05 July 2009

A Frozen Fourth

Gazing on beautiful things acts on my soul,
which thirsts for heavenly light.
~ Michelangelo

While most people were planning how many hamburgers and hot dogs to grill and where to watch the fireworks this weekend, I was involved in two distinct, but related endeavors: getting together with my St. Cecilia Group Board of Directors on Saturday and shopping and cooking for an arts dinner on Sunday.

The Board meeting went quite well and several key decisions were arrived at ~ mainly related to the logistics for this year’s annual Arts Festival on November 21. More to come in the following months, so watch here for updates and announcements!

Sunday, I hosted a dinner to introduce some of my artsy friends to the Foundation for the Sacred Arts and the director, Ann Marra. The Foundation supports and encourages new artists who compose, paint or sculpt new liturgical art. Guests in attendance were Imelda Franklin Bogue, Richard Rice, Ligori and Mary Catherine Levri.

I kept the menu light ~ perfect for the Fourth of July weekend weather:

Prosciutto wrapped melon slices
Northern Virginia Gazpacho
served with French bread
Local seasonal greens and Jasper Hills Bayley Hazen salad,
with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette
Organic chicken, sautéed in a
Vermont Creamery butter, lemon, basil & white port sauce.
Served with seasonal vegetables and garlic whipped potatoes
Lemon and Basil Ice Cream

Lemon and Basil ice cream? Oh yes, dear reader ~ do not knock it until you try it! That quart of homemade goodness did not last in the freezer. It actually disappeared before the lemon ice cream. I decided to make ice cream for dessert as it was the quintessential American sweet, but being a creative foodie I could not serve plain old vanilla or chocolate. Our basil crop this year is phenomenal and since I was already making a lemon and basil sauce for the chicken, I searched Epicurious for a good recipe for both types of ice cream.

Whatever you do, do not boil the custard too long ~ it will curdle and that is not a pretty sight! Not to mention you will get less custard to freeze into ice cream. The lemon custard came out like a dream ~ smooth, rich and oh, so lemony! I was sure I had ruined the basil custard and was practically ready to pitch it out and start over again. But I kept straining it and the aroma was out of this world. So I decided to make a batch and see how it turned out. It raised some eyebrows, but as I said, it was the first to go.

The other edible highlight of the evening was Jasper Hills Bayley Hazen. Ligori brought me a pound of this heavenly blue cheese from New York. The dairy cows at Jasper Hills Farm listen to classical and jazz music during the winter months. I do not know the science behind this practice, but I am here to say that it works! The Bayley Hazen is the smoothest, richest, creamiest blue I have ever tasted. Alas! They have corrupted my taste buds ~ they refuse to let any other blue pass my lips! Thank goodness for foodie friends up north. You can only buy Jasper Hills Farm cheese in New York City at one or two markets. I am going to make this one last as long as I can!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
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