In December, to celebrate the darkest evening of the year I had a dinner party at my place, which included fish and a swim in the building pool. Hence, it was a beach party held at a most surprising time of the year. The menu was mostly French, since my previous dinner parties were Spanish and Italian. Many of the recipes came from Alain Ducasse's cookbooks. Here was the menu
1. Canapés: Simple eggplant spread or mustard on what I think is the best French bread in Chicago: the bread at Fox & Obel.
2. Quiche au fromage et épinard: I usually strive to always serve something different at my dinner parties, but this quiche is one of the standards of my repertoire, and I usually put on a little show removing the quiche from a pan.
3. Pavé de loup au endives cuites et crues, sucs de loup aux truffes: the main course of the night, a recipe adapted from one of Alain Ducasse's classic dishes. It is hard to go wrong with black truffles, sea bass, and endives. For the recipe I used a Chilean sea bass. The fish was actually not cooking properly, so I made a bed from the vegetables, and then covered the fish in broth, and cooked it for an extra ten minutes. The resulting fish was absolutely perfect. I even surprised myself.
4. Foie Gras au Cognac: My original intention was to make a rather elaborate recipe from Alain Ducasse: Petit pâté choud de colvert de Sologne et foie gras en pithiviers, sauce rouennaise. But by the time we finished the fish and quiche, every one was pretty full, so my improvisation of searing the Foie Gras in a pan, and then covering it in Cognac, was just right.
5. Petits pots de thé au jasmin: custard infused with Jasmine tea. Another recipe from Alain Ducasse.
6. Une surprise: the late Frank LaCatena discovered a marvelous creation by combining enough eggs to feed an army with cream and fresh basil. One scoop is all you need!
Eating good French food on a cold snowy day in Chicago after swimming in a pool. It's a combination difficult to beat!