An invite to dinner chez Dylan and Janelle Coke is not one to miss especially if Janelle Pantry Coke’s award-winning cousin, Chef Briana Riddock, is guest cheffing. Indeed, changes are quickly made in order to RSVP in the affirmative.
The timing could not have been better! The mask mandate had just been lifted, and, too, the nightly curfews. So in an exquisite setting courtesy of Melanie Miller for ByMelanieMiller, between sips of Robert Mondavi California Pinot Noir and Pasqua Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie wines, courtesy of Select Brands, and the musical styling of saxophonist Tafana Buchsaecab, guests were guided through what would prove to be a most memorable affair that ended with the break of another dawn.
Thursday Food offers a seat at the table.
• Cornbread with Scotch bonnet honey
Chef’s Note: Classic southern-style cornbread with a slight sweetness. For the hot honey, I minced half of a Scotch bonnet pepper to give the honey some heat. Lastly, I added chopped chives to give the honey colour and texture.
• Sesame garlic beignets
Chef’s Note: I typically serve beignets as a sweet dessert at the end of my private dinner parties. It’s one of the most popular desserts that clients choose. I wanted to make it savoury this time around and flip it to the beginning of the meal. I tossed the freshly fried beignets in a combination of toasted white and black sesame seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt.
• Arugula, watermelon, prosciutto, feta cheese, crispy shallots, white balsamic vinaigrette
Chef’s Note: This salad is by far the most popular salad that I’ve made for clients, to date. The spicy arugula pairs well with the sweetness from the fresh watermelon. The prosciutto brings in a salty cured pork bite, and the feta creates a creamy texture. Almost every salad that I make includes custom vinaigrette made with white balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, and a dash of salt.
• Red Stripe crispy pork belly, hibiscus ginger glaze, mango salsa, rice cake, garlic aioli.
Chef’s Note: I was inspired by a Haitian fried pork dish called griot to create my version of Red Stripe Pork Belly. I simmered pork belly slabs in a few bottles of Red Stripe beer for about 3 hours along with garlic, onions, and cilantro. Once the pork was cooked and cooled, I fried it to a crispy finish. I tossed the pork in a sweet and sour glaze made from hibiscus (sorrel) buds, allspice, and garlic flavour profile. For the plating, a fried cooked Thai sticky rice, topped with mango salsa and garlic aioli.
• Lamb chop, olive chimichurri, carrot purée
Chef’s Note: I got an amazing New Zealand rack of lamb from Butcher Block. My cousin Janelle really wanted to have lamb on the menu because she usually can’t find it prepared well when she gets a craving. I grabbed fresh rosemary out of the yard and simply seasoned the lamb with salt and black pepper and marinated overnight. I pan-seared the lamb in a hot cast-iron skillet and finished it in the oven. The olive chimichurri sauce paired perfectly with the lamb. I blended parsley, cilantro, and basil together with a hint of vinegar and chunky pieces of green and black olives. The olives give the sauce a subtle punch of salt in each bit. Instead of a traditional starch such as mashed potatoes to go with the lamb, I opted for a vibrant carrot purée that gave the dish an earthy sweet flavour.
• Pan-seared grouper, saffron butter sauce, parsnip purée, papaya salsa
Chef’s Note: For the fish option, we were able to find grouper. I lightly seasoned it with lime juice and salt. I love using saffron and I knew I wanted to use it for this dinner. I decided to make a saffron butter sauce that gives a hint of creaminess to the total dish. Again, instead of starch, I used the root vegetable, parsnip to make a purée. Lastly, I finished the dish with a bright papaya salsa that included cucumber, cherry tomato, and red onions.
• Plantains Foster pie, Devon House ice cream, white wine guava sauce
Chef’s Note: As the executive pastry chef at Rock Steady Atlanta, I’ve noticed that every pie dish that I run for service always sold very well. I wanted to do a different flavour profile for my pie for the dinner and I landed on plantains. I was inspired by the New Orleans classic Bananas Foster that is made up of cooked bananas in brown sugar caramel sauce with rum served over ice cream. I substituted the bananas with plantain and used the mixture as the filling for my pie. Of course, I paired the pie with Jamaica’s classic Devon House ice cream. Getting ice cream is a childhood memory of mine. I finished the dish with a quick warm sauce made from guava jam and white wine.