Sunday, August 17, 2008

birthday dinner

So, we threw the big birthday dinner party yesterday, starting around 3, and ending around midnightish. Ten courses is a lot.

My favorite item was the shrimp with saffron mousseline.
Shrimp with saffron mousseline

Outrageous. The mousseline is a sort of hollandaise, with whipped cream added. I added saffron to the lemon juice reduction that is central to hollandaise, also to the egg yolks, also to the butter, and also to the cream. I added a little sugar, because saffron suggests this. Completely, completely insane preparation. Utterly ludicrous dish. Ridiculously flamboyant. I was giddy about it, giggling the whole time I was whipping butter into the sauce. I mean, who makes saffron mousseline? Who would have ever eaten it? See? amuse gueule! Tee-hee-hee-hee!

The other amuse was melon, mozzarella, and prosciutto en brochette.

Melon, mozzarella and prosciutto en brochette

I made a sauce for these from balsamic vinegar reduced to 1/4 volume, with a bit of sugar, Kirschwasser, and a plum in it (then strained out). Madness. It was tart and sweet and tasty and loved the holy heck out of the melon, mozzarella and prosciutto.

The last dish we took a picture of was the first entrée, tilapia with a basil-spinach-lemon-butter sauce.

Tilapia with basil-spinach sauce

Hah! I read a recipe for fish cooked "chartreuse," which means braised in tomato, carrot, onion, and spinach (for the color, hence the name), and made something really entirely unlike that, thinking "Hey, green sauce on fish. Cool." It was, in fact: the fish was served cold, along with all the first several courses, since it was 100 degrees at 3 pm. So, complete menu:

shrimp with saffron mousseline
melon, prosciutto, and mozzarella skewers

toasts with Provençal tapenade

Portuguese consommé (cold, slightly spicy, tomato-infused consommé)

tilapia with chef’s chartreuse sauce


ratatouille (cooked by roasting rather than stewing)

basil and rosemary sorbet

herb-encrusted rack of lamb, with vegetables

fruits and cheeses

Everybody seemed to have different favorites. Everyone marveled at the sorbet, which was in fact pretty nifty, if I do say so myself. The ratatouille was perfect. The lamb was gorgeous. But nothing beats the satisfaction of the saffron mousseline.

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