Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dinner party!

Oh yay!! Impromptu dinner party!!! Well, demi-impromptu. It's tomorrow. So I have a whole day to prepare for it! And guess what... it's duck night!!! My sister-in-law swung by today for a visit and when I asked her about pictures from her trip in France she said she hadn't even seen them yet! So we're inviting her and one of the guys that was on the trip with her over for dinner tomorrow so that we can look at pictures - and so that I can cook my duck.
Oh, before I go any further, I finished off that business plan and all the financial spreadsheet templates that I was putting together for my brother - and I made some for my sister too! Oh, and it only took 5 hours!
Anyway, I planned my menu this evening and ran out for groceries so that I wouldn't have to do that tomorrow. The duck will be the appetizer primarily. Duck breast done in three different ways: with a prune and coffee syrup, with a cinnamon balsamic reduction (sweetened with honey!) and a l'orange - simply because I gotta. Then, once we're done our duck tasting we'll have the mango coleslaw (red cabbage, peppers, mango, limes, cilantro), Pesto Orzo Salad (tomatoes, peppers, cucumber), my homemade Panko Coconut Shrimp and finally Duck Meat Rice Paper Rolls with rice vermicelli, green onion, carrot, cucumber and red pepper. Oh yes, and for dessert we are indeed having my fresh fruit phyllo tart and for bevies we'll be having italian sodas and strawberry and mango puree sodas.
Now, I know I'm insane, but it's not as bad as it looks. My biggest challenge will be getting the duck defrosted in time and dissecting it. I do, however, have lots of experience working with whole chickens and really, a duck is very similar (no kidding, eh?). Since I'm not cooking the duck whole I'll simply spatch-cock it so that it's easier to access the breast. I'll remove those and the legs and then the rest of the duck shall be roasted (sorta). My second biggest challenge will be all of the sauces. My reduction I can make a little bit ahead but the l'orange and the prune coffee syrup should be served hot. I may have to play waitress a bit and serve the appetizers one at a time. Nearly everything else I can, and will, make ahead. The orzo salad I'll make in the morning, as well as the pastry cream. The whole fruit tart I can make in the early afternoon because it's best chilled. The Mango Coleslaw can be made about an hour ahead - not too much more because I don't want anything to discolor. The fruit purees - simple. The coconut shrimp I can make right after the coleslaw. Those involve a bit more effort than just chopping veggies so it'll have to be 100% attention on the shrimp when I shallow fry them, but after that I finish baking them in the oven so I can pretty much forget about them until we're ready for them. Duck breast cooks remarkably fast so I can cook those up independant of the sauces (except for the coffee syrup one - those are cooked in the sauce) and by that time my sister-in-law will be over to help so one of us will be on sauce duty and one of us will be on duck duty. The last item of concern will be the rice paper rolls. I'll use the random dark meat off the carcass for those. The vermicelli cooks super fast and I can cut everything up for them in advance so the only issue is rolling them. We'll have to do that between the appetizers and dinner. But that's okay, it'll be fun.
I'm so excited! And hungry all of a sudden... I'd best go clean and maybe chop some veggies for tomorrow.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

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