Because I knew she was arriving after 8pm, I wanted to make something light. Sadiqeh and I share a certain fascination for all things French and love to fantasize about abandoning our mundane lives to go live in Paris. In the spirit of this, I turned to Barefoot in Paris for inspiration.
I settled on Ina's Avocado Grapefruit Salad and Zucchini Vichyssoise. Ina mentions that she had this salad at "a very elegant restaurant in Paris," by which I think she means Le Voltaire (Gwyneth also mentions this salad on GOOP--don't mock me!). In any case, the salad was super simple and absolutely delicious. I love grapefruit only when they are well-salted and they work beautifully in this really simple salad. If I were to make this again, I would use red grapefruit, purely for aesthetic value.
For our soup, I chose the Zucchini Vichyssoise, partially because I had never heard of Vichyssoise and it sounded divine, but also because my sister's garden has left our home with an abundance of summer squash. With my handy dandy immersion blender, this soup was super easy to make. I especially love the immersion blender because it means LESS DISHES TO CLEAN! Anyway, the soup was delicious. The recipe calls for adding two tablespoons of heavy cream which was great, but I think next time I will try sour cream for a little extra substance.
For dessert, I wanted to attempt to make mango frozen yogurt. In case I have forgotten to mention it here, I have an obsession with frozen yogurt. And I'm not talking about that crappy kind that is so sweet it tastes like ice cream, I'm talking about the tart, tangy stuff. Not being a huge dessert person in general, I don't like super sweet desserts, so tart frozen yogurt (covered in fresh fruits and almonds preferably) is the perfect treat for me. Also, I recently decided that mangoes are definitely my favorite fruit...oh the possibilities!
Avocado Grapefruit Salad
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
4 ripe Hass avocados
2 large red grapefruits
Place the mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
Before serving, cut the avocados in 1/2, remove the seeds, and carefully peel off the skin. Cut each half into 4 thick slices. Toss the avocado slices in the vinaigrette to prevent them from turning brown. Use a large, sharp knife to slice the peel off the grapefruits (be sure to remove all the white pith), then cut between the membranes to release the grapefruit segments.
Arrange the avocado slices around the edge of a large platter. Arrange the grapefruit segments in the center. Spoon the vinaigrette on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.
from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon good olive oil
5 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (4 to 8 leeks)
4 cups chopped unpeeled white boiling potatoes (8 small)
3 cups chopped zucchini (2 zucchini)
1 1/2 quarts Homemade Chicken Stock, recipe follows, or canned broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Fresh chives or julienned zucchini, for garnish
Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot, add the leeks, and saute over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, zucchini, chicken stock, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and then process through a food mill fitted with the medium disc. Add the cream and season to taste. Serve either cold or hot, garnished with chopped chives and/or zucchini.