Canadian or California-style menu suggestions sought -- have French guests coming...
From France! Parisiennes. I'd like to give them either a Canadian dinner (I'm from London, Ont., originally) or a California one (we lived in Berkeley for a long time).
Last time we had a Midwestern feast for them (my husband is from Iowa, but tries to skate by as a Minnesotan by dint of being born and spending his first six whole weeks there).
Thinking roast beast and Yorkshire pud etc possibly, but that's really more English than Canadian. For Californian, I'm at a bit of a loss...suggestions, anyone?
I went with my sort of mixed-up instincts: a cream of pistachio soup (substituted the nuts for chestnuts); long-roasted duck: Ronald Johnson's mashed potato casserole; sautéed broccoli. Was going to make a mixed citrus and pomegranate salad but ran out of oomph and time, so put out apple and cranberry sauces (my dad always insisted on applesauce with duck). Hershey's Black Magic cake with salted caramel-Cognac frosting (our kattyeyes's recipe, substituting Cognac for (shudder) Bourbon. :)
Soup was v good. I was going to make chestnut but we had had it for Christmas dinner, so I thought what the hey. Just the usual mirepoix, the nuts, a bay leaf, broth from the Christmas capon, cooked for ages and then puréed and sieved. A jot of Cognac and some cream in at the end.
I was underthrilled because pretty much everything was soft/creamy, except for the salted nuts and the melba toasts with the duck liver mousse I made to start with (the ducks were fresh and the livers exceptionally nice). I like contrast. A crisp dessert would have been better.
In Western Canada, there are many families with Ukrainian roots like my brother's in-law's. The Ukrainian Christmas Eve consists of 12 dishes reminding us of the 12 apostles. My favourites are the Kutia (wheat pudding), Holubtsi (cabbage rolls) and Varenyky (perogies).
In our family, we've mashed together Mennonite, English, Scottish, Ukrainian, and Dutch traditions. We cherry pick our favourite dishes from each heritage and make the meal a celebration of who we are.
-I get my sister in law to bring the Kutia :)
I'm breaking my CH boycott (the new design causes me significant eye strain & pain and I'm just popping by now and then to see if it looks the same and keeping my fingers crossed for change...less grey) that said, I really wanted to weigh in here.
While your roast beef & Yorkshire sure does sound good, you're right, it's not truly a Canadian meal. My first thought for Canadian was to look to Quebec for inspiration w a nod to your guests heritage as well.
Tourtière was my first thought since it is very unique and well-wuited to this time of year. . . perhaps w a French Canadian Pea Soup alongside...
That said, if you are doing Canadian, I think you should definitely bake buttertarts for dessert so a pie as a main isn't ideal. You could always do a Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich and serve Poutine alongside. Again, both very unique but perhaps more casual than you might desire. If you do decide to do Poutine, I'd be happy to share my version/recipe...a bit of a riff on the traditional and inspired by a dish I tried here in Ontario.
If it were me, I might serve your guests a Canadian breakfast of Peameal bacon (w Kozliks mustard if you happened to pick some up on your last visit) on a bun or pancakes w Canadian Maple Syrup and go w California Cuisine for dinner. I used to live in Ca. (many moons ago) and when I think of California, I definitely think of fusion cuisine and in that space, I tend to think that Wolfgang Puck really broke ground so I might look to his recipes for inspiration...
Looking forward to hearing what others suggest!
I was thinking along the lines of tourtiere, too. Maybe with pouding chomeur for dessert?
Maybe a parsnip or squash soup/gratin? Seems like an Ontario kind of winter dish. Perhaps apple pie for dessert, topped with a slice of old cheddar.
I think roast chicken with scalloped potatoes is quite Ontarian, even if it's common in other parts of North America.
For a casual, low-key supper, would think Ontario-style Shephard's Pie/ QC-style Pate Chinois is another dish to consider, although we never eat it at my house.
Maybe you could Canadianize your roast beast with Yorkshire pudding by serving with some maple-glazed squash and other Ontario-style sides.
For Californian, how about Cioppino? That's the Californian dish we tend to eat up here in Canada over the holidays. Maybe with a salad drizzled with Green Goddess to start?
With California Cuisine just think of what we have locally available now.
Dungeness Crab, Squid, Ling...
Ducks, Goat, Beef, Lamb....
Nettles, Chard, Kale
Meyer Lemons and all sorts of Citrus
Brussels Sprouts, Winter Squash, Yams
Treat them simply and you got California Cuisine