Because I wanted the New Year’s Eve dinner to be a surprise I didn’t post any of the blog entries that led to the creation on the dinner. But for those interested I’ll post an entry for each day I did cooking related to the feast.
And so with a little over two weeks to the big dinner I began preparations. For the next couple days I’ll be making the bases for the dishes (stocks and sauces) and practicing some of the new recipes I plan to do. After last year’s disaster where I spent a month making a salt cod and monkfish dish that ultimately was inedible I learned my lesson and will never again do a dish for the first time on New Year’s Eve. Here’s the schedule for the next couple days. Eventually I’ll get a detailed excel spreadsheet but for now we’re keeping it casual.
The first order of business is mushroom stock. This project is going to take some time because I’m planning on ice filtering it. Ice filtering is a technique that produces a liquid of brilliant clarity achieved through freezing the liquid and placing it in the refrigerator set over a strainer lined with cheese cloth. It slowly melts into a dish set below and you are left with a very clear stock and a mass of gunk to throw away.
The Mushroom stock is fairly quick and easy with the pressure cooking doing most of the work for you. The roughest part is the halving of the 1.5kg of mushrooms. As mushrooms tend to only way 10-20 grams I would say I chopped about 100 of the little guys. Once it was out of the pressure cooker I strained and cooled the stock then popped it into the freezer till morning.
Beef stock came next. This one takes a bit more effort and time; around 4 hours in total. But the end result is a very rich stock that will be perfect for the sauces accompanying the main course. Once the stock was actually undergoing the pressure cooking process I had two hours to work on the last two elements for the day; bone marrow and Parmesan crème brûlée.
Bone marrow isn’t something I’ve worked with much before so I’m going to do a practice run with it this week. I’ll be using it in two different ways on the big day. First I will fry small pieces of it to go along with the lobster dish and second I’ll be rendering it and adding it to a meat sauce. Every book or blog I read said you needed to simply soak the marrow in cold water for 20 min and then push it out of the bone. After trying this several times to no avail I picked up a paring knife and cut it out of the bone. Much more efficient. Then I popped it into some water and set it in the fridge. This will help draw out any blood in the marrow and I’ll be changing the water every 8 hours to ensure it doesn’t become dirty and contaminate the marrow.
Finally I was doing a practice run of a Parmesan creme brûlée with onion sugar. Only I was too tired to do the onion sugar so i’m just going to hope that one turns out. Obviously I was more tired than I thought because I ended up forgetting an entire block of steps in the recipe. So instead of a Parmesan custard I was left with a hot Parmesan milk. Rather than attempt the recipe again to ensure I got it I decided to go to bed and hope for the best. Here’s to hoping we don’t have another monkfish disaster on our hands…
After 1 day of cooking, the schedule is slowly being accomplished.
Stay tuned for Day 2….