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Wedding dinner suggestions


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#1 TylerK

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 06:34 AM

My brother's wedding is in four weeks, and while the main event will be a destination thing down in Mexico they're doing family pre-wedding up in Calgary since a number of the bride's immediate family can't make the trip down south. Only 15 people or so. I've been asked to prepare a nice meal for after the ceremony, and I've got the skeleton of a menu planned out, but I want it to be special and I'm having problems filling in the rest of the details.

I'm a pretty decent cook, but I'm not a professional chef, and the tools at my disposal will be those of a standard suburban kitchen (and a kitchen I've never cooked in before). I was hoping to get some advice on how to turn this into a memorable (in a good way) meal.

The menu as it stands now:

Soup (I was thinking a spiced carrot soup - there's some places around here that sell some great Indian spices)
Salad (baby arugula in a lemon vinaigrette, buffalo mozzarella)
Main (probably the most vague of my ideas so far - some kind of beef roast with some kind of veg. Maybe butterflied and stuffed)
Dessert (Croquembouche - never tried this before, but I'm pretty good with cream puffs)

Fresh bread available at every course.I haven't even started thinking about appetizers yet.

Any suggestions?

#2 Baselerd

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 07:04 AM

If you have access to a pressure cooker, there's a legendary caramelized carrot soup from Modernist Cuisine. You essentially just pressure cook carrots, butter, carrot juice, salt, and baking soda for 1.5 hours. I've made it twice now, and it's a very easy recipe. If you don't have access to a juicer, I'm sure off-the-shelf carrot juice would work well. Not only is it the best carrot soup I've ever cooked, it's among the best I've ever tasted.

The recipe is here if you are interested.

Edited by Baselerd, 19 October 2012 - 07:05 AM.


#3 Lisa Shock

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 10:08 AM

Croquembouche can be time consuming, depending on how fast and accurate you are with assembly. You can make the nougatine base, the marzipan flowers, puffs and filling the day before. The sugar has to be done that day and you need to juggle it on and off the heat to keep it in a dippable consistency. -All the while keeping in mid that once filled, the puffs are getting soggy. Once the main tower is assembled on the base, you'll need a spun sugar setup to make the decoration. It should be served as quickly as possible. We allow 5 hours for students to make their first one in class. Do you have 5 hours to dedicate to this right before serving your meal?

An option that many brides choose is to have a decorative Croquembouche with no filling in the puffs. This can be made and held in a dry environment for a day or two. (you may wish to run tests to how long it takes for spun caramel sugar to crystallize in your environment) For the dessert, sugar is spun, puffs are filled, dipped in hot caramel sugar, and plated with a little spun sugar just before being served.

If I were cooking a big meal like this and a dessert, I'd make a cake or something complete the day before so that I could be free to cook the main meal.

#4 TylerK

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 10:57 AM

Baselerd - I have seen good reviews of that soup recipe around here. That's actually what got me thinking about a carrot soup for the dinner. Do you know what the pressure cooker brings to it besides faster cooking? I likely won't have access to one.

Lisa - If this were for a big gathering I wouldn't consider it. 15 people, budgeting 3-4 puffs per person means a fairly manageable 60 or so puffs required. Maybe it was a mistake for me to call it a croquembouche though. I was not planning on the nougatine base, spun sugar or marzipan flowers. I was planning on puffs filled with a combination of ganache and pastry cream dipped in the hot caramel and formed into a cone shape. Decorated with sugared almonds and maybe some live flowers. I'll bake the puffs and make the ganache/pastry cream the night before, and I should have plenty of time before the wedding (evening) to put everything together.

I didn't want to do a real wedding cake because there will definitely be one for the main reception down in Mexico, and I didn't want to compete with a professional baker as to who made the best cake. :)

#5 Baselerd

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 11:38 AM

The key to the pressure cooker isn't necessarily the time, but the temperature. Since there will be plenty of moisture in the pot (carrots, juice, etc), the temperature won't go above the boiling point of water (212 F at 1 atmosphere) unless it is all evaporated. However, if you use the pressure cooker you can achieve higher temperatures. As you may know, the delicious flavors we associate from browning are products of the Malliard reaction and caramelization reactions, which are minimal at 212 F, but become more pronounced at higher temperatures (such as those in the pressure cooker.) Thus the pressure cooker enables you to develop a more rich and caramelized flavor. The addition of baking soda increases the pH of your solution to further promote the Malliiard reaction as well. I also have read that the closed environment of the pressure cooker holds in a lot of the volatile flavor compounds, but I would imagine that effect is minor compared to the increased temperature.

With that said, I can't imagine butter and carrots tasting too bad without the pressure cooker, they just won't have as much of a caramelized flavor. Maybe an alternative approach would be to brown the carrots before adding to the soup?

Edited by Baselerd, 19 October 2012 - 12:20 PM.


#6 JAZ

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 07:22 AM

If you'd like a different carrot soup recipe, here's one based on a soup shot I had years ago in San Francisco. It's very easy, but don't skip the chive oil.

#7 TylerK

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 08:03 AM

Thanks. That looks really good.

Does anyone have any ideas for something interesting I could do with the roast?

#8 Alex

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 04:32 PM

And now for something completely different.

If I were doing this, and were part of the celebration as you will be, I'd want to do as much ahead of time as possible. I think you're on the right track with dessert, although I'd probably opt for profiteroles. For the main course, rather than a roast, I'd like to suggest what we did for our small wedding reception a while back: poached whole salmon fillets, served cold, with two sauces (self-serve): ginger remoulade and yogurt something (dill, maybe; I can't quite remember). To keep it company on the plate, how about a cold vegetable terrine?
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#9 TylerK

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 09:28 AM

Thanks Alex. That does sound great. I wish I could do something like that, but I was given a directive at the start - no fish/seafood or mushrooms. My brother dislikes both.

I'm certainly open to suggestions other than the roast. I just thought it would be fairly versatile and enjoyable by all.

#10 janeer

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:02 PM

I agree 100% with Lisa on the croquembouche. With the carrot soup and the arugala salad, lamb would be nice. Rack,fairly traditional with mustard coat and parslied crumbs. Simple. A coconut cake with lemon filling. Something shrimp for appetizer.

#11 nikkib

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:21 PM

I saw this on tv the other day and it looked so delicious and pretty easy to do, also a bit different...... http://www.foodnetwo...cipe/index.html
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#12 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 06:09 AM

Why not celebrate Calgary's British heritage with a good old fashioned beef rib roast? Season simply with garlic and salt and pepper, serve with a traditional horseradish sauce. Since it will be cool season, the veg could be roasted along with the roast. It's easy but delicious and who doesn't like it? If you can come up with a really good roast from a good butcher, it should be spectacular.

#13 Kerry Beal

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 07:18 AM

Why not celebrate Calgary's British heritage with a good old fashioned beef rib roast? Season simply with garlic and salt and pepper, serve with a traditional horseradish sauce. Since it will be cool season, the veg could be roasted along with the roast. It's easy but delicious and who doesn't like it? If you can come up with a really good roast from a good butcher, it should be spectacular.


And Marlene - 'queen of prime rib' in my view - lives in Calgary if you need advice on how best to cook it!

#14 TheCulinaryLibrary

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 04:26 AM

If you want to do beef, do it. I wouldn't butterfly it though. Who invented that odd idea anyway? and why? Something that is always tender and luscious is to roast a whole fillet steak, either undercut or scotch depending on your budget and what you like. Roll it in plenty of roughly bashed/cracked black pepper, brown in a butter/fat mix on high heat in a large oven proof skillet or roasting pan then into the oven 180C for 20/40m (med rare /med). You could do a trial run to work out the best cooking time for your oven and fillet size. When cooked, flame the pan with cognac or brandy then remove the meat to your serving dish. While its resting make a pan sauce by adding some pink and green peppercorns, a pinch of flaked salt and plenty of cream, stir until it begins to thicken and color a little (not too much though or it goes gluggy). Slice the beef to your preferred thickness, leaving it in a stacked row, in its juices and spoon over some pepper sauce. (Serve the remainder in a sauce boat.) Baby new potatoes cut the richness of the sauce and also soak it up or get your roast ones on an hour before you start your fillet. Bundles of green beans or asparagus go well too.

