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21 for 21 in 21 for my 21st


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So I'm finally taking the crazy plunge and going ahead with this. On the 29th of July (sadly, people wern't available on the 21st), I'm having my belated 21st birthday celebration with almost an entire day of cooking, eating, drinking and celebrating. I'm going to attempt to cook 21 dishes of food for 21 guests over the course of 21 hours.

The plan is to start at 7am in the morning with breakfast, cook a steady stream of food for lunch and dinner till about 10pm, go out on the town and get blind stinking drunk and then come back at 4am and cook some more post-drinking greasy food. People are free to pop in and out as they wish and everyone is welcome to join in the cooking frenzy.

The fact that I'm doing this while also writing my Masters thesis and planning to move halfway around the world 2 weeks after that just adds to the craziness but it will probably be the last time I'll see many of these people for quite some time so I want it to be something special.

I'll keep updates about the plans for the day as the thing evolves. and I would love to get feedback from the community on how to best run this.

PS: I am a guy.

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I follow all of your posts with glee, and I am glad that you will be sharing this occasion with us on eGullet. Kudos to you on all of your recent happy developments!

Edited by Rebecca263 (log)

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Happy Birthday! Can't wait to see everything! I'll bet you get comments about cooking on your birthday. I sure did. I cooked my breakfast (fried eggs, tater tots :laugh:, country ham and brioche) because I had the day off and it was a treat to be able to cook and everyone acted like I was crazy! I am also a July baby (not 21, though - 47 :blink:).

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To fill in a bit of detail about my plans:

Can anybody tell me what the black truffle season will be like at that time of the year? One of the things I'm toying with is to cook some ultimately decadent burgers at 4am after a hard nights drinking. Wagyu mince, speck, fontina cheese, a fried free range egg and some shavings of black truffles sounds like just the thing after a hard nights drinking. I haven't been keeping up with truffle news. By memory, I recall the Alba Winter truffle season was abysmal but nothing about Perigord.

Other things I'm almost definately doing:

Breakfast is probably going to be sourdough pancakes, with either strawberries or blueberries and some canadian maple syrup.

After that, I want to dive into a loaf of fresh sourdough bread straight out of the oven with some Le Escuer (or however it's pronouced) butter which I've been eyeing for over a year but could never justify buying at $8 for 125gm.

I want to, at some point, make my "ultimate bar snack" which is a mixture of freshly fried potato chips fried in lamb and duck fat, roasted almonds, lamb cracklings and strips of crispy duck skin, all coated with a light powder of sea salt/black pepper/chilli powder/lime zest.

I want to do some make your own pizzas for dinner. The dough will be pre prepped and people are just free to put whatever crazy combo they want on there.

I want to do fresh pasta from scratch on the day. People get a chance to knead the dough, roll it out and cut it and have a giant pasta making party. Dont know what I'll do with it, maybe a ravioli of peas and ricotta or mayby just boiled, browned in a little butter and with black truffles shaved over the top.

I want to see if I can get a wagyu brisket and slow cook it for the entire morning and have it for lunch but I have no idea how one should cook brisket to best accentuate the silky decadence of Wagyu.

I want to do some roasted pita and other biscuit sort of things with a hummus dip, roasted red pepper dip and guacamole so people will have something to munch on in between the torrential onslaught of food.

I want to do some fresh sydney rock oysters with a verjus granite which I had as an amuse once and fell in love with.

I want to do Coca Cola chicken which was always a special childhood dish.

I want to do a rack of lamb with some chimchurri sauce over some briefly wilted baby spinach and arugula and walnuts. edit: Need a killer recipe for Chimchurri.

I want to sear some duck breasts and then thinly slice them and put them on top of an asian inspired salad with a killer dressing. Any suggestions for recipes?

I want a soup which is a layer of creamed corn on the bottom, then a spicy lobster bisque and finally topped with a hazelnut/wild mushroom foam. All in a dematisse. I've been dreaming about this for quite a while and it just seems so right. I have NFI how I would make the foam though.

