Sunday, October 3, 2010

PFB 2010 #3: Desserts in Disguise


Luxury is highly subjective; extravagance is not limited to the realm of expensive linens and crystal goblets. For me, a person who isn't particularly fond of fanciness, this is especially true. So when tasked with throwing a luxurious dinner party for Project Food Blog challenge numero tres, my mind did not conjure up images of the perfect decor or atmosphere. No, it immediately went to the food. And when I think about luxurious food, I think indulgence; I think about giving into those desires we so often push away; I think about gluttony; I think about being bad. Yes, I think about dessert. And you know what’s better than dessert? Dessert for dinner. In four courses.

Poking around the net during my research phase, I found an intriguing recipe for coconut curry ice cream that served as the springboard for my menu. Extravagance is more than a bowl of ice cream—it’s a bowl of ice cream with loads of delicious toppings. I needed to up the ante. With coconut and curry being Thai staples, I thought about other regional flavors and came up with kaffir lime leaves and peanuts. Thus was born Thai Panang Curry – coconut curry ice cream with a kaffir lime syrup and crushed peanuts. The rest of my menu developed in the same way—I picked a flavor or item I wanted to use, namely pomegranate juice, chocolate truffles and crème brûlée, and then connected it with a well-known savory dish as inspiration. This is the menu I came up with:


Tablescape


While I strongly believe the majority of your dinner party budget should be spent on food, that doesn't mean decor should be completely ignored. When considering your tablescape, consider what you already have on hand. For me, the decision was easy. I raided the remnants of my grandmother's vast china collection and paired it with an old lace tablecloth and our everyday glasses and silverware.

If you don't have much on hand, I suggest you invest in a matching white set of dinnerware that serves at least eight people. My favorite value happens to be Corelle. You can use them alone, or mix them with your other pieces. Everything else merely requires a trip to the craft store. A few yards of colored fabric and some hemming tape (no sewing!) can produce a vibrant tablecloth, runner or placemats; silk flowers can add a little elegance to your place setting; a basket or vase can hold fresh flowers or fruit as a centerpiece. Look for interesting items--including in the clearance section. You're hunting items that are cheap but don't look cheap. Elegance does not have to be expensive.

Frites Aux Truffes Et À L'Ail


I had really wanted to try my hand at making truffles, but they needed to fit my dinner-in-disguise theme. I tried hard to find a classic dish made with fungus, but nothing was really working in my favor. Then I happened upon Belgian fries with garlic and truffle oil. Bingo. I could have left out the garlic, but what's the fun in that? It's surprisingly good--chocolate, spice, then garlic, then chocolate again. My brother's chef friend, Min, was also present, and felt that the waffle was the perfect counterpart. This was definitely a group favorite.


Arroz Con Frijoles


This was the hardest dish for me to come up with. Again, I started with an idea--this time crème brûlée--and thought long and hard for an inspiration. It wasn't happening. So I started considering savory foods that are commonly found in desserts. Rice. Rice pudding. Rice pudding crème brûlée. After confirming the sanity of my idea via Twitter, I added in the espresso beans for a little Latin flavor. Or so I claim. Next time, plátanos are in order. Also, I let the chef takeover the torching for me this time, the gracious host that I am.

Pizza Margherita


I happen to currently be in possession of a case of pomegranate juice and was planning to turn some of it into syrup for a cheesecake. But during a brainstorming session, someone suggested a dessert pizza, and my world was turned upside down. I love mascarpone; in fact, I'd eat it by the spoonful if allowed. And my mint plant thinks it's a weed. My guests devoured these mini slices, with some even going back for seconds. Others nabbed leftover waffles and started to sop up the liquid left on the cutting board.

Thai Panang Curry


I already told you what the deal with this one was. This was actually fascinating--a creamy coconut ice cream with a hint of spice (and some wonderfully delicious toasted coconut). The lime syrup gave it the perfect tang, and also inspired a waffle-in-cup party by Mandy. But can I just say how absurd it is that even at the cheap Asian grocers, kaffir lime leaves cost $33 a pound. They're leaves. You can grow them in California. Leaves.

