Hoity Toity Hero & Holostar Wedding Banquet
by SuSu and Wraith6
Menu: Elegant Scallion and Bacon Stuffing in Perfect Tomatoes | Expensive & Impressive Dry-Aged Standing Beef Roast | Classy Sauce Espagnole | Lightly Braised Darling Baby Greens | Vegetables Elevated to Amandine | High-falutin' Individual Yorkshire Puddings | Burnt Sugar Candy on Rich Custard, "Fel-Starflare"
Baron Soontir Fel, belying his celebrity and propertied title, grew up as the son of a tenant farmer on Corellia. And mega-holostar Wynssa Starflare started life as Syal Antilles, who spent her youth on the Gus Treta refilling fuel station orbiting the same planet. They were married in a highly publicized ceremony, complete with stormtrooper honor guard and gifts from the likes of none other than Emperor Palpatine and Lord Vader. The dinner that followed for invited guests seems simple and elegant, but they are work and preparation intensive and very impressive to the gathered company. The menu had to be classy, to be sure, but the happy couople wanted to put their mark on it, somehow. Fel, being a farmboy at heart, asked for a cabbagey vegetable -- normally anathema to the hoi-polloi. Wynssa asked for onions and bacon somewhere -- peasanty, common ingredients that she secretly loved. How would the caterer respond and sidestep any indication that they were slumming? This particular caterer had actually bid on the job for the opportunity to make his reputation among the Coruscant higher social order, so you can be sure Fel and Starflare's negotiations over the menu were sometimes tense -- propriety over desire!
Elegant Scallion and Bacon Stuffing in Perfect Tomatoes
Onions are generally considered very low-class in most cultures; in addition to being cheap, they often caused gas upon digestion. But they are indispensable in most cuisines, and the holostar bride had requested they appear on the menu somewhere, along with smokey bacon. The caterer didn't want to ruin his reputation by offering something common or trendily peasantish, nor could he afford to ignore Wynssa's request. After considerable thought, he realized that the onion family was large, and scallions are among the milder and more fashionable offerings. As for the bacon, he recognized its ability to make just about anything more delivious. If he chopped it small and sizzled it with the scallions and stuffed the mixture into beautiful, jewel-like little tomatoes, they could form an unusual and visually stunning appetizer. Waiters carried them on glittering platters directly to the mingling guests, interspersed with sparkling wine in crystal goblets. They were a huge hit!
Place the chopped bacon in a cold skillet on the stovetop and heat over a medium-low flame, rendering the fat slowly till the bacon pieces become golden brown. Add the scallions and sauté till wilted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add salt and pepper to taste when at room temperature.
Using a small spoon, fill the tomatoes with the bacon-scallion mixture and "re-lid" the tomato. Serve as an hors d'oeuvre or as a side dish.
Expensive & Impressive Dry-Aged Standing Beef Roast
Meat inside the ribs of most animals is considered prime or choice because the muscles in those areas are not used as much as others, so the meat is much more tender. But since it comprises a small percentage of the animal's mass, that meat is expensive and is normally reserved for very special occasions. A rib roast, aged in a cool, semi-humid, well-ventilated environment for at least four days and roasted slowly with the rib bones intact is an unbeatable "wow" main course. When meeting with the caterer, both Wynsssa and Baron Fel held their breath when they saw the estimated cost for the extra-fancy cut of meat. The caterer assured them he would do the meat justice, and paired with the accompanying sauce, it would be the talk of the galaxy! He left the room to let the couple discuss it, and was relieved when they realized they actually COULD afford the meat!
You'll need a shallow container of any sort -- can be a small roasting pan, for instance, or the bottom of a plastic storage container -- fitted with a rack to elevate it off the bottom of the container. Place the rib roast upright on the rack. Cover with dry paper toweling; place some paper toweling on the bottom of the container, too. Place in a refrigerator as is, changing the toweling daily. Don't worry if the surface gets leathery-looking -- it's supposed to. Remove any plastic wrapping or butcher's paper from the roast. Place the standing rib roast upright onto a half sheet pan fitted with a rack. The rack is essential for drainage. Place dry towels loosely on top of the roast. This will help to draw moisture away from the meat. Place into a refrigerator at approximately 50 to 60 percent humidity and between 34 and 38 degrees F. You can measure both with a refrigerator thermometer. Change the towels daily for 3 to 5 days.
A few hours before you intend to cook the roast, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Trim off any unappealing bits on the surface.
Heat the oven to 250°F / 110°C. Rub the whole roast with vegetable oil -- any oil is fine, but a neutral tasting oil is best, like canola oil. Coat it top, bottom, sides, bones ... sort of massage the meat. Coat liberally with salt and pepper on all surfaces.
Place the roast on a rack fitted into a baking or roasting pan. Place in the oven till the internal temperature of the roast is 115°F / 45°C. This takes about XX minutes for the average-shaped 4-rib roast, but check before then, just in case! You don't want your meat overcooked. Remove the roast and tent foil over the surface and heat the oven to 450°F / 230°C and let the roast rest while the oven is heating up. The roast should reach an internal temperature of 130°F / 55°C.
Remove the foil covering and put the roast back into the oven until the surface of the roast is as crusty and browned as you like -- this shouldn't take more than 10 minutes, or your roast will overcook. (This last step is really not necessary if you like the color of the roast coming out of the low-heat roasting, in all truth.)
