On February 9, guests braved the slushy roads to attend our Meet the Chef event. Held in the test kitchen of Mount Vernon’s Judd & Black, we nibbled, sipped, and learned a thing or two about choosing the ideal steak and why chocolate needs to be melted in a double boiler. Chef Dan Van Norman of 13moons from the Swinomish Casino & Lodge presented plate after plate of delicious tastes.

As attendees arrived, they were greeted with plates of parmesan prosciutto crostini drizzled with balsamic glaze, and shrimp served with clementine chipotle cocktail sauce. Olivia Yates of Whole Foods brought the light appetizers. The crunchy crostini were a pleasant salty sweet bite, while the clementine chipotle cocktail sauce hit the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. The evening was already off to a great start.

As a first dish, Van Norman served an adult version of the classic mac and cheese. Studded with mushrooms and succulent Dungeness crab, the creamy bowl was topped with crunchy bread crumbs, creating an ideal balance of textures. It wasn’t filled with gooey or stringy cheese. No. This was elegant crab mac and cheese. A taste of Champagne sorbet followed the comforting bowl, cleansing guests’ palates for the entrees.

As Van Norman demonstrated how to create the main dish, he offered tips for buying and preparing the meat. Be sure a steak has plenty of marbling—this indicates fat, and fat means flavor. At 13moons they serve grass-fed, corn-finished beef because the grass helps develop a good flavor while the corn builds fat. While searing the filet, Van Norman informed guests he waited for the skillet to be incredibly hot then looked for each side of the meat to develop a deep brown crust. Each seared filet was topped with Rogue River blue cheese, an intensely sharp cheese that tones down slightly when melted.

Served alongside the steak were roasted Yukon potatoes and asparagus. The whole potatoes were first steamed until cooked three-fourths of the way, then sliced thickly and tossed in a hot skillet with an olive oil and butter mixture. This is a quick way to ensure a creamy inside, but slightly crisp exterior. Van Norman then layered the potato, stalks of the perfectly tender and bright green asparagus, and finally the filets. The entire dish was topped with a rich beef demi-glace that nicely complemented each component. The room was silent as attendees dug into the meals.

A rich meal requires a light dessert. Van Norman prepared an airy white chocolate mousse topped with a cherry sauce and garnished with dark chocolate shavings. He explained the white chocolate, as with all chocolate, needs to be melted in a double boiler since sugar burns so quickly. The resulting dessert was satisfying without being heavy or overly sweet, a wonderful way to end the evening. Guests left feeling full and sporting swag bags which included a generous meal voucher for 13moons.

We’d like to extend a big thanks to Chef Van Norman for preparing the evening’s wonderful meal as well as 13moons of Swinomish Casino & Lodge, Whole Foods, and to Judd & Black for hosting us in their well laid-out test kitchen. Check out northsoundlife.com for details on all our upcoming events!

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"As attendees arrived, they were greeted with plates of parmesan prosciutto crostini drizzled with balsamic glaze"