Being married to my husband is like having a second job sometimes. Not the actual marriage part (that part is fun and games!) but the part where I am his go-to sous chef for off-site events. I’m definitely not complaining — I occasionally get paid and if I don’t, well, I always get to drink plenty of wine which is just as good in my book.
So, just like his pig roast extravaganza, I jumped at the chance to help him do a multi-coursed dinner to benefit the Portland Fruit Tree Project. You can read more about the project here, but the basic premise is to educate people about urban gardening and to help give those less fortunate access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
The 35-person dinner party was held at a house in SE Portland, known as Tabor Tilth. The woman who lives there grows so many different things in her front and back yards it’s actually overwhelming…and overflowing. She raises rabbits, grows corn, keeps bees, has more tomato plants than I could count, and even has a mullberry tree all on her 1/5 acre of residential property. She has a truly fascinating online video in which she describes her very thoughtful and meticulous system for planting and composting (she uses some very unique manure in her yard!).
To complement her creative urban gardening, my husband served dishes like “compost” beef (rubbed in coffee grounds and herbs) and a mullberry sorbet with lime salt. But my absolute favorite thing he came up with was these planters. Part centerpiece, part appetizer, each potted plant harbored hidden surprises.
To start: the bottoms of each (lead-free) terra-cotta pot were stuffed with greens to stop up the drainage hole. Then we spooned creamy goat cheese aioli inside and “planted” perfect red globes of radishes and cleaned young carrots.
Next we topped each planter with “soil” (made from crushed hazelnuts and dehydrated olives), that was so realistic looking I kept wanting to brush it off the vegetables.
Then we gently draped carrot and radish greens around the vegetables and tucked in a few edible flowers to complete the look.
Once the guests arrived, they were greeted with an inviting and whimsical hors d’oeuvre that I think fit the theme of the night perfectly. What do you think of our edible centerpieces?
A quick and easy recipe for goat cheese aioli:
- Take 1/2 cup of soft goat cheese (we used some from Portland Creamery)
- Mix in 2 egg yolks and a handful of roasted garlic (minced)
- Add a hefty squeeze of lemon juice
- Slowly whisk in about 1 cup of oil (I prefer a blend of grapeseed and olive)
- Season well with salt, pepper, more lemon and herbs (basil and some thyme worked perfectly together)
- Keep cold until it’s ready to serve
* The rest of the dinner will be featured in an upcoming post — it was such a fun and interesting menu that it deserves more than just one chance to shine! *