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Help with Wine Dinner (fund raiser)

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you in advance for your help on this.

Food service industry gurus--I need your help.
I am planning a fund-raising dinner for 50-60 guests. The tickets are being sold for $125-$150 per plate (still working on that being finalized). Also, if any one has any suggestions for a snazzy name for this thing - I am open to suggestions on that as well.

This is the tentative menu:

Event Date: August 18, 2006


Harvest Texarkana’s First Annual Gourmet Wine Dinner

(Working Menu)





6:30 p.m. Passed Canapés (looking for additional ideas) Current ideas: Salmon mousse on cucumber rounds or lemon-dill crepe with smoked salmon, caramelized bacon bouchee, and gougere
Wine: Papio Pinot Grigio 2005

7:00 p.m. First Course: Mini Crab Cakes and/or Jumbo Shrimp with something other than the traditional cocktail sauce (ideas?)
Wine: Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005

Second Course: Wild Mushroom Consommé (need recipe) with a Parmesan crisp
Wine: Concannon Chardonnay 1984

Third Course: Pasta (or gnocchi?) with red or vodka sauce
Wine: DuBouf Pinot Noir


Apple Cider Sorbet


Entrée: Individual Beef Wellington and Maderia Reduction with Risotto and Asparagus
Wine: Chateau Talbot Bordeaux

Fifth Course: Grilled Summer Peach with Mascarpone or Poached Pear
Wine: Canella Prosecco

Sixth Course: Valrhona Chocolate Pieces
Wine: Sanderman’s Reserve Port

Our wine cost is $13.00 per person (we have a great wine source here) and we would like to keep our food cost as low as possible around $40-50 per person. All labor is being donated. (The completed crab cakes are being donated - all we have to do is heat.)

What works with this menu? What doesn’t? Can this be done with very limited staff (4-6) and room? Most all will be cooked off-site (we will have access to one regular home oven and cook top (electric), microwave, etc. -- standard home appliances. We do have a full waitstaff (10) for serving and clearing – possibly plating – the dinner.

How far ahead can the risotto be made? I have heard of it being cooked and held in a crock-pot then adding a little broth right before service. I haven’t tried this do you all think this would be a viable option before I even try it?

All of the passed apps can be prepped and made up to a couple of days ahead, no problem there. Just a quick piping and garnishing and we’re in business. The consommé – will it get cloudy if done ahead? Pasta – cook ahead, cool, dunk and sauce before service – should be okay, huh? Can Wellington can be prepped and wrapped in puff pastry the night before and baked off prior to service. The asparagus will be broiled with s/p/ and olive oil. The peaches or pears can be done earlier and held until service.

Any serving suggestions, garnishes, timing for the courses, anything at all is welcome.

What am I missing here? Can this logistically be done?
post #2 of 17
I wouldn't do the mushroom consomme. Instead I'd use a good vegetable stock. Just too difficult to fix if someone decides to dump some wine in the soup. :) Then again you can announce what happened to the guests if something indeed goes wrong. Nothing like a little humor to lighten up the event.

Risotto? Heh... you should look here: http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/showt...hlight=risotto

You can do the Wellington the night before. Eggwash the inside of the puff pastry also.

You can do it with 4 people, easy. Bring a grill or maybe there's one in the house already. Around 5p, I'd warm the sauce for the pasta and the "mushroom soup." Fire the asparagus, remove. Then I'd fire the crab cakes around 5:45-6p. Soon as you start scooping the soup you dump the gnocchi in the sauce. Then I'd fire the Wellington to a hair under medium rare. Turn down the oven. Hold until service, rewarm the asparagus in the same oven about 20 minutes before service. Reheat the risotto stovetop. Send someone out to grill the peaches.

Hmm...

Yep. Can be done.

Please come up with something other than "remoulade." ;)
post #3 of 17
I'm still thinking about the canapés, so I'll leave that one alone for a bit.

Since the crab cakes are being donated free, I'd ditch the shrimp idea. You could serve them on a crispy tortilla ( any chance of some BLUE or RED corn tortillas round your neck of the woods?) with a refreshing grilled corn, red onion and bell pepper salsa, or maybe another idea would be a pineapple/ cilantro salsa. Sharp, appetizing, nice color contrast, can be prepared ahead.
I don't know how the crab cakes are made so this next suggestion might not fit, but you could also serve them with a Tamarind/date chutney with a touch of hot pepper. If you can find some chapatis, or Naan bread, or paratha bread, you could also use a slice as a base.

