I have a new list of guests lined up for a dinner party in early March. This time you get to see the process from the very beginning because I have no idea what I am going to prepare. I’ve been told no gluten, no raw carrots (but cooked are OK), no raw tomatoes, and no mushrooms. I am considering the braised duck legs that I wrote about in the Really Satisfying Autumnal Dishes article. It’s really a one-dish meal but I plan to embellish things a bit.
Update: Feb. 4 – I am fairly sure that I will serve the braised duck legs with figs and star anise. I will probably roast the squash rather than braise it with the duck – last time the squash came out way overcooked. And instead of serving the braise over rice I’m going to serve it next to a wedge of rosti made with gruyere cheese and onion and maybe a little homemade applesauce. I am considering making dill bread. I am experimenting with a beet and grapefruit salad as a first course. I am not sure about what to serve as a desert.
Update: March 2 – After trying the braised duck legs one more time I’ve decided that it is not what I want to serve for my all male guests. Everything was delicious but I didn’t feel that the menu quite came together. So? Plan B: Beet and grapefruit salad, Pot Roast Braised in Merlot with mushrooms (on the side, Shawn), Hasselback potatoes, Sweet/Sour Green Beans, Apple Sauce, and for dessert, Lemon Panna Cotta and tea/coffee. Not sure yet about hors d’oeuvres.
Update March 6: I’ve finalized the menu for tomorrow’s dinner party:
Hors D’oeuvres: Chicken meatballs with blood orange sauce, and a dried fruit plate. My one concession to commercially prepared: Aidell’s Chicken Meatballs. Served warm with a delicious blood orange sauce from Fine Cooking originally intended as an accompaniment to a chocolate soufflé. For a sweet and healthy component I will set out a fun assortment of dried pears, peaches, apricots, and plums.
Appetizer: Beet and Grapefruit Salad – A surprising combination of roasted beets seasoned with a little vinegar, grapefruit slices, fresh tarragon, toasted pine nuts, and a Greek yogurt dressing.
Main Course: Pot Roast with Wild Mushrooms and Fresh Thyme, a tried and true recipe from Sunset Magazine, that uses a whole bottle of Merlot. The mushrooms are cooked separately and served on the side. Hasselback Potatoes are a showy and tasty, yet easy to prepare side dish. I’ve also prepared some Applesauce For Grownups, a wickedly good update on good old applesauce. Although a savory herb bread would go well with these dishes we are gluten-free tonight.
Dessert: Lemon Panna Cotta with Lemon Marmalade. I’ve served this dish many times. It is a good choice for gluten-free dinners and, on this occasion, bright, citrussy dishes bookend the rich, strong flavored main course dishes. Diners always exclaim with pleasure at the delicious combination of rich cream, vanilla and lemon. It’s a can’t fail recipe.