Kitchen Accomplice: A Celebration Dinner

A Celebration Dinner

I have been asked to do a small dinner party for some very generous folks who felt highly about the worth of a particular charity. The cost, I was informed, was of no consequence:  one sponsor  wished to pick up the tab and wanted the evening to be particularly special.

New Year’s Eve in Paris always provides inspiration.  Where else could you get a menu like this, not to mention a specially constructed dance floor and fireworks.  Reading through it, I got stuck on the idea of a food foam, something presenting itself with more frequency as of late. It seemed to be at once frivolous and compelling. I decided to try it with some oyster-loving friends. They gave it two thumbs up.

First the menu that was the genesis of the recipe.

New Year's Eve Dinner at the Bristol Hotel in Paris

For those who care to dance, a dance floor has been constructed in the lobby

Fireworks at midnight in the garden

Fine egg mousse, raw and cooked green asparagus, black truffle paste soldiers

Langoustines wrapped in nori, foie gras foam, crustacean broth

Line caught sea bass with imperial caviar, green cabbage and whipped lemon butter


Beauce hare à la Royale, celery root and chestnut stuffed conchiglioni pasta

Aged Brie de Meaux with
walnuts

Pink Champagne granité, gilt grapefruit and hibiscus jelly

Soft coconut cream, strawberry and wild strawberry elixir

Sweets, stuffed fruit and
chocolates

Oysters with Truffle Froth

Ingredients

•18 medium oysters in their shells

• 2 to 3 cups coarse or kosher salt

• 1 tablespoon truffle oil

Directions

Truffle Froth, recipe follows

• Special equipment: oyster shucker (although a screw driver or a “church key” type can opener are used very successfully by some – I have used each of the methods and they work for me)

Cook's Note:  I used Malpeque oysters, an Atlantic variety, but you will have your favorites whether Atlantic, Pacific or Gulf and the cardinal rule with oysters applies here as well: freshness is key.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Shuck the oysters. Discard the top shell. Strain oysters and oyster liquor  through a fine sieve into a ceramic or glass bowl. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Scrub the bottoms shells of the oysters under running water and arrange them on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

Turn oven to broil.

Drain 2/3 of the liquid from the oysters for the sauce and set aside. Make a 1-inch bed of salt in a large pan. Evenly space the cleaned oyster shells on the salt bed with the outside edge of the shell facing down. Place 1 oyster on each shell. Place 1 drop of truffle oil on each oyster (truffle oil is potent so use sparingly). Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the froth over each oyster. Place the pan under the broiler until the froth turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.

Truffle Froth:

• 2 egg yolks

• 1 tablespoon oyster liquor, strained

• 1/2 cup heavy cream

• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1 tablespoon truffle oil

• 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves

Special equipment: a hand held electric blender

In a small bowl lightly froth the egg yolks with the hand held blender.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan bring the oyster liquor and cream just to the boil. Reduce the heat to low. Pour 1/3 of the mixture into the 2 egg yolks and froth with the hand held blender. Slowly add the frothed egg mixture to the saucepan. Immediately begin frothing the mixture in the saucepan over low heat. Pour froth over truffle laced oysters on the half shell.

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Judge Kirkendall is a retired probate judge. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. The judge can be reached at judge-jnk@yahoo.com or through this newspaper.