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Pushing my limits a bit for New Year's Eve


glennbech
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Hi,

I am planning a four/five course dinner for this new year's eve dinner. I am planning an apatetizer, two "main" courses, chesse and dessert. My Ingredients so far are two large ducks and veal loin with fat/skin. My girlfriend is handling the dessert, I am baking walnut bread and making marmelade for the cheeses. For the apetizer I am thinking seafood, maybe oysters. A local store has many different types to chose from.

I am thinking of slow roasting the veal, making duck confit of the legs with rendered fats from the ducks. I know the confit won't have too much time in the fat, but I am sure it will be good anyways :-)

We will be four adults eating, and I want to push my cooking a bit and try something new. For the duck legs I may just want to serve a salad to highlight the "hero" of the dish, but for the veal I don't want to serve just potatoes, sauce and greens. I have done that a lot of times. I am also considering killing a lobster (never done that) for the appetizer.

I would be very happy for inspirations, suggestions and ideas around my ingredients and menu!

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If the veal is to be slow roasted, I'd be very very tempted to make Yorkshire puddings in the drippings - that gets you away from the potatoes component, as it's a nice alternative starch. Then I'd want to take the remaining juices from the veal and make a simple gravy with brandy to accompany the meat. That and some horseradish sauce on the side would seem to finish the dish. Do you have access to cherry tomatoes or heirloom types? A tomato-only salad instead of greens is a nice accompaniment to roasted veal.

What would you be doing with the lobster vis a vis appetizer?

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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If you're experimenting for yourself, that's one thing.

But I'm of the mind that it's not a good idea to use a dinner party for experimentation. I don't think it sounds professional to ask guests, "I haven't done this before, what do you think?"

Tried-and-true "I can knock this out in my sleep" recipes should be used.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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If you're experimenting for yourself, that's one thing.

But I'm of the mind that it's not a good idea to use a dinner party for experimentation. I don't think it sounds professional to ask guests, "I haven't done this before, what do you think?"

Tried-and-true "I can knock this out in my sleep" recipes should be used.

I'd be inclined to agree with this if you're talking about paying guests, but if it's just your friends, there's no need to be "professional," is there? I frequently experiment on friends. Worst case scenario, you end up calling for take-out.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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If you're experimenting for yourself, that's one thing.

But I'm of the mind that it's not a good idea to use a dinner party for experimentation. I don't think it sounds professional to ask guests, "I haven't done this before, what do you think?"

Tried-and-true "I can knock this out in my sleep" recipes should be used.

Agreed.

Experimentation is best done on family and without prior consent.

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This is family only yes, so no worries if things do not go as planned. That said, I know how to to cook meat and confit a duck, so I am ready for a challenge on the sides.

@Panderia: That said, Yorkshire pudding is not something I'd dare, since I have never eaten it, and have no idea what it is supposed to taste like :-) But, thanks for the tip! I might look for the tomatoes though, I have seen them in some well stocked stores, but not in a while.

Feel free to share your best veal recipes. I've also used the dinner thread for some inspiration this evening.

Edited by glennbech (log)
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Are you terribly attached to western-style recipes and flavour combos? If not, I've got some South American veal dishes that are knock-your-socks-off good and that I can almost guarantee your guests will never have seen before.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I disagree with the advice to stick, with guests, to tried and true recipes.

Admittedly, you don't want to inflict a dish that's likely to fail on a mere acquaintance or your new boss. But friends are friendly, and unfamiliar dishes are high risk and high reward. Shared adventure is fun.

When trying dishes of which I'm not confident, I like to put then next to a course that's not likely to be a disaster. Also, mywife's scandinavian Nestor's insist that, in any case, a dinner party must have plenty of food. Too much is enough. If a course doesn't work, there are plenty of others.

My Xmas eve dinner had a savory jelly and a spherified apple caviar, both new to me and both a little bit intricate. What went wrong? I forgot all about the focaccia in the oven! So, we had *caramelized* onion focaccia crackers, which turned out to be just fine with smoked turkey and root moos.

Friends come to inner hoping for those hughwire acts. They won't mind a slip.

Yorkshire pudding: you know popovers? It's a savory popover. Drop the sugar, use drippings (if you have them) instead of butter. Popovers are great sides. Souffles, also, are easy and reliable, but people give you style point because they're thought to be hard.

Edited by Eastgate (log)
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So I think this is your menu so far...

> Oysters (any specific preparation in mind?)

> Duck leg confit with salad & walnut bread--I like this combo. A bitter green salad of endives or frisee? Braised Belgian endive? Or you could go with a legume salad, like a lentil salad.

What are you doing with the duck breasts? Have you considered doing a "Duck Two Ways" preparation? Perhaps saute the duck breasts rare and serve the slices with a simple deglazed pan sauce (as with balsamic vinegar or wine). Then your guests can compare the sauteed duck breast with the duck leg confit. People are always intrigued by protein in a two-way (or even three-way) preparation.

