I have been busy as of late due to a new full-time job, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. The cooking has continued, I just haven’t had the time to write about it. When I realized a month had gone by without my posting about the annual birthday dinner for She Who Must Be Obeyed I figured it was time to get back to a semi-regular posting schedule.
This year’s menu wasn’t completely new, but rather an assemblage of dishes I had tried out earlier along with one or two experiments. If some of these seem familiar to regular readers, it’s because they are.
A trio of meat from the Cabinet of Doctor Charcuterie: duck prosciutto, lonza, and finocchiona, served with whole grain mustard, olives, pickled garlic scapes, and olive biscuits.
Tuna, Hibiscus, Soy
This is the same first course I served a month previously, repeated at the request of She Who. Single bites of English cucumber and tuna belly were topped with a hibiscus/ginger/lime sphere, soy pudding (solidified soy), radish, and daikon sprout. Accompanied by a Rihaku Niguri “Dreamy Clouds” Tokubetsu Junmai sake.
Créme fraiche, chive
Whipped créme fraiche with lime, roasted potato ice cream, caviar, potato chip, and chive batons. This recipe from Eleven Madison Park (EMP) exactly mimics the flavors of a traditional caviar service. Served with a Billecart-Salmon brut reserve.
Egg, miso butter
Asparagus served over shiro miso butter, topped with a slow-poached egg and brioche croutons. Served with a 2004 Jakob Jung Riesling trocken.
Peas, bacon emulsion
Similar to the duck roulade I’ve served before, this was chicken breast wrapped in swiss chard and cooked sous vide. The bacon emulsion is bacon fat, veal stock, sherry vinegar, and a bit of xanthan gum to prevent it from splitting. The peas – a preparation I had tried at Hungry Mother just a week previously – are pea puree topped with sautéed peas, shallots, and pea shoots.
A trio of local cheeses (left to right): Nettle Meadow Kunik (mold-ripened goat’s milk), Old Chatham Ewe’s Blue (sheep’s milk Roquefort), and Cobb Hill Ascutney Mountain (raw cow’s milk). Accompanied by brioche toast and cranberry chutney.
Dulce de leche, sorbet
Another EMP recipe, this dessert showcases different preparations of chocolate (dehydrated chocolate mousse, frozen chocolate foam, aerated chocolate, caramelized white chocolate sorbet) and milk (dehydrated milk foam, browned milk solids, dulce de leche, créme fraiche, frozen whipped cream). Served with a Graham 20 year port.
Despite its apparent complexity, this menu was the least stressful dinner I’ve cooked in a while. With the exception of the peas, which had to be cooked a la minute, all of the components were prepared ahead of time. I still had to plate each course, but I spent significantly less time in the kitchen during the actual dinner. Not every meal will work out that way, but I will be considering a balance of do-ahead and immediate when I plan future menus.