This past weekend, Joseph and I hosted an event at our supper club, Stuyvesant. This has become an at least once a month event, where we usually serve our guests six courses (with a few extras) and a cocktail. The menu from this past weekend is below:
Amuse: Cheese plate. Wheat bread with homemade mascarpone, honey foam, fried sage.
Appetizer: Tortellini in Brodo. Fresh pasta, homemade ricotta, chicken jus gel, heirloom tomato confit, Provençal olive, olive oil.
Fish: Lobster boil. Lobster, tomato water with fresh herbs, roasted corn, fried crackling, Sriracha crème fraiche.
Palate Cleanser: Cocktail sorbet. Asti and Elderflower liqueur.
Meat: Duck two ways. Duck breast, stone fruit, cucumber and tart apple slaw, crème fraiche and mint, raspberry gastrique. Duck mousse, seeded onion bread, new pickle.
Dessert: Bread pudding, salted caramel ice cream, almond, hazelnut and pecan praline, brandy apple compote
Cocktail: Kir royal
Clearly, these events are a lot of work, but it is incredibly fulfilling to do it. It’s a chance for us to make dishes that we normally would never have made, and to develop recipes and menus.
And, the biggest pay off is that we get to invite people into our home and feed them. There is something incredibly special about making an entire meal from scratch and sharing it with friends both old and new. The feeling of accomplishment and happiness in having shared our joy and enthusiasm for food with others usually hits me as we clean up after the meal, and it makes me realized how worth it the work is.
From the menu above, our recipe for duck pate:
3/4 lb. duck livers
1/2 c Vidalia onion
3 cloves garlic
1/4 c dried apricot
1/3 c dried cherries
1/4 c sundried tomatoes
1/3 c balsamic vinegar
1/3 c port wine
1 Tbs. brown sugar
4 Tbs. Butter
Splash of cream
Sprig of fresh rosemary
Sprig of fresh thyme
Making a pate or mousse can be relative simple. This is a basic recipe that you can alter in many ways to achieve different outcomes and flavors. I use the same base for making chicken liver pate, as well.
Start by heating some olive oil in a pan and add fresh herbs. After about a minute, add onion, garlic and any other aromatics you like, such as ginger or other herbs. Often, I will throw some bacon or other tasty pork products (OTPP) into the pan as well to render some fat and add flavor.
Cook down the aromatics for a bit, then add the livers and dried fruit. You can also add mushrooms or other vegetables that work well in pate. I let this cook for a few minutes, until the livers are just undercooked, then I add the rest of the ingredients except the cream, which I throw in right at the end. Let your wine and vinegar cook down a bit and taste the mixture for seasoning. When you are happy with the flavor, and the livers are cooked through, splash some cream in the pan and take it off the heat.
Now, just process the mixture in a food processor and put in a terrine or mold to set in the fridge.
We served the pate with new pickles, the recipe from Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie cookbook. I followed his basic dill pickle recipe but added various small hot peppers to the brine so the pickles came out spicy. My one change with this recipe is to add a little less salt to the brine, as the pickles came out ever so slightly too salty for my taste.
The bread was based on the dinner roll recipe from Cooks Illustrated, but I topped them with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, diced Vidalia onion, and a brushing of egg before baking.