> Veal loin with....??? You could butterfly the loin, stuff it with something interesting, then roll it up and tie it for roasting. Roasted caramelized onions with a little balsamic vinegar; sauteed wild mushrooms with thyme or sage; honey-sweetened carrots come to mind as possible sides. Scalloped potatoes?

If you really want to pour it on, you can consider vegs prepared in timbales, gratins, or terrines.

> Cheeses with marmalade

> Dessert

Sounds like a good meal to start the New Year!

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Maybe a good idea, depending on your inclination and preferences, would be to turn the duck confit into a spring roll of sorts (it doesn't have to be necessarily Asian, and the bonus is you can cut them in half and impale them not with a skewer, but with that thin bone you remove from the duck when picking the meat, as an added presentation point) and serve it as an accompaniment to a beautiful duck breast with a plum sauce and whatever garnishes you like.

With the veal, I'd be inclined to slow roast it and serve it classically European in style with an onion puree, confit cherry tomato salsa and a balsamic glaze.

With regard to the seafood starter, if you're willing to use lobster, maybe have a cold lobster salad (lobster meat, mayo, shallot, chive, salt and pepper) to go on a piece of char grilled bread, as a bruschetta. This can be one of those DIY courses that don't require plating on your part, and allows for a bit of interaction, which can buy you time for the mains.

Whatever you choose, I hope it turns out well for you :) Good luck.

Edited by Broken English (log)

James.

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Hi!

Thanks for all the Advice! I really like the Idea of Cold lobster salad. I ordered a couple of Norwegian ones (native) yesterday. I can serve the salad in the shell of the lobsters, which I think will be spectacular. I think this, served "DIY style" with bruschetta will start the evening off quite well!

I also liked the Idea of Duck two ways. Since I bought the ducks frozen, I can't re-freeze the breasts. I was wondering what to do with them.

I wonder if I can use cherries from my in-laws garden from this summer for a sauce?

I'll probably play it safe with the veal, Since I now have to cope with live lobsters (never done it). Workflow wise, I'll also need the sides for the veal ready to go, or ready enough to be prepared while the meat rests.

Thanks again for all the input.

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I disagree with the advice to stick, with guests, to tried and true recipes.

Admittedly, you don't want to inflict a dish that's likely to fail on a mere acquaintance or your new boss. But friends are friendly, and unfamiliar dishes are high risk and high reward. Shared adventure is fun.

Perhaps, but when I throw a dinner party, I ALSO want to enjoy myself. I don't want to have to stress out over a dish I have never attempted before. I want to have everything basically on auto-pilot by the time the first guest arrives, with the kitchen looking tidy, the plates in the warming drawer, the salads plated and in the 'fridge, et cetera.

New Year's eve with guests is not the time to be attempting one's first-ever Yorkshire pudding. Or one's first-ever Peking duck.

Or one's first-ever sushi roll.

Also, making a dish that doesn't taste right (or even close) puts guests in the awkward position of having to pretend to like it just because they don't want to hurt the host's feelings. That's unprofessional, and not the hallmark of a good host. If I want to try something new for a party, I will make the dish well in advance.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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New Year's eve with guests is not the time to be attempting one's first-ever Yorkshire pudding. Or one's first-ever Peking duck.

Or one's first-ever sushi roll.

Agreed. Lobsters on the other had, I'll take my chances with :-)

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If you have good reason to be a confident home cook then go for some experimentation. But it's best to use familiar ingredients which you have a passion for. Duck happens to be one of mine.

Medium-rare grilled duck breast with demi is excellent or get a simple recipe on google. There's a lot you can do with Port, duck or beef stock/broth, shallots and even garlic. If you haven't already, make some duck stock from the bones. Taste the backyard cherries and see if they're fit for a sauce. Cross-hatch the skin to get out the fat and for a great presentation.

Take pictures!

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Hi!

Thanks for all the Advice! I really like the Idea of Cold lobster salad. I ordered a couple of Norwegian ones (native) yesterday. I can serve the salad in the shell of the lobsters, which I think will be spectacular. I think this, served "DIY style" with bruschetta will start the evening off quite well!

I also liked the Idea of Duck two ways. Since I bought the ducks frozen, I can't re-freeze the breasts. I was wondering what to do with them.

I wonder if I can use cherries from my in-laws garden from this summer for a sauce?

I'll probably play it safe with the veal, Since I now have to cope with live lobsters (never done it). Workflow wise, I'll also need the sides for the veal ready to go, or ready enough to be prepared while the meat rests.

Thanks again for all the input.

You're welcome.

Cherries would be even better with the duck. Plums were just the first thing that sprang to mind.

The lobsters are fairly straightforward, just put them into the freezer for an hour or so to put them into a coma before putting them straight into the boiling salted water. Depending on the size, they'll probably need about 10-11 minutes to be done.

James.

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