Sunday, October 3, 2010

NY Locavore's New Orleans Creole Dinner Party

Entertaining is about people. When I host a dinner I prefer a small group of four to six so that I can focus my attention on the guests.

An elegant party, large or small, is a complex affair – with planning it doesn’t have to be difficult. Please join me for my Foodbuzz Creole Dinner Party (Project Food Blog #3). You’ll savor every bite (I know my guests did)!

Lighthearted Locavore's New Orleans Creole Dinner Party Menu

Dinner Guests Enjoy Pheasant Gumbo
Our guests: Ted and Regula Hepp, and Jim and Wendy Van de Walle (my brother and sister-in-law). A party is a wonderful way to get to know people, entertain friends and family, celebrate or seal a business deal. Invite your guests several weeks ahead.

Such a Good Boy!
My husband's from New Orleans and people love it when we serve classic New Orleans food. For the first course, I made a pheasant gumbo using birds that Henry and Jim shot that were in the freezer. I served the New Orleans fish preparation, Meuniere Amandine, which is typically made with sea trout, for the second course using a recipe from the “grand dame” New Orleans restaurant, Galatoire’s. Our fishmonger, Cor-J’s, suggested fluke as a local substitute for Gulf of Mexico sea trout. For dessert, I wanted to include local ingredients and found a bread pudding recipe, a Southern favorite, which I made with sweet potatoes and apples from the farmers’ market. Three courses will leave your guests satisfied. Select recipes that you know how to cook and can prepare ahead. Plan your menu at least five days in advance.

The dinner table set and ready  -- photo taken at noon
Lace table cloth, roses, toy crawfish and whimsical plates make for a fun table

Tabletop accessories and music set the stage for the festivities. New Orleans is a culture that blends highbrow European elegance and folk traditions of American Indians, and Caribbean, Italian and Spanish settlers. I decided to have fun. I covered the table with a lace tablecloth, set the table with silver and funky crawfish plates that we use everyday. The final touches included red roses and a bright red, toy crawfish. The juxtaposition of lace, roses and whimsical fun is quintessential New Orleans. Louis Armstrong and Zydeco music filled the air. Select and iron your linens, wash glasses and dinnerware, and polish the silver, if necessary, at least three days in advance. 

A good dark roux can take about a half hour to make
To ensure a delicious, stress-free meal, choose high quality ingredients and prepare in advance. Fish that you caught, game that was hunted or vegetables that you grew add interest to the meal. Being a locavore, I prefer scratch cooking to using canned or prepared foods and like to procure ingredients from local sources. In planning the gumbo I made sure I had enough birds in the freezer, made duck stock (using the carcass from last weekend’s Peking duck) and whipped up a deep brown flour and duck fat roux three days ahead. Inventory your ingredients and shop for non-perishables at least three days in advance. Prep and freeze time consuming ingredients in advance. 

French 75's make for a festive cocktail
I always include Henry. Not only does he cook but he loves to pair wine and food. We decided to serve French 75 cocktails, made with gin, lemon and champagne, and a relish tray to start. For dinner, Henry selected a vivacious 2009 Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc from California to match the spicy gumbo and splurged on a bottle of 2006 Domaine Vincent Girardin Meursault to complement the traditional French meuniere amandine sauce.  

Lighthearted Locavore heating up the first course (smiling and relaxed)

Wendy and me -- thanks for the roses!

Planning ahead and anticipating every detail of what it takes to flawlessly produce a multi-course meal is the key to being a relaxed host. For each recipe, I ask “how much time do I need in the kitchen after the guests arrive?” I make lists and get as much as possible done in advance. With staging any event, mistakes and oversights happen. The day of the party, I started cooking at 9:00. Henry went shopping at 10:00 for the fish and wine. By noon the table was set, including placing empty serving bowls and a vase on the table (oops, I forget to buy flowers). With no time to spare, I called Wendy and asked her to pick up some red roses. 

By 2:00, the gumbo was cooked. By 4:00, the bread pudding was out of the oven and the sauce was made. By 4:20 I had done the meuniere sauce twice (the first one burned). By 5:00, the relish tray, bar and glasses, were set up. By 5:30, the advance prep for sautéing the fluke, the only step of the dinner that had to be cooked last minute, was completed. At 5:40, I showered and dressed and still had 45 minutes to relax before the guests arrived. At 7:00, the party began. 

Long Island Fluke Meuniere Amandine Garnished with Parsley and Lemon

And there's still room for dessert

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Apple Cider Glaze

Pheasant, Duck, and Andouille Gumbo 
Pheasant, Duck Stock, + Organic Chicken Andouille Sausage Gumbo Made with File and White Rice (recipe) 

Galatoire's Fluke Meuniere Amandine
Traditional New Orleans Preparation of Sautéed Fluke Fillet and Creole Seasoning topped with Butter, Lemon and Almond Sauce (recipe below) 

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Apple Glaze 
Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission’s Recipe (recipe) 

French 75 Cocktail (recipe)


Long Island Fluke Meuniere Amandine
Adapted from Galatoire’s Cookbook

Meuniere Sauce (see below)
2 cups milk
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 egg
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 oz. butter
6 8-oz. fluke fillets
2 cups flour
3 tbsp. sliced, toasted almonds
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges

Prepare the Meuniere Sauce, set aside. In a bowl, whisk milk, seasonings and egg. Dust fluke with flour, place in milk, dredge in flour again. Shake off excess. In a heavy pan, melt butter over medium-high heat and sauté for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Place one fillet on each plate, spoon Meuniere sauce and sprinkle toasted almonds and parsley on top. Serve with a lemon wedge.

Meuniere Sauce
4 oz. butter
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Melt butter over low heat until it begins to brown. Add remaining ingredients. Whisk until dark brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

All photos by Lexi Van de Walle


karenj said...

What a lovely dinner party! Thanks, Lexi, for inspiring me to host my own very very soon.

Whitney said...

omg i LOVE your bird dog, how cute is he!!!


Marguerite said...

Great party, menu, and blog! Love the bread pudding and Meuniere sauce, and your roux looks perfect!

Lighthearted Locavore (Lexi) said...

You know it's going to be a good dinner in our house when the recipe says "first you start with a roux".

Thanks Karen, Whitney and Marguerite!

Jacob's Kitchen said...

voted! =)

Kelly @ Barbaric Gulp! said...

I LOVE New Orleans. Great menu.

Unknown said...

Gumbo is such a comforting dish, I've never thought to do it with a different bird than chicken. Everything sounds amazing. I appreciate the addition of a timeline, was that the one you started with? You've got a vote of ours, good luck this week.

Lick My Spoon

Jessica said...

Looks lovely! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

Spicy Green Mango said...

I love pheasant and I love gumbo...but the 2 together? Genius! Great job! Voted!

Lindsey @ FRESH AIR + FRESH FOOD said...

Oh I love bread pudding and this looks fabulous! I have a feeling you'll love my local foods dinner party since you are a local foods kinda gal!

Hope to be with you in round 4!

Lori Lynn said...

Looks like a fun crowd!
Love the fluke recipe!
Good luck!

barbaraK said...
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