Reflections on Dinner
Dinner on Saturday was pretty good. Here is a PDF of the menu that I finally settled on.
Friday I shopped and prepared a couple things, specifically the English Summer Pudding and the pasta dough. Saturday started at 6AM when my house keeper came to clean and my cooking prep started at 7AM. I also had to step out to go shopping to pick up the freshest seafood I could. Here was my schedule:
This was a busy and tiring day, but it gave me some good experience in budgeting my time and also in juggling a lot of tasks. For the first time, I used just about every kitchen gadget I have, except for my can opener (that's a good thing!) Here's a partial list of various gadgets and cooking tools I used (not including the mundane stuff like spatulas):
- Time - Recipe - Task
- 7:00 - Pasta - Make Pasta
- 9:00 - Shopping
- 11:00 - Misc - Mise en Place
- 11:30 - Clams - Wash
- 12:00 - Puffs - Make Batter
- 12:30 - Hollandaise - Make
- 1:00 - Pancakes - Make Compote
- 1:30 - Pancakes - Make Batter
- 2:00 - Salmon - Make Filling
- 2:30 - Pancakes - Beat Egg Whites
- 3:00 - Mushrooms - Sautee Mushrooms
- 3:15 - Duck - Poach Gooseberries
- 3:30 - Pancakes - Cook Pancakes
- 4:00 - Duck - Make Sauce
- 5:00 - Puffs - Prepare Batter
- 5:30 - Pasta - Boil Water
- 5:45 - Puffs - Bake
- 6:00 - Salmon - Make Parcel
- 6:15 - Duck - Score & Season
- 6:30 - Clams - Steam
- 6:30 - Duck - Render
- 6:30 - Salmon - Bake
- 6:45 - Mushrooms - Cook Pasta
- 7:00 - Clams - Cook Pasta
- 7:00 - Duck - Fry Duck
- 7:15 - Duck - Bake
- 7:30 - Duck Greens - Wilt
- 8:00 - Pudding - Whip Cream
I got a lot of compliments, more than usual, but honestly I'm still a bit disappointed in a few things. I'm glad people enjoyed it, but I'm always learning more and hope that I'll continue to get better. Here are the things that bugged me:
- Almost every pot and pan that I own
- Every mixing bowl that I own
- Every baking sheet that I own
- Food Processor
- Salad Spinner
- Pasta Maker
- Electric Hand Mixer
- Citrus Reamer
- Piping Bag
- Knife Sharpener and Steel
- Mortar and Pestle
- Spice Grinder
- Pastry Board, Rolling Pin, Pastry Brush
Of course, there were also some good things:
- Mushrooms - Caputo's let me down as the crimini, button and portobella mushrooms they had were all sub-standard. Whole foods had better ones but at an outrageous cost that I couldn't justify, hence I ended up with the Japanese mushroom mix from Mitsuwa that didn't end up tasting the way I wanted
- Duck - This was by far the most expensive single item and it was a lot of trouble tracking down a store that had them in stock (Meeske's Prime Meats in Barrington). I asked for 8 but they could only find 4, but when I looked at the price, I decided that 4 was enough. Next time I should just buy whole duck (frozen at Whole Foods or fresh from Chinatown) and butcher them myself. Then I could render out the fat and make duck fat fries too. Also I left these in the oven too long so they came out medium-well instead of medium-rare.
- Currant Sauce - This was supposed to be gooseberry sauce but I couldn't find any. Luckily Caputo's had white currants, which even Whole Foods didn't have. Alas, I used an old Smoking Loon Cabernet as a base for the sauce and didn't really like it. I also used a Turkish honey with heavy floral notes that I thought ended up too pronounced in the final sauce. My guests said they liked the sauce but I have to say I really did not.
- Gougeres - This is a new version of this recipe and I thought they came out a bit pasty and not cheesy enough. I might have to develop a hybrid with the other recipe I've used
- Mint Hollandaise - I used EVOO instead of regular OO or butter. I felt the olive flavors were a little too strong and interfered with the egg and mint flavors
- Rhubarb Pancakes - I'm annoyed at my fridge b/c it doesn't get cold enough so the ice cream was way too soft
- Summer Pudding - I used Shoku white bread from Pastry House Hippo with is extremely soft, but perhaps too soft for a pudding. I should have gotten their Danish Bread which would have held up better and added some more flavor, like the Brioche that Gordon Ramsey suggested as an alternate.
- Belgian Endive (Chicory) - Apparently these are pretty bitter and sauteing them didn't change that
So, it was quite a busy and tiring weekend but it was good I'm glad my guests enjoyed themselves.
- Whole Foods' seafood department was very helpful. They suggested Manila Clams which are smaller than what they had in stock and offered to order some up for me, which I did. They also recommended wild caught salmon which they consider better and cheaper as well.
- Tom's Farm on Lake (Route 20) in Hanover Park had the most amazing ripe strawberries. When I brought them home, my car and my kitchen were filled with the most lovely smell of fresh, ripe strawberries
- Despite over-cooking the duck breasts and using an extremely simple spice rub (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes) it came out delicious. Next time I'll get a whole duck which should be cheaper and much more versatile.
- I'm very happy with the egg pasta recipe from Gordon Ramsey and thought it turned out quite well. I made 2 Kg of pasta and only used one for the dinner so I have a good amount left for future use
- With the leftover arugula, basil, parsley, Parmagiana Reggiano and some almonds I had in the closet I made a tasty pesto sauce, perfect for my leftover pasta
08/17/2009 10:07 PM in Cooking, Dessert, Food, Recipes, Reviews, Shopping | Total Comments: (13)
Link To This Blargh
No wonder you had so much washing & clean-up to take care of. Nice work staying on schedule, though.
Submitted by Dan on 08/17/2009 11:42 PM
I still ended up behind, I wanted to serve food by 7:00 but it didn't happen until 7:30...
Submitted by filbert on 08/18/2009 06:51 PM
At least you weren't chewed out by Chef Ramsay (or didn't have any points count like in Top Chef) for being a little late. As for falling behind 30 minutes, it takes longer to cook a deep-dish pizza, yes? Half an hour's no biggie.
Submitted by Dan on 08/18/2009 09:42 PM
AFAICT you've covreed all the bases with this answer!
Submitted by WJUHFQooVslRSUducwd on 04/22/2011 08:20 PM
Hello. And Bye.
Submitted by blekknolo on 01/17/2012 10:36 PM
Submitted by SDbkvaiFE on 10/04/2016 10:26 AM
Submitted by zdqquqFTbQHV on 10/04/2016 02:03 PM
Submitted by zdqquqFTbQHV on 10/04/2016 02:03 PM
Submitted by FwnKqoAU on 10/04/2016 04:52 PM
Submitted by cTUrtRKsebXxnS on 10/04/2016 07:49 PM
Submitted by yWNTvvyZkxd on 10/04/2016 10:44 PM
Submitted by cMgMelvoQkckGyqK on 10/05/2016 01:14 AM
Submitted by EQHIvsFiNLX on 10/05/2016 03:15 AM