Not so much a ? as opinions wanted

Joined Nov 20, 2000
I'm having some friends over this weekend and I'm cooking. I want an opinion on the menu and any suggestions.

Starter of BelGioso Parmesan and Shiitake Napolean with an Asparagus Cream Vinaigrette.

A soup instead perhaps?

I have Cornish Hens. I was planning on stuffing them with asparagus & shallots and roasting them with a Tapenade glaze.
Hadn't planned on a starch as I figured a whole hen and veg should be enough.

Dessert will be either Nougatine Glace or Classic Chocolate Mousse.

Brad? Others?

Joined Jul 24, 2001
Although my name is not Brad and certainly my opinion on menus hasn't the same value, I am always for soup as starter.

What about an avgolemono soup?

I think it goes perfectly with the main course.

You are not very kosher chef Chrose LOL
Joined May 26, 2001
If you can get good asparagus already (UPSTATE!?!?!), why not just serve them steamed or roasted alongside the birds? I would not "sully" them by mixing them up with other flavors. And not serve them in 2 different courses, unless they were the focus of the dinner.

The napolean sounds good -- very strong flavors to start. How do you make it? A "frico" of the cheese layered with the mushrooms? Maybe an herbal creamy vinaigrette to add color and lightness?

Cornish hens: Did you mean "tamarind" instead of "Tapenade" though? If you DO use tapenade, how about sticking it UNDER the skin. There was a piece on cornish hens in Fine Cooking a couple of issues back that suggested that -- I tried it and it really helped those little fellas. In any case, you've got another course with very strong flavors. If no starch, I hope at least some good bread to sop up the juices!

I would go with the nougatine glace, since it's lighter but still very flavorful. Is yours the pistachio-praline-crushed-and-folded-into-meringue-and-frozen kind?

BTW: what wines?
Joined Jul 31, 2000
My Dear Hockey playing friend,

This is a interesting menu, quite European in it’s foundation.
Nice, but you live in upstate New York, not in France or Italy.

Therefore, my first suggestion would to take advantage of your region.

Suzanne (as always) brings some very important ideas and observations that I agree with.
When I read your menu I find no space for lightness, and the repetition of Asparagus is not neccesary and somewhat redundent, don’t you think?

Lets start with your first course; sounds wonderful, (but) loose the cream in the vinaigrette, besides vinaigrettes don’t have dairy in them (no matter what you have been told) I would also use the asparagus in other ways because both preparations they hind in someway or another.

Why not make a Basil drizzel and a red pepper coulis that you can “Ying Yang” on the plate, maybe some leek frizzles on top for hieght and texture.

Athenaues also brings her point of soup for the first course. Although I am not convinced that Avgolemono is a perfect match for your main course, hers why,

First, the soup is made with chicken stock…you do not want to limit your guest to two poultry based items. I also don’t find this soup particulary light, because of the lyonaise of egg yolks and the addiction of rice (this is only my opinion)

I would maybe go with a light fresh spring sweet peas puree for a soup, simply swirled with crème fraich and topped with little parmesan tuiles holding whole sweet peas for garnish.

For your Hen, there are millions of variatys to play with, but if you would like to stick to your theme, maybe consider this. The Tapinade “Glaze” you mentian I am afraid it will dry up on you as you roast the birds, so think about ways to keep the little birds moist. Perhapes make the stuffing out of the tapinade, some roasted garlic and shallots, thyme and goat cheese marinated and crumbled into the stuffing.

Stuff and Truss, and make a shallot, vermouth chicken stock reduction and reduce to almost a sec, then drizzle in (off the heat) some excellent olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some julienne of sundried tomatoes, use this as a sauce.

Chrose, why not a nice sauteed wild rice cake to serve with it? And as Suzanne said, I would simply blanch the grass and roll it in warm sweet butter with some kosher salt and milled black pepper.

I would also go with the Nougatine Glace as I think Chocolate mousse is over done.
I love the flavor of orange with this dessert.

Chrose, if you want some ideas on some wines let me know.
Most of all though…Enjoy your evening
Joined Jul 24, 2001
What an analysis

Cape Chef without arguing this is our eternal dissagrement

I am Archestratus, you are Apicus LOL
Joined Jul 31, 2000
And all this time I thought you were "Athenaeus" The mighty writer who wrote of these two men,

But I do understand your analogy...Where Apicus was well documented, Archestratus can only be foung in "fragments";)

Sorry Chrose...back to your topic
Joined Mar 4, 2000
I also prefer the nougatine to the choc. mousse. It has much more potential, and choc. mousse is way overdone.

My first reaction to the menu was the redundancy of the asparagus. I think CC's soup would be a wondeful, light start to the meal. I hope we hear how this all turns out. I know it'll be divine!
Joined Nov 20, 2000
Brad, who asked you? Oh wait a sec.. I did:D

As for the Asparagus theme I've always been partial to running themes through my menus. Right now we have very nice Mexican Asparagus at .99/lb at Tops. And I like roasted Asp so that's why I thought that.
Soup would certainly be easier than a Napolean. I may do that. I have a very nice Cream of Pea soup w/curry that I haven't used for years. I still like that Parm though so I may find a way to sneak it in, somewhere.
Stuffing the skins like a Persillade is a better thought. In fact a Persillade is excellent with hens!
A reduction sauce is a good thought as well.
I suppose you're right about the Nougatine Glace haven't had that in years either. But I just loves me a good Chocolate "Moose":eek:
And Suzzane that is the type of Nougatine I am referring to. And I did mean Tapenade (Olives, anchovies, garlic, etc.) not Tamarind though that might be nice in another application.
I also have European roots and training and tastes that's why I fell back on that rather than the area. I usually cook more regionally in the warmer months.
And Brad actually I meant a puree of asparagus as a base for the vinaigrette rather than a cream. My bad.
Keep em coming, I rarely make a decision until the last minute anyway!
Joined May 26, 2001
Oh, well, okay, if you do a vinaigrette with puree of asparagus, then you can use the pieces of stem you trim off when you prep the veg course. (I love dovetailing!). But I'm really curious -- how do you keep it from turning a yucky color? Doesn't the asparg react badly colorwise with the acid? If you know how to keep it looking appetizing, I'd really like to know what you do!

The pea soup idea is terrific for spring. You could still make frico with the Parm to have on the side, maybe???? This way, you start off light-ish, then hit them with the tapenade hens (not too hard, please ;) ), and end up with the smooth/crunchy nougatine. Sounds like a good set of flavors and textures to me! (And so will the suggestions that other people make, too, I'll bet.)
Joined Mar 7, 2002
Dearest Chrose,

Dear Abby is pleased to meet you. What a wonderful meal you are preparing for your friends! She does not pretend to be a chef but Abby does indeed love fine food!

She finds the soup suggested by M. Cape Chef to be very fresh and lovely. But the Avgolemono suggested by Athenaeus is such a bright, fresh flavor! She really cannot decide between them.

So, Abby thought, why not! The Avgolemono can be used as a lovely sauce with vegetables and would dress the asparagus beautifully.

Abby wishes you a marvelous time with your friends. Friends are so very important to Dear Abby.

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