33 Components of a Dinner for Ten



This dinner started at the silent auction table at the 2015 Yorkville Wine Festival.  The owner of the Highland's Estate B&B was the winning bid in support of the Yorkville Fire Department.  The evening was to be a gathering of the hosts dearest friends.  I knew I wanted to dazzel the crowd with a simple menu of the "Flavors of Mendocino" and by time we served the menu, I had created 33 seperate "flavor components or preparations".  Each sauce, infused butter, pesto and roasted vegetable are each prepared seperately with different flavor profiles, then combined at the plating.

My sister called the morning of the event to encourage me before I left the kitchen.  She left me with , "ten people, simple menu...you'll rock it, it's easy! I laughed and thought how funny it is that a dinner for ten could be so complex yet translate into such a relaxing meal with friends.

I suggeted a simple menu of:

- Antipasto & Charcuterie Selection

- Green Salad with a Citrus Herb Dressing

- Local Meat Grilled and Seasonal Vegetable Selection

- Dessert Sampler Platter

I always send off the menu proposal knowing it will develop into sooo many more layers of flavors.  I counted 20 flavor components after a few days in the kitchen so, I thought I should write about how that happens in the process of developing a "simple menu".  The evening turned out to be 33 "flavor components" that I prepared to create our dimensional yet simple dinner for ten.

The Antipasto & Charcuterie (12 preparations)

I suggest a variation of a Charcuterie/Antipasto at almost every event.  You can fill it full of seasonal ingredients and everyone finds exactly what they like while settling in to the event. The components of this selection turned out to be:

- Pennyroyal Farm's - Lychee, Boont Corners 2month aged cheese and Point Reyes Blue cheese

- 2 local uncured meats - sliced (I will list these on my local ingredient list)

- Dried figs, currents, pinenuts, fresh Anjou pears,

- Candied Citrus & Petit Teton's Candied Jalapeno

- Italian Spiced Walnuts

- crostini toasts  with Old Chatham Ranch Olive Oil - balsamic vinegar - sea salt & pepper - 

- Sweet Potato Hummus

- Roasted Eggplant - Brussel Sprouts  - Garlic & Beets

- Caramelized Onions in Cabernet

- Sauteed Shiitake and Lions Mane Mushrooms

- Fresh Basil Pesto

Green on Green Salad with an Herb - Citrus Vinegarette (4 preparations)

A simple salad can go any direction seasonally at the begining or end of the meal.  The greens this week (first week of April 2016) were mostly all from Petit Teton in Yorkville and beautiful!  I choose a green salad so I could showcase the infused butters and they were a big hit.  

- Spinach, mixed greens, sorell, miners lettuce, cucumber, avocado, pistachios, herbs, edible flowers

- Fresh bread and 3 butters: Shallot/cabernet reduction, Roasted lemon, rosemary & garlic, and a Sundried tomato & thyme 

Entree - Local Meat & Vegetable Selections (9 preparations)

The hostess requested short ribs and I added local lamb racks and meatballs that I made out of Acorn Farms, Andouilli sausages.  With the sous vide cooking process for each meat and the sauces, this course was a flavor sensation!

- Short Ribs - Sous vide for 48 hours and served with a Poblano Chili & Orange juice reduction

- Lamb Rib Racks - Sous vide for 6 hours with a Mint & Basil Pesto and Fig Cointraeu Jam

- Meatballs - Sous vide for 2 hours - Acorn Farms pork Andouilli sausages

- Sauteed Mushrooms - Shiitake, Crinini, Whites

- Seared Asperagus in EVOO & balsamic 

- Roasted Smashed Artichoke-Potatoes with fresh herbs

Dessert Sampler Platter (8 preparations)

All I was sure of was using fresh kumquats, from a friends tree, in some way and I'd recently watched a cooking show featuring creme brulee. I love to "graze flavors" through every meal and dessert should be the most adventurous, dont you think?  Commiting to one large sweet flavor portion is boring so, I always pick combinations that are great with coffee or more red wine.  The dinner ended with a "standing O" (standing ovation) and I'm pretty sure it was a result of the dessert course...And the magnum of Syrah, just sayin.

- Kumquat Creme Brulee, candied & sun dried kumquat slices and local strawberries

- Candied citrus 2 ways - Anderson Valley grapefruit, lemons and organic oranges from southern california

- Blanched Almonds preserved in rosemary infused honey

- Almond Panforte 

- Italian Spiced Walnuts & Candied Walnuts

- Fresh Strawberries with Petit Tetons' Rhubbarb Jam

- Fresh Whipped Cream

- Dark Chocolate Truffles

- Mint Leaves dipped in Chocolate

Dinner was delightful and the guests loved the variety of flavors.  I introduce each dish with a little about the local ingredients and their sources.  For me it's all about each farmer or vendor and their story and passion for their product.   I left the dinner party early so the guests could continue their stories while grazing through the dessert platters with the rest of the Syrah.  I walked out on a standing ovation and a salute from the guests. A perfect evening!