Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Eve menu

I was tasked with cooking dinner for New Year's Eve this year. Suited me well because I really enjoy cooking but it was a bit tricky since I was still back home so I was cooking half in my mum's kitchen, half in my mate's. It turned out well though - in my opinion anyway.

Just a simple plating of yum. I managed to forget that I had a bunch of avocados in the fridge so we didn't have them :(

  • Baby Romaine lettuce
  • Smoked salmon
  • Crayfish
  • Zingy Ginger Dressing from Well Fed 2
  • Bread. Oh no! The humanity. It was delicious.
  • Probably something more that I've forgotten
I was browsing through the supermarket catalogs to try and get some inspiration from some kind of offer and noticed that a place had Black Iberian Pig shoulder roast. It was pretty expensive but not bad considering that it is the finest pork you can get. And it was really hard to find anything free range otherwise (unless you went organic). So I based a menu on that and of course they didn't have any when I got to the shop. So I ended up with some pretty standard pork. At least it made for a very inexpensive meal and I do like that.

  • Slow-Cooker Italian Pork Roast - no slow cooker so just popped it in a big pot and put in the oven at 110 Celsius, removed the meat juices and drippings and put them in the fridge in the morning and let it roast on.
  • Umami Gravy - this one got some subs. Fish sauce replaced with oyster sauce (not paleo), no dried mushrooms, dried thyme instead of fresh (and possibly a bit too much, I think a teaspoon would have been more than enough), and the broth was definitely not paleo or organic or homemade or anything. To make up for the lack of dried mushrooms I added all of the meat juices (after removing most of the fat) from the roast. Any slow-cooked roast needs some juice returned to it before serving. You can just use the juices directly if you don't want to make gravy but it was awesome.
  • Casablanca Carrots from Well Fed 2. They were bloody amazing. Silly name though.
  • Belly Dance Beet Salad from Well Fed 2 or Also a silly name. Since these are served cold or room temperature I think they could have gained from using an oil with a lower melting point than coconut oil when baking them. And I made them the day before and they suck liquid so I think it would have been good to have given them a splash more orange juice before serving them. They were still rather delicious though. I also waited until serving with adding the pistachios and I think that worked well.
  • Oven roasted sweet potatoes. Oiled and sprinkled with salt and rosemary. Baked with the grill on. You never get a good texture with just convection heating.
  • A green salad. I think it was rocket, radicchio, and something else and then with cucumber and cherry plum tomatoes. 
  • Leftover bread and dressing from the starter. Yes, I am that lazy.
I did the carrots and the beets the day before and the dressing and most of the gravy in the morning (along with dessert). Then I just packed it all up and finished the sauce and made the sweet potatoes and salad at my friends place where we had the party. Pretty easy.

I firmly believe that one of the defining characteristics of dessert is the neural reward elicited from high concentrations of fat and carbohydrate. Therefore I don't think any of the "paleo" desserts you see on Pinterest or wherever are actually paleo. Unless they aren't any good and if they aren't then that's just money out the window. I did however make a cake without flours, preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilisers, etc.
  • Chocolate pie with walnut-date crust. I have no clue what a graham cracker tastes like so I'm just going with this name instead. The only good chocolate I could find which seemed to give a damn about slavery was björnsted from Germany. I usually always mock German chocolate so that was a nice surprise. And it's made from only 3 ingredients which I was really pleased with. Nomnompaleo says to use several cans of coconut milk but I found that one can separated gave me almost exactly one cup of coconut cream. I used Jefi brand Tropical Delite coconut milk and it only had two ingredients (coconut and water) and really separated well. Definitely try to find one without any emulsifiers or such. I found this in a Middle Eastern green grocers and I usually have to go to an Asian supermarket in the UK. Oh, and I sprinkled orange zest on top because it's much prettier that way.
  • A single slice of 5-6 different kinds of fruit. I didn't know most of them so I can't actually remember their names. Basically, it lightened a cake that is quite rich.
And of course I drank beer, white wine, red wine, champagne, crémant, prosecco, more beer, and got laid. It's two days later (really late in the evening) and the hangover is just about gone. I don't regret anything but it is remarkable how stupid I still am two days after drinking. Thinking was so hard today.