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Entries in foie gras (3)


A New Years Eve Feast 

What: New Years Eve Dinner

Where: My NYC Apartment

Glorious Croquembouche: A tower of Pastry cream-filled Puffs with Caramel

Last year for New Years Eve, I served an extravagant, 4 course classic French dinner, with a menu based on recipes from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." It was a decadent and delicious meal, with a whole lot of butter, cream and foie gras. A great way to start the New Year.

This New Years Eve I decided to carry on the tradition. I turned, once again, to Julia Child, for inspiration. I created another sinful, artery-clogging menu:

Starter: Chicken Consomme with Beef Dumplings

First Course: Coquilles St. Jacques (Scallops and Mushrooms in a white-wine cream sauce)

Main Course: Goose two ways: Roast and Stuffed with Foie Gras and Prunes and Braised and Stuffed with Chestnut Foie Gras Stuffing, with Buttered Potatoes and Butter Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Dessert: Croquembouche (A tower of cream puffs held together by caramel)

The meal was wonderful. We began with a delicate and powerfully flavored Chicken Consomme. Then on to the Coquilles St. Jacques with tender disks of poached scallop and thinly sliced mushrooms, bathed in a thick cream sauce and gratined with aged swiss cheese. The main course, a Goose duo of both Roast and Braised Geese was rich and gamey with foie gras stuffing studded with chestnuts, and sweet port-soaked prunes filled with yet more foie gras and sauteed shallots. Dessert, a tower of Pastry cream-filled Profiteroles topped with caramel, was a gorgeous way to end the meal. 

I hope 2011 is filled with many more Delicious meals and experiences. Happy New Year!

Gorgeous Goose getting ready to be stuffed and roasted

Coquilles St Jacques assembled and ready for the broiler

Mouthwatering cooked goose fresh out of the oven

 Delicious plate of goose, potatoes and buttery brussels sprouts

Chicken Consomme with Beef Dumpling
Our Friends, Mickey and Erin designed this menu for the dinner. Amazing.


A Very Tasty New Years Eve....

What: An Elegant French New Years Eve Dinner

Where: My apartment, NYC

Elegant Set Table for a Very Elegant MealThis Search takes me to my apartment in NYC. It is New Years Eve and I have prepared an extravagant French dinner for 15 guests. The menu, based on recipes taken from Julia Child's: "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," is as follows:

HORS D'OEUVRES: Pate and Cornichons
AMUSE BOUCHE: Caviar on Brioche Toasts with Creme Fraiche
APPETIZER: Oeufs en cocotte (softly cooked eggs with cream)
FIRST COURSE: Lobster Thermidor (a gratin of lobster, served in it's shell with butter, cream, cheese and mushrooms)
MAIN COURSE: Filet de Boeuf Braise Prince Albert (Braised filet of beef stuffed with truffles and foie gras), Potatoes Dauphinois (cooked with butter, cheese and beef stock) and Braised lettuce
CHEESE COURSE: w/port tasting
DESSERT: Millefeuilles (napoleons with pastry cream)

The very talened Mickey Mayo of Mayo Studios (who also designed my website: designed these wonderful menus for the eveningSeveral weeks before New Years Eve, Matt suggested we host a fancy French dinner party. I was intrigued. I love hosting dinner parties, especially extravagant elaborate ones. And I had never before cooked a single thing from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." (Buy it on Amazon) I felt guilty about this and I'd been meaning to try one of Julia's recipes out for a while. Particularly after reading Julia Child's inspiring "My Life in France." (Buy it on Amazon)

I went through this culinary bible, page by page, narrowing down the menu as I went along. I knew, as soon as I read the recipe for Lobster Thermidor, that I had to prepare it. It sounded so crazy and hideously complicated. I just couldn't resist. Who the hell makes Lobster Thermidor? What the hell is Lobster Thermidor? Read on.

6 lobsters in my sink, awating certain deathAnd then there was the Filet de Bouef Braise Prince Albert. I wanted this meal to be special, extravagant, memorable. And nothing says extravagant like foie gras, truffles and filet mignon. This dish, comprised of a whole tenderloin stuffed with a mixture of foie gras, shallots, cognac and madeira, along with chunks of truffles, then tied, lined with pork fat, and braised in beef stock and sauteed vegetables, was to be the centerpiece of the meal.

Tenderloin stuffed with foie gras and truffle mixture, ready to be tied...Tenderloin all tied up, with a strip of pork fat sealing the slit. Mmmmm, pork fat.I chose side dishes that I thought would go well with the meal (actually Julia suggested serving the beef with the "braised lettuce"). The starter of eggs cooked in cream served in individual ramekins was inspired by that very same dish I had as my first meal in France during European Vacation Part 2 (see blog post). It took me a while to decide on dessert, but I finally settled on homemade Napoleons. This happened to be one of Matt's favorite desserts, and I was also eager to make homemade Puff Pastry, something I hadn't made since culinary school (I'll post the recipe for this soon). My menu was complete.
Unbaked Potato Dauhpinoise. As you can see, butter and cheese played a large part in this dinnerA week before the dinner, I went on vacation to St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands (blog post to come!). We were coming home the night before this massive feast. I knew that as soon as we got home, that I had to start cooking immediately and not stop until the meal was on the table the next night. So while I was on vacation I studied the menu and recipes, reading through them over and over again. I visualized the meal--from chopping the vegetables, to cooking each component of every dish, to plating and serving the dinner. And I made lists--and a schedule--of every task that needed to be accomplished.

