These are my very favorite days of the year. The start of summer twinkles with magic. The sunshine, warm evenings, the birds that chirp well into the night. The possibility of beach escapes, and lake explorations. Heck, even the threat of a sunburn has its thrill. There’s so much possibility for adventure in these first few days of summer.
I’m working hard on my Summer Bucket List (this was last year), and this year it’s fueled by inspiration from a recent trip to Aspen (glory-be Aspen) for the FOOD & WINE Classic. I took in loads of fresh air and kitchen inspiration from Chef Chris Cosentino. KitchenAid partnered with him to give us his recipes and a few of his techniques to pull his Aspen-inspired summer meal off at home in a program called #HaveDinnerWithUs (because… who wouldn’t want in on this sort of goodness!? ).
The Food & Wine festival is all about adventure in the kitchen. Growing your ingredient lexicon and having some fun with fresh summer ingredients. It’s not about nonstop grilling per say, I don’t even have a grill… it’s more about infusing that sense of possibility and adventure into the food I cook this summer.
Adventure in the form of trying new proteins, playing with unexpected techniques, and finding themes and through-lines from the beginning to end of a meal.
Here’s what you’ll need to bring the inspiration of Aspen home to your kitchen:
• I’m following this three course meal by Chef Chris Cosentino. He made it right before my eyes at the Classic and instantly made me want to find a big bundle of fresh bay leaves and an afternoon for some quality kitchen time.
• An oven-safe pot for braising lamb. This KitchenAid 5-Quart Low Saute Pan is my go-to in the kitchen. (Pssst… There’s a giveaway at the end of this post!!)
• Big bundles of fresh herbs: thyme, bay leaves, and mint.
• A bottle of wine: for cooking and a glass for sipping.
• A good summer playlist to raise your summer kitchen spirits and bring the festive vibe from the mountain top home! Find one here!
Here’s the adventure: we’re cooking lamb. Totally a protein I don’t experiment with in my kitchen, but we’re braising it which basically means it’s definitely going to be tender and delicious, and I’m definitely not going to mess it up.
Braising is a low and slow process, meaning our oven is at a low temperature (taking it easy on the air conditioner) and we cook the meat slowly, allowing it to find give and tenderness over time.
These egg yolks are going to find their way on top of avocado toast with peas, BUT not before they’ve been salt cured with fresh herbs for a few days making them firm and shavable. It’s kitchen science and so cool to do!
My favorite part of the meal, obviously, dessert. Chris Cosentino made a panna cotta and my gooey pastry loving heart was skeptical. But! The cream is steeped with fresh bay leaves! It’s unexpected and really just transcendent. Paired with sweet strawberries and balsamic. It’s a play on the savory side of sweet and is really quite lovely.
This panna cotta changed my mind about panna cotta forever. What I thought was just cold jelly cream (I was rather close-minded) is actually nuanced, herbaceous and more creamy smooth than gelatinous. So lovely.
I hope you’re inspired to experiment in the kitchen this summer!
Here’s the fun part!
To keep you adventurous and inspired this summer KitchenAid is giving away a Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 10-Piece Set and 7-Piece Professional Series Cutlery Set. It’s major and will be with you through years and years of good cooking! Make these three recipes yourself (get a bundle of those glorious fresh bay leaves) and share your meal using #HaveDinnerWithUs, @kitchenaidusa and @joythebaker on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
I’ll be watching out for your meals! A winner will be randomly selected from the #HaveDinnerWithUs hashtag on Monday July 25, 2016. Happy cooking!
This post is in partnership with KitchenAid. I hope you find some kitchen inspiration in some of these images from Aspen. Summer, here we go here we go!