New Year’s Eve Tasting Dinner

New Year’s Eve Tasting Dinner

Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

I know this post is somewhat delayed but I still wanted to share the dinner menu and recipes for the dishes I served at my New Year’s Eve tasting dinner. Each course was masterly paired with wines selected from my cellar by our friend Chuck.

Cheese Course

Cheese Course

Nine courses, nine people, eighty-one plates, lots of prep and tons of fun piecing it all together.

  1. Smoked Salmon Lollipop
  2. Bruschetta with shaved Parmesan
  3. Roasted Beet Salad with Chevre
  4. Tomato Basil Soup with Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  5. Coquilles Saint Jacques
  6. Risotto with Grilled Asparagus
  7. Beef short ribs with Mashed Potatoes
  8. Cheese course
  9. Chocolate Bombe and Dark Chocolate Truffle
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

If the idea of serving a tasting menu at your next dinner party sounds fun, the key to success, in my opinion, if to be as organized as possible. Here’s how I like to do that:

Risotto with Grilled Asparagus

Risotto with Grilled Asparagus

  • Design a menu with all the courses listed. Ensure the accompaniments are also listed.
  • Make a detailed grocery list. Note the name of the dish the ingredients refer back to in parenthesis. For example:  1 bundle of asparagus (risotto), bittersweet chocolate (truffles).
  • Create a prep list detailing what dishes or components can be made or prepped ahead of time. Leave as few things to the last minute as possible.
  • The day of the dinner party, tape your menu along with assembly directions to a wall near your prep area. This will make it easy for you to view what comes next without having to find the piece of paper among the chaos.
  • If at all possible, assign a nearby room as your prep station. This is where your dishes will be stacked, accompaniments stored and, if available, a toaster oven or heating element placed to reheat foods at the last moment.
  • Engage the help of friends! In my case, asking my girlfriends to plate with me and our friend Chuck to pour the wines saved me time and allowed me to focus on the food.
  • Print your menu along with the wines being poured and give a copy to your guests. It’s entertaining and keeps your guests in the loop on what’s coming next.
  • Have fun and sit to eat with your guests!!!
4-Course Fish and Seafood Tasting Menu Dinner

4-Course Fish and Seafood Tasting Menu Dinner

Those of you who follow my blog have read about the tasting menu dinners I sometimes host at my home.  This weekend, I decided to do a four-course fish and seafood tasting menu dinner for two featuring some fresh produce and herbs from my garden.

Here are the dishes I served:

Lump Crab & Yellow Tomato Coulis Shooter

Course #1:  Yellow Tomato Coulis and Lump Crab Shooter

I have beautiful yellow tomatoes ripening in my yard that I absolutely love.  They are sweet and fresh and simply delicious.  For this easy starter, I pureed a couple medium yellow tomatoes with excellent olive oil, a few basil leaves, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper in a food processor.  I served about ¼ cup of this golden elixir in a shot glass topped with a tablespoon of lump crab meat and a tiny basil leaf.

Scallop Crudo

Course #2:  Scallop Crudo

I love crudo (“raw” in Italian) dishes in the summer.  In essence, crudo dishes feature raw fish or seafood ‘cured’ in citrus juice, olive oil, salt and sometimes vinegar.  For those who are not fans of raw fish or seafood, this preparation allows the seafood or fish to cook in the acidic liquid, so give it a try!

I sliced large scallops thinly then cured the slices in a combination of orange and lime juices, a splash of red wine vinegar, sea salt, top quality olive oil, thinly sliced Thai chilies and fresh cilantro leaves.  Absolutely fabulous!

Lobster Tail Risotto

Course #3:  Lobster Tail Risotto

Risotto is uber popular at my home, so knew I had to prepare it for this special meal.  I grilled a 10-ounce lobster tails for 5 minutes, then removed from the shell and sliced carefully.  I made risotto with tons of butter, olive oil, elephant garlic and yellow onion, and then topped the luscious concoction with the lobster tail slices.  Not a bad dish!

Fish Three Ways

Course #4:  Fish Three Ways

I love the idea of serving three fish dishes on one plate. I opted for cod, salmon and yellow fin tuna – pale white to deep red fish.  The cod was marinated in sesame oil, miso and ponzu then lightly sautéed and served over steam soy beans.  The salmon was Dijon mustard and maple syrup-glazed and grilled on a cedar plank then served over leftover glaze.  The tuna was marinated for a short while in steak sauce then grilled to medium rare and served over Taboule salad.  Great flavor and visual contrasts!

