Heading to the Kitchen

It is before 7:00 Saturday morning and I’m getting ready to head to a friend’s house.  Nat and I are co-hosting a dinner this evening and we’re going to start preparing at about 8:00.  Looking at 12-14 diners and the menu has not been hammered out, but it promises to be quite an event.  Here is the email stream (somewhat condensed) of the planning:

(My original email in black, Nat’s responses in bold italics.)

Hi Nat,
Wow!  (Long pause as I wonder whether there’s a plan behind all this or are we just going to wing it…)
Let’s figure out what is truly possible on Saturday morning.  What time would you like to come by?  Should we go grocery shopping to see what is available?

I whole-heartedly endorse the “teeny tiny courses” concept.

Amuse bouche: something that’s been on my mind since a trip to Kauai in March is the idea of a Hawaiian poke, chopped raw tuna mixed with herbs and seasonings.  But I’m thinking, what would happen if it was mixed with more of a Thai flavor, almost like plaa tod sam rot but with sushi grade tuna instead?
That sounds really good.

Soups – seems like both a hot and a cold soup may be a bit much, somewhat confusing for the palate.   However, I love both your cold soup suggestions.   You’re thinking of serving just a small portion, right?  Shot glass sized?  Larger?
Shot sized.  I kind of think hot followed by cold or vice versa is a cool way to startle the palate.  The first soup sets the tone and the second surprises.  I have a blender.

Pastas: In my mind I had been thinking small free-form lasagnas, one sheet of noodles folded back and forth with layers of sauce and cheese in-between.  Making sausage from scratch might be ambitious, given that it should rest up about 24 hours for the flavors to meld.  The thought crossed my mind that a lasagna made of roasted bell peppers might be enjoyable without being overly heavy.  Or…. instead of tomato sauce, how aobut a puree of roasted bell peppers and some roasted squash as a filling?  Colors could be amazing.
Yes.  Maybe sausage is a bit ambitious.  Tortelloni is easy.  I’ve done it lots.  We do the filling ahead of time and get the staff to help stuff and fold.  It cooks in minutes.

Fish: Seared smoked salmon on focaccia – so you’re thinking little sandwiches?  Open faced?  That would be fun.  Another idea is if we want to cook small portions of fish rapped in parchment.  People enjoy receiving little gifts. In my mind I’m thinking of a firm white fish but with some Moroccan spices and preserved lemon, baked en papillote.
I’m thinking open faced.  I have parchment too so we can do either.

Sherbet – Love passion fruit.
I’ll do that tomorrow.

Fowl – Am leaning avay from frois gras but toward the chicken.  I love the idea of a fruit salsa and am wondering what about something that combines both ripe and unripe mango?
I already have some sous-vide chicken in the freezer.  Taste it and tell me what you think.

Meat – At one level I’m wondering if we need Fish + Fowl + Meat.  Seems like a lot, even in small servings.  My inclination is towards pork as I know some folks are not beef eaters.  Any particular sous vide recipes you like for pork?
Pork medallions are great sous-vide but we need to give them six to eight hours.

Veggies – I’ll make the curried cauliflower Friday as it needs a day to rest.  Flavors are very nice.  The idea of pairing it with a creamed broccoli is very innovative.  Another idea is to do shelled edamame and cherry tomatoes with mint.
Let’s do the creamed brocolli.  We can prepare the sauce ahead of time and get the staff to steam the brocolli at the last minute.

Cheeses – Can do, served with some dried papaya, apricots, and nuts.
That’s exactly what I had in mind.

Souffle – Chocolate!  Do you have enough small souffle dishes for individual or do you want to serve a large one?
I have small ramekins so it will take about ten minutes in the oven.  I’m afraid I’m allergic to chocolate.  How about a berry souffle?

Ice Cream – Raspberry always goes nicely with chocolate, although we could think about something untraditional, too.  Cherries from the US have been on sale over at St. Louis Hospital’s market…
With rosemary ice cream?

Petit Fours!?  You’re quite ambitious.  This is an area in which I have no experience but am willing to follow your lead.
That may be being ambitious.  Let’s see.

Okay, with all that said, what do you need me to do to help?
Shall we take turns being chef?  One dish you, one dish me, back and forth?

Should be quite an event – stay tuned!

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