Monday, 14 July 2008

The dinner that was

I will firstly let it be known that I was silly and didn't photograph much at all of our lovely lovely evening. It felt a bit too immodest to stand in my kitchen (my dining table is in the middle surrounded by guests) , and snap away at my own creations in a sort of "Oh aren't I just sooo wonderful", icky self absorbed way! Suffice to say the table looked lovely with our new glasses and there was a simple black and white theme going on. All quite low key though and relaxed , but yet smart. Well as smart as you can be sitting in the middle of a kitchen that needs ripping out!!!!!!!

You could say we had a Ramsey comes Rhodes inspired night and to help with our presentation I made some notes for us to both refer to ! Its a big thing for us cooking for a new audience , so everything had to be thought through.

Here's the menu :

Starter made by moi :

Chilled melon and basil soup - care of Stuart Gillies at Boxwood Cafe (Gordon Ramsey Holdings)

I was very lucky this worked well the 2nd time ,as lets face it , you cant always re create things as well as the 1st time. We had a mini disaster when opening the melons to find they were green ones and not what we had ordered and he the mans had to go searching quite late in the day for ripe orange cantaloupes , not an easy task but he did well. Its always quite good for the foodie ego to experience a humbling mini disaster!!! I was a bit nervous about serving this , as chilled liquids can be a somewhat acquired taste , but everyone finished every drop. My dinner guest L went as far to say that if M&S sold it fresh in a tub , shed go and buy it!!! Such a lovely compliment and makes all the effort very well worth it.

Main made by he the mans mainly from Gordon Ramsey's Secrets book :

Fillet with gratin of wild mushrooms - page 73

Braised baby gem lettuce - page 126

Butter fondant potatoes - page 151 of Gary Rhodes at the table

Sadly I have no picture of the finished plate , well apart from the one you can just make out in my previous posts pictures at the bottom from the book, but it went down very well and every plate was clean!!! I was really surprised at the lettuce dish , as soggy lettuce I didn't fancy much and urged he the mans to think of something else , but he ignored me , as you can see!(well you cant actually , but you get my drift). My other dinner guest K said it was reminiscent of bok choi and she was right , it is a savoury, soft and crunchy side dish. The potatoes were a good change to roast potatoes , but much much more naughtier being cooked in butter, I must admit I try not to eat as many as I used to when eating meat also.

The steak was wonderful (I think I can say that, it being he the mans creation and not mine?) . There is nothing more comforting than steak with a creamy sauce , but whats lovely about this is a sauce that sits perfectly right on the top of the steak so that every cut you make comes with a substantial topping. We were also blessed on the night that it didn't all slide off! Oh and despite it coming out quite rare , it was still eaten , even though several said they don't normally eat steak that way.

Id' just like to say here that I'm rather proud and in admiration of he the mans ability to put together a lovely combination of dishes and flavours. A little round of applause to him.

Anyway enough of all that , his head will swell to much, back to the menu!

Dessert was a joint effort and we made a lucky old favourite of pears accompanied by some new serving ideas :

Vanilla poached pears care of Delicious magazine September issue 2004 (page 76 for anyone who collects it). They may do back issues , Im not sure how far back though.

Served with dark chocolate sorbet - page 114 of Chocolate by Linda Collister

Watermelon and raspberry sorbet - page 96 of Ice cream and Frozen desserts by Peggy Fallon ,

Topped with Caramelized Melba toast - page 211 of Gary Rhodes at the table.

The pears always do well and are a nice fresh finish to a solid main dish. Its a mix of syrup, sweet Riesling , lemon and fresh vanilla in a wonderful fragrant combo. Unfortunately my chocolate sorbet became a grainy mushy mess, despite everyone thinking it was a mousse , I knew it was wrong and was quite disappointed and very typically said so, (I'm not good at lying but they would have been none the wiser had I kept shtum!). It becomes a very strange acidic sandy like mooosh rather than an icy melt in the mouth chocolate zing if the chocolate doesn't melt properly. Its actually a very hard sorbet to make, only 1/4 has ever worked, but I'm determined this summer to get it right and record how!

The watermelon sorbet is great (it reminds me of watermelon juice served in Thailand) and the addition of the raspberry vodka makes it all the more decadent and grown up , although may be not as healthy as pure watermelon, which is meant to great for the body in the summer. Little cupcake is very upset that I wont let her have any. I keep saying it has very grown up drink in it but shes not convinced!!!

I told my guests of my error to take more pictures and they said the best picture would be the table after its all gone , so here it is :

A sign of a good meal


Chloe said...

It sounded lovely.
The watermelon sorbet sounds fab too. I'm not a fan of sorbet but I cant resist anything Watermelon.

Your glasses are lovely too :D

Hana Mi said...

Theres something about watemelon isnt there, cant quite put my finger on it. What do you think it is?

Something nice about drinking out of new glasses!

Monique said...

What a nice evening. And you two are so cute, how wonderful to share this passion for food and cooking. I love it.

Count me in, anything watermelon is good. My boys would have had a difficult time being told no too.

I'm also the same w/ taking pictures when hosting any gathering aside from a birthday party for the boys, then I am in a camera frenzy capturing every movement.

Otherwise I feel like I'm putting them on the spot to be photogenic and it makes many very uncomfortable. So in all of my get-togethers you will mainly only see pictures of the boys on my blog when discussing them.

JEM said...

hmmmmmmmm lovely the steak sounds fab and having never eaten pear as a dessert im thinking i will have a go next week as tuesday is treat day will get my books out

and watermelon vodka mmmm could convince my self its a healthy way to drink ty for that

Murrari said...

As one of the lucky guests, I would like to go on the record to say that the meal was absolutely delicious.

They do say that ignorance is bliss, so had our hostess have remained tight lipped, the chocolate "mousse" was great!

Inspite of never having had melon soup before, I do consider myself a soup connoisseur...
It was fabulous...light, flavoursome and moreish (though I refrained from bowl no.2 on the grounds of correctness!)
The steak was excellent - in recent years I have favoured 'medium' preparation and mine was perfectly pink sans blood!
The braised lettuce was complaints here...but definitely not a tour de force for those yet to sample it.
Butter fondant potatoes could be summed up in one word 'Magnifique'. I was greedy enough (and well past correctness at this stage) to accept our hosts offer of 'more'. Yup, definitely worth the etxra girth on the waist!

Vanilla poached pears were delicious. I am a fan of fruit oriented desserts, especially after red meat, so full marks here from me in menu construction. The sorbet was fab (though can you ever beat chocolate ice-cream?!)

All in all, the pressure is on with the imminent return leg.

Whenever I did extremely well at school, my headteacher never wanted any major achievements to go to my head. That was his nature. So in keeping with his comments (and with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek) may I conclude with "good work, shows great promise but must try harder!"