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A Girl's Night In... Food & Wine Edition

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

A Girl's Night In... Girls Just Want To Have Fun

As a chef, being invited to cook in someone's home, truly is an honor. It is one of my most favorite experiences, listening and watching the guests having such a fantastic time, in their element, where they are most comfortable. They tend to talk louder, laugh harder, and of course, maybe drink a little too much since they are in the comfort of their own home. This Wine & Food Experience is perfect for a birthday celebration, girls night in, special occasion or just to get together with friends, because that is special occasion enough for me.

My interest in offering these services has really grown. So when I decided to move forward I started brain storming what I can do that would really create an experience to remember. Thinking back on some of my past Chef Dinners, I knew I needed more experience with Wine to make the perfect pairings. So to help, I asked my friend Lisa Lee from Traveling Uncorked to come on board to help. Lisa's extension knowledge and passion for wines lends a sophisticating feel to the evening.

While I am finishing up each course to present to you, Lisa will talk to you about each wine. What she loves about it, why she paired it, answer any questions you may have as you taste and smell your wine. I will present my course for you, talk to you a little about the flavors and preparation, answer any questions you may have and then we will leave you to enjoy.

Each experience will be unique as the menu and wine selection is created especially for you. I will take some time to speak to you about your menu. Your likes, dislikes and style, will all be taking into consideration when developing the menu and pairings creating a one of a kind evening, that you will for sure remember for some time.

A Girls Night In.. Food and Wine Edition was the first of many food and wine experiences to come. I asked my friend Stephanie to barrow her beautiful home and invited a few friends to expereience what Lisa and I are offering. Needless to say, the evening was a smashing success and we enjoyed every minute of it.

Welcoming the Guests

As the girls arrived, they will be greeted with a glass of champagne to compliment the charcuterie selection. The table was perfectly stylized to set the mood for the evening. I had already started cooking and finishing most of the preparation of the courses, so Stephanie's home was filled with the wonderful aroma of what was to come.

For the Welcome Champagne, Lisa selected a NV Les Mesnil Blanc de Blanc, a Champagne from France. She described this wine as a classic champagne with yeasty bread notes, followed by a hint of citrus. Having a creamy mouthfeel with a long, clean finish.

When we are ready to start dinner, we asked the girls to find their way to the table. As they became comfortable and settled, Lisa started to pour the first wine, as I putting the finishing touches on the first course. The girls share a toast and Lisa introduced them to the wine, and I served and explained my first course.

First Course

For this first course, I prepared my Pork Fried Dumplings with a Sweet Chili Sauce, garnished with beautiful micro basil and baby beet greens from MicroLedon Farms from Conway, SC. My hand made dumpling dough is freshly prepared, then rolled, cut and are filled with a mixture of ground pork, cabbage, garlic, soy sauce, fresh ginger, chives and sesame oil.

Each dumpling was pan fried in a little oil, to brown the sides, add a golden and crispy texture, and then steamed to finish. They were served as a pair with a my Sweet Chili Sauce, starting the dinner off with a little heat and Asian flair. This is actually one of the first things I cooked for Stephanie at our first get to know your new neighbors dinner when I moved to Myrtle Beach 7 years ago. So since, that sparked the beginning of our friendship, I decided it was only right, since I was cooking in her home after all, to serve this as the spark to the beginning of a new adventure.

Lisa selected a NV Castelluar Cava Brut from Spain. This Cava has a crisp and clean flavor with notes of green apple and lime with hints of citrus on the finish. I am not a huge wine lover, but I can appreciate it when it is perfectly selected to accompany one of my dishes. I thought that it complimented the Pork Fried Dumplings very nicely, enhancing the flavor, especially the Sweet Chili Sauce.

Second Course

For the second course, I prepared a Creamy Tomato Soup, served with a few cubes of freshly made focaccia, garnish with fresh basil and micro greens for a pop of color and texture. When preparing the soup, I started with a mirepoix of onions, carrots, celery, fresh rosemary and thyme, cooked in a little oil with my signature All Purpose Seasoning and a couple bay leaves and black pepper. Once the vegetables started to brown slightly, I tossed in some butter to melt, along with a little flour to help add a little creaminess and body to my soup.

For the main body of the soup, I opted for some vegetable stock and San Marzano tomatoes, more seasoning salt and some dry herbs. Allowed the mixture to simmer for a bit before blending smooth, stirring in a little basil. A 2018 Hubert Brochard Sancerre from Loire Valley, France was selected to be paired with my soup. With a firm acidity, this Sauvignon Blanc has aromas and flavors of citrus fruits and notes of floral.

Third Course

I never under estimate the value of a good salad. It is always a pleasant surprise to the guests when they take their first bites and they realize... "Wow, this salad is delicious." When planning my menu, I knew right away I wanted to serve my Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing. This delicious mayo base vinaigrette is prepped with real maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, a touch of mustard and chili powder. Actually, this recipe is available in my cookbook, Making It Delicious, but I swap out the honey and used real maple syrup instead.

Once the dressing was decided, I knew I was starting with a beautifully crisp red leafy lettuce from Microledon Farms. I then, added a few tart dried cranberries, some spiced candied pecans, thinly sliced Granny Smith apples and a few crumbles of creamy goat cheese. Paired with a 2019 Vision Gruner Veltliner from Austria. With notes of pear and lemon peel, this wine is zesty, light and fruit driven. When I tasted this pairings, I was pleasantly surprised of how much each complimented each other.

