My husband informed me earlier in the week that he had invited a couple for Saturday night. Okay, that’s fine I know them, not very well but enough to know that they are both kind and warm people. We brainstorm on a menu which is fairly low maintenance, a nice change of pace considering the last few dinners that I have cooked with my mother, she got into a complicated cooking phase for the past six months. Tomorrow’s menu will be the following: the appetizer will be escargots Duglaire, a cream based sauce flavored with a reduction of sautéed garlic, shallots, white wine vinegar and white wine, once it has been reduced to a syrupy consistency then you add the cream and a spoonful of tomato sauce and then you add the escargots. When we serve the escargots with the sauce and a sprinkling of fresh chopped tomatoes on top.
We will then proceed to the main course, pan seared breast of duck served with a porcini/chanterelle mushroom cream sauce. The breast of duck is easy, all that needs to be done to the breasts, is scoring of the layer of skin covering the fat on the breast, so that when you put the duck in the pan to sear it skin side down, you render all the fat out that you can reuse later for sautéing the baby potatoes to a golden crispy delight. The mushroom cream sauce is similar to the other cream sauce above, you saute onions until translucent, while you soak the dried mushrooms in hot water until they reconstitute, after which you add white wine and then a tiny bit of white wine vinegar and the strained mushroom liquor, same as before, you reduce the wine, the vinegar and the mushroom liquor after which you add the cream and the mushrooms. When the plates are up for serving, you take a breast which has been resting for 5 minutes and you slice it on the angle like a steak, I’m going to cook the breasts to medium-rare and serve the mushroom sauce alongside it and I’ll spoon the sautéed baby potatoes(in duck fat!) next to the duck slices. Which brings me to the vegetables, I’m going to make my new favorite vegetable side dish. A simple sautéing of onions, kale, spinach and toasted hazelnuts. The way I described it on the screen is exactly how you prepare it, you toast the hazelnuts, don’t scorch them! and put them aside for now. You then saute the onions, kale and spinach, salt and pepper it and then add the toasted hazelnuts and you are done. It is so extremely good, that I secretly hope the guests don’t go crazy for it as I do so that I have more leftovers, bad hostess, bad hostess.
I was originally going to make the dessert but the nice lady called to confirm and she said that they were going to bring dessert. Which makes this dinner party infinitely easier for me, even though part of me was disappointed to not have to make dessert. I was intending to make either a Paris Brest or a Galette aux Rois, in honor of the day of Epiphany. The Galette aux Rois is the traditional cake that is made to celebrate the feast of kings where, within the almond pastry cream you put a fava bean and whoever gets i,t is the king of the feast. The Paris Best was an idea just because since it is circular, it looks like a crown. Either way both desserts would have involved tricky dough and tricky pastry cream with the traditional flavorings of nuts, that I do not need to concern myself with. If I feel that bereft from lack of baking I can always make a pastry sometime during the week and maybe surprise my friends with a slice or two.
And by the way, my vacuum broke just today, earlier this evening towards the tail end of the vacuum loop of the house. So early tomorrow morning I must drive down to pick up fresh bread and a new vacuum so that I can finish cleaning the house. It should be a very nice evening and I am looking forward to the time in the kitchen making special treats.