The Golden Rule

And now it’s time for some sage advice from The Baking Barrister. My number one rule for small get-togethers is to know thy guest. I’m not only talking about double-checking dietary restrictions or planning around picky eaters—although that is extremely important if you’re putting curry in ice cream and garlic in chocolate (with that part of the rule, even my mom wasn’t invited). No, I am talking about knowing your guests’ personalities. Most of us have different sets of friends from different parts of our lives, and that’s okay. It’s not okay to initiate crossovers in intimate settings unless you’re absolutely sure that personalities mesh. I don’t like reigning in my eye rolls or my acerbic tongue, and I definitely don’t like spending hours of my time amongst those with whom I have nothing in common. So, on behalf of all judgmental, introverted and/or snarky people out there, I beg you to heed the following advice:

All of your friends don’t have to be BFFs--they just have to get along during those important events, like birthdays, weddings, and finally-have-a-job parties. And if you see a friend who fits my description having mini-seizures in the corner, she’s probably just trying to control the urge to kill someone. Thank her for being polite and change the conversation to something a lot less obnoxious.

Recipes


To avoid text-overload, I will be providing recipes and more photos for each dish throughout the week. I'll update this space with links to each post for convenience. Or you can check the archives down at the bottom. Now go vote for me! You know you want to.


79 comments:

The Cilantropist said...

AWESOME. I love how all these desserts turned out, and I am still especially intrigued by the idea of garlic truffles. Also adore your grandmothers china! Great spin on the idea of luxury, since I don't think anyone could turn down dessert for dinner. ;)

Yesim said...

I really liked your grandmu s China, and i am really curious how the curry d be inside icecream :))

http://yesimstylekitchen.blogspot.com/

Alesia, the home cook said...

I love your creative approach with this challenge. All the best and hope to see more great posts from you in this contest!

Jan/Thella said...

wonderful. lovely. you kept me in suspense on what you're gonna come up with and you definitely blew my mind away :) i knew you'd be over the top but this is seriously over the top :) well done dear!

City Share said...

How creative. I'm having trouble imagining how the truffles would taste, but all ot the others I know would be delicious. This was a fun read. Thanks.

Eileen said...

Great twist on this challenge. I like your thinking outside the box!

TheChocolatePriestess said...

My own food experiences have expanded greatly since starting my blog. Two years ago, I would have freaked when I saw some of your dessert suggestions. Now, I just read and look and smile.

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

Congratulations on advancing to the next round of #PFB2010! I hope that we can both advance to the next round!

Jean said...

I don't know what all the worry was about--this was excellent! Very creative and well written. I think you covered everything!

sara @ CaffeIna said...

I love love love the menu and I love your take of the word "luxurious" I totally agree with your perspective. I would love to try that pizza :)

Monet said...

This is too beautiful. I would have loved attending this event. Dessert always make me happy...especially inventive and creative desserts like the ones you presented above! The pizza was my favorite, but I would have been happy with any and all! Wonderful job...you have my vote!

Victoria K. said...

I love this!! What a great idea to take savory dish ideas and make a dessert tasting menu out of them! So creative!! I will definitely be voting for this menu :) mmmmm

Megan@foodalution.com said...

Fantastic! I am envious that you have such a beautiful china collection.... a great take on the challenge! - megs

Ben said...

You totally could have snuck that pizza into the CIA and beaten Alex. Maybe even Angelo. Nicely done!

FOODalogue said...

Very creative and it certainly satisfies the 'new tastes and exotic flavors' of the challenge. Good luck with moving forward.

Winnie said...

I really love what you did with this challenge- the coconut curry ice cream sounds particularly amazing!

Isabelle said...

I love this idea so so SO much. Especially the thai curry ice cream, which sounds positively dreamy with the shredded coconut. Even the garlic truffles sound amazing, even though I would normally never consider eating garlic-flavoured chocolate. :)
Great job. Needless to say, you've totally got my vote!

Foodiva said...

Wow, a DESSERT menu over four courses? Definitely the dinner party of my dreams, being the sweet-toothed monster that I am! I love this idea, it's incredibly creative and I wish you much luck in this challenge.

michelle @ The Domestic Mama and The Village Cook said...

Amazing and so creative! You have my vote (as always!) I wish I was there!

Torviewtoronto said...

beautiful dinner party

Spicie Foodie said...

How creative and unique, I love it! I really thought the pizza was pizza margharita before I read your post. Good luck to you:)

Serene said...

Amazing! I was hoping this would be this awesome, because I didn't wanna have to renege on my promise of a vote. ;-)

A Thought For Food said...

