forum: Food & Drink

#1 Wed 01 Sep 04 5:34pm


From Canada
Member since Mon 21 Jun 04


Hi All,
I have decided to throw an elegant dinner party for 6 for my 30th birthday. I want to have about 5 courses, but am getting stuck for inspiration. I want to have individual beef Wellingtons with gorgonzola for the main and want to serve lemon thyme sorbet prior as a refresher. I need an app, a salad and a pasta/risotto course still. I've got a baker making a 2 tier super fun hot pink tilted birthday cake so I don't have to worry about dessert. Does anybody have any ideas? I would love to do a risotto, but I have no idea how to make it without standing over the stove for 45 minutes ignoring the guests.

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#2 Wed 01 Sep 04 10:17pm


Forum champ
Member since Wed 07 Jul 04

Re: Foodology

Hi Elizabeth,
Here's a couple of ideas that you might want to try. Happy Birthday! big_smile

Pan Seared Maine Scallops
with Truffle Mashed Parsnips,
Frisee (for garnish), and Rock
Shrimp-Vanilla Butter Sauce

Foie Gras Fritters with Sour
Orange Vinaigrete, Candied Pecan,
and Crispy Sweet Potatoes

Foie Gras with Eggplant Medallion,
Black Pepper Port Wine Syrup, and
Tomato Jam

Corriander Seared Ahi Tuna with
Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, Hearts Of
Palm Salad (small, garnish purposes),
Sherry Truffle Vinaigrette, and Micro

Oven Roasted Duck with Baby
Arrugula, Watercress, Shaved Red
Onion, Strawberries, Crumbled Goat
Cheese, and Black Pepper Caramel Dressing
(This salad is gorgeous).

Wedge Salad with Fried Oysters, Grilled
Red Onions, Crumbled Blue Cheese, Pecans
and Scallion Buttermilk Dressing

Bay Scallop Ceviche and Cucumber
Served in a Chilled Avocado Soup
(This is a great alternative to the
traditional hot soup).

Basil Scented Tomato Bisque

Caldo Verde

Pasta / Risotto:
Angel Hair Pasta with Sundried
Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs, and Goat
(Very simple, but effective).

Wild Mushroom Risotto with
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

* You can cook your risotto ahead of time, until it's "almost" done. This way right before you are ready to serve, in a large skillet; you can put a bit of olive oil, shallots and garlic, mushrooms, deglaze with a bit of white wine, add chicken stock, risotto, a little cream and parmigiano reggiano cheese to thicken. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Elizabeth, I hope these ideas were of assistance to you. I'm sure that with whatever you choose to prepare, all will come out lovely.

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#3 Thu 02 Sep 04 1:14pm


From South Africa
Member since Tue 22 Jun 04

Re: Foodology

The risotto could be tricky to get done beforehand.  If you do decide to do one though I had a wonderful lemon and thyme risotto at an italian restaurant recently.  A lovely fresh taste that was nice for a starter.

When I had people over for a dinner party recently I made indivitual Caprese salads for starters.  I layered good mozarella cheese and fresh tomatoes on each plate, drizzled each plate with basil pesto and arranged a pile of roasted red and yellow peppers next to the salad.  Very simple and easy to make ahead (as long as you cover each plate with cling film so the mozarella doesn't dry out) and everyone enjoyed them smile

Another idea would be to have a few big antipasta platters on the table for people to help themselves to.  Things like caprese salad, parma ham & melon, sundried tomatoes, olives, roasted peppers, roasted corgettes etc. 

Soup is also another option (either hot or cold)that can be made beforehand and served with a swirl of cream on top at the last minute. 

Hope the party goes well and Happy Birthday smile

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#4 Thu 02 Sep 04 1:37pm


Forum champ
From Vienna, Austria
Member since Wed 18 Aug 04

Re: Foodology

Hi there!

Those ideas just sound really impressive foietruffledisiac! I'm planning a new year dinner party/birthdayparty (5 courses for 18 --> I must have beeen mad to agree) and already started looking for ideas!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth! One of the most starteling risottos I find is "Risotto Nero", which is jetblack and looks stunning served on a big white plate with a slice of orange and grilled scalop or king prawn on top with a bit of orange reduction and good olive oil sprincled around.

Risotto Nero: Fry a chopped onion/shallot in oliveoil. Add chopped babysquid and fry until turning colour. Add rice and stir a bit. Add chopped garlic, a bit of tomato puree and 1 glass of white wine. Start adding the stock - as always but add a bit of squid ink until really black. Just before serving add juice of an orange and parmesan.

For the orange reduction cook fresh orange juice, bit of sugar, white wine and orange pepper until reduced to a sirupy consistance (this can be kept in the fridge for quite a while).

As a amuse geul you could do tartare of fresh tuna mixed with ginger, coriander leaves, lime juice, soy sauce, honey and lemon grass served in a crab chip (is it called crab chip?? the white chips you get in chinese shops which puff up when you fry them...)