I want to do my signature miso-pumpkin soup with ginger and sesame which has such a silky, sexy flavour which will leave you guessing as to how it was made if you didn't know.

For desserts, I definately want an flight of sorbets for a palate cleanser.

I want to do a 1 bite creme brulee where I get chinese ceramic soup spoons and fill with custard a la minute and cover with some sugar and then gently flame the top. One bite of custardy goodness is all your getting but I want it to pack a serious punch.

I want to do something with chocolate but I don't know what. I was thinking of doing deeply rich chocolate truffle to eat either before or after the brulee . But the thought of it now bores me. I can't think off the top of my head a deeply sexy chocolate dessert which could be prepped well ahead without needing 21 ramekins.

Some things I'm still up in the air about:

Scallops, somehow. I can't think off the top of my head what works best.

Osso Bucco or Boeuf Borguignon, not sure which.

A Thai chicken soup

possibly a lamb curry or braised lamb shanks of some sort.

A Ceviche of some kind

As I said earlier, this is going to be the type of food that I love to cook. Occasional bits of flair but, more fundamentally, that deeply satisfying mix of ingredients which just becomes so inherently right.

I'll post up more ideas as inspiration strikes. As with all things of this nature, new ideas will pop up all the time and I doubt the final menu is going to look anything like this. But I'll keep you updated as to how the menu will change.

Edited by Shalmanese (log)

PS: I am a guy.

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Wow, goddamn. !7 definates already and I'm still far too light on the dessert side. I dunno, I'm out of inspiration on the dessert side. Everything I want to do is going to require far too many ramekins or ring molds or stuff to be practical.

PS: I am a guy.

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Everything sounds incredible....that is going to be some serious eating & cooking. One thing about the burger though, in my experience, at 4 am after a hard nights drinking, those are usually the only times when things like a donar kebab fron our local Abrakebabra or a "special" (chips fried rice & curry sauce) from the grotty Chinese are appealing and delicious. My point being, do you really want to use such decandant and expensve ingredients for food for people at a time when a bargain bucket from KFC would probably taste like heaven? Or maybe it's just me!!!

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. . . a mixture of freshly fried potato chips fried in lamb and duck fat, roasted almonds, lamb cracklings and strips of crispy duck skin, all coated with a light powder of sea salt/black pepper/chilli powder/lime zest.

No diving, perhaps, but might a nice refined lady say Wallow?

This all sounds too good to be true. And I've been following your posts and pics since you joined, and had NO IDEA you were one of the Young'uns!!! You never referred to age or school that I remember, and the caliber of your cooking led to a belief that you were much older than you are.

So now we have at least FOUR Wunderkinds, all spreading the good cooking gospel from Australia to NY to NJ to TX---what a treat for all us readers, and what a DAY for the group of friends!!!

Your birthday promises to be a MAKE-Happy one, indeed. (envy smilie)

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Wow, goddamn. !7 definates already and I'm still far too light on the dessert side. I dunno, I'm out of inspiration on the dessert side. Everything I want to do is going to require far too many ramekins or ring molds or stuff to be practical.

I could give you some ideas about the dessert, if you'd like. You mentioned chocolate--chocolate ganache tarts are easy to do and plate. I try to do individual tarts and things whenever possible, but like you mentioned, it is difficult without buying a ton of equipment. You could do a bunch of accompaniments to dress up the tart slices...or even have a dessert bar where the guests can choose from a bunch of sauces, and toppings for their own tart.

Another option is profiteroles, which can easily serve a crowd. You could fill them with anything--homemade ice-cream or any sort of pastry cream, top with chocolate sauce, and sprinkle with candied nuts.

You could also do chocolate napoleons--make your own chocolate puff pastry, bake and slice into triangles, and layer it with whatever you want. That way, you can still have a "fancy" individual dessert without having to buy additional molds/rings.

