What do I cook for a high end chef?
December 3, 2010 9:51 PM   Subscribe

What to cook for a chef on a hot summers day?

My boyfriend has been working ridiculous hours - even for him - and has next weekend off after working 10 straight days of double services. I'd like to cook a special meal for us as a treat. We're both foodies (of course he is - he works in the number one restaurant in the country) and there aren't many types of food that he doesn't like.

It's summer here, so casseroles or soups etc are out. He's a classically trained French chef, from North Carolina, and his favourite type of food to cook for himself is Mexican food, so I should avoid French, traditional American food (like fried chicken - his is so good it once got written up in the New York Post) or Mexican, because the difference in quality between his cooking and mine will be way too noticeable.

There aren't many types of food that we don't like - but he doesn't really like salmon or oysters.

I'm not a *bad* cook, and am fairly accomplished, but something simple would be best.

What do you think?
posted by jonathanstrange to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
poisson cru. Note, I always put in a shitload of chillis in addition to the above (hot, yet cold! Soothing, yet fiery!), and any firm-fleshed fish will do, not just tuna. I actually prefer whitefleshed like barramundi etc. I suppose halibut or something like that would work too. :)
posted by smoke at 9:55 PM on December 3, 2010


Somen are thin Japanese noodles served cold: http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/cold-somen-noodles-recipe/ - I've not tried this but it sounds good.

Serve with some sashimi of some kind - or even tuna which has been seared on the outside and then sliced, and Japanese pickles (tsukemono).

Simple, no pressure meal.
posted by gomichild at 9:55 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's hard to screw up anything on a grill. And if he's from NC you could always slow grill/smoke a good pork shoulder and do some pulled pork.
posted by sanka at 10:02 PM on December 3, 2010


I second the pulled pork, but NC is divided on the issue of sauce. If he's nostalgic for BBQ, it may be for the mustard sauce rather than vinegar sauce. It makes a big difference to me at least.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:15 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah if you can't find pre-made tsukemono and the whole concept seems too daunting, then look out for a product like Ebara's 浅漬けの素 which is a pickling solution (the blue one is the regular one, the others have different flavours).

With these pre-made pickling solutions you just need to cut up veggies (carrots, cucumbers and daikon work great) put them in a freezer bag with the solution, shake and leave for 30 mins and voilà! - tsukemono. I also sometimes add in some freeze dried yuzu rind or dried chilli to make things more exciting.
posted by gomichild at 10:20 PM on December 3, 2010


Cold lamb sandwiches (as recommended by Anthony Hopkins in Meet Joe Black), with sides of tomato aspic and ambrosia (both long time U.S. southern summer side dishes), would be good. I like to skip any mint sauce, and particularly any cilantro, with the cold lamb, in favor of mild, creamy horseradish, but that's up to you.
posted by paulsc at 10:35 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


A summer favourite in our household is socca served with a nice salad. It's pretty cheap to make, so you can splash out on a good olive oil (for the socca and the salad). It's French, but it's not likely to be the sort of French he sees at work and it's pretty simple so you should be able to make it as well as he can (better, after a bit of practice).

The only tricky bits are getting the consistency right (like thick cream, as it says in the linked article) and cooking it well enough so that it's done but not burnt (a good pizza pan and a little practice will help).

I just noticed the reference to (optional) onion in The Age's recipe. I've never tried that, so I can't speak to it, but it sounds pretty weird. Cumin also works just as well as rosemary.
posted by GeckoDundee at 10:52 PM on December 3, 2010


I would go a different route on this one. After 10 days of trying hundreds of fancy dishes to make sure they are right, and cooking nonstop. I would want something simple unobtrusive and easy. Cooking something easy and enjoying it with a good beer would be awesome. I would think potato salad, a burger, and brownies would do it for me.

If you do want to go a little fancy I would look at Smitten Kitchen. The site always has good ideas and great instructions with lots of photos. I use them when I am feeling uninspired about what to cook.
posted by Felex at 10:54 PM on December 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


What about just putting together a nice antipasta platter? You're in Melbourne so have access to some of the best Italian and Greek foodstuffs in the country. Good bread, some nice cheese, melon and prosciutto (yeah, it's old but it's GOOD) or even some jamon, some top-notch olives, perhaps a fresh leaf salad, and some good wine or some top-notch beer. A good Greek place will have stuffed olives, stuffed vine leaves and all sorts of other goodies that need no prep.

Seriously - go along to the best deli in town and get some simple, honest, basic stuff. If you're not stressed about cooking, he'll probably relax more too. :)
posted by ninazer0 at 11:14 PM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think Greek might fit well too. Get the stuff ninazer0 suggests like stuffed vine leaves and olives and dips (or make these yourself - you at least need tzatziki and I think it is better home made).

