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.
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.
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!
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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.