Often when my parents have relatives or friends visiting they ask me to cook dinner for them. My immediate answer is usually maybe since I would have to give up a chunk of my leisure hours to undertake the project. But then my mind gets churning with ideas and I start thinking of menus. There’s no turning back at that point. Plus since my parents would be paying for the ingredients I have an opportunity to be a bit more extravagant than usual [although trying to convince my parents they must have Champagne and caviar on their menu hasn’t come to fruition]. My great aunt and uncle were visiting recently and here is what I cooked for them and my parents…
Gougere – Lillet Blanc
I started off the meal with hot gougeres straight from the oven accompanied by a glass of lillet blanc on ice. Gougeres will be the death of me – I inhaled three as soon as they were puffed, browned, and crusty on top. As you can see these were huge.
Scallops, Forbidden Rice, Braised Endive, Vandouvan Butter – Donna Luna Fiano
Next was seared scallops served on forbidden rice with braised endive and a drizzle of vadouvan butter. To my delight Julie got me a bag of vadouvan, a French curry mix, from Le Sanctuaire for my birthday which inspired this dish. I paired this with Donna Luna Fiano which I previously had with my truffle butter pasta. The medium body of the fruity wine and the touch of acidity paired well with the butter sauce and the touch of citrus in the curry spice mix.
Romanesco Veloute, Foie Mousse, Crispy Pork Belly – Domaine La Bastide Roussane
For the third course I served romanesco veloute with a quenelle of foie mousse and deep fried slivers of pork belly. I was planning to make the foie mousse myself but once I got to the store they told me I had to preorder them. Duh! So instead I got premade foie mousse I think from D’Artagnan, which actually saved me some time and sanity. For the soup I made a light veloute sauce in which I simmered the romanesco florets. Once tender I put the mixture through the blender and sieve to ensure a velvety texture. Then finished it with butter, cream, and egg yolks to enrich and thicken it. This dish was inspired by the veloute and royale I had a Manresa. Taking a cue from their wine pairing I wanted to pair my veloute with a Roussanne also. Simon over at Larchmont Village Wines chose the inexpensive Domaine La Bastide for me which went great with the velvety soup and the bit of rich foie mousse.
Red Wine Braised Beef Tenderloin, Aligot, Shiitake Frites – Red Shed Cabernet Franc 2004
The final savory course was beef tenderloin that I had seared and braised in red wine and beef stock. I served it with aligot potatoes and “frites” for a meat & potatoes or steak & frites kind of deal. Aligot is a potato dish from Auvergne, France, made with tomme cheese and beat into an elastic texture that leaves it with a cheesy-stringy texture. I substituted Cantal since I could not find tomme d’Auvergne. I didn’t achieve the correct texture perhaps because I didn’t put enough cheese in. For about 2lbs of potatoes I put in 1/2lb of cheese. However the potatoes were soooo tasty. I mean really tasty. The “frites” were made my dredging shiitake slices with panko and deep frying them. I salted them when they came out of the oil. Simple as that and also very addicting.
I added a small cheese course and served Cowgirl Creamery’s delicious triple creme Red Hawk and Gruyere.
Boca Negra with Dark Chocolate-Orange Ganache, Pistachio
Then finally dessert. I stick to easy things when baking since I’m really more of a savory person. I baked a boca negra which is a flourless chocolate cake loaded with chocolate and eggs and also a good amount of booze, in this case it was whiskey. I topped it with a warm dark chocolate ganache flavored with orange zest and sprinkled toasted and chopped pistachios on top.
There was a lot of room for improvement but in the end I was happy with what I cooked because more importantly the diners were happy.