When you are invited to the home of an interiors editor and a chef for a dinner party, you know that you are going to be treated well. Ellie Somerville McNevin, the NY Features Editor for Luxe Magazine, and Nick McNevin, a chef at Corton Restaurant in TriBeCa, welcomed us into their Manhattan apartment to enjoy a spring appropriate dinner of fruit gazpacho with grilled shrimp and herb marinated hangar steak. It’s not often that we get a private tasting prepared by a NY chef, so we jumped at the opportunity to sit down with them for dinner (with a bottle of pinot noir in hand).
The couple’s philosophy on entertaining is that it should be first and foremost fun and casual. “You can put together an impressive dinner party without having to get worked up,” Ellie explains, “many recipes can be broken apart and prepared the night before”. In the case of this dinner, both the fruit gazpacho and the steak marinade can be made ahead of time. In fact, many of the flavors become even richer with time. But even if this delicious recipe is easy to make and we could get a day’s head start on it, we were still completely in awe of Nick’s ability in the kitchen. His secret to making dishes look professional? Garnishes. Adding edible flowers can make a huge impact with just a small amount of effort.
It wasn’t just Nick’s talent that impressed us, we loved the way Ellie decorated her home with grays, blues and few hints of color, mixing textures and styles.* We were especially drawn to the elegant table setting that she put together with pieces from Crate & Barrel. “Crate & Barrel’s table top looks extremely high end but is completely affordable,” she says, “even the most simple plates have small details that make them completely unique”. In line with the dinner party’s spring menu, she chose to go for a few earthy elements: brown patterned napkins and wooden chargers gave each place setting a relaxed yet rich feel. Ellie also recommends using wildflowers with hand glazed vases to complete the look. “I prefer wildflowers instead of peonies or roses,” she states, “they just have such an effortless beauty to them”.
Ellie and Nick’s relaxed personalities, their two playful dogs and inviting home, made this dinner party the perfect mix of personal and polished. We are now inspired by this successful young couple’s ability to put together a 3 star meal without having to completely overhaul their schedules or give themselves a small panic attacks. Whether you are busy or you have time to plan, there are many degrees of effort according to which you can put together a party for your friends and family. The most important thing is to let go of the small imperfections and enjoy the company.
Fruit Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp
- 2 cups diced watermelon
- 2 cups diced cantaloupe
- 1 cup strawberries with tops removed
- 1/2 diced cucumber
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 Tbs sherry vinegar
- 24 jumbo-sized shrimp; cleaned and de-veined
- 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- chipotle pepper flakes
- Tabasco sauce
- 6 slices of brioche bread
- lemon zest
- mint leaves (for garnish)
- cracked black pepper
1. Combine watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, cucumber, olive oil, orange juice and sherry vinegar in a bowl and mix well. Let sit for 2 hours.
2. Add shrimp, thyme, and chipotle pepper flakes (quantity depending on desired spiciness) to another bowl and coat with more olive oil. Let sit for 2 hours.
3. In a food blender, blend the fruit mix and season with salt and Tabasco to desired amount. (If the fruit wasn’t completely fresh or the sherry vinegar is too sharp, you can always add white sugar to make it slightly sweeter if desired).
4. Remove the crust from the brioche bread slices and gently brush with olive oil.
5. Heat a grill pan on medium high heat until hot. Cook the brioche bread until toasted with golden brown char marks on both sides. Cook the shrimp the same way in the grill pan. To keep from over-cooking the shrimp, do not cook all the way through. Leave the center slightly un-cooked; the heat from the rest of the shrimp will finish cooking it all the way through.
6. To plate the dish, pour an inch of the fruit gazpachointo a bowl. Stand four shrimp up in the center of each bowl facing inwards. Cut the brioche bread into triangles approximately the same size as the shrimp, and place them standing up against the shrimp clockwise around the bowl. Garnish with baby mint leaves (or thinly sliced mint leaves), grated lemon zest, and cracked black pepper. For an extra touch, you can add edible flowers, available at chefs-garden.com.
Makes 6 servings
Any left over fruit gazpacho can be used for fruit smoothies or for cocktails (just add vodka or tequila!).
Herb Marinated Hanger Steak
with green garlic, mushrooms, grilled fava beans, and a cashew butter jus
- 2 lbs Hanger steak
- 6 shallots (cleaned)
- 2 heads of garlic (cleaned)
- 1 oz. packet of fresh thyme
- 1 oz. packet of fresh rosemary (leaves only)
- 1 oz. packet of fresh parsley
- 3/4 cup salt
- 14 springs of green garlic (baby scallions can be used as a replacement)
- baby bella mushrooms
- Maitake mushrooms
- 2 lbs of fava beans (un-shucked)
- 3 cups of brown chicken stock (recipe here)
- 1/2 cup butter (diced into chunks)
- 3/4 cup cashew nuts toasted and halved
- 1 ¼ tsp sherry vinegar
- ½ cup of mixed lettuce leaves (for garnish)
1. Add shallots, garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, salt and half a cup of water to food blender. Blend, until fully incorporated. Should be a green paste.
2. Cut steak into serving sized portions, cover with herb paste, and let sit for 2 hours. Rinse off the steaks thoroughly after 2 hours and pat dry. Steak will NOT need any salt from this point on as the herb paste included salt and will have seasoned it already.
3. Bring a pot of water to boil and season with salt, Should taste like the ocean.
4. Cook green garlic in boiling water for 2 ½ minutes and transfer to cold water with ice.
5. Cut baby bella mushrooms into halves and break up maitake mushrooms.
6. Cook fava beans in boiling water for 2 minutes and transfer to cold water with ice. Once cold, take off outer shell and spilt the bean in half. It should do this naturally.
7. Reduce 3 cups of brown chicken stock to 3/4 of a cup (instructions on reducing stock here) and slowly whisk in butter on a low heat. Be careful since heat too high may cause it to split. Once butter has been mixed in, add cashew nuts and sherry vinegar.
8. On a medium high heat, heat up the grill pan. Once hot, grill steak until cooked to your preference.
9. Grill fava beans and green garlic with olive oil and salt.
10. Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Once hot, cook the mushrooms with olive oil and salt until mushrooms are cooked.
11. To plate this dish, make a bed on one side of the plate with the mushrooms, and place green garlic and fava beans on top of the mushrooms. Place your steak on the other side of the plate. Spoon the cashew butter sauce over the steak and some of the vegetables. To garnish, try getting very small leaves from mixed lettuce bags or trimming some larger ones down to give the appearance of micro herbs that most restaurants use.
If you love Ellie’s table setting here are the pieces to get the look:
* Check out a tour of Ellie’s home in our latest issue!