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Piece de resistance


jaybee
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If the someone you most wanted to impress was coming to dinner, what would you cook?  This could include a starter, main and dessert or a single dish.  In other words, what is your knock-out meal or dish? If this has been covered already, just click me to the thread.

Oh, mine are a risoto with lobster and oyster mushrooms as starter, followed by whole red snapper baked Spanish-style in salt and a tarte tatin for dessert.

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I used to make a great duck dish that called for a brief roasting, then cutting off the leg-thigh pieces, removing the skin, coating with mustrad and bread crumbs and baking them in the oven while the sliced breast finished poaching in port on top of the stove and the skin was turned into "gribenes" see other threads" to be tossed into the salad.  This was a dish from  Julia Child and Company.  I served it, per Julia's suggestion, with pureed parsnips.  

Once, I preceded this with gravlax that I had made myself.

Strawberry or blueberry tart never fails to impress.  I make my tarts with a rich, buttery, sugar crust crumbles at the touch of the fork and melts in the mouth, courtesy of Paul Peck, The Art of Fine Baking.  Or, in winter, orange tart!

I'll bring one to the next pot luck.

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I usually do a Moroccan Feast......roasted eggplant, tomatoes, assorted peppers in vinaigrette, bstilla, lamb tagine, and couscous with 7 vegetables. For dessert, a festive platter of fresh and dried fruit, assorted nutmeats, homemade tartlets (usually lemon) and other home-baked sweets. And mint tea, of course.

No belly dancers! My wedding, some years ago (husband passed away very recently), was at a Moroccan restaurant with a similar menu, and we DID have a belly dancer. However, I have been doing this menu long before that. Think I may have been a Moroccan princess in another life.

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Thanks for asking, Cabrales. I'm doing OK. Just moved from Gig Harbor, Washington to South Florida, so I am busy settling in, and trying to get my life back on track. To get back to writing again for one thing. I have missed terribly not having anyone to "food talk" with. Egullet has become my savior.

Thanks again for asking how I'm doing.

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Great Desert Recipe and very easy.  I found this years ago (don't remember where) and it never fails to impress.

Large container of lemon ices

Grand Marnier

Strawberries

Confectioners' Sugar

Dig holes in the ices.  I use a metal skewer.  Pour in Grand Marnier (as many holes and as much as you like) and return to freezer overnight if possible or a few hours.  

Serve in beautiful desert glasses surrounded by huge strawberries and sprinkled with confectioners' sugar

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Beef Burgundy.  I freely tell people how easy it is, and they'll never believe me.  Most of it is made the day before, and then it's just reduced and garnished before eating.  It also tends to generate some awesome leftovers.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Sole "Alice".  A simplified version of Escoffier's recipe.  Essentially, sole poached in thyme-scented fish stock, garnished with oysters.  Not that difficult, but there's something swanky about it (even if you don't know what it's called).

I also find people are impressed if you go to the trouble of boning and stuffing things.

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Even though I tend not to make the same thing over and over, there are a few dishes that I do pull out here and there.  Obviously, these don't go on the same menu...  :smile:

An incredibly popular starter I do is a basic duck rillette in individual molds, with garlic, green peppercorns and brandy.  I serve it with a little potato and pear salad dressed simply with vinegar, oil and mustard, and a little mesclun with the same dressing.  Serve slices of toasted French bread.  This is great with a seafood main course.

I find that leg of lamb seems to be such a treat and rather impresses lots of people.  I use a semi-boneless one, spread a garlicky rosemary and mint pesto inside and out, tie it up, and roast it on a rack overtop mixed potatoes and artichoke slices/quarters tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.  For one thing, the scent that your guests get when the walk into the house is heavenly.

The last item that I've made a handful of times to raves is a Mario Batali recipe for braised veal breast that is allowed to cook down until no liquid remains and the outside is a rich, dark caramel.  The dish is finished with fresh mint and chilies to cut the richness, and cipolini are cooked in the pan drippings until caramalized, as well.  Pan is deglazed either with wine or water for the sauce.  Most people have no idea what veal breast is and how inexpensive it is, and this incredibly rich dish seems like heaven to them.  The tough thing for me is a wine match (any suggestions?) -- when I asked the folks on a wine forum, I was summarily branded an idiot for putting chilies and mint with veal and got no help.  They've just never tasted this!!   Served with garlic mashed potatoes every time so far.