Fourth Course

As we headed to the beginning of the main entrees, you can hear the sizzling of shrimp, seasoned simply with a little salt and pepper, which will lay on a bed of pasta carbonara, garnished with micro greens. I choose to prepare the pasta carbonara with bacon and pappardelle pasta. Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish from Rome, made with egg, hard cheese, cured pork and black pepper, usually prepared with guanciale or pancetta. Lisa selected a 2017 Suavia Soave Classico from Italy. The flavors of pears, almonds and apples are right up front to balance out the minerality. This wine is crisp with a longer finish.

Fifth Course

The next dish I served was a Sous Vide Crispy Lamb Chop, with a warm Mediterranean Orzo Salad and Tzatiki Sauce. The lamb chops were trimmed and clean, then seasoned as a rack with my Mediterranean Salt and placed in a Sous Vide bag. With that, in went shallots, garlic and fresh thyme, then it was sealed and left to rest overnight. The next morning I placed the bag in a water bath of 130 degrees and allowed the lamb chops to marinate and percolate in the water bath with a Instant Pot Sous Vide for 8 hours, bringing the lamb chops up to a almost medium temperature.

Once it was time to serve the chops, I sliced them individually and pan seared each piece in a hot cast iron pan to crisp the edges. I then served each chop, with a warm orzo salad, prepared with cucumbers, tomato, feta cheese & red onion tossed in a Greek Vinaigrette Dressing and my Mom's recipe for Tzatiki Sauce (both recipes available in Making It Delicious). Tzatiki sauce is a salted yogurt and cucumber dip that's made with yogurt, cucumber, dill, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and I prepare it with my All Purpose Seasoning Salt to add an extra boost of flavor and of course the salt.

Lisa chose to pair a 2017 Lola Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley in California. When enjoying this wine you will find the familiar smells of strawberry, cherry, cedar, vanilla and a good amount of earth. When tasting you will find it has a delicate tannins and a lingering finish. I know lamb is not everyone's cup of tea, however, I heard no complaints from the girls. This was the first time one of the girls trying lamb and I hope now it won't be her last.

Sixth Course

For the final course before dessert, I had to showcase a Filet Mignon from WK Price Farms out of Fork, SC. I opted to season the filet with my Mediterranean Salt as well, as I knew the beef would take on a different flavor than the lamb chops. I started by seasoning the filet well, then placing it in a Sous Vide bag. Then added some garlic, shallots, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme and butter. The filets rested over night in the Sous Vide bag and the next morning I placed them in a water bath and allowed the filet to percolate for 8 hours at a nice 130 degrees as well.

Once ready to serve, I seared the outside on both sides, allowed them to rest for about 5 minutes then thinly sliced a serving for each guest. The Sous Vide allows for the filet to have a beautifully pink color from edge to edge, leaving the steak fork tender, juicy and extremely flavorful throughout the entire bite. I opted to pair my filet with a Colcannon Mashed Potatoes, pan sautéed green beans and a mushroom and onion gravy, along with a garnish of Microledon Micro greens.

The potatoes were peeled and boiled in salted water. Once soft, they were strained, then I added hot milk, sour cream, a generous amount of butter, salt, pepper and a little All Purpose Seasoning and give it a good stir, leaving some lumps. Then I add boiled cabbage, cooked bacon, parsley and scallions, which lend a absolutely delicious flavor and texture to the potatoes. The green beans are par boiled then sautéed with my All Purpose Seasoning Salt until they start to brown, leaving them nice and crispy. I drapped the dish with my Mushroom and Onion Gravy, prepared with a beef stock, butter, fresh herbs and seasoning. For the wine pairing, Lisa selected a 2017 Marietta "Game Trail" Cabernet Sauvignon from California. With great tannic structure and beautifully acidic the dried earth and leather fade in lovely dark fruits.

Seventh Course

As we headed into dessert, the wine has been flowing for over 2 hours now, the conversation and laughs have escalated as girls became more comfortable and lets just be honest, maybe a little tipsy. But I needed to finish the meal off strong with a simple dessert but still leaving a lasting impression. So I opted for my Vanilla Cheesecake.

This is a recipe I received from an old school baker that I had worked with a long time ago before I went to Culinary School. He was working at my father's restaurant (the Original Johnny D's Diner in Newburgh, NY) for a long time. When it was finally time for him to retire, he taught me a thing or two and one of those things was this Cheesecake. This recipe is just perfect. I have not messed with it or changed it in any way as there was no reason too, because its perfect.

The cheesecake is prepared with Philadelphia Cream Cheese and has a very creamy, balanced texture. I prefer my cheesecake without a crust as I find it can be distracting from the cheesecake itself. However, I did prepare a oat crumble to sprinkled on the side to be able to have that taste and texture many people enjoy while eating a cheesecake.

To pair with the cheesecake and crumble, I prepared a strawberry sauce using local SC strawberries, my Churro Sugar and lemon zest. The flavor of the sauce lends a fruity, sweet and slightly acidic flavor. Which helps to cut through the creaminess of the cheesecake, leaving each bite perfect. Lisa selected a 2013 Dr. Hermann Riesling Sweet Mosel from Germany to pair. This sweet style Riesling has fantastic acidity with notes of peach and apricot on your palate, leaving a long finish. Although each wine Lisa selected was fantastic, this was my favorite pairing. I really was surprised when I took a bite of the cheesecake, a sip of wine and another bite of cheesecake. That second bite really burst with flavor. The wine paired so perfectly that each sip enhanced the flavor of each bite of cheesecake.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my new adventure. It really means a lot to Lisa and I. If you would like to book a dinner or if you have any questions regarding booking, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Contact form, pricing and packages can be found by clicking here.

{Please note that this experience is the Dinner Party Elite - Food & Wine Edition}

If you are interested in trying any of these wines, they were all purchased locally in Myrtle Beach at Coastal Vino, located at 926-C Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

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