Or, since it IS your birthday, how about a chocolate birthday cake? I love making cakes because there's so many different possibilities with frostings, fillings, ganache, decorations...

Edited by Ling (log)
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Holy hell Shalmanese! You friends are in for the most amazing day- very lucky group.

All of your ideas sound fantastic. Another idea for the drunken munchies may be the best, most decadent of grilled cheese samiches- croque madame- cheese, ham and an egg. yum!

happy birthday girl! looking forward to having you in our part of the world.

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This all sounds too good to be true.  And I've been following your posts and pics since you joined, and had NO IDEA you were one of the Young'uns!!!  You never referred to age or school that I remember, and the caliber of your cooking led to a belief that you were much older than you are.

Yeah, I don't generally talk about my age online unless it's relevant.

I missed something.............where are you moving to?

I'll be leaving Sydney on August 19th and arrive in Seattle, Washington on Sept 4th.

I could give you some ideas about the dessert, if you'd like. You mentioned chocolate--chocolate ganache tarts are easy to do and plate. I try to do individual tarts and things whenever possible, but  like you mentioned, it is difficult without buying a ton of equipment. You could do a bunch of accompaniments to dress up the tart slices...or even have a dessert bar where the guests can choose from a bunch of sauces, and toppings for their own tart.

Another option is profiteroles, which can easily serve a crowd. You could fill them with anything--homemade ice-cream or any sort of pastry cream, top with chocolate sauce, and sprinkle with candied nuts.

You could also do chocolate napoleons--make your own chocolate puff pastry, bake and slice into triangles, and layer it with whatever you want. That way, you can still have a "fancy" individual dessert without having to buy additional molds/rings.

Or, since it IS your birthday, how about a chocolate birthday cake? I love making cakes because there's so many different possibilities with frostings, fillings, ganache, decorations...

I'm adamantly opposed to cake, don't ask me why. I've documented my problems with choux dough/ I guess I could do a rich chocolate slice or sorts.

happy birthday girl! looking forward to having you in our part of the world.

I'm a dude.

Wow. I'm curious how much money and man-hours of labor this day is going to consume.

I don't know yet. I'm budgeting about $50 AUD (~$40 USD) per person not including alcohol but I think I might get under that. Man hours? I've got a few hours on wednesday, all of friday and all of saturday set aside for this. It's probably going to take 100 or so man hours in total but I'm expecting friends to help pitch in.

edit: I'll keep a track of spending and put a detailed costing up here.

Edited by Shalmanese (log)

PS: I am a guy.

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Truffles are set. Spoke on the phone with the snooty gourmet store today. The european truffle season hasn't started yet but the Western Australian truffles are doing well. $2300AUD/kg which isn't even $1800USD. A nice surprise. Hopefully, they'll be as pungent as the european versions. They're from french stock so they should be good.

OTOH, I can't seem to find a decent place to do equipment hire. Plates, cutlery, glassware, stuff like that. I'm going to phone some caterers tomorrow but it looks like they just handle boring round white plates and I want something a bit snazzier. We'll see.

Keep you updated as the thing progresses.

PS: I am a guy.

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I want to, at some point, make my "ultimate bar snack" which is a mixture of freshly fried potato chips fried in lamb and duck fat, roasted almonds, lamb cracklings and strips of crispy duck skin, all coated with a light powder of sea salt/black pepper/chilli powder/lime zest.

I want this. Right now. <sob...as I'm stuck in the office with no hope of a decent snack for hours...>

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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Wagyu brisket is ordered, right now, I have 2 1.8kg briskets but I'm thinking that is probably too much so I might drop it down to 1. I also ordered 1/2 a kg of wagyu mince. I might supplement that with another 1/2 a kg or so of good sirloin mince just to cut the richness down to an acceptable level. Also, this way it gives me a easy way to get the amounts right. I'm having a hard time figuring out just exactly how much food I'm going to need.

also, just talked to a caterer. Looks like I can do about $80c or so per plate, $50c - $1 or so per glass and $50c or so per PIECE of cutlery. I don't know why cutlery would be so expensive.

