Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Mammoth dinner for six

Onion tart Posted by Picasa

braised beef Posted by Picasa

Dessert Posted by Picasa

The real deal Posted by Picasa

This was for a mammoth dinner i had done for a dinner for 6. It took a huge amount of effort, and involved me standing in the kitchen WITHOUT rest for 8 hours straight.
By the time my guests came, i was all ready to send them right back home. All i wanted to do was sit and stretch out my tired legs with a bag of crisps!

This was a bit of a tricky dinner because my friend's boyfriend who was coming refuses to eat vegetables(the freak!). So the option of tossing a flavourful salad for a starter was not really an option.

I had wanted to try a Braised Beef shoulder for the main meal for which i had a recipe for in my newly purchased book 'The Zuni Cafe Cookbook'.

So here was the menu for the night:
Onion tart with a mixed salad dressed with balsamic vinagerette

Main course:
Braised Beef Shoulder Chuck served with buttermilk Mashed potatoes and Glazed Carrots

Phyllatello with Ice Cream and Summer Berries

My pictures don't do justice to how this turned out. The onion tart turned out well, EVENTUALLY. There was a lot of fiddling with the tart pastry, which didnt seem to roll out very well without crumbling into a million dry flaky pieces. I was wary of adding too much water when making the dough because of the constant warning that too much water leads to shrinkage in the oven, but i suspect a bit more water would not have done too much damage. I had to make my tart pastry TWICE - the second time a little more successful than the first!
But overall - i believe it was a success, although a bit heavy for my liking (a lot of cream and eggs added to the cooked onion.

The Main course was a dream. My friend raved about the sauce, which involved an entire bottle of robust Red wine, 1 and a half chickens for the stock (With a lot of flavourful vegetables thrown in), a pork leg added to this concoction after the entire braising had been done (first time i have ever used a pork leg, which certainly seemed to do the trick - this was the alternative to a beef stock, which would have been far more expensive).
The beef was tender (i think the oven time was 4 hours? )although i suspect a TAD overcooked.

The dessert was beautiful. Very fancy schmancy looking without too much hard work as i had used ready made phyllo pastry to make it.

Overall,a successful dinner, but a lot of hard work and incredibly time consuming!