Sorry for the long post - thinking of these dishes makes verbal.

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The last item that I've made a handful of times to raves is a Mario Batali recipe for braised veal breast that is allowed to cook down until no liquid remains and the outside is a rich, dark caramel.

Yum!  Thanks for that Terrie.  Great idea,  great post.   :biggrin:

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Osso Buco with Risotto Milanese. Delicious, and the osso buco is a one pot-ter.

Simplest dessert that always goes over:

On a sheet of puff pastry, horizontally place two bananas, sprinkle over some very good chocolate that's been whacked into pieces. Fold over the pastry. Egg wash.

Bake at 350 til golden brown (around 30 minutes).

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Sometimes I do a Moroccan dinner very similar to what Abagail described, and like Liza, I most often prepare osso buco with risotto Milanese, but when I have the time, I prepare an Indian feast:

Handmade Paratha, stuffed with a spicy beef mixture

Onion Pakora

Carrot filled Samosas

Soup -- often one of my favorites, which is butternut squash/red lentils, cooked with spices, then garnished with whole cumin and mustard seeds that are carmelized at the last second and poured into the soup for a huge burst of flavor (and also garnished with lots of cilantro)

Lamb curry (Vindaloo or Korma -- a good one is with ground almonds and spinach)

Eggplant that is broiled with a tangy tamarind glaze

Cauliflower braised with mustard seeds and cumin

Potatoes sauteed with a ton of spices, then finished with a yogurt/mint/cilantro sauce

Raita -- cukes, tomatoes, cumin and cilantro in yogurt

Rice, of course, first sauteed in lots of butter with whole cardomom pods and other spices, then steamed.

Condiments, many, but always including my home made mango chutney.

Note:  None of the above dishes are expensive to make, and I learned to cook this way when I was on a student's budget.  You can cook for 4 people for about $20.  Also, the last minute prep is minimal -- reheating, only, except for the spices garnishing the soup (30 seconds) and the rice, which takes about 2 minutes of actual time.

Dessert is probably the most expensive part. I am in agreement with Jeffrey Steingarten that desserts should not taste like face cream, so I'll do something else.  (I know that's not fair -- there are many interesting and delicious Indian desserts but these are not my forte).  When white peaches or good plums are in season, I simply cut out individual-sized circles of puff pastry, spread out the sliced fruit into pinwheels, sprinkle with cinammon sugar, bake and serve hot with cinnamon ice cream.  Or bowls of berries topped with Sabayon.  In the winter, I'll make a chocolate torte.  Dessert needs to be effortless and take less than 30 minutes of hands-on time.

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We'd barbeque tri tip with a dry rub of garlic powder, salt and black pepper.  It's absolutely fantastic, and also great for leftovers.  I also make a 3 layer cocoa cake with a cocoa cream cheese frosting with triple sec.  I use an entire box of Drost cocoa.  This satisfies most chocoholics.

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Half a duck per person. The legs as a confit, the breast seared and still pink in the center (natch). With a duck stock, red wine and green peppercorn reduction. Served with mashed potatoes with a ton of cream to finish off any arteries that are still open.

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The last item that I've made a handful of times to raves is a Mario Batali recipe for braised veal breast that is allowed to cook down until no liquid remains and the outside is a rich, dark caramel.  The dish is finished with fresh mint and chilies to cut the richness, and cipolini are cooked in the pan drippings until caramalized, as well.

Here's a link to the recipe, courtesy of Mario and Food Network:

http://www.foodtv.com/foodtv/recipe/0,6255,14951,00.html

Terrie, are cippollines like pearl onions only yellow?  Were you able to source these or did you have to substitute something else?

Erin
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Tuna steak...seasoned with kosher salt, black pepper.....garlic.....pecan crusted (my newest binge heh)...cooked just enough to crispen the crust and slightly sear the tuna...orange/fennel sauce...oj reduction, ground fennel seed, lil honey, lil salt, finished with soy margarine (cant use butter), maybe a couple rehydrated sundried   Sweet potato fries.  Probably a tomato salad on the side.

