October 28, 2014
Hosting a Benefit Dinner for Olana
Several times during the year, I allow a fund-raiser to auction off a dinner at one of my homes for a good cause. At a gala dinner to benefit the restoration of Frederic Church’s glorious home on the Hudson River, a home called Olana, such a dinner was purchased by a neighbor, Michael Altman and his wife, Alexandria. A date was settled upon, and a dinner was planned. The Altmans wanted to bring just two friends with them and said I should invite whomever I liked. Those who attended included several Olana board members, some local friends, and some friends from New York City, including the artist, Will Cotton.
I planned an autumn menu with Pierre Schaedelin, a fine chef who has collaborated with me often (www.pstailoredevents.com). We decided on a menu that included blini with caviar and marinated salmon, a pot-au-feu, and an apple tart with apple sauce and apple sorbet. Since we are still harvesting from the gardens here at the farm, we incorporated as much as we could that was fresh and homegrown: Apple cider was turned into delicious cocktails by adding bourbon and orange slices to sugar rimmed glasses; apples were transformed into a delicious apple tart, apple sorbet and pink apple sauce; and all the fall vegetables graced the bountiful platters of boiled meats—capon, sausage, beef, and veal.
Pot-au-feu, by the way, is a traditional French dish designed to use whatever the garden and farm provide at the moment. We took just a few photos for your enjoyment. Feast your eyes!
1 Last Friday, Sharkey was very interested in the goings on in the dining room--a table was being set for what looked like a large gathering!
2 The first course was a masterpiece and looked amazing plated on the transferware. Marinated fresh salmon, osetra caviar from Petrossian in NYC, yeast blinis, creme fraiche, and baby radishes from the garden--a sublime and luxurious first course polished off by all!
3 The main course was served in the kitchen amidst giant pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn. Chef Pierre, who cooked the pot-au-feu that day, was happy to carve shanks and serve.
4 The condiments normally served with pot-au-feu can vary, but we tried to have most of them. Top row: white horseradish, cornichons ,Dijon mustard, mostarda (sweet/hot candied fruit). Bottom row: flaky sea salt, grainy French mustard, salsa verde, and red beet horseradish.
5 The Indian corn grown in my garden at the farm is spectacular this year. We dry it and tie the husks as illustrated with butcher's twine.
6 The green living room was ablaze with a fire and candles when the guests arrived. We decorated with gold painted pumpkins, bottle gourds, and other plants and squash.
7 Outside, the sky was pink and gray, and the bright orange pumpkins placed here and there stood out well against the dark greens of the autumn garden.
8 All the vegetables in our pot-au-feu were picked in my garden--simmering in beef flavored broth are celery root (celeriac), celery ribs, rutabaga, cabbage, and leeks.
9 In another pot, white and yellow carrots, white parsnips, and several kinds of small potatoes recently dug up.
10 In another pot, simmering in broth was the capon breast, the saucisson, the beef rib, the beef shank, and the veal shank.
11 The first course plates awaiting the food on the kitchen table.
12 For serving, all the hot meats and vegetables are arranged in gorgeous piles on giant platters, garnished with parsley.
13 Some of the meats, including perfectly cooked veal shank bones filled with marrow. The tiny silver spoons allowed guests to dig out the marrow.
14 Another platter of meat, vegetables, and marrow--there is a great trick to cooking marrow, cooked too long and too hot, the marrow will just melt away and disappear.
15 A beef shank and two veal shanks--the meat was carved off as part of the service.
16 Another tasty platter awaiting the guests.
17 And another.
18 After one pass at the buffet, this is what my plate looked like. All the condiments are placed on the rim of the large shallow soup bowl and a condiment accompanies each bite!
19 The dessert was a very big hit--apple sorbet subtly flavored with quince, pink apple sauce made with the reddest skinned apples on the farm, and the double-crust streusel apple pie.
20 The double-crust apple pie was delectable--a sugary buttermilk crust and a precooked apple filling enhanced with pecan streusel. The recipe is an adaptation of one given to me by the pastry chef at The Inn at Pound Ridge.
21 One guest, Will Cotton, is an accomplished painter whose first book caused great excitement amongst the guests. In fact, Memrie Lewis recognized the cover painting as one of her friend's! Who says there is no such thing as coincidence!