Wild Mushroom Consommé sounds good to me. I made a "cheat" mushroom consommé the other day with loads of stalks I had left over from a cocktail party. Fried them in butter until browned with a little chopped onion, then added 2 tsps mushroom-flavoured soy sauce, a little salt and a sprig of thyme, and a handful of dried Chinese mushrooms - very cheap at the local Chinese Grocery. Cooked that until I'd reduced the liquid by half, then strained the result,discarded the stalks and saved the Chinese mushrooms ( now neatly rehydrated). Aforementioned mushrooms were then sliced very thin, sautéed in butter very quickly and re-inserted into the broth, sprinkled with parsley, voilà.

Pasta dish - vodka sauce is a bit passé!! Sorry, not one of my faves.Why not a Salsa tutto crudo - finely diced red tomato, GOOD quality exra virgin olive oil, a healthy dose of fresh minced garlic, some roughly chopped Kalamata (Greek) olives, a handful of chopped oregano or parsley, sea salt, black pepper and some crumbled Feta cheese. Mix all together and leave so the flavours can mix. When you heat up your pasta and drain it, toss the raw sauce with the hot pasta and a little bit of pasta water from cooking. You 'll have the creamy pasta, the red tomato, the purplish-brown olives, the white cheese, the green herbs and the pale yellowish-green oil.

Risotto reheated is like yesterday's omelette... yes, it's edible, but looking at the resources you have to cook with, I'd go for something simpler. Perhaps a mixed rice (wild, basmati, long grain, red rice) with a little dried fruit and cinnamon. You could put it into plastic cups, reheat in the microwave then invert the cup on to the plate . I'd also think of a sauce or gravy with the beef.

The peach idea is really nice - easy, tasty, appealling. Maybe drizzle some honey/ lemon juice mix around the plate? Maybe a little spice - cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg? Just thoughts.

Any chocolate left over, just send it to me!
post #4 of 17
Clive has a great take on it..go fresh, and easy...lighten up that pasta!
L:bounce:
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
I love the idea of lighting up the pasta - 86 the gnocchi - I'm not a huge fan of vodka sauce either. It was tossed out at our menu meeting last night.
The fresh corn relish with the crab cakes is an interesting idea. They definitely have a southwestern spice feel to them. They are very good alone. (I would rather slit my wrist than serve a remoulade.:D Now that's passe!) We thought about doing that with the shrimp doing a very spicy rub for the shrimp and nesting one large one on a pile of relish garnished with crispy fried tortilla strips. We are trying to talk the crab cake donator into fois gras with fresh figs instead of crab cakes, but as you can imagine, that has been a tough sell. I don't think he's gonna do it.

We did the peaches in a trial run - yum! We did drizzle with honey and a Balsamic reduction. I hope they are still as good in four weeks.

I like the great colors that are going on in your suggestions. That whole eating with your eyes first thing... My creative juices are flowing now. Keep those great suggestions coming. I love 'em!

I read the risotto thread - good info there - and there was a menu from that had apple slices w/ smoked trout and dillweed aioli. That sounds great. I'll have to see about a source for the trout. I live in Bumpkinville.
post #6 of 17
May i suggest a fresh mayonaise to be served with your prawns or crab cakes? i believe well made fresh mayo is always a real treat, and its easy to do in bulk.

Im a bit skeptical about serving rice with Beef wellington. If the beef is already coming inside the puff pastery, shouldnt it be enough for the carbohydrate part? But yea, you should work on a gravy to be served with the beef. By right also, isnt beef wellington stuffed with foie grou? or was it pate...
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

Raise the beef

We do the Wellington very traditionally - filet, duxelles, pate, puff pastry. I would like to see the risotto as the pasta course and not as a side to the beef. I'm trying to convince the rest of the menu committee of that.

We do want beautiful plates and they thought if the beef stood alone with only Maderia sauce and asparagus it would look too spare. We are doing very small portions of the beef. Any suggestions as to what we could set the beef on top of - for height? Would it be too weird to use the asparagus as a base for it? Maybe cross hatched (like stacking Lincoln Logs)?

What are your thoughts on whole Wellington and serve slices vs. individually wrapped small one?
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Wild Mushroom Consommé sounds good to me. I made a "cheat" mushroom consommé the other day with loads of stalks I had left over from a cocktail party. Fried them in butter until browned with a little chopped onion, then added 2 tsps mushroom-flavoured soy sauce, a little salt and a sprig of thyme, and a handful of dried Chinese mushrooms - very cheap at the local Chinese Grocery. Cooked that until I'd reduced the liquid by half, then strained the result,discarded the stalks and saved the Chinese mushrooms ( now neatly rehydrated). Aforementioned mushrooms were then sliced very thin, sautéed in butter very quickly and re-inserted into the broth, sprinkled with parsley, voilà.