Take my advice here. It may sound crazy (and ok, maybe I'm a tad OCD), but if you are ever planning to host a major dinner party, I highly recommend meticulously going through and imagining the meal and making a detailed schedule. When it's game time, you can get right down to business. It will make the whole affair less stressful and ultimately much more enjoyable for you.

Thanks to my brother, Peter, when I arrived home the night of December 30th (after a 5 hour delay in the San Juan airport), all of the ingredients I needed for the dinner were waiting for me. Including 6 boisterous live lobsters. I threw down my bags, rolled up my sleeves and got right to cooking. Within 2 hours, the lobsters were killed and dismantled, vegetables were chopped and cheeses shredded. I had laid a solid foundation for the marathon cooking day ahead.

My sister, Caroline and our friend, Brien, cracking the eggs into ramekins for the Oeufs en CocotteI woke up at 6:30 am. And from 6:30 am, until 7:00 p.m. when the first guest arrived, I cooked like a mad woman. I was well organized and focused, but it was intense and a little bit frantic nonetheless.  

Wine ShrineI had asked John Humphreys, a very talented Sommelier who was, at the time, working at Union Square Wines and Liquors (he has since moved to Vestry Wines) to pair each course with red and white wine. And he did a FABULOUS job. For the first course, Oeufs en Cocotte he selected a lovely, faintly sweet 2008 Scheurebe Kabinett. Unfortunately, fearing that my oven had broken and the eggs were totally raw, I left the eggs in the oven for an extra 5 minutes and they were tragically overcooked--basically hard boiled eggs in cream. It still tasted great, but was certainly not as Julia intended. Despite my failure, the wine cut the richness of the cream wonderfully, and the dish was, though not perfect, very tasty.

Tasty spoonful of eggs in creamThen came The Lobster Thermidor. This dish was VERY time consuming. You cook the lobster, split it in half, remove all the meat, chop up the meat, push the tomalley and coral (roe) through a sieve and then make a crazy sauce with that plus egg yolks, cream and various other seasonings, cook the lobster in butter, then cognac, then mix it with the sauce, return meat to empty shell, top with cheese and butter, and bake. Woah. You have to be mentally prepared to embark on this recipe. Also, it's important to note that I cut down on Julia's suggested cooking time, feeling that boiling the lobsters for the full 20 minutes called for in the recipe would result in tough and chewy lobster meat. I cooked them for about 12 minutes, and the end result was perfectly tender and moist.

The Glorious Thermidor. It's hard to believe so much work went into that little lobster shell.Luckily, all of this insane work produced what was pretty much unanimously agreed to be the best lobster dish of all time. John paired it with a wonderful Chardonnay (Louis Latour Montagny Premiere Cru La Grande Roche 2006) that was really excellent. And damn this lobster was DELICIOUS. Creamy and rich, it almost tasted like a big hearty lobster bisque. Incredible dish. If you're ever looking to blow people's minds, and you've got some time on your hands, make Lobster Thermidor.

Though the Thermidor was the stand out dish of the evening, the Filet de Bouef Braise Prince Albert was also pretty awesome. The dish was accompanied by my new favorite red wine, the very reasonably priced and flavor packed: Chateau Cote Montpezat Cuvee Compostelle 2005, The meat was juicy and tender with the gentlest lovely gaminess from the foie gras. The sauce covering the beef was deep, rich, beefy and unctuous and really brought the whole dish together. Accompanied by the delicate Potatoes Dauphinois, (thinly sliced potatoes cooked with cheese and beef stock) and the braised escarole (which, to be honest, was not worth the effort) this made for a fantastic and very special main course. We were living very large.

The main plate--Beef, Potatoes and Braised EscaroleWe then moved on to a small cheese course (overkill? Hell's no. Everyone loves cheese!) and then the Napoleons. The crispy napoleons were smothered with layers of sweet and creamy pastry cream and drizzled with excellent dark chocolate. As my first attempt at making homemade Napoleons, I did pretty well.
An elegant photo to suit an elegant dinnerMy first experience cooking from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" was a very memorable one. Intense cooking, complicated recipes, but excellent results. It was a wonderful way to ring in 2010, STUFFED with great food and wine. I hope you'll try cooking from this book if you never have--it's an experience.

Happy Belated New Year! 

If you want to have an interesting dinner party, try introducing a Theremin into the mix. It's a very bizarre instrument. Here's Justin, making some crazy sounds.