Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Eve with Tom

I have not updated in a really long time, but I wanted to share my New Year's Eve dinner with Tom, our first dinner party. Both of us are really interested in French culture and history and favor a quiet evening at home to a large party or an evening out. We decided on an Evening in Paris theme which gave us an opportunity to cook some of our favorite dishes and to decorate with some of the lovely glassware around.

I was really excited about the table setup, and wanted to give a light and springy feeling to a cold winter evening. The centerpiece is a terrarium I built (more of which can be found on my website) surrounded by a variety of Tom's precious glassware, repurposed to hold some fresh plants, and various tapers and tea lights. A collage of doilies nestled the collection of objects on the large black surface. I kept a black and white theme with bits of blushy pink and green in the plants.  The terrarium holds moss and air plants while the glasses hold bunches of tea roses and fresh rosemary and lavender.

Here's Tom christening the etched champagne flutes I got him for Christmas as we wait for our guests. As the expert on all things wine and French, Tom is the sommelier for the evening.

We have planned on making a boef bourgignon since we first cooked together over the summer, and tonight was the perfect chance. Tom found an amazing, complex recipe from one of his favorite chef's, Eric Ripert. The recipe calls for two bottles of wine and the meat needs to soak in wine overnight, so plan ahead. Click here for the recipe.

And now, for some Scribbles from the Sommelier: 

With wine, there is an old adage: "what grows together goes together".  In the "Old World" of wine (any wine-growing region of Europe), regional wines and cuisines historically evolved together and rose to complement one another.  Therefore, because the recipe selected is a classic Burgundian dish, it seems only logical that I would select a Burgundian wine (and a red at that) to accompany it.  However, I selected a Vacqueyras, a delicious red wine from France’s Southern Rhône valley.  A blend of classic Rhône varietals such as Grenache and Syrah, this 2010 wine (entitled, “Les Amouriers”) from Domaine des Amouriers is absolutely ripe and delectable.  Its richness certainly made it perfect for this beef dish, and its warmth complimented the camaraderie of the evening overall. - Tom Pedrick

We sliced carrots and quickly sautéed them with butter. To serve 8, peel and slice 8 carrots, place in a sauce pan and add just enough water to cover the carrots. Add salt and pepper to taste and sautée for about 10 minutes with one stick of butter. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. I am particularly fond of this image, for some reason.

One of the most popular street dishes in Paris is a thinly sliced potato. We sliced up two pound bags of those baby yellow potatoes, seasoned generously with salt and pepper, tossed with 6 or so tablespoons of fresh rosemary (leftovers from our centerpieces) and baked with about a third of a cup of olive oil.  Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes for a golden crisp.

For dessert I made a caramelized pear custard tart which we served warm with some french vanilla ice cream. Find the recipe below.  

We had a wonderful evening and started Midnight in Paris, right at the stroke of midnight. I really enjoyed meeting some of Tom's closest friends, to whom I apologize for not taking any photographs. We were a bit too excited about eating.

Daria's Caramelized Pear Custard Tart

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons chilled butter
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3-4 tablespoons ice cold water
2 tablespoons heavy cream

7 pears, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons vanilla
about a tablespoon of nutmeg 
about a tablespoon of cinnamon
8 ounces of heavy cream
4 egg yolks (beaten)


Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Add chopped up butter and shortening. Mix in with your hands (do not use a fork or a mixer, you will over mix).  Once the flour begins to fold into little chunks and doesn't stick too much to your fingers, add 3 tablespoons of water and continue to fold with your hands. Add the heavy cream. Do not over mix, the dough should be barely able to hold together as a ball, you want it to be very flaky.

Ball the dough, cover in plastic and throw in the fridge for an hour. 

Preheat oven to 400. Take out dough and lay a piece of wax paper on the surface (you will want to roll the dough out on this because the crust should be so flaky it is hard to lift off in one piece.  Roll out the dough to a bit over a quarter of an inch thick, fit into your baking surface. Bake for 20 minutes until the edges begin to look crispy.


Adjust oven temperature to 375. Add sugar, water, vanilla and spices to a saucepan and heat until it caramelizes. Add pears and salt and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the fruit turns soft and begins to lose its juices. Take the fruit out and remove from heat.  Mix heavy cream and egg yolks into the juice and sugar mixture, add any of the extra juices from the fruit.

Arrange the pears into your crust and cover with the custard filling, not all of it may fit in, its ok.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the custard sets and some of the exposed pears blacken at the edge.

Enjoy alone or warm with ice cream.

Happy New Year!

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