Tag Archives: #5 Wonders of the World

3/29/11 Forgotten Natural Wonders of the World

25 Apr

I was assigned the seven forgotten natural wonders of the world which included Kraktoa Island, Bay of Fundy, Niagra Falls, Angel Falls, Iguassu Falls, Mount Fuji, and Mount Kilimanjaro.

I was esthetically inspired by Mount Fuji and decided to use it as the physical medium through which I would present my dish.  David and I put our heads together and came up with the use of a funnel into which we would layer all of the ingredients of my recipe to create the looks of Mount Fuji.  The question remaining was what would be the dish.

I started reading about the different cuisines from the regions of the other natural wonders.  In reading about Mount Kilimanjaro, located in eastern Tanzania I came a cross a Tanzanian recipe that would incorporate ingredients I don’t routinely utilize in cooking.  The dish was a special recipe called Duckling Dar Es Salaam (a town in Tanzania).  I decided to substitute lamb for duck but held true to the other ingredients in the recipe.  I pressure cooked the lamb with curry, thai chili pepper, and cherry tomatoes then emulsified and reduced this into a sauce to pour over the lamb.  The base of Mount Fuji was a spicey braised cabbage in coconut milk (another Tanzanian recipe).  I finished off the dish by surrounding it with sake, ginger infused vodka pickled fuji apple sticks which off set the spicy lamb ingredients and made reference back to Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji

My version

3/29/11 Batting clean-up

10 Apr

So HilaryB had to back out last minute and be a rock star, so we enlisted MichaelC to pinch hit.  Mike is a fantastic photographer, and I’ve linked his website on the “Friends of the Collective” link list over on the right, so check it out.  Anyway, he inherited the “Forgotten Modern Wonders” as inspiration.  We brainstormed a bit on the phone, and had to deal with some limitations, namely that he would be spending most of the day at the Javits Center at the Photography Show, and also that he “claimed” not to have much experience in the kitchen.

Since I didn’t have a proper course to prepare, I offered to cover some of his prep, and reassured him that there’d be plenty of help and coaching available, all he had to do for now was come up with the idea.  From his list of wonders, he zeroed in on the St. Louis Arch, and straight away, he mentioned Stan Musial, the forgotten St. Louis baseball great.  Yeah, baseball, spring, St. Louis… hmmm… Turns out I had a nice rack of ribs that DavidH had picked up for us on sale at Western Beef, which I could easily trim to St. Louis style.  From there we were off and running.

Mike also wanted something round and white… baseball-like; I suggested pickled pearl onions which would be easy since I’d have the vacuum pickler out for FrancineO’s pickled Fuji apples.

Pickling quick

I thought something sweet would be nice to tie into the next course which would be dessert, so we decided to rub and grill some fresh pineapple slices.

grilled spicy pineapple

St. Louis ribs are typically described as “saucy”, so I knew the finishing barbeque sauce needed to be authentic.  I found a recipe used in a restaurant in St. Louis (can’t find the link now), that used Dr. Pepper as an ingredient.  I picked up a can at the bodega across the street and checked that we had all the other ingredients.  I would rub, and slow cook the ribs on the roof,

It's almost roof season!

and then we would separate them, and finish them in the barbeque sauce on low heat.  Mike would be responsible for the sauce, and plating.

It's a hit!

For drinks, Mike suggested St. Louis original Budweiser, and since we had a few bottles of Brooklyn Brewery’s Pennant Ale already, I figured people could have a choice.  Mike used his super-hero photography skills to make a cool Stan Musial / St. Louis ribs baseball trading card, and did a great job explaining the whole concept of the dish.

Telling us about Stan the Man

I think it came out fantastic, and a great job by MichaelC!

3/29/11 Cocktails and snacks

4 Apr

My assignment was wonders of the Medieval Mind, which isn’t necessarily the same as Medieval wonders, it’s what people in the middle ages found wondrous.  I was thinking of those dark ages, and first off, got thinking about bread.  Even in this day and age I think it’s incredible that you can start with four ingredients, water flour, salt, and yeast, and end up with a loaf of bread.  That said, I can also see how in the 1930’s, when wonderbread became a household name, that it too, in all it’s mass-produced industrial uniformity was also wondrous in a way.  The greatest thing since sliced bread, actually.

I chose to bake a few loaves of the simpler, more medieval bread, a fairly wet dough, with a long rise, almost a ciabatta recipe, with kosher salt sprinkled.

Just as wonder bread

For my snack, I thought of the obvious; a leaning tower of pizza.  To get the effect, I had to break out some power tools:

Imagine Tim-Allenesque pirate sounds

For the mini-pizzas, I used the same bread dough, cut into small rounds,

San Marzano, basil, garlic, onion sauce, fresh mozarella, and a variety of toppings:

home-made sausage

I par-cooked most of the toppings, as the oven would be 500F and the little buggers would be baking on a stone, so there’s not really enough time for the toppings to cook starting raw from a dead stop.

if they were square, they'd be Brushetta

The assembled tower:

leaning at an authentic angle

For my cocktail, I decided to create a menu with just the name of each wonder as the only clue for each drink, so people wouldn’t know exactly what they’d be getting.  Francine provided the medieval charring to distress the edges:

the drink menu

So here’s what each wonder inspired:

Ordering the "Stonehenge" would get you one of these

Ordering "The Colosseum" gets you a glass of this

John loved the Black Friar Cobbler

  • The Great Wall of China = A Harvey “Great” Wallbanger, made with orange juice, ginger-infused vodka, and galliano.  Joanna was fond of this one.

