New Year's Eve Dinner

I had plenty of time to prepare for the New Year's Dinner this year. The original idea was to have a classic 5-course French dinner -- soup, fish, meat, salad, and dessert. But we were too lazy to get oysters for the fish course. Plus, I don't know how likely the fish store frequented by us has fresh oysters on a Sunday of a New Year's holiday weekend. Charles joined us for dinner and brought flowers. Most recipes are from the Gourmet Cookbook, except the dessert was from the Epicurious website and the chestnut/apple puree from Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way book.

We started with French pea soup. Leeks were softened in butter, simmered with chicken stock, peas, and Boston lettuce, then pureed into a smooth emulsion. The soup was finished with a few drops of heavy cream and fresh croûtons (cubed french bread, drizzled with butter, roasted for 25 minutes).

I have been waiting for an occasion to try this duck recipe for a while. This is a twist on the French classic Duck a l'orange. Instead of oranges, we have clementines. The duck is first slowly braised in a sugary broth in the oven to tenderize the meat. The duck is then fully chilled to firm up its integrity, while the broth is also cooled for degreasing. Meanwhile, clementine juice and peels are made into a sauce-to-be and a glaze for the duck skin. Finally, right before serving, the duck is quickly roasted at 500F to brown and crisp up the skin, and also to warm up the meat without sapping out all its juices. The pan drippings were deglazed with the cooking broth, then added to the sauce-to-be. The sauce was finished with Grand Marnier and corn starch. We served the duck with a silky apple and chestnut puree, which also contained some onion, chicken stock, and butter. We all loved this meat course!

Following the sweet meat course, the salad continued the trend with marinated roasted beets and fresh sliced Asian pears. The salad also had fragrant toasted almonds and tender mixed greens.

The dinner was capped with a caramelized upside-down pear tart, served with homemade vanilla ice cream. Yum!


erica said…
Wish I was there, wish I was there...can I invite myself next year? :P

The duck and dessert look especially tempting.
Albertitto said…
Charles and I talked about inviting you!! But we figured it wasn't worth the trip all the way from DC ;-)
Catherine said…
looks so yummy~~
can I have some too??

looks like you're not as busy as you told me.... you still had time to prepare such a meal~~

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