Preparing for a formal dinner party, like those of ‘Downton Abbey’, can be a massive undertaking, especially if it is a holiday or event that requires extra preparations to make the evening special. At The Empress of Little Rock, we begin preparing for our New Year’s Eve dinner party months ahead!
Attention to detail is key when setting a formal dining table. Selecting the perfect china and making sure each utensil is in the proper position can be a chore, but is easily tackled by remembering just a simple rule. Place utensils in the order of use from the outside to the inside. You can also add personal touches to your table such as Christmas crackers or noise makers for a New Year’s Eve dinner party.
Our menu is narrowed from hundreds of gourmet recipes in our repertoire. It is important to choose dishes that offer a variety of flavors and textures. They should be appealing to each of the senses. This year we have chosen four courses and a sorbet that will act as a palate cleanser between the soup and salad. We will begin with Victoria and Albert’s Leek and Brie Cream Soup followed by a rosewater sorbet. The soup recipe can be found below.
The main dish will be Quail in Pear Halves with a Brandy Cream Sauce. Roasted baby carrots and a unique parsnip puree will round
out the entree.
The wines have been selected by the house Sommelier to complement each dish. Guests will explore regions of Spain, France and Italy with our 2016 selections.
A New Year’s Eve dinner party is not complete without dessert! Our Tangerine Tart topped with slivered almonds, fresh cream, and candied peel will be sure to delight!
Victoria and Albert’s Leek and Brie Cream Soup
2 cups chopped leeks (white & tender green portions)
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon clarified butter
1/2 cup vermouth
2 cups peeled, cubed new potatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
White pepper to taste
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup cubed Brie (rind removed)
1/2 cup lightly packed, stemmed spinach
Sour cream and milk for garnish
Cinnamon basil for garnish
1) In large saucepan, saute leeks, celery, shallots, and garlic in clarified butter until soft.
2) Add vermouth. Boil gently until reduced by half.
3) Add new potatoes, thyme, white pepper to taste, chicken stock, and heavy cream. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add Brie, 1 cube at a time, whisking until blended after each addition.
4) Boil gently for 15 minutes until potatoes are tender.
5) Pour 1/3 of the soup into blender container. Add 1/3 of the spinach . Puree until smooth. Repeat with remaining soup and spinach in 2 batches.
6) Ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with swirls of sour cream thinned to a drizzling consistency with a little milk.
7) Trim plates with sprigs of cinnamon basil.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings