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Dinner Menu help


AllanSantos
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Howdy all,

Some people I work with have started a dinner club and I volunteered to cook and plan for a dinner coming up on the 28th of Oct. Menu planning has always been a weak spot for me so I'm excited to cook for the group to have an oportunity to work on that aspect of things a little. The group tries to do various themes for each dinner and I chose a local products dinner. I'll have one other person to help cook and serve. What I'm trying to learn is what I should be thinking about that I'm leaving out of the thought process. In the actuall cooking, I'm trying to keep things simple with everyday direct flavors rather hard to find ingredients. I know I'll learn something from keeping a focus that way too.

I live 2 hours away from where the dinner will be but the things I know I can get are dairy, eggs, chicken, ducks and rabbits and pork. Veg wise the growers market will supply me.

I followed the 'Dinner Degustation' thread with great interest and thought I'd ask for some help through this process.

This is what is in my notebook so far:

Amusee: ?

Soup: Butternut squash

Something before entree?

Main dish: Pork ternderloin with potato perogi (maybe something with apples or maybe tart cherrie mustard sauce, I'm not to sure what to do sauce wise.)

Cheese: I need to see what I can find to see if this would actually work.

Dessert: Vanilla Pots du Creme with ohio honey

I keep wondering if I need a small something before the main dish, it seems abrupt coming from the soup. Also for the amusee I was thinking of making some sort of small bite of sausage type of thing.....

Any help would be greatly appreciated and thanks in advance,

Allan

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Sounds terrific so far. Speaking of pork, this reminded me of a great presentation for squash (or pumpkin) soup which I had at a local restaurant last Fall. The bowl was presented with shredded pancetta and the soup was poured over. Toasted pumpkin seeds were sprinkled on top. The salty pork accented the sweetness of the squash nicely.

Or, accent the soup with a fancy creme fraiche design on top.

In my opinion, you can transition from the soup to the entree without something in between.

Pork sauce: port cherry reduction or an brandy apple sauce (applejack brandy) would be perfect and seasonal.

Amuse ideas: Grilled fig with mascarpone cheese and proscuitto. Carries the pork theme.

Polenta and mushrooms

A small slice of artichoke frittata with creme fraiche

Seared scallop

Edited by monavano (log)
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Sounds terrific so far. Speaking of pork, this reminded me of a great presentation for squash (or pumpkin) soup which I had at a local restaurant last Fall. The bowl was presented with shredded pancetta and the soup was poured over. Toasted pumpkin seeds were sprinkled on top. The salty pork accented the sweetness of the squash nicely.

Or, accent the soup with a fancy creme fraiche design on top.

In my opinion, you can transition from the soup to the entree without something in between.

Pork sauce: port cherry reduction or an brandy apple sauce (applejack brandy) would be perfect and seasonal.

Amuse ideas: Grilled fig with mascarpone cheese and proscuitto. Carries the pork theme.

Polenta and mushrooms

A small slice of artichoke frittata with creme fraiche

Seared scallop

monavano,

I was gonna do the creme fraiche on the soup but I like your idea of the pancetta and roasted pumkin seeds better. It'll also give me an excuse to make try out the pancetta recipe from Charcuterie. On the other stuff: I'm in northern ohio and although it's not set in stone, in trying to keep to the local theme, it sort of vetos some of the other great ideas you've given to me. The frittata idea is turning some wheels though.

Thanks very much,

Allan

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Sausage, squash, pork roast & potatoes - very nice cool weather feel.

Any other vegetables in mind? That is one place I feel a lack in this draft of the menu. Squash is one, but... at least one and maybe two more would round things out, IMO. PErhaps you could work one into the amuse?

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Allan, can you say a bit more about your prep and cooking logistics? What has to be prepared ahead of time? What kitchen appliances and cookware will you have or lack? How much time can you devote to this well in advance, morning/day of, and a la minute?

And -- big question -- for how many people?

Chris Amirault

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Allan, can you say a bit more about your prep and cooking logistics? What has to be prepared ahead of time? What kitchen appliances and cookware will you have or lack? How much time can you devote to this well in advance, morning/day of, and a la minute?

And -- big question -- for how many people?

Chris,

As of now the count is at 6 including me. Over the next week or 2 a few more from the club will be able to commit but at the most the count will be at 10.

I'll have access to the kitchen for 5 days prior to the dinner and the full day of the dinner. The 5 days prior I have good solid portions of the afternoon to dedicate to the dinner. I only have commitments in the evening after dinner. The day of the dinner I have the whole day free and planned on hanging in the kitchen and organizing, prepping whatever needs to be prepped, etc.

The kitchen is a standard home 4 burner gas stove with 1 oven, nothing special. As for kitchen appliances, a friend who will be helping has a decently equipped kitchen so we can use whatever is there (there isn't anything of real use in the event kitchen). We'll definitely be using his pots and pans. I've catered a brunch for 30 in this same kitchen and made out fine with what I brought and what we used from his kitchen.

It's a medium sized kitchen with good counter space on one side for prep and mise and on the other a huge island/bar type counter space for plating. Even if 10 show up I'm not worried about room for plating. The thing that will have the most elements that need to be going at the same time is the main dish. So it doesn't look like dishes will be competeing for burners.

Thanks,

Allan

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Sausage, squash, pork roast & potatoes - very nice cool weather feel.

Any other vegetables in mind?  That is one place I feel a lack in this draft of the menu.  Squash is one, but... at least one and maybe two more would round things out, IMO.  PErhaps you could work one into the amuse?

That's a good point. The first things that came to my mind are chard and kale, and I assume both should be available as local produce. I'll give it some thought as to how I can work it into the amuse. Do you think the main dish needs some sort of veg as well?

Thanks,

Allan

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A regionally-sourced ode to oink: works for me.

You're going to eat with the club? Feasible so long as you stick to KISS and are really good at time management and logistics. Desserts and cheese are pre-fab so your biggest worry is making and plating the pork.

Any other vegetables in mind?  That is one place I feel a lack in this draft of the menu.

"You don't make friends with salad." But seriously that 's one place to flesh out a bit and the amuse is a nice place to start.

I see kale and chard as more of a side because most of the stuff available to me is mature plant so not that great to use as an amuse unless you wrap the stuff around something. If you can get tender (young) chard you can incorporate that into a couple of things (spring roll variant as an example).

Butternut soup gives you lots of leeway and it's a make-ahead item so nothing problematic there. That pancetta idea sounds really good.

Depending on how you're going to plate up and how large of a portion you're planning, I can get 2 or 3 useable portions out of a single tenderloin so you're looking at doing 5 or 6 to make certain. Do you need a vegetable with this? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on you: I've done this with just a starch and whatever sauce I was whipping up, and I've also done this with just vegetables and no starch. See what's coming up at the market and make your decision then.

Don't suppose there's a way to get some crackling into your menu somewhere?

And will there be photos and plenty of wine?

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Some ideas for veggies:

Perhaps a bruschetta of greens for the amuse such as this oneor this one

I would definitely put a veggie with the main, especially if you are going with a pale sauce because I hate an all white plate. If you use chard leaves for the amuse, you can braise the stems for the side, or use beet greens and then the beet roots for the side.

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Yes, I think there needs to be at least one veg with the main.

But if you didnt want it to look "meat and two veg", then I thought perhaps you could work earlier. Maybe kale chopped fine, steamed softish, sauted, put in little filo cups and topped with sausage?

I know from nothing about amuses.

Green veg makes an interesting coarse puree. Might look for an eastern european recipe for a veg side.

I'll be interested to see what you decide and how it all comes out!

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Howdy again,

Just an update on the dinner to see what people think. After discussing amuse ideas with a friend, he came up with a slice of carmelized pear with a simple gastrique. I thought this was a great idea and seemed to fit exactly what I was loking for.

I added some braised red cabbage to the main dish and tried it out but I didn't like the dish at all. The pork was great, the perogi were great, the port wine sauce was great. I hated the red cabbage on there. Too much of the same color and braising the stuff in wine was a bit much for the sauce...duh. So back to thinking about veg for the main dish.

Allan

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Here is a thought for either the veg for the main or for the amuse, something you could do ahead of time.

A grilled and chilled pumpkin salad with dried cherries and leeks with an apple cider vinagrette.

Unless that is too close to the soup course. The veg I often like serving with pork is sauteed green and yellow wax beans with pumpkin seeds (again if you are using the seeds for the soup, then maybe sub some toasted pine nuts) with a little sauce bernaisse spooned on top.

Edited by natter (log)
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For the veg how about braised cabbage and apples with bacon...cabbage just seems a natural for the pork and perogies and it is seasonal for fall as is apples then with the cherry sauce....Mmm

it could be a whole pork theme

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

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