Critique of special menu required please

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by wildwood, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. wildwood

    wildwood

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    Hi all...new member here.

    Hubby and I are planning an intimate dinner for two special friends. Offered a choice of dishes that might please them, one of their suggestions was calf's liver as a special treat. I've never put together a menu using liver before and would appreciate opinions on some of my choices. I want everything to work together and each course to compliment the others.

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    * Green pea and pesto soup -- OR -- Crepes with sauteed field mushrooms and creamy chive sauce.

      (Would it be too much to served a tiny bowl of the soup beside a small crepe?)

    * Buffalo mozzarella salad with beet root, mint and grapes (has mixed baby greens and a simple vinnegrette) ---OR--- Apple,
      dried cherry, and walnut salad with maple dressing (dressing has maple syrup, rice wine and a touch of mayo to make it
      creamy).

    * Pan-fried organic calves' liver with sage and....sherry, or maybe red wine and carmalelised onions, or with a fig vinaigrette?
      Served with garlic mashed potatoes ---OR---soft polenta with gorgonzola (or just plain?) ---OR---crispy polenta

    Have not even begun to think about dessert yet since they are my weakest area...maybe just some cheese and port and/or fruit.

    Looking forward to hearing what y'all think!
     
  2. abefroman

    abefroman

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    Personally I'd like the:
    Crepes
    Mozzarella salad (be sure to slice the beets thin)
    Liver with the onions and crispy polenta sounds good
     
  3. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Your menu choices read very well.  I don't think any one is better than another, they're all too good for that sort of criticism -- at least from me. 

    If it were my party, I'd be a little worried about handling the logistics.  You're technique for the liver means leaving the table and cooking dinner for four -- in the middle of dinner.  It not only breaks up the party but there are culinary implications as well.   

    The worst of which is that the app and salad have time to begin digesting and everyone is full before the main comes out.  If you see it as a problem, there are a number of ways to deal with it. 

    One of the easisest is to change the timing.  For instance, would you be open to serving the liver as the app? 

    Another:  Since you're clearly an accomplished cook, your parties may already center around the kitchen.  Everybody up and away from the table and in the kitchen gossiping and helping seems to keep appetites whetted.   

    If you are going to keep the liver as a main -- try and have your kitchen as clean and well organized as possible -- including all of the mise ready to go, pans on the burners, butter out and measured, etc. -- before cooking the liver.  In turn, that means keeping a very tight rein on the app and salad service. 

    It also means timing the side.  If it's mash or soft polenta you'll be up and down a few times during the first two courses.  If it's "crispy," as in sauteed pan fried, it means keeping two large skillets going at the same time during the final cook -- not easy for most home cooks.  If it's crispy as in deep fried -- much easier.  

    Good luck with all of this,
    BDL
     
  4. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    the only thing I'd be careful with is the amount of cheese/cream possibilities throughout the menu....

    ie: crepe with creamy sauce
    mozz salad
    creamy polenta
    cheese for dessert

    *there is nothing that says you can't purchase dessert.....
     
  5. wildwood

    wildwood

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    Thanks to all for the input. Our friends have their hearts set on liver and might be disappointed if it wasn’t the star attraction, so that has to stay. BDL, your points are well-taken concerning timing! All our friends gravitate to the kitchen, and I enjoy this during early prep stages, but not during time-critical bits when it’s all too easy to get distracted with conversation and...um...a wee tipple or two! A very tidy cook, I've most but not all timings figured out, but still might have some of the issues you noted.

    Thesoup can be made well head, then set happily on top of a double-boiler.

    The salad dressing can be made ahead; salads plated, covered in the fridge with the mozzarella pre-torn and added with the dressing at the last minute. Hubbie can clear the soup away whilst I dress the salads.

    Crispy polenta wouldn’t need the constant stirring, so it could be made up and cut, ready for frying. Still might be tricky, so will experiment this weekend to see if it could have a first fry before we sit down, put into the oven, then get just a quick final crisp while the liver is fried. Anyone try this before? If that doesn’t work, perhaps some steamed new potatoes with parsley would be okay.

    Good point, Shroomgirl, about too much creamy stuff. Doing away with the crepes and servingcrispy polenta sorts that issue out. This way, I can still do my beloved crepes ahead and fill them for brunch the next day--Yipee!

    I’d never live it down if I bought in a dessert-LOL! They’d KNOW!! Me thinks some sort of warm liquor, coffee and biscotti to make ahead would take pressure off.

    A few follow-up questions for you dear people. I’ve only cooked calf’s liver once before and soaked it in milk, presumably to remove toxins, then pan fried without flour. Is the milk necessary for organic liver? What are the pros and cons of dusting with flour, specially since grill marks and and a crispy exterior and smooth interior is desired?

    Thanks again to each and all!

     
     
  6. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    The flour is helplful, for several reasons. But just a light dusting; you're not looking to bread the liver.

    With liver the number one cooking tip is: Introduce it to the fire, then allow no further conversation.
     
  7. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    that's good.
     
  8. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Shroom, have you ever been served overcooked liver? Try it once and you'll really appreciate that line. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  9. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    I have and do appreciate the fine liver line....sorry my post was not clear.