This just brings me such joy! When you told me what you were doing, I just smiled at your brilliance. This is wonderful and creative and totally you. You should be so proud!

Evan @swEEts said...

I love it! I love the fact that you had a dinner party of desserts inspired by savory dishes.. very creative :) Those truffles and dessert pizze look fab.. mind sharing the recipe???

Cheryl@BlackGirlChefsWhites said...

So creative and inventive! Great job!

bb's mom said...

so glad it went so well and that you cleaned up too. can't wait to try the ice cream tonight

bb's mom

whatsfordinneracrossstatelines said...

Dessert for dinner works for me! You must of had one heck of a sugar high afterwards! He He
Good Luck!
-Gina-

gringarl said...

Great turn out on the dinner, I already saw the garlic truffle recipe and wrote it down, can't wait to see the curry ice cream recipe
Good luck at the challenge

Jun Belen said...

WOW! Very impressive!! I want the Arroz Con Frijoles please! Well done. Looks like everyone had a blast in your desserts party! Next time, I'd love an invite, please!!

Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot said...

These all look amazing! I love how you made a dinner out of dessert! I also adore your Grandma's china collection and how the plates don't match. Lovely party!

saltyseattle said...

OMG- dessert for dinner? yes please! and that pizza is genius. leave it to a lawyer to seriously negotiate goodness into her food. tight post, woman.

Jess said...

I've been thinking for ages about combining garlic and chocolate, since I heard that they go pretty well together (I think based on shared odor compounds anyway). And since a colleague asked me if there was any way to get garlic into a dessert. These truffles are certainly a fantastic example of the chocolate-garlic pairing! And everything else looks and sounds amazing too, of course. :)

Anonymous said...

Dessert for dinner? Decadent and delightful! I am SO jealous of BB's Mom. My Lindsey is waaay the other side of the country. I don't get to taste test :( waaaaaah

Hot Polka Dot Mom

RhodeyGirl said...

My comment disappeared!

I love this party- it was such a unique approach. You have my vote!

Butter said...

Of course...as always...this is perfect - Dinner In Disguise is great because I love DESSERT!!!!! Your pictures are gorgeous. This was so creative and unique, I loved it. Seriously, I am starving now. Totally voting. You never dissappoint -
- Butter

Food o' del Mundo said...

I LOVE it! Such creativity! You have my vote!
Here's to you and me making it to round four ;-)
~ Mary

Lucy said...

I'm mouth-wide-open at the garlic truffles. I'm definitely going to add that to my list of things to try! Besides the fact that the food looks amazing, can we talk about those flowers? Love.

Stephanie @ Per l'Amore del Cibo said...

Seriously one of the best ideas...ever. I wish I was a guest at your dinner in disguise party! You know you've got my vote again this round, even though I'm sure you don't need it. :)

Savory Sweet Living said...

What a wonderful menu and just a creative way to show everyone what you do best and who you are! Each plate looks divine, the pizza is unreal. Awesome job and you got my vote for sure!

Mhel said...

An ultimate indulgence of decadence - a real luxury. I completely agree with you. Luxury doesn't have to mean expensive, but real indulgence of what one's desire. I also agree with buying chinas, there are alot of cheap wares in flea markets, those with vintage and elegant designs, but still dainty and fancy. You are lucky that your family invested amazing antiques. You definitely have my vote! I'm linking you in my blog as one of my fave bets for this category! Good luck!

Jeanne said...

There's nothing better than four courses of dessert! The ultimate luxury. I am drooling over all of this food, especially that pizza. Brilliant work on this challenge!

stephchows said...

Oh I love that you did all desserts! Fantastic! Voted :)

jen cheung said...

VOTEDDDDDDD! Good luck! Wish you all the best!

jen @ www.passion4food.ca

Heather said...

A very cool idea, and great photos!

riceandwheat said...

So creative - I love it! And being someone who doesn't generally love desserts (crazy, I know), I was a bit hesitant about a dessert-based dinner party. But I would totally go to this! I mean, if I'm invited. After just telling you I'm not a huge dessert fan. I'm not very smart.

Lick My Spoon said...

Great interpretation of the challenge! I tried a garlic-chevre truffle a while back and it was a bit dry, your recipe looks like anything but that. Truffles are one of those recipes that aren't incredibly tricky but take a bit of time and attention. You've got a vote of ours, good luck this week.

