Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm a lucky gal

I love baking and making appetizers but don't think of myself as much of a cook. I can make a cheesecake or a wonderful plate of brie onion tartlets but when it comes to feeding my family dinner...well, let's just say we eat a lot of plain pasta at my house and I feel pretty inept when it comes to cooking meals.

So when I found out that my favorite chef, Karl, was going to come over today and make me and my kids lunch I was especially thrilled.

Karl is my friend, Tom's, brother. He's a chef who has lived all over but is currently living in the Dominican Republic and working at a swanky resort. We originally connected because of a recipe he created for his nephew - Jordan Ett's State Fair Drunken Beef Stew. I posted a comment on his blog, Fusion on the Fly, and he didn't think I was real. My name, Myrna CG Mibus, sounded made up, he thought, so he figured his sister-in-law, Libby, posted the comment as a joke. Libby assured him that Myrna was, in fact, a real person and the next time Karl came into town Libby, I, and a bunch of our friends put on a brunch for Karl so we could all meet him in person.

This group of friends puts on a wonderful spread of food. We ate well and enjoyed great conversation. I made Karl a gooey chocolate torte for dessert.

We've been friends ever since.

The next time Karl visited we had a "fusion" party at my house. I invited some friends and everyone brought three or so ingredients that they happened to have at home. Karl then promised to use whatever people brought and create a meal from the ingredients.

My friend, Joy, has a good sense of humor.
She brought a can of SPAM.
Cured ham drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Fried squash blossoms stuffed with cream cheese and capers on the blue plate.
On the white plate - Fried squash blossoms stuffed with SPAM on a bed of sauteed SPAM. Plus a glass of lovely red wine.

We thought we had Karl stumped but we did not. Armed with SPAM, a packet of steaks, a can of peppers, a jar of capers, cream cheese, a bread starter, a few tomatoes, a few things out of my garden and me and my daughter Rose as helpers, Karl created one of the best meals ever. We had Spam stuffed squash blossoms, pizza, marinated steak with pepper sauce, fried zucchini appetizers, cucumber and tomato salad and some lovely cured ham drizzled with balsamic vinegar (a gift Karl brought all the way from New York where he was living at the time) and more! Rose felt so important working alongside a chef who took the time to teach her things as they prepped the food. She has since taken a great interest in cooking and often talks about the day she helped Karl.
Rose helping prep food for our Fusion Food Party

Karl travels to Minnesota each summer to visit his mother and his brother, Tom, and his family. Part of this visit involves taking his nephew and niece, Jordan and Linnea, to the Minnesota State Fair. Part of his visit, it now seems, involves visiting me and making a meal together.

I'm a lucky gal.

So this afternoon Karl, Libby, Jordan and Linea arrived with two Cantonese style roasted ducks that Karl picked up in Minneapolis and enough energy to prepare a meal for a couple dozen people. He popped the ducks, already prepared and cut up, into the oven to warm then started cutting up veggies for a stir fry. He created a sauce out of a whole bunch of stuff I had in my cupboards, cooked up a big pot of rice and stir fried the veggies. Before we knew it, Karl had a fabulous lunch ready for us.
Stir Fried Veggies

The duck was fabulous!! All of the food was wonderful. We laughed and ate and listened to Karl tell stories then ate some more. Ryan asked for seconds and thirds of duck, saying it was the best thing he's ever eaten which is pretty high praise from my somewhat finicky eight-year-old son.

We finished off our meal with dessert - Raspberry Chocolate French Macaroons that I made. I've never made macaroons but they were such a hit that I'm sure I'll make them again and again.
Raspberry Chocolate French Macaroons - Yum!
Here is the recipe (Thanks Ruth!)

Karl heads back to the Dominican Republic on Saturday. My kids head back to school in under two weeks and I will get back to my "normal" school year life as a writer and mom. Karl will be creating wonderful meals for the people who visit the resort and I'll be frantically trying to figure out what to make the family for dinner. 

Yep, life will be back to normal.
Or will it?

You see, I have a friend who spent almost a whole day of his vacation so he could come to my house and make lunch for me and my family.

That's really special.
Someone giving up a day of vacation time just for me.

Can life really go "back to normal" when someone gives you that kind of gift?
I don't think so.


daretobecome said...

What a beautiful day you had! I loved the pictures and the description of how much fun you all had. I do confess I got a little sidetracked when you mentioned brie onion tartlets. My ears perked up like Scooby Doo as this sounds like something I simply must indulge in...I mean try. Would you share the recipe?

Myrna CG Mibus said...

Yes, I will share the recipe. We're off to eat tons of food on a stick at the State Fair today but I'll either post the recipe on my blog or send it to you on Facebook.

The Brie Onion Tartlets are a lot of work - but worth every minute because they are SO good!