Jared's Luxurious Fall Menu / by zhaophotography

First of all, thank you to all who voted for us to advance to this current challenge.  We are really grateful for all the love and support!  Second of all, this new challenge could not have come at a better time.  After our most recent meal at Avenues, where Chef Curtis Duffy amazingly showcased some of his new fall flavors, Jared was inspired to come up with a menu of his own.  Having visited the farmers market, there were squash, pumpkins and apples everywhere.  Using the flavor of fall and the cool weather we are getting, Jared created a luxurious and rich 5 course tasting menu.  We invited our all time favorite wedding photographer and video team, Dan + Sarah of Chennergy, to join us for dinner. They of course happily obliged!

We started the meal off with a delicate amuse with a butternut squash sphere and coconut faux cavier, topped with a single grain of paradise, a tiny edible marigold flower and a light sprinkle of sea salt.  The marigold flower added a citrus taste that goes well with the smooth butternut squash sphere as well as aesthetic to the dish.  The grain of paradise was added to give it heat at the end of the bite.

Butternut Squash Sphere with Coconut Faux Caviar

After seeing these gorgeous marrow in the meat aisle it was easy to decide how to serve it, a la Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail Eating. The bones are given a quick roast in the hot oven, then served with crostini and a parsley salad mixed with lemon juice, olive oil and capers.

Roasted Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad

By now everyone was fighting over the last piece of bread to finish off the rich marrow.  Next up was the fish course.  We got a supply of saffron from a friend and have been waiting to work it into one of Jared's dishes.  We ended up with a poached Chilean sea bass with a vanilla saffron beurre blanc.  The buttery fish went well with the acidity from the beurre blanc.

Poached Chilean Sea Bass with a Vanilla Saffron Sauce, Enoki and Beech Mushrooms, Marigold Flowers, Butternut Squash Puree; Plating was inspired by Chef Duffy.

This dish was directly inspired from Chef Curtis Duffy of Avenues who lent us his recipe for a white truffle creme caramel.  The white truffle flavor infused into the creme caramel is out of this world.  Jared combined the savory creme caramel with tender braised short ribs.  This dish really is the epitome of luxury... I mean fat.... I mean rich.  This dish includes roasted root vegetables, creamer potatoes confit in duck fat, truffle creme caramel and slow braised tender short ribs.  I think this dish alone has enough fat to keep us all warm for the upcoming winter months.

Braised Short Ribs with a Braising Liquid Reduction, White Truffle Crème Caramel, Roasted Root Vegetables and Confit of Creamer Potatoes

And finally we ended the meal by highlighting some end of the season honeydew and concord grape sorbet.  After such a luxurious and rich meal, this was a great refreshing way to finish it all.

Concord Grape & Honeydew

I have to say this was one of the richest meals Jared has ever prepared.  None of us could eat another bite and we all felt like we should probably run a marathon to work it all off.

Btw our dog, Chef, ate quite well that day too!  Here he is chomping on a beef bone that Jared saved from his beef stock.

Tips for running a plated dinner, a la minute

Both Jared and I have dabbled in the catering and restaurant industry- me on the service side, and Jared in the kitchen.  It's helped us tremendously when we started hosting dinner parties at home.  And as you know by now Jared always goes all out when he's ready to impress.  Here are five of our favorite tips for running a multi-course plated dinner.

1) Budget - Not all luxurious meal should break your piggy bank.  Set up a budget and design a menu around your budget.  Instead of caviar, you can always use tapioca to give it the same look and you can make it any flavor you want.

2)  Portions - One mistake many people make is forgetting to figure out the portion sizes for each ingredient/dish.  While you don't want to have way too much food, you definitely don't want to be left with not enough food, especially in a fully coursed meal.  We generally follow a portion size of 4-6 ounces of protein per person for the entire meal (this may also be an American sized portion, ha!).  You can divide that by the number of dishes that contain protein to get a general idea of how much of that ingredient per person.  This also is a great way to calculate how much food you really need to buy when you go grocery shopping!

3) Mise en place - In order to have everything run smoothly during dinner, it is important to have all the prep work ready and in its place.  Familiarize yourself with the progression of the menu and keep all the necessary ingredients for a dish in the same area.  In restaurants, they would put all components in a tray or a "kit", then during the dinner rush you won't be running around like a chicken with the head chop off trying to search for what you need.

4)  Plates - An hour before guests arrive, line up and stack the plates you'll be using for the evening in order. This helps speed things along when cooking your meal without having to go in and out of your cabinet/pantry, counting out all the plates and utensils.

5)  Print - Print or write out your menu on a piece of paper.  Using a sheet of saran wrap, lay it over the menu at the corner of your prep table.  You can use a permanent marker or a dry erase pen to mark down the times the dishes are meant to go out and add any additional instructions in terms of prep.  You may also cross off or put a check next to each dish or step as you go along.  This helps you to progress from one dish to another without forgetting anything.

This kind of dinner party doesn't allow the host/cook to relax quite as much, but Jared loves the rush of cooking a la minute.  It's just like eating at a restaurant!

If you like what you read, please remember to vote for us to advance onto the next round of Project Food Blog!  Thank you!!