Speaking of being balanced…
Everything in moderation, including moderation.
I’m excited to describe one of the most delicious, fun meals I’ve ever had. Heather and Kirk have done several pairing dinners for at-home “date nights.” When I knew I was coming to visit them in Colorado, and that Lauren and Greg would be in town too, I immediately requested a Blends pairing dinner. My fabulous hosts obliged with a (vegan) “Taste of Europe” dinner. Katie even stopped by to say hello and share a drink with us! It was great see her again, even if it was only a short visit!
The concept for these tasting dinners is that each person comes up with a couple of courses and a pairing. Heather and Kirk did the bulk of the work, but I was given the opportunity to make the Petit Bouche.
I decided to make Roasted Butternut Chips with Caramelized Curried Bananas. My pairing was a warm drink I like to call Grand Spiced Milk.
All of this was created on the fly, which was interesting
when I nearly burned the chips. Despite the uncertainly, I was really happy when the way everything turned out!
The dish had a hint of heat and a little sweet from the curry and caramelized banana combo. It paired well with the almond milk drink, which was laced with Indian spices and a hint of orange from the Grand Mariner, then rimmed with crushed cashews.
The remaining courses were the stuff of dreams. Each dish and it’s pairing was better than the last. We traveled from my Indian appetizer (yes, I’m aware India isn’t part of Europe… but it was a British colony for a long time!), we went to the UK, Italy, France, and Germany.
German Chef Heather makes a killer dessert! Lauren and I kept sneaking more tastes of the almond pastry filling.
Amuse Bouche: Strawberry Puff Bites and Lavender Rosemary Black Tea Reduction with “One Shade of Grey” Martini
Appetizer: Mushroom Tortellini Soup with Smoky Truffle Vodka
Entrée: Tourtière with 2010 Chateau del la Coste Margaux
Dessert: Marzipan Schaumrollen with Frangelico Martini
My favorite? It’s hard to choose, but I have to says Heather’s Tourtière blew my mind. Only this girl can take a traditional, meaty French dish an make it vegan and better than “real” thing. The wine pairing was also spot on; a drinkable wine laced with dark fruits and a hint of cinnamon.
My French is so terrible that I spent half the day thinking she was going to make a tortilla.
Roasted Butternut Chips with Caramelized Curried Banana
- 1 Butternut squash
- 1 small banana
- Curry powder
- Parsley (for garnish)
Preheat the oven to 375.
Cut the neck of the squashes off of the base. Peel the neck and slice it into thin slices (~1/8th of an inch thick).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper before spreading the slices across the sheet. Brush with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle on a little cumin.
Bake the chips ~25-30 minutes, flipping half way through. Watch them closely and remove them when they turn brown and crispy. Timing can vary depending on you oven and the thickness/moisture content of your slices.
They may not seem fully crisp while they are still warm; take them out of the oven and let them cool for ~5 mins. They should crisp up, but If they still aren’t crisp, put them back into the oven for 5 -10 mins.
While the chips cool, cut the banana into ~1/2 in slices and spread it evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with curry powder and place under the broiler for 2-3 mins. WATCH these closely, because they will burn quickly! Remove from oven when the tops are browned and caramelized.
To assemble, place a banana slice on top of each chip and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
Servings will vary depending on the size of the squash.
Grand Spiced Milk
- 1/2 C vanilla almond milk
- 3 oz Grand Mariner
- 3 oz vodka
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- Crushed cashews (to rim)
In a small pot over medium heat, warm the milk.
Whisk in the alcohols and spices, adjusting to your taste.
Spread the cashew dust on a plate. Moisten the rims of the shot glasses with lime juice and dip in the cashews.
Carefully pour the warm milk into each glass and enjoy!
Makes 5 shots or 1 big glass to sip on by the fire.
Note: This can be made non-alcoholic, but you would want to add an orange flavor from extract or zest.
In all my spare time (hahahahaha!), I need to host one of these dinners at my home.
Do you ever pair drink with meals at home?
What are looking forward to this weekend? I might get a new car!!!