Chefs' Club Blog

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Surf n’ Turf! (May 2010)

It’s been a long time since we’ve had an official dinner party, but with the Spring weather in full force, we were inspired to come out of hibernation and host another Chefs’ Club Guest Dinner!  We haven’t done that since September, so it was fun to get together and plan a bigger event. Big dinner parties do create some interesting issues, though, such as how to set up a sit-down dinner for 18!  Thankfully, Sam and Sarah’s new home has a dining room that opens up to the living room, so we were all able to dine together.  Plus, it was a beautiful evening, so we were able to hang out outside a bit, grilling out, sipping our pineapple-infused vodka, and getting to know some new friends 🙂


FRUIT: pineapple and strawberry

VEGE: potatoes and peppers

This month’s lineup:

  • Cocktail: Laura – Homeade Pineapple-infused vodka with Tonic and a fresh pineapple garnish. Laura had a great tutorial about from another blog that you can check out here at the SugarShop.  There are great photos!  Laura ended up soaking the pineapple for several days in advance and the night of, served it up with some tonic and a slice of fresh pineapple to garnish!
  • Passed Appetizer: Meredith – Louisiana Deviled Crabcakes. Initally, these were having trouble staying together using the given cooking method in the butter bath. But, everything worked out once Mer used a little cooking spray and there wasn’t so much liquid…the butter was making the crabcakes fall apart!  Everyone RAVED about these delicious appetizers.  Perfect for standing around and awaiting the meal 🙂
  • 1st course – Soup: Tara –  Mashed Potato and Leek Soup – Tara’s notes: “the broth turned out to be thinner than expected, so in the future I would decrease the amount of broth”.  Tara also found out that she’s not super keen on the taste of fennel, so would recommend halving that as well – personally, I liked the fennel, Tar! Plus, the fennel fronds made for a nice garnish 🙂
  • 2nd course – Salad: Kelly B – Peppered Pecan Spinach salad with pineapple.These candied, yet spicy, pecans are delicious! It’s a nice kick and complement to the fresh pineapple. Next time I may opt to switch out the blue cheese for another kind…I love cheese, but that one is not always top on my list!
  • Main: Sarah and Stacey – Surf ‘n Turf! The official recipe is “Surf N’ Turf: Flank Steak and Prawns on a bed of grilled romaine,” however, Sarah and Stacey made it their own 🙂  They swapped Sirloin Steak Tips in for the Flank Steak and skewers of Shrimp and Pineapple and Lime wedges instead of the Prawns.  DELICIOUS!!!  This steak marinade is fantastic and HIGHLY recommended!  Stace and Sar also recommend marinating the shrimp for slightly longer than the directed time since that marinade didn’t come through as well. Soooo good! We’ll definitely be making this one again!
  • Side (veggie): Kim – Grilled Red and Yellow Peppers with a garlic herb oil. These were fantastic!
  • Side (starch): Kelly J – Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Capers. I can’t believe I’ve never tried capers with potatoes before! A great combination.  These were cooked to perfection!
  • Dessert: Erin – Pineapple-Coconut Napoleons with Marsapone Cream and Pineapple Syrup and Fresh strawberries on the side. The Pineapple syrup, which includes peppercorns and  jalapeño chili, definitely has a kick! It sounds odd, but the melding of flavors (also has cardamom and cinnamon!) was a great balance to the sweetness of the marscapone cream and pineapples.  The cocounut tuiles proved difficult to reproduce in the kitchen, but some puff pastry saved the day!  We ate the coconut tuiles on the side as a cookie. De-lish 🙂
  • Vino: Our guests – Thanks to Andreas, Andy, Andy, Josh, Philip, Ryan, Sam, Trevor, and Will for providing the wine and the fantastic company for the evening 🙂 It was a great time!

Setting the dinner table -- thank goodness for connecting rooms!

Closer view..

The prep work! Needed: fresh pineapples, an air-tight container, and some vodka...

And now let it soak for 4 days...

To infuse the vodka:  Basic ratio: 1 bottle vodka to 1 pineapple.     Also need: 1 airtight container (I bought mine from the Container Store), Strainer, Funnel. To infuse the vodka: Chop pineapple, removing skin.  Line jar with chunks.  Pour vodka into jar, making sure to completely cover the pineapple.  Save the empty vodka bottles for the infused vodka to go back into.  Close the lid.  Store in a dark place for a long time.Soaking time: some sites say 3-4 days, others 2 weeks.  It depends.  Try not to open the lid more than necessary. I soaked it for 4 days. When it is done soaking, pour vodka through a strainer into a big bowl.  The pineapple chunks are potent. I squeezed most of them to get the vodka out and added into the bigger bowl of vodka because I didn’t want to go to waste it. Funnel this into the empty bottles. – Chef Laura

Fast forward 4 days -- Mixing up the first pineapple-infused vodka tonic 🙂

When you are ready to serve, first put ice into a glass.  Then pour vodka.  Top with tonic. When I served to chefs club, used a ratio of approximately 1/3 c vodka to a little less than 1/3 c tonic.  As the ice melted, it changed the strength of the drink (obviously).  Garnish with pineapple slice.

Other Fun Notes:  *  Don’t skimp and buy extremely cheap vodka, as this will affect the taste of the drink, especially if you ONLY drink the vodka (no tonic) as most sites suggest.  I think this is doable, the longer the mixture soaks, the less it’ll taste like intense vodka.   *  The possibilities for infused vodka are endless.  You can do just about anything you can imagine.  The craziest one I saw was Skittles Vodka.  You can even infuse vodka with peppers, lime, garlic, etc to use in Bloody Mary’s.  You get the idea.    *  For Chef’s Club, I soaked 3.5 pineapples in 1 2/3 bottles of Skyy Vodka (1.75L bottles)   * Some sites suggest that making “adult smoothies” is a good idea way to use the pineapples chunks that had soaked up the vodka. ENJOY! – Chef Laura

Now, on to the rest of the meal…

Forming the crabcakes

Hint from the Chef: try using cooking spray instead of frying these in melted butter. The butter was causing the crabcakes to fall apart! This worked much better 🙂

Serving up the crab cakes!....mmm mmmm 🙂 It's a beautiful night to be outside.

Outside for cocktails and crab cakes...and conversation with fun friends 🙂

Moving inside - prepping our first sit-down course of the evening - the soup!

That is a lot of soup! Love the garnish...

Plating the salads...

Just need to add the candied, peppered pecans and we're ready to serve!


Grilling the flank steak...

Marinating the peppers before they hit the grill.

Pulling the peppers off the grill

Prepping the potatoes to be roasted.

Prepping the shrimp skewers for the grill.

Plating the main course! Shrimp and pineapple skewer, marninated steak, grilled peppers, and roasted potatoes. Mmm-mmm 🙂

And finally…the dessert 🙂

Assembling the pineapple napoleons...


And lastly…here are just some random pics from the evening…a great night of friends and fun conversation.

La Fin 🙂

Enjoy the recipes! Happy Cooking 🙂


June 5, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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