09 Mar St. Patrick’s Day Feast
We originally featured this piece in our March 2006 coverage, but it’s always fun to revive great dinner ideas, and in this one, we decided to focus on the green theme that’s everywhere around St. Patrick’s Day without hauling out the tired old cliches of Corned Beef & Cabbage & the like. There is an updated version of this menu — complete with wine pairings and a Green Tea & Orange Mousse Cake — in our new cookbook, The Gilded Fork: Entertaining at Home.
Dinner parties have a tendency to inspire angst. What to serve? How to serve it? Will the recipes be too complicated? Can I fit it all in? We decided it’s time for a deep breath. With recipes that are simple yet elegant, we’ve concentrated on crafting enhanced flavors in some familiar dishes, keeping colors bright, textures intriguing, and preparation simple.
Pistachio Ice Cream (see note below)
A NOTE ON DESSERT
We went back and forth on this, and decided that in the end, we recommend simply buying a high-quality pistachio ice cream. It can be fun to make one at home, but you do have lots of other items to prepare for this dinner party, and we are certainly not averse to buying products when they taste wonderful. We are fond of Haagen-Dazs®, but if you have a local ice cream maker, his or her creations might be even more of a treat. The main goal of serving this particular ice cream is to echo the pistachios in the salmon, which is one of our favorite ways to craft menus.
MISE EN PLACE
For those curious about the meaning of mise en place, it is a French culinary term for “set in place.” If you have ever watched a cooking show, or been inside a restaurant kitchen, you will notice that next to the cooking area, things are set up just so. Ingredients, sauces and critical elements are ready to be used, whether pre-cooked, pre-chopped, or ready as a garnish. This kind of organized setup enables a cook to focus on the actual act of cooking itself without distraction. Our intention with this section is to use the same approach at home, enabling you to host your own special occasions with flair.