Monday, January 21, 2008

Unfun Party Planning

I am planning an un-fun party. We are planning a cocktail party for T's office, or at least the 20-30 that he deals with the most. And I actually hope that they will have fun, but as T is the boss, this falls into the "mandatory fun" type of events that people go to not because they enjoy them but because they have to. Since we didn't get a chance to do a holiday party (neither Christmas nor New Years nor any other December-scheduled event that the EEO trouble-makers keep complaining is getting second-fiddled), we are going to have a Chinese New Year party. It allows us to welcome people into the new year, kind of, and avoids any "you are discriminating against the Unity celebration for Zimbabweans on Dec 22."

As this is going to be, we estimate, 40-50 people this will be the biggest party I have ever thrown. I'm considering renting glassware and plates, so that I don't have to do paper. But not sure yet. And while I love Asian food, of many kinds, I don't think this crowd will be particularly fond of things like whole fish cooked in salt, squid appetizers, or duck tongues, which my friend insists are known to bring longevity and contain lots of antioxidants.

So, planning is still in progress, so I'll let you know what we decide. I'm starting to experiment. Or, I would experiment if the kitchen wasn't so dang cold. So instead I'll watch FoodTV, make some notes, and get ready for my trip next week. Any ideas on what types of food one would make for the year of the rat?.......ratatouille?

Monday, January 14, 2008

French Classic

French cuisine, especially the deserts and the seafood dishes, have an aura of being difficult and complicated, and......well........snotty. So, pour yourself a glass of wine Ms Child and let me show you how we do it at my house......

Proscutto Wrapped Zucchini
Mini Peppers Stuffed with Anduille Sausage
Lobster Thermador
Braised Lemon Thyme Game Hen
Potatoes Florentine
Chocolate Espresso Tort

My crowning achievements were the Lobster Thermador and the Chocolate Espresso Tort. For the tort I actually went through several cakes to get them right, and ended with one that was just tight enough to stand up to the 3 layers, but was still fairly fluffy and tender. The espresso buttercream was done in as a traditional French Buttercream with separated eggs, simple syrup, heating, cooling, whipping, folding, and repeating for several iterations. The result was one of the most luscious buttercreams I have ever tasted. Actually better than our wedding cake.....

I used to think that the richest seafood dish I had ever had was the Crab Imperial at Palace Cafe in New Orleans. But I think now that I have actually done Lobster Thermidor, the classic (read long, difficult, complex, and rather snotty) way, I think I have a new winner. I couldn't get pre-cooked lobster meat, so I steamed my own tails, made lobster stock, made the roux, sauteed the mushrooms, cooked in the brandy, assembled, bakes, replated, and finally topped with Parmesan cheese. It was the most decadent seafood dish I have ever eaten, and I have to say, I was pretty impressed.

The game hens and the popovers came out fine. The potatoes florentine were a little under cooked. So, don't think I've completely lost focus on my own meager talents. But I do have to say that I was impressed with the tort and the thermidor. And I think our guest were too.

So, what do you think Ms Child? Do I get a gold star for this one?