Homemade Gourmet

May 9, 2011 at 8:00 am 5 comments

This past Saturday evening, my friend hosted me and some classmates for a dinner party. Now, when I throw a dinner party, I usually keep things relatively simple in both prep and clean-up. My friend, however, went all out. He served us a three course dinner, with absolutely everything (bread, puff pastry, poached pears, everything!) made from scratch. Even more, his plating was beyond beautiful – better than most restaurants I have seen. This post is to brag on his cooking ability – I could never dream of pulling off a dinner this fancy! If you are drooling by the end of it, there is one recipe link for your perusal. Enjoy! I know I did :)

My friends started off the night with a nice glass of Cabernet and Jeopardy, while Vince finished up appetizers in the kitchen. We offered to help, but quickly realized we were more in the way than anything else. At around 8pm, he emerged from the kitchen to announce that the first course was ready.

The first course (maybe my favorite but hard to choose) consisted of two different mushroom appetizers with a balsamic reduction sauce. On the right is a puff pastry filled with creamed bluefoot mushrooms in a bechamel sauce, finished with chives. On the left is a shitake and basil buckwheat crepe cake. (If you have no idea what any of these words mean, don’t be ashamed – neither did we! We got a mini presentation before each course describing the ingredients and preparation of each dish). These were unbelievable – the puff pastry was buttery and flaky, the cream sauce was delicious, and the mushrooms had a perfect texture. The crepe stack was a nice counter-balance with more earthy flavors thanks to the buckwheat. We all sopped up the last of the balsamic reduction with a slice or two of homemade walnut fougasse, a denser loaf (similar to a foccacia) with an incredible texture and flavor.

We cleared our plates and waited with great anticipation as Vince returned to the kitchen to finish preparing the second course. He then brought out pan-seared almond crusted trout served over haricots verts (fancy for green beans :p) in a brown butter sauce topped with a dandelion green and shaved fennel salad with a light red wine viniagrette. He paired this with a nice, light Riesling – what a great combination. (The extent of my wine snobbery is to know that white wine and fish go together. I would love to go to a vineyard or a wine tasting some day to learn more!) Unfortunately, I was so excited about this dish that I forgot to take a picture! The fish was incredible – crispy outside with a really light, flaky interior, and the perfect amount of almond coating. The green beans (one of my favorite veggies!) were also great – really crisp but cooked enough to get rid of any bitter flavor of raw vegetables. The only thing I would have wanted was a little more salad and a little less brown butter sauce, but that is only because I am not used to such rich food, not because it wasn’t delicious! We again all managed to clear our plates once again, but were knew we could not yet be full because dessert, Vince’s specialty, was next.

He outdid himself this time. He vanilla made a poached pear tart with goat cheese and honey sabayon, almond nougatine, and balsamic reduction. The goat cheese tart was delightful – I was skeptical about goat cheese and balsamic for dessert, but it was tart and just sweet enough to be satisfying. Even better, it offset the almost overly sweet almond nougatine (like a peanut brittle but with almonds) that was served on the side. It was the perfect end to an excellent meal, and the meal was a great way to end off our first year of medical school (we just started the last week of classes – finally, a light at the end of the tunnel!)

Now, I know you are sitting at your computer and drooling right now. Or maybe you are a little more self-controlled than me and are simply inspired to make your own homemade gourmet feast. If you don’t feel like you can quite tackle a homemade puff pastry or any of the dishes with impenetrable French titles, here is a great way to make a fancy but simple dessert to impress your friends and family. Poached pears are simple, sweet, and a great addition to ice cream or store bought puff pastry shells. Follow food science geek Alton Brown’s recipe for poached pears. If you want to step up your game, replace the vanilla with a different flavor (like ginger or maple). Then simply slice and serve on top of vanilla or maple ice cream, or slice and add to store bought puff pastry and bake until the pastry is golden. A simple, delicious, gourmet treat!


Entry filed under: Random. Tags: , , , , , .

Happy Mother’s Day! “Family” Fun with Homemade Dumplings

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Samantha  |  May 9, 2011 at 10:20 am

    We didn’t take a group photo of all of us! Nevertheless it was so much fun :)

    • 2. jenlenew  |  May 9, 2011 at 9:19 pm

      I know, I realized that after! The picture of the 4 of you came out well though :)

      • 3. Samantha  |  May 9, 2011 at 11:15 pm

        i like how anthony smiled after i joined the threesome :) would you mind emailing me the soft copies of the photos? thx!

  • 5. Learning to be a Better Baker « homemadeadventure  |  May 21, 2011 at 9:03 am

    […] recipe. Luckily, my friend is a much better baker than I am. He is the one who hosted the fantastic dinner party, and outdid himself yet again with these great cakes. It was a great learning experience for me […]


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