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Really outstanding recipes that are worth the effort

My friends who are far more ambitious cooks than I have offered to make a birthday dinner for me, the only limit being availability of ingredients (we have a Wegman's near by, and a good international community), not cost or time. What recipes are totally stunning and worth the labor and expense of ingredients?

I've started browsing through the French Laundry Cookbook, the Gourmet cookbook, and my mind is reeling with joy. I'd love your help! The only thing that comes immediately to mind is osso bucco, but that's not really all that challenging.

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  1. Go exotic, Moroccan food has very interesting flavors. Vietnamese is always a winner too.

    1. Any fine rich dessert. Napoleans for example or homade peach ice cream where you sit on top of the freezer and crank it by hand.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mrbigshotno.1

        Along this line, how about a baked alaska completely from scratch? It's an old fashioned dessert, but it's a goodie.

        Homemade vanilla ice cream form the core. Lemon and lemon basil jelly (from scratch, of course) spread atop a genoise sponge cake. All topped with Italian meringue.

      2. For a really spectacular and memorable birthday dinner, make the Foie Gras au Torchon on page 106 of the French Laundry Cookbook. Yes, it takes 4 days to make, but it is so worth the effort; I've made it several times, and each torchon has turned out better than any I've had in restaurants! For hors d'ouvres, try the Parmesan Crisps on page 37; exceedingly easy and delicious!

        1. This is not all that complicated to make, but the sauce is a can't-get-enough-of-it type. I've made this a few times and just love it.

          Duck with blackberry sauce

          You could make it harder to make by insisting that all the stock used is freshly homemade and the blackberries freshly-picked. This was (I think) phenomenal with canned/frozen ingredients. I'm going to have to make this with all-fresh and see how that ups the tasty factor.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Cinnamon

            I was going to recommend that same recipe. It's pretty amazing. You can also sub in raspberries for the blackberries.


            1. re: Cinnamon

              I third this recipe. Absolutely delicious, and the sauce can be made ahead and rewarmed.

            2. They might start with Julia Child's lobster souffle.

              1. lechon baboy


                whole suckling pig (or lamb, if you don't eat pork), wrapped in banana leaves and barbecued in a stone fire pit over wood that you've burned down to charcoal, yourself

                5 Replies
                1. re: cimui

                  I would rec. the OP to request this of the accomplished-cook friends, either for the result or just to see what happens.

                  1. re: Cinnamon

                    =) you need the patience of a saint to hand crank that lechon or keep that fire pit fed all night long. if the OPs friends do that for her, they are worth their weight in foie gras and caviar!

                    1. re: cimui

                      Lechon might be tricky, but I've seen some younger suckling pigs on sale at Western Beef that would fit into an oven and could make for a phenomenal Chinese-style roast suckling pig.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        the OP did ask for something challenging... :)

                        you've seen whole suckling pigs, really? i've seen a LOT of interesting things at western beef, but not whole baby Wilburs.

                        1. re: cimui

                          Check the back of the Chelsea location if you want to tear into Babe's younger cousin. I've debated getting one for a mid-summer fiesta.

                2. When it comes to impressive mains, my go-to is rellenong manok: a whole chicken that has been deboned and refilled with ground meat and savories. It is somewhat akin to a sausage with the chicken body acting as the casing. When sliced, the presentation should be a beautiful riot of colors with pale ground chicken and pork accented by bright chorizos and egg yolks. The soy sauce butter gravy completes the dish.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JungMann

                    Stuffed boneless chickens are wonderful. But the turducken is a sight to behold when cut as well.

                  2. Definitely Tourenado's with several sauces. Bernaise, Madeira, maybe something with truffles. Get out your early Julia Childs cookbooks for sauce possibilities..