During our Harvest Dinner (https://www.texaztaste.com/harvest-dinner/), Aaron Chamberlin, chef and owner of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market, and I hatched a plan to collaborate on a Sunday brunch. We called up a few friends, designed a menu, and on a beautiful Arizona fall Sunday, pulled a table out in the sun, lit a fire in the outdoor fire pit, and rolled up the sleeves on our chefs coats. As I pulled my prep together, I quickly came to the realization that some of my culinary school education had fallen prey to the daily grind of being a mom of three. I suddenly felt like the hillbilly invited to the debutant ball (i.e. totally out of my league)…my knives needed professional sharpening, my pots needed a shine, and some of my fancier cooking tools couldn’t escape the fact that they had been utterly neglected for the last ten years. However, the show must go on, so I donned my wrinkled pink chef’s coat that had been shoved behind the kids’ lunch boxes, and set about to the work at hand. After all, isn’t the most important thing to appear relaxed and for the guests to have fun? While Aaron was working on a menu, I placed my thinking cap on. What is festive and puts everyone in a good mood? The margarita bar at my college reunion gave me an idea…although many in Mexico may disagree, I felt it was too early for margaritas, but how about a mimosa bar? Since there were kids invited and perhaps not everyone wanted an alcoholic drink, I offered the choice of sparkling water and cider along with the champagne, that could be mixed with a choice of juices (mandarin oranges from our garden, grapefruit, cranberry, and a kids’ favorite, POG – passion, orange, guava) and fruit (mango, pomegranate, blueberries, raspberries, and kiwi).
Aaron arrived fresh from making his rounds at his two restaurants and put me to work. First task at hand was to sauté some veggies for a spin on a Tortilla Española. We took some fingerling potatoes, coined and browned them in oil, then folded them in with sautéed onions and broccolini. We whisked a dozen farm fresh eggs from Two Wash Ranch, and poured them in the sauté pan with the veggies, before baking it in 350 degree oven. When the eggs were set, the tortilla was removed from the oven and flipped onto a flat surface. Aaron layered some Comté cheese over the tortilla and placed it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to melt. Spanish tortillas are meant to be served at room temperature, so we set it aside to work on a lovely fresh chili sauce. Roasted red peppers, shallots, vinegar, and some chilis from our “garden”- Thai ornamentals and Ghost chilis (yep, we like it hot here) – were blended and served table-side.
Next came the Arizona Citrus Salad, which included a mix of oranges, tangerines and Meyer lemons that were layered with julienned dates, radishes, greens from Aaron’s garden, diced persimmon, and topped with his Sweet Shallot Vinaigrette. The vinaigrette included some minced shallots that were sautéed slowly in oil stovetop for 5-10 minutes, long enough to impart sweetness, but not necessarily caramelize them. Next, he added some honey, Meyer lemon juice, red wine vinegar and salt.
Aaron also brought some roasted, deseeded Anaheim chilis that were stuffed with mushroom duxelle (a finely minced mushroom mixture), that we steamed and plated atop a goat cheese sauce and sprinkled with Chimayo chili oil. When we originally talked about preparing a breakfast relleno, Aaron pointed out that the Anaheim chilis, as opposed to the poblanos, offered the advantage of being smaller and more structured. He also brought a lovely pork rib roast that he had roasted in herbs, butter, honey and Chimayo chili. It was a beautifully, well-rounded meal that offered a little of something for everyone. Salut!