Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Autumnal Feast 2007: The Recap

I know why it's taken me so long to get this's taken me this long to restore order in the wake of the party. I only got the deep fryer and extra plates put away yesterday. Sheesh.

The evening began, as it properly should, with hostess gifts. I would never go so far as to suggest that I only entertain for the presents, but the Autumnal Feast group is particularly adept at the amazing. The Boys brought us 2 lovely glasses, silver absinthe spoons and a bottle of Pernod (because absinthe is still illegal in this country but they are determined to score some contraband for us someday). John and ChouChou arrived with a gigantic box which held this astonishing thing:
It's a wine decanter. There's a little lever there at the tip, which you push up on with your glass to fill it. It's wine sculpture. It also makes a lovely scepter:

You know how I am about kitchen tools being dual purpose.

The Boys brought the appetizer. Recently returned from Venice, they were inspired by all things Italian. They bought 2 kinds of pate, a chicken creation and a creamy pot of something called Spuma di Prosciutto, which is glorious. There were also devilled eggs, wherein the yolks had been mixed with tuna paste. Different and very delicious. We washed this down with Prosecco.
The amuse bouche was a very beautiful little shrimp ceviche served in campari tomatoes. It was intense, crisp and tart balanced by the soft sweetness of the shrimp. Glorious.

Salad was a pretty standard autumnal mix of red and green oak leaf lettuce, candied pecans and crumbled Gorgonzola. That would have been tasty in and of itself but the dressing brought all the elements together quite joyously. It's an odd little dressing in theory but it works splendidly. Thinly sliced shallots are soaked for a few hours in red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt, giving them the character of pickled onions with less effort. The shallots are removed from the dressing and tossed with the salad, then a few tablespoons of cream are poured over the salad, which is tossed again. The silkiness of the cream puts the sharpness of the shallots in their place. It's just awesome. Then, to top it all off, I baked slices of prosciutto until they were crisp and served those on the top as a sort of crouton. It was a plateful of all my favorite things, salty, sweet, tangy and crunchy.
The main course was classic American home cookin', with a twist. It all started when The Hat told me about these "onion poppers" she used to make, deep frying battered pearl onions. It sounded like so much fun that I decided to do that for the feast. And once that was decided, everything else fell into place. From the notion of a fancy variation on onion rings, I was inspired to make meatloaf. But since this was a feast, it was dressed up, wrapped in puff pastry and dubbed Meatloaf Wellington. On the side I served tomato marmalade, in place of ketchup. The other accompaniments were a green pea and mint puree and chanterelles (which are plentiful and relatively inexpensive this year since we had such a moist summer). The chanterelles, which are so hearty and woodsy on their own, need little help in the flavor department. A quick saute in butter, a shot of sherry,a sprinkle of salt and viola!
Dessert is always something apple-y. This year I made a rustic little apple tart, flavored with honey and fresh thyme. It was very simple and played its part well against the other staples of the Autumnal dessert course, Stilton and port. I totally forgot to take a picture of it, which is sad because it was very pretty with its concentric circles of apple and flecks of bright green. But sometimes the eating gets in the way of the documentation. Oh well.

Of course, the real fun, as always, is in gathering around the table with people who we have loved for such a long time that the in-jokes have subsets of jokes. They bring their spirited natures, witty banter and generous appreciation to the evening and that, my friends, is the best sauce.
I'll get the recipes up later today. Promise.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful event. You really do inspire me to invite more tradition into my life.

Nicole said...

Meatloaf wellington. That's great. Hey, did I inspire the honey thyme apple tart?

Lorraine said...

Traditions can be good, Hat. Especially when they incoude deep fried onions.

'Course you did, Nicole.

Anonymous said...

That was worth the wait.

But did you really wear your tiara throughout the entire meal?

Lorraine said...

Actually, I didn't wear it ALL night, but it is super cute, eh?

laurelmoons said...


Doralong said...

Ummm chanterelles, yummy! Not that everything else doesn't look fab! I'll make you jealous in the spring when the morels come out ;)

Willym said...

What a great meal! Hope you don't mind but I'm going to borrow the deep fried onions for Christmas dinner. Should go well with goose? Or would that be too greasy. That is provided I can find a goose here - had enough trouble getting turkey (ended up with breasts, legs etc)for Canadian Thanksgiving.

And by the way you are looking so like one kitchen queen I would not tangle with in that picture. NO way I would interfere in your kitchen!

Lorraine said...

Here's a napkin, Syd. You're drooling a little.

Bring it, Doralong!

Not at all Willym. Borrow away, that's what they're here for. Guess I should post a recipe for you, huh?