DINNER 356: Sunday, December 24, 2006

As you saw in yesterday’s blog post, here is the menu we served for Christmas Eve. Here, I’ve expanded it to include the wines we served.

My mother & father joined us, along with Paul, and Deb, two close friends. After Wendy & I went shopping Wednesday evening, I worked much of Saturday on preparing for the meal. Prep was pretty easy because I’d thought out a timeline, and everything went according to plan.

Goat Cheese & Marinara, Crostini
de Marques Gelida Sparkling Wine, 2001
I made the crostini at home, so they were crunchy and peppery. Delicious. The richness of the goat cheese and marinara were a nice foil for the sparkling wine.

Jonah Crab Salad
Asparagus and Cream Cheese in Puff Pastry
Verget Pouilly-Fuisse, 2005
This was a pretty presentation — on a small rectangular plate, I built the crab stack, pretty with the red salad, white crab, and green avocado cream, on the left side and put two discs of the asparagus & cream cheese puff pastry on the right.

Apple and Chestnut Soup, Spiced Cream
Crios de Susana Balbo Rose of Malbec, 2005
Our only ‘miss’ of the evening with wines — the 2005 Verget Pouilly-Fuisse we’d planned to serve just did not pair well with this soup — all the warmth was taken away from the soup by the wine. Wendy pulled the Rose of Malbec and it paired nicely.

Shrimp, Mushroom Ravioli, Sage Browned Butter
Verget Pouilly-Fuisse, 2005
When Wendy tried one of these ravioli while I was preparing it, she thought they were plain and somewhat boring. However, the addition of the sage browned butter seemed to bring this dish alive for her.

Seared Foie Gras and Poached Pears on Brioche, Moscato Glace
Mondavi Moscato d’Oro, 2005
My personal favorite dish of the evening. I poached Bosc pears in Moscato, sugar, orange rind, and spices. Once they were soft, I removed the pears and chilled them while I strained and reduced the poaching liquid by about 80%, down to a nice glaze. At service, we cut and toasted brioche rounds, cut thin fan-shaped slices of the pears, and seared the foie gras briefly on a very hot griddle. Assembly was putting the foie on top of the brioche (so it could soak up the foie juices), fanned the pears out around, and topped with the warmed glaze.

Pork Tenderloin with Spiced Port Sauce
All-Crust Potato Gratins
Brussels Sprouts with Pecorino and Walnuts
Tres Picos Borsao Garnachia, 2004
Three new recipes, and three successes. The pork tenderloin was seared, wrapped, and marinated overnight before it was cooked sous vide. Having the pork cooking on its own with no chance of overcooking allowed me to turn my attention to other items and was really a load off my mind. Plus, the flavors were top notch and the meat was exquisitely tender. The spiced port sauce was a wonderful compliment. The gratin was a thin layer of potato gratin that was flashed under the broiler at service to make it hot and very crispy. Really tasty and good textural contrast with the tender pork. Wendy & I really like Brussels Sprouts prepared well, and this preparation was very nice — toasted walnuts provided a crunchy counterpoint to the salty tang of the pecorino.

Cheese course — Epossies, Manchego, Pont-L’Eveque, and Cambozola.
Jonsey Old Tawny Port
I served individual cheese plates with brunoise of macerated pear. The Epossies is Wendy’s favorite cheese and it looked very nice on the silver spoons we used to present it.

Petit fours, white chocolate raspberry mousse in chocolate cups
Elio Perrone Clarte Moscato d’Asti, 2005
Wendy worked very hard to make beautiful petit fours and, boy, did she succeed! She also made a white chocolate raspberry mousse using a raspberry coulis I made for her, and the mousse was really good. Paul brought some sinful chocolate chip cream-cheese chocolate muffins that we added to the plate to take it over the top.

Chocolate-covered grapes
Elio Perrone Clarte Moscato d’Asti, 2005
These grapes are easy to churn out and are really a fun way to end an evening. Everyone thinks they’re being served rich, heavy chocolate truffles, but when they bite into one and get the squirt of flavor, they’re delighted and manage to find room to eat a few, even after the preceeding courses.

It was a great night. Wendy & I had a lot of fun preparing the meal for everyone!


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