Make Merry

Superstar

So far this blog has not brought me the fame or book deal I expected when I read Julie Powell’s Julie/Julia. Is it because I do not share the same name with a snazzy cooking icon? Or because I don’t cook crazy stuff that requires me to suspend an egg in jelly made from boiled calf hoof? But come on, cow tongue? That’s pretty freaking crazy. Or maybe because I only blog about once a month now? Hmmm, I guess if you want to be a writer, you do have to actually write on a fairly regular basis. And I’m thinking that writing grades on exams don’t count as writing. Too bad. I’m really good at that.

Anyway, this blog has brought me one cool perk: I am now a member of the San Diego chapter of the elite DinnerDivas cooking club. I have been vying for membership to this group for months ever since I learned that one of my friends was a member (and a fabulous cook in her own right). In September or so, I asked her how I could be a part of that group, and she nicely said that it was kind of exclusive but she would put a word in for me. Well, months and months passed and then my friend saw her opening for bringing me up and forwarded my blog to the head of the group. And I was in!–at least for a trial. For my audition, I made the raviolis from my epic pasta blog, moving me instantly into the group’s open and loving arms.

Being a Dinner Diva is way fun. We have a very eclectic group of woman who all like to tell stories, eat good food, drink good wine/adult beverages, and laugh. A lot. All of my favorite things in the world (well excepting maybe one or two other things that are also my favorites).
The group rotates hosts every month. The host gets to pick the theme of the meal and provide the main course. This month, I am the hostess with the mostess. And because it is Mardi Gras on the 20th and because I have access to a really cool Caribbean cookbook, I decided our theme would be Carnival.

So now to find a main course. Of course, in the presence of such accomplished and discerning chefs, I couldn’t just make something I haven’t tried first (like cow tongue); I needed to test a few recipes (okay, or maybe a lot). I perused the Caribbean cookbook and marked about 15 things I wanted to try. All meat.

Cooking a big meat meal kind of freaks me out. First, I don’t really like meat all that much. Second, I don’t cook meat very well. It usually comes out overdone or stringy or whatever. The solution to these issues manifests itself in the meat acting as some sort of side and someone else cooking the meat after I’ve prepared it. But after cow tongue, I think I can handle anything. So meat, give me your worse.

The first thing I made was a coffee and pepper crusted tenderloin.

  • olive oil garlic, minced
  • unflavored coffee beans, ground
  • black pepper, coarsely ground
  • cumin
  • meat

Soak the garlic in olive oil. Rub the meat with that.

Mix equal quantities the pepper and coffee and 1/4 ground cumin in a big baggy. Add the meat to the baggy and shake to coat well.

Grill the meat, turning every 4-5 minutes until done.

Of course with the whole “grill the meat” part, I had to have my friend grill it because I would have screwed it up.
However, the meat turned out very nice. I served it over a mix of spinach and arugula that had a squeeze of lemon on it. In theory the heat of the meat was supposed to slightly wilt the leaves. In theory.

The coffee was a nice complement to the meat and the lemon had just enough tang to make it interesting.

Along with the meat, I served asparagus, baby broccoli, bread, and wasabi mashed potatoes.

Potatoes

  • cream
  • butter
  • wasabi powder
  • green onions, finely chopped
  • Yukon gold potatoes

mix some wasabi powder in the cream. boil the potatoes. Mash with the cream, butter, and onions.

I think I may have a winner for my DinnerDiva hostess debut.

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