Put the roast on a serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm, but serve it fairly soon! To carve, remove the string, then cut off the bones off the bottom of the rack. You can set these aside for another meal, or slice between the bones and place on the serving platter for those who like to nibble bones. You now have a flat bottom surface to help stabilize the roast. Place that down on the cutting board, and using a long-bladed knife, cut thin slices downwards. You can nap with hot sauce to keep the meat warm, or serve the sauce on the side.
Serves 8 to 10.
Classy Sauce Espagnole
This is a sauce that is actually richer and more expensive looking than the effort required to produce it, but that doesn't make it any less formidable-seeming. It's the classic accompaniment to beef and one of the "mother sauces" on earth ... on Coruscant, it was simply THE classy sauce for a rich meal. An added benefit -- a good sauce stretches an expensive cut of beef, so you get more servings per kilo than you would without a good sauce. So don't skimp (especially on the stock!), and don't walk away -- it's not difficult, but you do have to pay attention and be organized.
Makes about 2 quarts (8 cups).
Lightly Braised Darling Baby Greens
Baron Fel did insist that a field green like a cabbage be served -- it was his heritage. But the caterer pointed out that anything as common as a cabbage dish would not only make his wife an object of scorn, but wouldn't do the caterer's reputation any good either! Fel was insistent, and the caterer ended up on his knees begging the decorated pilot to reconsider. Wynssa, feeling sorry for the man, asked Soontir if maybe one of those cute little darling baby greens that were so popular? Both men came to an agreement -- baby cabbages! But brussels sprouts were too much like cabbage -- so why not something like bok choy? Perfect!
Vegetables Fancified to Amandine
This time, Soontir Fel insisted on serving carrots and green beans, and to his surprise, the caterer agreed -- he'd realized that he could find more elegant ways to serve what the Major wanted. He realized that the vegetables could be cut elegantly so that the guests would not have to wrestle with large or awkwardly shaped pieces in the final dish. He also toasted sliced nuts and sprinkled them over the mélange at the last, to provide a crispy, flavorful counterpoint to the simmered vegetables. Baron Fel told his new wife that he needed to get this recipe from the caterer before they left on their honeymoon.
High-falutin' Individual Yorkshire Puddings
Both Wynssa and Soontir requested a Corellian bread which is akin to a big, hot, eggy savory pudding, another rather earthy, almost peasanty dish. True, there is technique involved in making it, but how to make it impressive to guests? The caterer certainly didn't want to serve something that needed to cut into squares -- it would take too long and the impressive loft of the finished dish would be lost on the diners who wouldn't see the whole thing before it was cut. He came upon an idea to bake the puddings in muffin cups instead of a big roasting pan -- one per person. It was so impressive and good that the caterer made his reputation just on this one dish, and the whole meal was praised by culinary critics and social pundits alike!
Burnt Sugar Candy on Rich Custard
This dish is "crème brulée" on earth, but on Coruscant, it had never been seen before. Fel asked the caterer to include a dessert from his agrarian childhood, and gave him the formula used by his mother. The highly decorated pilot indicated that the presence of this dish was absolutely non-negotiable. Made with cream and eggs, it was rich, but the caterer's heart dropped when he realized it was like the reviled nursery pabulum from many wealthy childhoods. Wynssa Starflare made it worse when added that she'd like to have crispy brittle sweet to finish the meal -- another common thing to make, like homemade candy. Seeing that the couple would not give an inch on their final requests, the caterer sighed to himself and agreed. That night, he lay in bed, wondering how to manipulate these dishes to make them acceptable to the high-classed guests. He wondered if he should simply resign this effort to make his reputation, but just before dawn, he was inspired to combine these two things! He ran to the kitchen to make the custard, chilled it in pretty ramekins, then layered sugar over the top and subjected it to intense heat till the granular crystals burned then melted like lava. When the dish cooled down, the sugar had cooled to a glassy, brittle crust ... the burnt sugar flavor gave the whole dish a sophisticated flavoring and delightful texture. Served with berries and herbs, this new concoction was called the "Fel-Starflare" on the caterer's popular menus for many years after.
Using a whisk and a large bowl, beat togehter the egg yolks and sugar until the yolks become a pale lemony color and forms a thick ribbon when you lift up the whisk and let it fall back into the bowl.
In a saucepan, gently heat the cream mixed with vanilla. (To prepare the vanilla bean, split it lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the cream and reserve the pods for another use. They can be frozen.) Allow the cream to come to a simmer. Using a ladle, put some into the egg yolk and sugar mixture, whisking the whole time. This will allow the cream to thin out the yolk mixture and bring up it's heat, so the yolks don't "scramble" -- or else you'll get sweet scrambled eggs if you add the cream in all at once! Keep whisking and ladling till about half the milk is incorporated, then add the remainder of the hot cream.
Pour into ramekins, filling about ¾ of the way up the side. How many ramekins you can use depends on their size, of course -- one ramekin per serving. Place the ramkins in a roasting pan and place in the heated oven. Pour hot water into the pan -- careful not to get any into the ramekins -- to about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake till the edges of the custard are just set and the centers are thickly jiggly -- for 6 ounce ramekins, this can take about 40 minutes; if you used smaller or larger ones, be sure to adjust your timing accordingly. Do not overcook, or the custard will be grainy and "weepy." Remove the ramekins from the waterbath and allow to cool to room temperature. When cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Serves 6, or as many little dishes as you've prepared. You can use traditional round ramekins, but shallow, wide dishes will give you more sugarcrust per volume of custard, which people seem to prefer. (This dish doesn't keep once it's completed, but you can make the custard ahead of time, and finish the sugar coating just before serving.)
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