Harvey's "great" secret addition to the screwdriver

  • The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing = Sparkling Sake

A big hit with the ladies

  • The Hagia Sophia = Efe fresh grape Raki; Kelamity suffered through a glass.  A splash of cold water turns the anise-flavored liquor cloudy.

National drink of Turkey

And finally,

Thanks again, everyone for another memorable evening.

3/19/2011 Episode #5: left-overs

3 Apr

This was a great theme in that the sense of wonder for all these great wonders of the world spilled over into the meal… how did you get that idea? what were your wonders? how are you prepping that? where did you source that? who is stan musial?  A couple of things stood out… one: what time is it?

what time is it?

Why, you ask?  Well, as it turned out… we enjoyed, at midnight, the vernal equinox, and thus, the first day of spring.

is it spring yet?

Second, look at these two as Richard was explaining the meaning of the blocks on the chocarchitecture cake… if their expressions don’t convey a sense of wonder, I don’t know what does:


third… turns out that wonder bread is harder to find than you’d think.

Makes you wonder

Who’d have thunk?

Anyway, please, please post up or email me the ins and outs and whys and wherefores of your courses — even just a couple of sentences, it really is nice to look back.  Plus, I know my descriptions of the dishes isn’t even accurate — what kind of Tibetan vegetarian soup has chicken?

3/19/2011 Episode #5: the meal

3 Apr

cocktails & snacks


2nd course

3rd course

4th course

5th course

6th course


3/19/2011 Episode #5: the prep

3 Apr

bake me

smoke me

squeeze me


stir me

dice me

coat me

slice me

sprinkle me

wash me

sear me

spoon me

beer me


3/19/2011 Episode #5: the cast

3 Apr
Cocktails and snacks by:

Wearing my best bus-boy t-shirt

Appetizer by:

That girl from NYC

1st course by:


2nd course by:


3rd course by:


4th course by:

John "Nutmeggah" W

5th course by:


Dessert by:


And with a special guest appearance by:

Boy-wonder, VitoP

3/19/2011 Episode #5: the food

3 Apr
Leaning tower of Pizza:Forgotten snack food from the Middle ages

Not forgotten snack food from the Middle ages

Phyllo-encrusted rock shrimp with seafood broth:

From the under-water world

Marinated beef salad:

Forgotten from the Medeval mind

Braised lamb with curried coconut cabbage, white rice, and pickled Fuji apple:

A forgotten natural world mountain of wonder

Greek sea bass:

A wonder from the ancient world

Tibetan vegetarian soup:

A natural wonder

St. Louis barbequed rib, grilled, spicy pineapple, pickled pearl onion, Stan Musial trading card:

Pinch hitting for the Forgotten Modern Wonders

Flourless chocolate cake:

Architecturally correct Modern wonder

Eight delicious courses… well-paired with beverages, I might add.  Please feel free to create a post explaining how your assigned wonder-category inspired your dish and pairing.  If it’s easier, just send it to me by email, and I’ll add some photos and post it here.

Episode #5 (3/19/11) winning theme & course assignments

8 Mar

Voting is closed, and the winning theme is:

Wonders of the World: using a mix of ancient and modern, chosen randomly then matched up with the number of people/courses for the evening.  With instruction from the theme’s creator, we are taking our cues from the various lists found on this “Wonder Club” page.

FrancineO wrote the eight people’s names, and eight “categories” of wonders on slips of paper, and then we drew a name from one mixing bowl, and a category of wonders out of another mixing bowl with the following results:


  • Please post (or comment) here, or on the Facebook page announcing just some basic info of what you’ll be preparing (ie; “soup” or “fish”) so as to avoid awkward dish duplication; I’ll keep the menu on the Episode #5 event page updated.
  • Course trading is allowed.  If you’ve arranged a switch, leave a comment and I’ll update the menu.
  • Participants assigned sequential courses can collaborate to plate them together (ie; protein + side).
  • How you interpret your assigned Wonder category is entirely up to you; the theme is only for inspiration.
  • Don’t forget to plan your beverage pairing.
  • Please give a heads-up if you’ll be tying up all 4 burners, or need the oven at 550 for 3 hours, etc. — if necessary, we can re-arrange the sequence.
  • Also, let everyone know if you have a food allergy or phobia, (you know, so we can make sure we have adequate epinephrine and benzodiazepines on hand).
  • We have plenty of cooking equipment, ingredients, spices, and serving-ware.  Post questions and requests regarding details or specific items you don’t see on the list.
  • Extra, between-course amuse bouches and beverages are welcome, encouraged, and completely open season with regards to theme-appropriateness.

Poll to choose the dinner theme for March 19, 2011

1 Mar

Episode #5!


  • Themes have been nominated by the March 19th participants (If you’re cooking in the event, you can also write in a nomination for any additional theme you’d like to be listed in the poll, and I will add it so others can vote for it.).
  • Voting, however is open to ALL Collective members, not just those cooking for the event.
  • You can vote for more than one theme, and as many times as you like.
  • We will cook with the theme with the most votes.
  • The poll will close once a clear winner is established or on March 7th, whichever comes first.
  • Poll results will be hidden until then. In the event of a tie, the winning theme will be determined by the flip of a coin, or roll of a die, or spin of a roulette wheel, or some other random method.
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