Thursday, January 10, 2008

Seattle Works Benefit Wine Pairing Dinner

Happy New Year! What better way to bring in the new year than with a wine pairing dinner that benefits Seattle Works and all of the people eating and drinking for the cause? I must say that everyone wins at this dinner- even me, who is cooking everything. Cheers!

Seattle Works Benefit Wine Pairing Dinner Menu

Dungeness Crab Cakes with Tarragon Lemon sauce

Asian Pear and Fennel Salad with Sweet Coppa Wrapped Apple with Citrus Vinaigrette

Herb and Fig marinated Quail with Mushroom Risotto

Short rib with Parsnip Puree and Red Wine and Prune sauce

Passion fruit and Coconut Cream Parfaits

I'm looking forward to the delicate quail with the mushroom risotto I think the most. This may sound silly, but quail is really wonderful to me. Tender dark meat, a small bird with so much flavor and elegance when it is presented properly. I'm looking forward to making 15 crab cakes verses the 700 I helped make for a Tom Douglas catering event- you go numb and blind after you make that many crab cakes, because there isn't enough love to put into 700 crab cakes- I don't care if you are a saint, they just become an object in a factory like setting. Catering for small parties is a whole other setting. Each dish is infused with love and excitement as well as pride. Marcus Pape of and is helping me with the benefit, here are the wines he has chosen for the event:

Darby Roussane/Viognier Blend- crab cake
Saint Laurent Rose -Salad
Willis Hall Grenache -Quail
Des Voigne Cellars Montreux Syrah - Short rib

We are also going to begin with champagne and a small cheese tray, as well finish with coffee. Last time Marcus and I did a wine pairing dinner, it went very smooth but it wasn't in the "home" setting as it will be this time, which I am very much looking forward to.

Duck Confit

On Christmas Eve, I waited 25 minutes in a line outside of University Seafood and Poultry for one pound of duck fat. The guy behind me was buying several pounds of Dungeness crab and people ahead of me were picking up turkey orders. Not me. My duck, butchered already and marinating in orange juice, garlic, rosemary and pomegranate molasses was waiting for me back home. My Uncle Steve, the one I am making wine with, shot some ducks while hunting and gave me four for to make Duck confit for Christmas. All I needed now was Duck fat. Confit means to cook in something's own fat- so duck cooked in it's own fat is called duck confit. After it has cooked for hours completely submerged the meat will fall off the bone. I like to serve it with a rich port wine and prune sauce. It was delicious and worth the wait.

Duck Confit
8 Duck Legs - Rinsed and pat dried well
1 # Duck Fat
Cup kosher Salt
Ground Pepper
4-6 sprigs of Fresh Thyme
4-6 Cloves of Garlic
2 Bay leaves- crushed
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp rosemary
Zest of 1 orange & Juice
Pomegranate Molasses

In a large pan place the ducks, generously sprinkle salt and pepper. Combine all the other ingredients and let it marinate overnight. Submerge the duck legs completely in the fat and cook it for 2-3 hrs in 200-250 degree oven. In a saute pan sear the skin side down till crispy.

Port wine and Prune Sauce
1 splash of olive oil
¼ c. shallot or onion chopped
1 cup of port
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. black pepper corns
4 prunes
1 large sprig of thyme
3 cups stock

Add olive oil to sauce pan over med-hi heat. Add onions and stir to caramelize- at least 5 minutes. Deglaze with port, add peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme, prunes and stock and continue over heat over medium heat and reduce until desired thickness- best if it coats the back of a spoon.