Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com
So at long last, my last major dinner of the year was here. And what a whirlwind of preparation it was to get there. I started making the cones a couple of days before the dinner and wiped my brow “whew” getting over that hurdle. Little did I know that Whole Foods Edgewater would throw a steeplechase hurdle in my way by not having fresh chives in its produce section. I ended up relying on Matsuhisa’s recipe for tartare by using a 2:1 mix of shallot to grated onion for this micro-batch portion.
For the tartare – I mixed:
2 oz of sushi grade salmon belly (boy did I get lucky at Mitsuwa Edgwater) finely minced
3/8 t extra virgin olive oil
3/8 t meyer lemon oil
3/16 t grated garlic (thank you Matsuhisa-sama!)
3/8 t finely minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon 4:1 salt/white pepper mix
For the sweet red onion creme fraiche – I mixed:
4 T creme fraiche
1/8 t 4:1 salt/white pepper mix
1 1/2 t finely minced red onion then soaked in water and then drained
The creme fraiche mix I loaded into a plastic ziplock back, cut off a small tip and piped the mixture into the cones leaving enough space for me to stuff about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salmon tartare on top!
Fortunately, the roasted vegetable salad with curry aigre-doux worked out just as expected as did the veloute (though I must say we had a bit more leftover veloute which we happily finished the next day).
Earlier in the day, I’d gotten the garlic/tomato oil sauce ready and my wife helped out by prepping the basil as dinner started so I could re-warm the sauce with fresh basil. As I was getting ready to deliver the fish course, I nearly had a coronary when I realized I’d forgotten the garlic chips garnish. I became a whirlwind thinly slicing garlic like it was usuzukuri sashimi and quickly getting it into the hot oil to crisp – and fortunately everything got delivered almost on time after the salad course.
While everyone was enjoying the monkfish, I loaded 4″ diameter ramekins (2″ deep) with the sauteed root vegetables and then pieces of braised shortrib and a bit of the reduced nappe’d braising liquid from Ron Siegel’s recipe. I’d prepared that stew the day before for an hour in my pressure cooker and got it chilled so I could clarify off the fat. I put the cooked shortribs in the refridgerator for dinner and reduce the braising liquid to about 25% of its total volume so that it was nice and rich. Once the ramekins were loaded, I topped that off with the puff pastry dough and got it into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.
In addition to preparing the sauce for the monkfish, that same morning I spent time preparing two ‘racks’ from a ripe whole pineapple that’d been sitting on the counter for about 6 days. I was inspired to do this dessert based on Chef Keller’s original Oven Roasted Maui Pineapple ( The French Laundry Cookbook, pg. 282) But how does one go about transforming a whole pineapple into this wonderful simple dessert? Perhaps, the following pictures are worth a thousand words – once I wedge cut the core out of half the pineapple, I stood it vertically an proceeded to cut away 1/4 of the pineapple from about 4″ of the skin flap:
Now it was just a matter of cutting alternate rectangles out of the flap to form the chop ‘bones’:
That rack I roasted at 400 degrees, 20 minutes fruit-side down, 30 minutes fruit side up and then 20 minutes fruit side down.
Once it was cooked, I let it sit to get to room temperature and then to the refridgerator to chilled. When it was time to serve dessert, I chose to simply spoon a
bit of sweet vanilla creme fraiche from the French Laundry book onto a plate, cut a ‘lamb chop’ portion off the pineapple ‘rack’ and served it upon the creme fraiche. The sweet vanilla creme fraiche was astonishingly easy – it’s about 6 T creme fraiche mixed with 1 1/2 t of sugar and 1/2 t of vanilla extract (The French Laundry Cookbook, pg. 278). Boy, were my diners’ eyes opened to that flavor combination.
While my family have had the cabernet braised short ribs before, I think the cornets, monkfish and dessert left an quite an impression. I think it’s fair to say that everyone fully enjoyed the offered omakase meal for this holiday occasion.