Anyway, I'm thinking of getting maybe 4 different sets of plates to rotate through the day and maybe a mix of 50 assorted glasses. I don't know about cutlery though, I think I might have enough lying around if I ask a couple of friends to donate their set for the day. That works out to about $5 or $6 per person so $100 all up. I'll add another $50 or so for all the bigger serving pieces

Total budget so far:

Truffles, 50 - 60gm - $150

Wagyu Brisket, 3kg - $25

Wagyu Mince - 500gm - $10

Equipment hire - $150

edit: Would appreciate a good recipe for brisket, I've never cooked it before. Still need to figure out what to do with the duck breast and a chimchurri sauce for the lamb. Any suggestions for the rest of the menu is also highly appreciated. It also looks like I can get ramekins from this place as well so any desserts that require ramekins but not a la minute oven cooking would also be good.

Edited by Shalmanese (log)

PS: I am a guy.

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Ah yes, keep on forgetting. In light of the truffles, I'm going to sit the truffles in some vianone nano rice overnight and make a wild mushroom risotto as well. Just need to find a decent source of mushrooms in Australia :P.

Edited by Shalmanese (log)

PS: I am a guy.

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Argh, how could I forget Thomas Keller's carrot soup. Thats a definate fixture on the menu. So now something else has to be bumped off, how frustrating.

Who would have thought it would be so hard to pare a meal down to just 21 dishes?

Right now, I think I've got a fairly good mix.

2 beef (wagyu burgers and wagyu brisket), 2 poultry (Coca Cola Chicken and Duck breast), 3 seafood (ceviche, oysters and scallops) and 2 lamb (shanks & rack). Then theres the ultimate bar snack (duck & lamb). So thats 10/21 dishes which are predominantly meat and I can't really face cutting a single one of them.

Then I have 5 which are pure vegetarian, my hummus/guac/red pepper dips with pita, carrot soup, ravioli with ricotta and peas, mushroom/truffle risotto and Pumpkin, Miso, Sesame and Ginger soup.

I have 3 desserts only and I want to find a way to squeeze a 4th in there. A sorbet, a chocolate based one yet to be determined and a creme brulee. I want to find a way to add a bread & butter pudding in there was well.

Pizza will be both veg and meat. Then theres my fresh bread and breakfast. Theres 21. And there were still so many good things that were cut out :(.

Bread and butter pudding, the lobster soup, thai soup, osso buco... argh, this is torture. Maybe I can classify my dips and bread as "side dishes" and therefore allow me to cram the pudding in there and still have room for 1 more when inspiration strikes. This thing is driving me crazy :P.

PS: I am a guy.

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Don't go crazy until AFTER we've seen the post party photos! I think that you can cut 2 meat dishes and still do well in that department. That will leave you some leeway for other things. Also, in my world, desserts and breads don't count! They're essentials, so I see them as ACCOMPANIMENTS to the 21!

More Than Salt

Visit Our Cape Coop Blog

Cure Cutaneous Lymphoma

Join the DarkSide---------------------------> DarkSide Member #006-03-09-06

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I don't know why cutlery would be so expensive.

My guess is that it gets lost or stolen more easily than larger items like plates.

This is going to be an epic 21st - I haven't given much thought about what I'm going to do for mine, but I can guarantee it will not be this intense. Good luck!

Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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I don't know why cutlery would be so expensive.

My guess is that it gets lost or stolen more easily than larger items like plates.

This is going to be an epic 21st - I haven't given much thought about what I'm going to do for mine, but I can guarantee it will not be this intense. Good luck!

But if it's stolen, then I have to pay a replacement fee so I dont think thats it.

PS: I am a guy.

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