Dessert...either NY Cheesecake with semisweet maybe even bittersweet ganache coating...or choco/choco or choco/butterscotch bread pudding.

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Without question, cassoulet. My ingredients are perfectly standard, but I've spent several years fine-tuning the method to the point where I've never tasted better. (Nor, if they are to be believed, have my guests.) Every January I cook it for my own birthday party, for as many people as the dining table will accommodate. It takes five days and involves, first, a large pressure cooker, and finally one or more of a set of cassoles I brought back from Languedoc, where they are still made by the Not family.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Without question, cassoulet. My ingredients are perfectly standard, but I've spent several years fine-tuning the method to the point where I've never tasted better. (Nor, if they are to be believed, have my guests.) Every January I cook it for my own birthday party, for as many people as the dining table will accommodate. It takes five days and involves, first, a large pressure cooker, and finally one or more of a set of cassoles I brought back from Languedoc, where they are still made by the Not family.

Congratulations.  I think it's wonderful to do something that most people are familiar with and enjoy, but to do it very, very well.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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John Whiting: Without question, cassoulet. My ingredients are perfectly standard, but I've spent several years fine-tuning the method to the point where I've never tasted better. (Nor, if they are to be believed, have my guests.)

John, could you be persuaded to share your recipe and techniques? Fall is only a few months away and I would like to practice over the summer for a fall cassoulet dinner.

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Smoked Salmon pizza on dill pizza crust with North Dakota paddlefish caviar and chives.

Roasted curried apple soup

Filet of Pork Wellington with Cranberry-Rhubarb chutney and muenster cheese (inside the pastry) & with a very light au jus.

Sauteed brussel sprouts with pancetta and garlic bread crumbs.

Jasmine rice timbales with lemongrass and shallots.

Creme Brulee with red apple syrup.

A five-part cheese course with a bottle of Dolce (Far Niente dessert wine from California).

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Should have added the wine selection to the menu:

Pizza - NV Veuve Cliquot (Champagne, France)

Soup - mature chardonnay - 1985-88 Hargrave (Long Island) or to contrast the flavor - 1999 Murphy-Goode Sauvignon Blanc (Napa - California).

Entree - 1978 Jordan Cabernet (Sonoma) or 1988 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel (both California).

Dessert - I already mentioned the Dolce.

After dinner - Duckwalk Blueberry Port (Long Island)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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That would depend on the person's personality and his or her taste.

I'd have a hard time deciding between Italian and non-Italian.

If Italian, I'd have an even more difficult time deciding between northern Italian (which tends towards more French/Swiss/Germanic influences) and southern Italian (more of a Sicilian/Moorish/Mediterranean influence). It would also depend on the time of the year. If for example, it was winter, I'd probably shy away from pasta and make something more substantial.

Sorry for the vagaries...this is a glimpse into my thought processes. If this were a dinner party, it gets slightly more complex. I would strive for consistency of flavors, without unnecessary duplication of ingredients. I feel that the appetizer sets the tone or course for the entire meal. There's nothing more jarring IMO, than wildly contrasting flavors or dishes from one part of a meal to another. (Note from Soba: this is one reason why I feel that with very few exceptions, fusion restaurants are a poorly executed concept.)

In any event, simple is best, so here's an idea:

Chicken Broth with Fava Beans, Peas and Mint

Tagliatelle with Asparagus, Porcini and Herbs

Orange-Lemon Sabayon (ok, it's not exactly Italian, so sue me...=P)

Biscotti

If non-Italian, well...I'd probably go crazy, so I'd just as soon stick to tried and true classics like coq au vin, rice pilaf, and steamed vegetables finished with almond or cashew butter*.

*This is just softened unsalted butter that I've mixed with blanched, chopped almonds or pulverized, ground up cashews. Mix the the butter and the nuts thoroughly. You can choose to season the butter with a dash of white pepper (this is optional). Form the butter into a log or brick and chill. After the vegetables have been steamed, return them to a heated pan which already contains about one or two pats of the nut butter. Toss the vegetables together until coated with the butter, about 1 or 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

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