Also, I'm in full agreement with your golden rule.

Lick My Spoon

Kelly @ Barbaric Gulp! said...

So creative! Good luck in this round.

Kelly
Sounding My Barbaric Gulp!

Get Natured said...

Holy yum!

Queen of Cuisine said...

Seriously great reading and food porn. I cast my vote!

Lisa.

Wheels and Lollipops said...

Dessert for dinner !! you hit on the PERFECT luxury. Everything looks amazing and I'm still thinking about those garlic truffles. Well done !

Marisa said...

This is genius! I love how you've managed to fuse traditionally savoury ideas and ingredients with your dessert menu. Those truffles look absolutely glorious! You've got my vote, that's for sure.

Danielle said...

What a creative menu! Good luck in round 3!

jacobskitchen said...

I love your inventive take on this challenge. great job! All of the desserts sound mouthwatering. And I agree, that the best parties can be ruined by the worst guest list. lol I voted for you! =)

Whitney said...

Now THAT is a margarita pizza i can get down with!

awesome job!

http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/3/view/1090

Whit

Leslie Uhl said...

Beautiful and awesome-ideas dinner! Love it! (Vote!)

Leila Hamilton said...

great job! may I RSVP? you got my vote doll!

leila@BarbarianTable

The Duo Dishes said...

So that's why you needed to know how to say garlic fries in French. Sneaky sneaky. And so sweet! You're going onto round #4...just so you know.

Daily Spud said...

Fabulous - well done! And I have to say I'm intrigued by something that involves chocolate, spice, garlic and more chocolate. I'd be more than willing to give it a try.

CrystalsCozyKitchen said...

I love reading how everyone interpreted this challenge - I love the dessert idea. They look sinful!
Sending a little red heart your way.

Natty said...

Oh man, I can feel my teeth aching at this and it would be so worth it! I want some of that ice cream badly!

Jessica said...

Love your menu! Everything looks delicious! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

Casey Angelova said...

Beautiful food and photos! You have my vote! Best of luck!

celebreatySarah said...

wow..international flavors..my kind of party.

shaz said...

Four courses of dessert for dinner, ultimate luxury! Great idea and bravo for pulling it off with style.

Ruby said...

Inspired, very 'Heston Blumenthal' (one of my faves) and I especially love the sound of that ice cream!

We Are Not Martha said...

Wow! I am loving the idea of garlic chocolate truffles! SO creative and your whole dinner looks awesome :)

Sues

charlene said...

I love playing with food that way. Wonderful idea.

Amelia PS said...

fun, playful menu! And yes, lovely china, even more special because of sentimental value. Voted.

(see my post here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/3/view/1094)

Magic of Spice said...

Love it...great entry, voted :)

Tiny Urban Kitchen said...

I love your creative take on "luxury dinner." The pizza is pretty convincing from a distance!

ohonemorething said...

Such an awesome post! First off, the menu is incredible and full of creativity. I love the spin that you decided to do--so much fun! Also, the tips are helpful and spot on. Especially about knowing your guests. I think it's SO important, and it shows that you take them as a person into consideration :D A great host with lots of thoughtfulness! You've got my vote!

XO best of luck!

grubbygrubber69 said...

Wow... nice job on the rice&beans creme brulee.It was a brilliant idea.In my cultrue we make rice pudding & we also make sweet cream of beans known as "Habichuela Con Dolce",I never thought of combining the two desserts.That was sheer genius... congrats!

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

I love your varied, daring flavors. You have a vote from me!

My dinner party was designed to take the diner food from Gooch's Diner, where my parents first met over 40 years ago, and elevate it to luxury for their 39th wedding anniversary. Come see if you'd like :)

danasfoodforthought said...

A dessert party... genius! I'm not especially fancy either LOL... this looks right up my alley!

Amanda (The Culinary Passport) said...

How creative! Love the rice pudding cream brulee :) You have my vote!

E said...

Great pictures and you have my vote!

Mariko said...

That is incredible! and creative. I would love to try that ice cream.

jen cheung said...

Congrats Congrats going onto challenge #4!!! Must be exciting for you! Good luck and all the best. Happy Thanksgiving to you! You'll be getting the next vote from me :) Your awesome!

Have a happy thanksgiving!
jen @ www.passion4food.ca

Joy said...

I am loving all the dishes. They are so clever.

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