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#5 Thu 02 Sep 04 10:01pm


Forum champ
Member since Wed 07 Jul 04

Re: Foodology

Risotto Nero, sounds incredibly good, and also gorgeous, presentation wise big_smile
The amuse Bouche sounds enticing as well.
Good enough to eat, LadyRed. wink

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#6 Fri 03 Sep 04 2:58pm


From belfast
Member since Fri 03 Sep 04

Re: Foodology

Don't panic, birthday girl!  Risotto actually reheats really well in the microwave.  I know some people will be horrified to hear that, but it's true - sometimes it even tastes better!  If you're sceptical, do a test run beforehand.  Just remember to turn up the music so that your guests don't the microwave beeping...

For a starter/salad, what about that recipe in Jamie's Happy Days book with figs and parma ham?  Super easy, uses luxurious and seasonal ingredients, and the figs will be lovely followed by that gorgonzola...

Speaking of cheese, have you thought of substituting one of those courses for a cheese course?  Same rationale - no last minute prep, but you can splurge on quality cheese.

Have fun!

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#7 Fri 03 Sep 04 3:51pm


Forum champ
From The Office
Member since Tue 18 May 04

Re: Foodology

I can't believe my eyes... Risotto in a microwave?? Don't even think about it!

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#8 Fri 03 Sep 04 4:01pm


From Canada
Member since Mon 21 Jun 04

Re: Foodology

Thanks all. I'm definitely inspired now. Although I'm not so sure about nuking my risotto in the microwave. The Nero version sounds very chic Ladyred. I hear a Halloween dinner party calling. Foietruffledisiac could I get your recipe for the Rock Shrimp-Vanilla Butter Sauce. I was thinking of making a scallop app with crispy sage and pancetta, but your app sounds better!

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#9 Sat 04 Sep 04 1:36am


Forum champ
Member since Wed 07 Jul 04

Re: Foodology

The rock shrimp, just wait until your butter sauce is done. Simply saute your rock shrimp in a saute pan with some good olive oil, pinch of fine chopped shallots and garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. The rock shrimp are so small, they are done almost immediately. I love them, they add such nice texture and flavour to dishes. Use a good amount; you want to see those little things everywhere. big_smile After they are done, just put them in your butter sauce and serve.

Vanilla Bean Butter Sauce

1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon shallots, fine chop
1/2 teaspoon garlic, fine chop
1-2 Tahitian or Madagascar Vanilla Beans
1/2 - 1 cup heavy cream
Approx. 2 sticks plugra butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A splash of liquid Vanilla (high grade)

In a medium saute pan. Saute shalllots and garlic,vanilla beans, with a small amount of olive oil. Add wine and vinegar. Let reduce until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. (Evaporation, concentration). Add cream, and also let reduce, by about half; more or less. Then whisk in butter (cut sticks into individual pieces) piece by piece, until desired thickness is acquired. Remove vanilla bean pod or pods, with a paring knife, make a slit the entire length of the vanilla pod. Scrape out the seeds and add them to the butter sauce. You can also add a pure high grade vanilla liquid, extract; just a little splash. The add salt and pepper to taste.

You don't want to overwhelm the butter sauce with Vanilla. You want a "marked" scent, fragrance......this will bring out the sweetness of the scallops and the parsnips. Frisee is a bitter green and will offset the dish beautifully. Enjoy!

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#10 Mon 06 Sep 04 8:27pm


From Koeln, Germany
Member since Mon 23 Aug 04

Re: Foodology

Hi Elizabeth,

I know a really yummy pasta dish that you can prepare the day before. It is quite filling, though. It depends on the size of the individual nests:

maccharoni nests (to serve 4, just mulitply)

500 gr maccharoni, cooked and cooled

350 gr chicken breast, diced
1 bundle of spring onions, chopped
2 table spoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 big tin of peeled tomatoes
1 dried chili pepper
italian herbs or pesto
sugar or honey, balsamico vinegar to taste

1 portion of sauce hollandaise (I use prefab, so I don't have a recipe for it)

250 gr grated mild cheese

from the maccharoni, form nests by winding them around your palm or around a clean bottle (use something with a smaller diameter if you want smaller nests) and place in a lightly greased ceramic container (i don't know the English word for it oops , a thing you can also make lasagna or gratin in).

Heat the oil in a big pan at middle heat and add the spring onions. If they are a little softened, remove and put the chicken breast in. Fry until white from all sides, salt and pepper. Add the spring onions, tomatoes, seasonings and let boil. It should be *quite* hot.
The vinegar and/or sugar/honey add a very fruity taste, always a good ingredient in any tomato sauce! You could also add sun-dried tomatoes!

Put the tomato sauce into the openings of the nests.

--up to this point, you can prepare it beforehand. It will keep well in a fridge--

Top it off with the sauce hollandaise and the cheese and bake at about 180°C for about 20 - 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce bubbles.

As I said, the hollandaise and cheese make it quite filling. If you leave them off, you'll also deny yourself a very pleasant buttery counterpart to the tomato sauce. And you'd need to half the amount of chili, because the hollandaise takes away some of the hotness.


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