Doing this type of meal for two people or six people isn’t difficult.  One needs to make a list of the dishes and accompaniments to be served, make as many of the dishes in advance (or at least prep the dishes) as possible and know what you’ll plate everything on!

Let me know if you try your own tasting menu dinner – cheers!


Why Stop at Three or Four Courses?  Make it a Ten-Course Meal!

Why Stop at Three or Four Courses? Make it a Ten-Course Meal!

Brined Kurobota Pork

Chimichurri Skirt Steak in Handmade Tortilla

Some of you have already seen the photos I posted on my Facebook page of the 10-course tasting meal I served last week, but I wanted to take an opportunity to recap the evening.

During Thanksgiving week, I was fortunate enough to have dear friends in from out of town for a few days.  We made sure we had a few good foodie adventures, including a 10-course meal that my girlfriends and me prepared for most of the afternoon and ate for most of the evening.  What a great way to get caught up on each other’s lives than over a 4-hour meal!?  Here are the courses we enjoyed:

Course 1: Butternut Squash & White Asparagus Bisque (recipe).

Course 2: Panko-Crusted Goat Cheese & Beet Salad (photo).

Scallops in Sage Infused Irish Brown Butter

Course 3: Scallop in Sage-Infused Irish Brown Butter.

Course 4: Prawn Ravioli over Yellow Tomato Coulis (photo).

Course 5: Butter & Finger Lakes Riesling-Poached Sea Bass with Baby Bok Choy and White Asparagus.

Course 6: Indian-Spiced Chicken Tenderloin Bite Over Peanut Sauce (photo).

Course 7: Brined Kurobota Pork with Apricot Glaze & Potato Orbs.

Course 8: Chimichurri Skirt Steak in Handmade Corn Tortilla with Salsa Verde.

Course 9: Maple Bourbon Pecan Tartelette with Maple Profiterole.

Course 10: Cheese Course (Dunbarton Blue, Irish Cheddar, French Brie) with Dark Chocolate-Drizzled Candied Bacon and Honey Pearls.

Cheese Course with Dark Chocolate Candied Bacon

The key to the success of an ambitious meal is to be prepared and organized.  I have 4 tips to hosting a dinner party while not killing yourself.

Have I missed any tips that have served you well when hosting a dinner party?  Please share!

5-Course Tasting Dinner at Casa Veronique (aka, my house)

My guy and I had plans to try a new steakhouse in town yesterday.  Steakhouses aren’t typically on my must-try list as I can grill a pretty mean piece of meat at home, but wanted to do a review of this new BYOB place.  Mid-afternoon, I got ambitious and inspired while grocery shopping, and decided to prepare a 5-course meal at home instead to surprise my guy after a hard day of…golf!

With courses 1-3, I served a refreshing 2008 Provenance Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

Course 1:

Baby Arugula & Baby Greens Salad

Baby Arugula & Baby Greens Salad






Baby Arugula & Baby Greens Salad:  I arranged the greens on a plate, then added a piece of avocado, a thin slice of Mackintosh apple, a section of yellow tomato and a perfectly grilled slice of Houllami.  the dressing was a simple Dijon mustard, olive oil, red wine vinegar and tarragon vinaigrette.

The salad was at once light and fresh and comforting thanks to the amazing Greek cheese.

Course 2:

Homemade Prawn Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter

Homemade Prawn Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter





Homemade Prawn Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter:  I filled wonton wrappers with prawns halved length-wise, goat cheese, ricotta salata and sage, boiled them for 2 minutes, then pan sautéed them in brown butter infused with fresh sage leaves.

Mental note: Make this as a MEAL!

Course 3:

Seared Yellow-Tail Tuna in Endive Boats

Seared Yellow-Tail Tuna in Endive Boats




Seared Yellow-Tail Tuna in Endive Boats: I marinated tuna in garlic paste, ginger paste, sesame oil, olive oil and fresh cracked pepper for 2 hours, then seared it in a grill pan for a couple minutes on each side. I sliced the tune in long strips that I placed on endive leaves and dressed with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper.

This dish would be a perfect amuse-bouche for a party. Must remember it.

With courses 4-5, I served a rich 2005 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva

Course 4:

Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin

Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin



Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin with Pan Fried Smashed Potatoes and Sauce au Poivre:  Simply grilled filets, pan fried potatoes and cognac-enhanced pepper sauce.  Need I say more?

Course 5:




Honeyed-Brie:  Highest quality brie drizzled with lavender honey.  Perfect ending to a pretty darn good meal.