Experientialist: a collector of experiences, especially one-of-a-kind.
My gift to you. If I had someone in my life, one of the things I would do is make a very special dinner (in addition to other things ).
If you are pulling your hair out – wondering what to do – I have put together a very sensual menu for you.
Vodka and cranberry have been a pair on numerous occasions (most notably in the Cosmo). In this drink, orange juice smoothes out the flavor of the tart cranberry. To avoid making an overly sweet Kool-Aid-like concoction, try using unsweetened cranberry juice or adding more OJ. The amaretto contributes sweet almond flavors (you may have seen the Disaronno Originale brand on liquor shelves) and adds yet more alcohol. Beware: This Kiss packs quite a punch.
INGREDIENTS & PREPARATION
Mix cranberry juice, vodka, amaretto, and orange juice in pitcher. Cover and chill until ready to serve. DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.
To make 2 drinks, fill cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Pour in scant 1 cup vodka mixture. Cover and shake vigorously. Strain into 2 Martini glasses. Garnish each with clementine segment. Repeat 3 times with ice cubes, remaining vodka mixture, and clementine segments.
Oysters with Champagne-Vinegar Mignonette
yield: Makes 2 first-course servings
active time: 15 min
total time: 40 min
Stir together vinegar, shallot, pepper, and sugar and let stand 30 minutes.
Spread 3/4 cup salt in an 8- to 10-inch flameproof shallow baking dish or pan. Arrange oysters on their shells in salt, then top each with a piece of butter.
Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat until butter is melted and sizzling and edges of oysters are beginning to curl, 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir parsley into mignonnette. Divide remaining 3/4 cup salt between 2 plates and arrange 3 oysters on each. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon mignonnette over each oyster and sprinkle oysters with grapes. Serve warm.
Note: Mignonnette, without parsley, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
Frisée Salad with Blue Cheese, Walnut, and Cranberry Crostini
Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange bread slices on baking sheet. Brush bread slices on top side with 2 tablespoons walnut oil. Bake until crisp, about 5 minutes.
Mix walnuts, cheese, 4 tablespoons shallots, and dried cranberries in medium bowl. Spread mixture on toasts. Bake until cheese melts, about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine frisée, 2 tablespoons shallots, 2 tablespoons walnut oil, and vinegar in bowl. Sprinkle with salt; toss. Serve with crostini.
Beef Wellington with Port Wine Reduction Sauce
1/4 cup liver pâté or more, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme plus sprigs for garnish, perhaps extra for sauce
1 puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-ounce package frozen puff pastry), thawed
4 1 1/2” thick 6-ounce filet mignon steaks
1 large egg
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Pat filets mignons dry and season with salt and pepper. In a shallow roasting pan roast filets in middle of oven 12 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 110°F for rare, and cool (filets will be baked again after being wrapped in pastry). Chill filets, covered, until cold, about 1 hour.
2. In a small bowl lightly beat egg to make an egg wash.
3. On a lightly floured surface roll out puff pastry sheet into a 14-inch square. Trim edges to form a 13-inch square and cut square into four 6 1/2-inch squares.
4. Spread the top of each filet mignon with paté to taste. Turn filet mignon upside down and place in the center of a sheet of puff pastry pressing it down gently.
5. Wrap 2 opposite corners of puff pastry over filet, overlapping them. Seal seam with egg wash. Wrap remaining 2 corners of pastry over filet and seal in same manner. Seal any gaps with egg wash and press pastry around filet to enclose completely. Arrange beef Wellington, seam side down, in a non-stick baking pan. Make 3 more beef Wellingtons in same manner.
6. Chill remaining egg wash for brushing on pastry just before baking. Chill beef Wellingtons, loosely covered, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Brush top and sides of each beef Wellington with some remaining egg wash and bake up to 20 minutes for doneness, or until pastry is golden.
Port Wine Reduction Sauce
This sauce is made right after you finish cooking the Beef Wellington. Remove them from the pan and keep warm until the sauce is done.
2 Tbls fat – butter, oil or some combination. If there is leftover fat in the pan, use that.
1 shallot, minced
¼ cup port wine
1 cup beef stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
Remove the meat from the pan; pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat (or add fat if you need to). Remove the pan from the heat; add the port wine to deglaze the pan while scraping any bits that may have stuck to the bottom during cooking.
Place the pan back on the heat and immediately add the shallots letting them cook while the wine reduces to an essence. Be sure to keep stirring the shallots to keep them from burning until the bottom of the pan is clean.
Once the wine is almost completely cooked off, add the stock. Reduce the stock by at least half or more if you want the sauce thicker.
About 1 pound
For the Mascarpone:
8 oz container Mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon espresso
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1 tablespoon Irish cream liqueur
For the Whipped Cream:
1 pint cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon powdered sugar
For the lady fingers:
approximately 12 lady fingers, cut in half
4 shots espresso
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1 tablespoon Irish cream liqueur
raspberries or strawberries
4 – 7 oz high ball glasses
1. Combine all ingredients for the Mascarpone in a large bowl. Mix well.
2. Combine all ingredients for the cream in a food processor with blade attachment. Turn on until cream is whipped.
3. Fold in half of the cream mixture into the Mascarpone mixture.
4. Dip each lady finger half in the coffee and liquor mixture. Add a coffee soaked cookie to the glass an d then a tablespoon of the Mascarpone mixture. Alternate layers until all 4 glasses are filled. Use the other half of the whipped cream to top off your desserts.
5. Garnish with cocoa powder and a raspberry
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips.
2. When melted, pour in the milk and whisk constantly until smooth.
3. Add whipping cream and vanilla.
4. No need to bring to a boil. Only to steaming hot, approximately 170-180 degrees.
Coffee &/or Port
For the really good news, the Aperitif, Beef Wellington & Tiramisu can be made a day ahead!
Why pâté instead of mushrooms for the Wellington? Filet Mignon is a lovely tender cut, but really doesn’t have much flavor. The puff pastry is also basically flavorless, mushrooms are earthy but don’t make a flavor statement in this dish (in my humble opinion). That is why I prefer to use paté.
I spent a long time looking a table settings. Unfortunately, most of them were over the top and there was no room for plates. I liked this, it has one glass, a knife and a fork, a red charger, a dinner plate and a salad plate. All open to interpretation. The flower vase above the fork and on the napkin was a nice touch too. However, if you are hoping for flowers I wouldn’t use ones you bought in a table setting. It may make the giver feel a little confused.