Day 79 – Shepard’s pies and buffet prep

20 Oct

Today’s focus was prepping for tomorrow’s Spanish-inspired buffet. It’s a very ambitious buffet. I’m making 5 dishes solely on my own: Vegetarian Paella, Squash stuffed empanadas with spicy sour cream, roasted wild mushrooms in a shallot-garlic-sherry wine-olive oil reduction, Octopus tiradito (sort of like a ceviche, but the octopus has been “tenderized” in daikon and salt, then blanched for a few seconds in a court bouillon first), and finally a lime sorbet topped with espelette. The picture above is Chef Ryan talking to Rachelle about tempering chocolate for her chili truffles (which I sampled and were awesome!).

I think we have 28 dishes planned and they all have to be ready by 11:30 a.m. Prep started yesterday, so hopefully we can pull this off. There are just so many last minute details (and some dishes we haven’t even started – like my vegie paella).

So, it was a good thing that family meal today was pretty easy. We used the leftover mashed potatoes from yesterday’s “Thanksgiving” (and we intentionally made more than we needed), so that was one less thing we needed to make. Ian and I made a really great vegetarian Shepard’s pie if I do say so myself. I think it was much tastier than the meat version. The base was ancho chili and chipotle pepper spiced lentils (with lots of garlic, onions, carrots and celery, of course), topped with roasted spaghetti squash, and finished with mashed potatoes. Delish and super easy – a great use for leftover potatoes.

I didn’t have time to take many pics today, but here are the ducks Anne has been working with over the past few days. She hung them to dry a few days ago and today she baked them and made a red wine reduction sauce. They look awesome. Can’t wait to try them.

On the duck theme, one of the principals of Hudson Valley Foie Gras came to speak with us Monday after school. He showed us how to cut out the “foie” (liver) from one of their ducks, and then he fed us (although I had to leave prior to the eating of the foie). Here it is – 2.5 pounds. It’s crazy how big that is!

I was pretty impressed with his propaganda on how they humanely raise the ducks. I’m not a big fan of the taste of foie gras, but I do understand the appeal, especially among those who appreciate and engage in nose-to-tail cooking. If I wanted to make foie gras, I would definitely buy from Hudson Valley. Alas, the big controversy over force feeding and factory caging practices has made raising ducks for foie gras illegal in many states, and California’s ban is about to go into effect in 8 months. We’ll see how that goes. In some states, laws banning the raising of ducks for foie gras have been overturned due to chef outcry. Can you imagine the French ever banning such a thing? Nah.

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