The first part of the challenge was the menu. After some diligent research, I came up with 20 different entrees and 10 different sides the couple could choose from (5 entrees and 5 sides were what I planned on making). The next part of the challenge was making some fresh condiments for them -- olive oil mayonnaise and pomegranate mustard. I also whipped up a "Ras el Hanout" blend for one recipe that called for it. As one of the items they picked used Jicama, I bought that early to cook in the crockpot for 12 hours prior to the cook date.
The menu they chose is as follows:
Salmon a L'Afrique du Nord -- a salmon filet marinaded then grilled
Pineapple Red Curry Duck -- pieces of duck, pineapple, and red pepper floating in a red curry sauce
Macadamia Chicken with Tangerine-Ginger Sauce -- a variation of a fried chicken, served with a creamy tangerine-ginger sauce
Cinnamon Beef Stew -- exotic flavors of cinnamon and cumin mix in a slowly simmered stock with chunks of beef, carrots and onions.
Moroccan Meatballs -- Ground Lamb, cumin and parsley meatballs cooked in a spice-filled sauce.
Curried Onion and Ginger Soup -- caramelized sweet onions and fresh ginger are stewed in coconut milk
Creamy Spice-Market Kale -- Ras el Hanout spice blend saturates the braised Kale
Cumin Roasted Rainbow Carrots -- Rainbow Carrots add a festive look, the cumin adds an exotic smell.
Cauliflower Confetti "Rice" -- Riced Cauliflower becomes the base for this pilaf with carrots and peppers.
Jicama Home Fries -- The "Mexican Potato" lives up to its name, the caramelized onions brings out the flavor.
Now that I have a finalized menu, made a few preparatory items, and built a timeline, it was time to pack my car. I managed to get both large tote bins and the smaller tool bin and the dolly into the trunk; my knives, spice bag, and coolers filled with ice-packs made due with my car's back seat.
Then I discovered Murphy riding my back.....
There was an accident on the 280 that ended up blocking traffic on both sides of the freeway, and I got caught in it. I let my friend know I'll be late, and waited it out to get to a couple of stores. First store was an asian supermarket that didn't have the roast duck... neither did 99 Ranch Market, although they did sell fresh duck. Whole Foods pretty much covered everything (even duck, although it was flash frozen), so I got the shopping done in decent time, but because of the traffic issue I was now 2 hours behind schedule.
I reached their apartment complex and discovered a new challenge: getting all my stuff up a flight of 1970's-height stairs. This apartment omplex was not handicapped-accessable by any stretch of the imagination, so I braced myself and lugged my dolly up those stairs. *whew* Thankfully, their apartment was on the 'ground floor' so I didn't need to navigate more stairs. Next came the biggest challenge: cooking in a tiny all-electric galley kitchen.
14 hours later, I was finished. Prep took a lot longer than I planned, the cooking took longer, the cooling and packaging took time, but I managed to get everything done.
I slept most of Saturday and still have a sore thoracic spine from all the heavy pulling, but I'm happy to report the first comments back were very good. Yay!
Lessons learned from first run:
1) Prep more stuff prior to cook date.
2) Evaluate what tools got used and what didn't, to lighten my load.
3) Bungie cords for the dolly would be good -- a truck may be better.
4) Cook more meals at home to get my rusty knife skills back up to snuff.
Onto the next victim -- err, volunteer! :D