I donated a 5 course french dinner to a friend’s auction several months ago and while I was glad to do it, the whole thing made me a little nervous. I do love to cook, but usually it’s for friends who will be too polite to tell me if I overcooked the broccoli or over salted the pasta. The idea of cooking for strangers who actually paid for the meal was a little intimidating at first. But then I got into creating the menu and did a trial run of everything, so I felt pretty good when the time actually came to serve the meal. It turned out to be even better than I could have hoped for. Not only did all the food turn out perfectly, the people turned out to be a friendly group that had been cooking and eating together for years and they made a most appreciative audience. So appreciative, in fact, that they’ve invited me to cook for them again to celebrate one of the group’s 90th birthday! I’m so honored to be a part of this event that I’ve been working on the menu for a while now and want everything to be just right. Enter my two willing friends and last Saturday night…I invited my dear friend and her husband to come over to be my guinea pigs for the menu I want to serve for the birthday group. I requested honest feedback, which they gave me. I have a few changes to make, but overall, it was a great meal and if I can make it all again as well as I did, I’m pretty sure the birthday meal will be a enjoyable one. I’m posting the menu here with links to the recipes. A couple of the dishes would be good for the holidays-I’ve made the duck with port sauce for Christmas dinner a few times now, and the scallop appetizer or butternut squash soup could be good for Thanksgiving or another holiday feast.
Caramelized scallops with melted leeks
Butternut squash soup with creme fraiche and pecans
Persimmon salad with pomegranates and arugula
Duck with allspice, cloves, juniper berries and port cream sauce
Gateau basque with Armagnac prunes