Marinate some lamb (backstraps made into skewers, lamb cutlets, whatever you like) in a whole lot of crushed garlic, rosemary, olive oil and white wine. Barbeque it.

Serve it with tzatziki, really good Greek salad and fresh pita bread. If you want to add something else, maybe a small platter of freshly cooked prawns with lemon and salt.

Drinks can be beer or a nice crisp white wine (or bubbles, if you feel like that).

Big fruit salad for dessert - cut all the fruit to roughly the same size and make it small so there are lots of tastes in every spoonful. My fruit salad this morning was mango, blueberries, strawberries, passionfruit, lychees (these make all the difference) and pineapple, with a squeeze of lime over the top. You don't need anything more complicated, and fruit salad is one of those things that always tastes better when someone else makes it.
posted by AnnaRat at 11:29 PM on December 3, 2010


The following ideas don't really make a cohesive menu, but... this bacon potato salad is always a hit at BBQ's and parties (I double the bacon, and omit the celery and add red and green onion instead). I also love Jap Chae for a light, but flavourful summer meal. For dessert, I really enjoy a good Eton Mess (broken up meringue cookies mixed with freshly whipped cream, and fresh berries or berry coulis drizzled throughout).
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 12:10 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


A Big Mac, large fries, and a chocolate shake.

Followed by three hours of mind-blowing sex.

Then maybe coffee.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:19 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've posted it before, but this Thai-style ceviche is delicious, refreshing and a great starter on a warm summer's day. It's so easy you can make it as an afterthought.
posted by tavegyl at 1:34 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whatever the main dish, I would definitely serve fruit sorbet on a hot summer day.
There is nothing more easier and nothing more refreshing than sorbet.
Lemon and strawberry are my favourites.
posted by leigh1 at 6:24 AM on December 4, 2010


Gazpacho, maybe?

I know you said no Mexican, but a basic Campechana (basically just a seafood cocktail in a tomato sauce) is dead simple, filling and very refreshing.
posted by Gilbert at 6:53 AM on December 4, 2010


Pasta carbonara and a nice wine.
posted by piratebowling at 6:53 AM on December 4, 2010


Chile Dogs:
Make your own sausages. Use a fine grind and emulsify the meat mixture. Flavor with garlic, onion and pepper (maybe chile, maybe other spices that you find in a recipe online if you feel so inclined: parika, marjoram, thyme, mustard, etc). Use the best meat you can. Don't skimp on the fat. The sausage should be flavorful but not so complex that it competes or clashes with the chile. You could even find a recipe for hot dogs. Use a small diameter casing. I would avoid any recipe that calls for curing or smoking because you are using this as a base for your chile, not to show off a homemade hot dog.

Make some soft buns (probably potato dough) long enough for the sausages you make.

Make a green chile ground pork stew. Extra points for roasting your own chiles. Again, use the best meat you can. Brown onions, garlic and meat together. Add in chopped roasted green chiles and salt to taste. Simmer. Add a little stock to keep it semi-fluid.

Grill the sausages. Serve on the buns with green chile stew and some grated queso oaxaca (or asadero if you haven't salted the rest of the food too much for the cheese to work).

Serve with a simple salad dressed with lime, oil and salt.

I've never known a chef who doesn't appreciate something like this. A simple, almost mundane, meal made out of the best ingredients with care and thought. You can make the sausages a long while ahead and freeze them. The buns can be made a day ahead and the chile can be made in an hour. You spread the prep time out over a few days and it just seems easier.

I might have just come up with my New Years Day meal.
posted by Seamus at 8:59 AM on December 4, 2010


A souffle' or a quiche might also be good classics to consider - it shows you put in an effort, it's a little bit unusual, and done right can be given more Spanish (not Mexican) associations than French.
posted by medea42 at 11:01 AM on December 4, 2010


If he's a fan of Mexican food, you can't go wrong with a ceviche.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:37 PM on December 4, 2010


I don't know about all of it - but start with a nice caprice. Sometimes it is better to be a good shopper than a good cook.
posted by cestmoi15 at 9:43 PM on December 4, 2010


Thanks for the suggestions all!

I've ended up settling on a Zuni Cafe Roast Chicken with bread salad and a cherry pie for dessert.

Something that shouldn't be too hard to make, but is a little more special than everyday fare.

This won't be the last time I cook for him, though, so these will come in handy! cheers!
posted by jonathanstrange at 10:59 PM on December 5, 2010


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