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Kitchen Kriminal Strikes Again

Last weekend, my husband Jon and I hosted another Kitchen Kriminal dinner, a roving dinner party prepared by Chef Stephen Janke and his wife Julie of Gourmet Solutionz Catering. We invited 12 guests for a poolside, 6-course meal. It’s a great concept and an easy, inexpensive way to throw a dinner party. Each guest pays $55 to the chef and brings their own wine. Stephen and Julie bring the tables, chairs (if you don’t have enough), linens, flatware, plates, glasses, and all of the food and cooking equipment. They set the table, prepare the food, serve the guests and clean-up so well that afterwards, our kitchen is always cleaner than when they arrive — seriously. Julie even always remember to light the candles when it’s time, something I always forget after my first cocktail.

Jon and I enjoying the night off.

Since Jon and I entertain almost every week, it’s a nice respite for us. This is our third Kitchen Kriminal dinner. Our first was a fall backyard dinner in our old home, the second a New Year’s Eve bash for 20, and our most recent, the poolside dinner for 14. Unfortunately it was extremely hot, so we had the cocktail hour in our house at the bar while we waited for it to cool down outside.

Jon always creates a unique drink for each party. This weekend it was melon martinis with watermelon ball garnishes. The ingredients included vodka, Midori and pineapple juice, all shaken over ice and strained into martini glasses. The melon balls were served on toothpicks and marinated in the cocktail and tasted sweet and refreshing. I downed several to numb myself from the heat, but it didn’t work. IT WAS HOT and there was no getting around it.

When you host a Kitchen Kriminal dinner, you can choose one of their preset menus, or you can have them surprise you. We usually let them surprise us, but liked the look of the Summer Corn Menu and went with that. The first course was a Corn & Potato Pancake with Smoked Salmon, Corn & Summer Pepper Relish.

The second course was a Summer Corn Chowder topped with a Pan Seared Crab Cake.

The third course was Seared Salmon with Corn & Arugula Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette.

For the fourth course we enjoyed White Corn & Chive Risotto with Butter Poached Prawns.

Stephen and Julie served Corn Bread Pudding, Corn & Celery Hash with Bacon & Braised Pork Shoulder for the fifth course.

For the sixth and final course, the dessert consisted of an Olive Oil and Cherry Cake with
Chocolate Mousse.

Stephen plating and singing along to the music.

After dinner we retired to the comfy over-stuffed chairs and loveseats poolside and it was cool enough by then to light the fire in the fire pit and grab some blankets. Jon brought out the port and we enjoyed more time with our friends. Each time we throw a Kitchen Kriminal dinner we invite a different crowd, and both Stephen and Julie commented on our eclectic group of friends and how much they enjoy meeting and spending the evening with them.

Despite the heat, the dinner was as success, but I’m a perfectionist and realized the next morning my hostessing mistakes. If I could have turned the clock back, I would have fixed these mistakes: 1. We should have served dinner in the pool for the first three courses because it was so damn hot. 2. We forgot to turn on the landscape lighting with the uplighting on the huge pine trees once the sun went down. 3. We forgot to bring out the cigars with the port after dinner 4. I wish I hadn’t spilled the entire glass of red wine on my white jeans while clearing the empty wine bottles from the table. Oh well… I can strive for perfection next time.

If you’re interested in hosting a Kitchen Kriminal roving dinner party, would like to order gourmet meals to go or would like Gourmet Solutionz to cater your next event, you can reach Stephen and Julie through their websites: http://kitchenkriminal.blogspot.com/ and http://www.gourmetsolutionz.com/.

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