How much water or stock did you use?
post #9 of 17
Fav with passes shrimp is pesto baked on..garlicky goodness
Hope the concannon chard is buttery and oaky with a mush consomme, not familiar with the name but Mer soleil type compliments the mush much more than dreyer or acadia...
Looking at your menu, first thing I wanted to do was mix up the mush consomme with the rissoto. I'm with piracer and jenny on this one...Rissoto is a course....Not a side. Less cream and cheese and more flavorful stock makes a not as creamy rissotto but not as "oatmeally" the next day. You have the pasta course, no need to carb them to death..just the fresh veg with the beef
What are chocolate pieces...sounds like m & m's on a plate..lol..sorry..just curious?
Does it matter if the glass is half full or half empty?
Somebody's gonna end up knocking it over anyway.

Assumption=The mother of all f**kups
Reply
Does it matter if the glass is half full or half empty?
Somebody's gonna end up knocking it over anyway.

Assumption=The mother of all f**kups
Reply
post #10 of 17
Oops, Jenny - it was one of those things that sort of came out of the fridge in a gasp...I'd start by adding enough water to "cover" the sautéed mushrooms, plus about 1/2" more. You can always add a little more if it's too thick, and if it's too thin, then you just reduce it.
post #11 of 17
May I chime in on the sweetside.
Just me now, I think the sorbet really needs to clean up the first couple of courses, I'm thinking the apple cider is going to cover. I'd clean it up with myer lemon, taquilla/grapefruit, something along those lines leading into the red beef and bordeaux.
I might throw a few choco coffee beans in with the port.
Panini

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
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post #12 of 17
Shoot you can put the risotto in the Wellington! It'd be a little difficult though. You'd end up with something like a burrito! :lol:

I would slice the beef. You can make them smaller by halving the tenderloin. For banquet veggies, guests always seemed to like their veggies bundled up nice and cute, like carrots and zuchinni bundled into a perfect rectangular shape or asparagus (gasp) tied together with a carrot ribbon. Hey you know what, that sold a lot of banquets for us.
post #13 of 17
Jenny,

There have been several notable suggestions made here.

IMHPO The Mushroom consume' is relatively easy with the dried exotics that were mentioned. I've done it stricly with the 'shrooms and no other stock additions. A breeze to clarify too. If you do the clarfication properly and cheese cloth there should be no issue with clouding or atleast this is my experience with things.
I would be very careful about precooking your risotto. I have seen this go south quickly and then there's nothing you can do. Yuck (bitter and paste-like) comes to mind.
There were a couple methods to the Wellington's I have done in the past There was your's and if I remember correctly I had issues with the duxelles bleeding and that combined with the meat bleed made for quite a mess and even brushing the inside with egg-wash didn't help so t prep was done per-service only. The other two methods I have used involved high end Pate' de fois gras with truffles in place of the duxelles and pate' and then a real budget killer was actual fois gras and sliced truffles. What quan said about egg washing the inside will help the Beef from bleeding and turning the puff pastry to mush too.

Although the only sauce's I have ever seen or served with Beef Wellington served with were Sauce Bernaise and/or Sauce Choron. It's been a while but....?
BTW what Pan suggested about the alternatives for Cider sorbet would work better. Plus the Chocolate Espresso beans with the Port is out of this world. I didn't know anyone else out there liked to do that.


Hope all works well for you.
post #14 of 17
beef bleeding? ahhh.. no wonder, meat here is all halal, so theres not much blood. why dont you try getting kosher meat? that might save some trouble, although i do pity the poor animals in the way they die...
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the info - The lemon or grapefruit sorbet sound like great options - any killer (easy) recipes for them floating around? ;)

We have another meeting of the minds at lunch tomorrow and I'm pushin' that risotto as the pasta course. I like the idea of the very neatly stacked veggies and carrot ribbons with the beef. Oh, and the choc covered espresso beans and port - I'm trying that right now - heaven in my mouth. Good tip!!
post #16 of 17
jennykhughes,
Just being honest. There are some really good retail sorbets on the market. It might be in your best interest to purchase, since it won't be a huge amount and the retail product already had stabilizers in it to lessen the melt factor. If not, I can send of a formula.
Pan
yrs. of fundraising dinners behind my wife and I.

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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post #17 of 17

Wines

The posts so far have been on the money. I have but one concern. We have found through fundraising dinners too numerous to count, that five wines is about the max a guest can enjoy and appreciate in an evening. Seven wines is a huge amount to pour, consume and appreciate. We go with five, and find something that will cover two courses, a sometimes very difficult task. The club sommelier now revels in the challenge of finding a perfect multi-course wine! Plus our wine cost goes down, or we can step up the choices a bit.
Good Luck!
We have done so much with so little for so long, we can now do almost anything with almost nothing. Dave Marcis

Eat Well
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We have done so much with so little for so long, we can now do almost anything with almost nothing. Dave Marcis

Eat Well
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