Nestled on CrossLake, outside Brainerd, Minnesota, a beautiful home sits, with a breath-taking view, and remarkable sunsets you forget you’re here to work.
Michael and I are cooking for a family, their family, and friends for the next month. With only a week notice, we booked a flight, found a babysitter for our dog and took off for what could be the “the great adventure” in our cooking career. We both are excited to be here, cooking, sharing our love for food, and doing what we do everyday (but to a much larger scale-that is 30) prepare incredible seasonal food that is a reflection of our love and joy in our heart.
Currently on day four, and we have wowed our employer (a very impressive and most generous lady) with lunches and diners that have been simple but have met all expectations. Michael had his first attempt at Eggplant Parmesan, plated exquisitely as a tower and served along side of spaghetti Bolognese of ground lamb. Each slice of the sponge like vegetable sliced, breaded with Panko, crisped in the skillet than towered with slices of fresh Mozzarella, chiffon basil, than a ladle of tomato sauce to finish. I prepared a salad of mixed greens, sliced strawberries, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Light, sweet, and a perfect balance from the vinegar to make an ordinary salad seem supreme.
Dessert will always follow every meal, that meaning I will need to reach deep into the dessert archive for the next thirty days. Last night, I went with the house favorite-Key Lime Pie, the traditional filling in a graham cracker crust. I took the time to hand squeeze each little key lime to give the pie a fresh taste. I cut a small slice, a dollop of fresh whip cream and a strawberry for a garnish.
Today we were able to purchase fresh Sockeye Salmon from a local fish market in a town over called Baxter, they also have a meat market we are able to get special cuts and our favorite, lamb. Michael decided on Ahi tuna salad for first course with a fresh mango puree, a quenelle of fresh avocado, and a sprig of cilantro. They were very impressed and excited about the Tuna, than followed with pan-seared Salmon on top a vegetable Israeli Cous Cous, sautéed broccoli, capers and shallots garnished the top of the perfect medium fillet. It was light, packed full of flavor, but simple and one of Michael and I favorite back home.
They thought they didn’t need dessert tonight after such a mouth-watering meal, but once I mentioned I made a vanilla pudding, they sat back down. I have to say it was just the ladies tonight, but I know the guys would not be able to resist-from prior experience. It is the pudding I served at Vin48 for the three winters I worked there. I didn’t add the extra banana and cookie garnish as I once did, but only a single red organic raspberry on a spoon of whip cream. They scraped the bottom of the glass till there was nothing left to scrape. Always remembering to “keep it simple”-but make it good, and never settle for mediocre.
Michael and I after cleaning up the kitchen, choose to sit outside to eat our dinner. It’s around 8:30, the sun is still setting over the trees and the lake is like glass and its quiet. We open a 2003, Chardonnay from Russian River Valley that should pair nicely with our Salmon and talk about our night, and what tomorrow will be. We don’t stop thinking about food until we close our eyes, and as soon as the light peers through our window, it’s the first thing on our mind.