Our friend, Deb, recently took a "Venture to Vietnam" cooking class that was offered by First Class Cooking in San Francisco. Deb loved the class and was looking for volunteers to test out her new cooking skills and recipes, so she invited Hungry Bear and me over for dinner this past Saturday.
Deb and her husband, Brennan, are our eating partners in crime when we go to Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc, which is my absolute favorite restaurant in the Bay Area. We even get the Ad Hoc menu emailed to us on a daily basis to drool over, and we sometimes take a last minute trip for dinner in Napa.
Using the Ad Hoc menu template, Deb surprised us and emailed the dinner menu to us on Saturday morning. The menu read...
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Cold shrimp, carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts, cilantro and mint served
with a crushed peanut lime vinaigrette
Lemongrass Beef Skewers
Tri tip beef marinated in a lemongrass garlic mixture
Ca Kho To
Catfish simmered in a ginger, chili and caramel sauce
Coconut Ice Cream/Mango Pudding
TBA - depending on chef’s mood later today.
Needless to say, we were very excited about dinner. When we arrived at Deb and Brennan's place, Deb had the spring rolls prepared, the beef skewers marinating and was in the process of making the caramel sauce for the fish. There was also a bottle of 2004 Quivira Zinfandel - Anderson Ranch decanting on the table.
Since Vietnamese food is my peep's food, I was impressed that Deb wanted to cook Vietnamese for me. Brennan was actually a little nervous for her, but she wasn't concerned at all.
Deb was right to be confident, as dinner was excellent. All the dishes were tasty and were easy to prepare with fresh, simple ingredients. They were also healthy (very minimal oil/fat) without sacrificing flavor. And the Zinfandel paired well with the lemongrass beef and ca kho.
Deb did make a homemade coconut ice cream mixture, but the ice cream maker had to chill for another 12 hours. So, dessert was MaggieMudd ice cream (toasty coconut, vegan coconut pineapple and mint chocolate chip) with toasted coconut shavings and chocolate chip cookies. My favorite MaggieMudd flavor was the mint chocolate chip. After we finished dessert, Hungry Bear proclaimed, "Hungry Bear is no longer hungry."
Deb was gracious enough to send us home with leftover ca kho. For dinner on Sunday, Hungry Bear and I stir fried some water spinach and had the catfish on a bed of jasmine rice... yummy! The caramel sauce soaked rice was simply delicious.
Now I have to reciprocate a Vietnamese dinner and pull out my mom's secret recipes!
[tags]vietnamese, ca kho, spring rolls, lemongrass, beef skewers, coconut, ice cream, chocolate chip, cookies, ad hoc[/tags]