Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dinner Party

Lee and I are giving a dinner party tonight. I'm in a food and wine pairing class, so we're making the menu that is my final project for a few friends. They're in town for some fraternity stuff, which I am not really a part of, so while they're off, I figure I should probably start our carrot reduction, since it takes hours and there's only hours until we serve it. I call him to see if he wants me to start it and what exactly I should do, since I wasn't home when he made it the first time. He said to chop the carrots into little pieces. We've already learned that the kitchen implements and I don't get along. Lee gets along with the kitchen. He makes culinary masterpieces that delight the senses and tantalize the taste buds. I burn broccoli and make glue when I'm trying to make gravy. Anyway, engineers are problem solvers, and so I solved the problem of getting the carrots into little bits so the blender doesn't choke on them:


And we got a funny looking carrot in the batch too, so I put that in the picture. The dinner party:


Originally uploaded by UnFrogged
We started with sea scallops and Terra Exotic chips with a carrot reduction flavored with anise, salt and pepper. A blenderfull of carrots was pureed with a cup of water and a splash of orange juice. This was left on the stove for hours until it looked powdery and had a consistency somewhere between baby food and clay. The reduction was left thick as a dip for the chips, and cream was added to thin it for the scallops. Each end of the scallops was dipped in an anise/salt/pepper rub and pan seared so it was still juicy on the inside. The plating had some chips stuck into the dip so as to keep them out of the scallop juices and therefore still crunchy. Martini and Rossi Asti was paired with this course. Originally, we were going to go with Iron Horse Brut, but when taste testing, it was too dry for the sweetness of the carrot/anise sauce.

Salad Course
Originally uploaded by UnFrogged
The salad course was just a plain salad to showcase the pairing of the wine and vinaigrette, but plated to keep it fancy. A row of cucumbers, Boston lettuce piled on top, and some carrots next to the greenery with Newman's Own Raspberry and Walnut Vinaigrette was paired with Dievole Tuscan Rosato. This pairing was considered by the guests to be the most interesting, because the wine and salad took on different flavors when tasted together. The tanginess went away and the fruit flavors were brought out in both wine and dressing.

Originally uploaded by UnFrogged
The entree was pork tenderloin, roasted and cut into medallions, with a habanero jerk sauce, chipotle mashed sweet potatoes, and sweet corn on the cob. The jerk sauce is one of Lee's favorite, most made recipes. He calls it the sauce of happiness. It's good, but usually pretty spicy. The sweet potatoes are mashed with some cream and some chipotle peppers, and have a very smoky flavor but smooth texture. We were going to grill the corn, but the grill is nearly out of gas and we didn't want to risk it. We're not going to refill the whole propane tank since we'll be moving shortly. The wine pairing to go with this was Drylands, a Pinot Noir from New Zealand. I was trying to go with a wine that could handle the smokiness of the potatoes and the spiciness of the sauce while not overpowering the corn and the pork. This was also the only completely untested pairing, and I was quite happy with how it came out.

Originally uploaded by UnFrogged
For dessert, we had Bananas Foster on Perry's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Nilla Wafers. I made this dish five times the week before, attempting to perfect the recipe. I've learned a bunch of what not to do and got it really good once. You need bananas to be on the far side of ripe, with about 2 Tb butter, 3 Tb brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg for the sauce. Melt the butter, sugar, and spices in a large pan on low heat (3/9 on our stovetop) until bubbling. Put 4 large bananas (split lengthwise and then cut each half into four pieces) into the sauce and cook about 5 minutes per side. Add 1/4 cup rum and light. Pour over ice cream. This was paired with Blandy's Rainwater Madeira, a dessert beverage that went really well with the Bananas Foster. I did not like it on its own, or with the bananas, but it did pair well.

And that was my lovely dinner party. Delicious food, good friends, and copious amounts of alcohol.

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