#15 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 08:40 AM

If you want to do beef, do it. I wouldn't butterfly it though. Who invented that odd idea anyway? and why? Something that is always tender and luscious is to roast a whole fillet steak, either undercut or scotch depending on your budget and what you like. Roll it in plenty of roughly bashed/cracked black pepper, brown in a butter/fat mix on high heat in a large oven proof skillet or roasting pan then into the oven 180C for 20/40m (med rare /med). You could do a trial run to work out the best cooking time for your oven and fillet size. When cooked, flame the pan with cognac or brandy then remove the meat to your serving dish. While its resting make a pan sauce by adding some pink and green peppercorns, a pinch of flaked salt and plenty of cream, stir until it begins to thicken and color a little (not too much though or it goes gluggy). Slice the beef to your preferred thickness, leaving it in a stacked row, in its juices and spoon over some pepper sauce. (Serve the remainder in a sauce boat.) Baby new potatoes cut the richness of the sauce and also soak it up or get your roast ones on an hour before you start your fillet. Bundles of green beans or asparagus go well too.


Wow, that sounds good.

#16 TylerK

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 10:17 AM

Yes. It sounds great, and less effort. In case their budget won't allow for that much fillet, is there a less expensive cut that this would work well with?

#17 TheCulinaryLibrary

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 05:07 AM

My palate is a bit spoilt because I always do this recipe with whole fillet which is affordable in Australia, but the idea is originally from Anton Mossiman when he was at the Dorchester in London in the late 70's and from memory he used a cut they called entrecote in those days which is equivalent to our porterhouse cut here. Don't know if it's called the same in Canada. You could try it, just get a good quality one, crust it before the oven and make sure to rest it well before slicing. Good Luck.

#18 TylerK

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 05:42 AM

So I took some of the advice above to heart and did some more searching around and I think I have the main meal nailed down:

- Juniper and black pepper crusted rib eye roast
- Pommes Anna
- Green beans and shallots sautéed in garlic butter.

For the soup I think I'm going to try a modified version of the MCaH cauliflower soup instead of the carrot (modified since I won't have access to a pressure cooker)

The salad I'm going to go with a walnut/pear/blue cheese.

Edited by TylerK, 01 November 2012 - 05:43 AM.


#19 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 10:24 AM

So I took some of the advice above to heart and did some more searching around and I think I have the main meal nailed down:

- Juniper and black pepper crusted rib eye roast
- Pommes Anna
- Green beans and shallots sautéed in garlic butter.

For the soup I think I'm going to try a modified version of the MCaH cauliflower soup instead of the carrot (modified since I won't have access to a pressure cooker)

The salad I'm going to go with a walnut/pear/blue cheese.


That sounds absolutely delicious. And I like that it is classic yet with a modern twist. And it is nicely seasonal as well. Excellent!

#20 TheCulinaryLibrary

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 04:27 PM

Good job! Let us know how it goes.

#21 TylerK

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 07:41 AM

Wish I'd thought to take pictures - the day was a little chaotic with the wedding, the photos and all the cooking, but the dinner turned out great. Thanks to everyone who provided suggestions.

The meat was tender and uniformly pink throughout, and the juniper really complimented the beef well. My only dissapointment was that I let the sliced potatoes sit a little too long, so the pommes Anna had a bit of a greyish tinge when it came out of the oven. No one complained, but I certainly noticed.

Instead of a full on croquembouche I made small individual stacks of whipped ganache filled profiteroles and glued them together with caramel.