Fine Dining

Saturday night and we had P's sister Leanne and her husband Kevin over for dinner. Not just a simple cook up, we planned the usual elaborate appetizer plus three courses that we reciprocate between ourselves few times a year.

I spent most of Saturday morning shopping and then the rest of Saturday preparing. It was again a bit of a panic, because when Leanne and Kevin come for dinner knowing the standards we like to maintain I usually have the menu planned at least a week in advance. However, this time I left it mostly to P and wouldn't you know it midnight Friday night we were still deciding on the appetizers and Saturday morning we were settling on a dessert.

These dinners are becoming more and more challenging because between both couples we have already served almost all the classic food that each of us can think of - salmon, duck roasted and confit, quail, spatchcock, eye fillets, crabs, prawns, souffles, brulees, poached pears you name it between them and us we have probably done it.

The trick is to provide all courses but keep it balanced so we eat but we don't necessarily eat too much - I think we are all getting pretty good at it. We also manage to fit in quite a few wines. I think it wasn't too bad this Saturday only 7 bottles. We decided we had better use some of our older wine and we had some fantastic choices and instead of the John Riddoch (to heavy we decided) we went with the 1997 Capel Vale Merlot, which as it turned out was superb. That bottle as well as two delicious Pinots a Goundrey 1998 Reserve and a Cockfighters we managed to consume all of the wine and the food quite well I think without feeling too full.

We usually start with some seriously good bubbly - and this evening was no exception they brought a bottle of Moet and we supplied a bottle of Salinger. I decided to prepare a few appetizers - an amazing rolled herb omelette topped with salmoe roe on a crouton with sour cream and smoked ocean trout on herbed pikelets and blue cheese, pear and walnuts on herbed pikelets. Just a few so as not to spoil the next 3 courses.

Next I prepared the Tuscan bread salad from Philip Johnson's Ecco 2 cookbook with prawns as well as scallops. A lovely light entree for which I also had to make a tomato vinaigrette earlier that day so just another chore! We enjoyed a Grosset sauvignon blanc with the entree.

Paul decided to prepare lamb cutlets for a main course he found in the Belmondo cookbook. He made a dragoncello sauce earlier in the day - an unusual mix of fresh tarragon, bread soaked in red wine vinegar, garlic which was processed and olive oil drizzled through. An interesting and refreshing change from pesto and salsa verde.

The lamb cutlets (which were an incredible $42 for 20 of them - oh the price of meat these days!) were barbecued topped with the dragoncello and served on a bed of finely sliced savoy cabbage thorough which we had decided to mix through some lightly pan fried pancetta as well as balsamic and olive oil.

I also made a very creamy mash with some Dutch cream potatoes in case we needed another vegetable. I wanted that effect when you order mashed potatoes in a good restaurant and a bowl of the creamiest luxurious mash arrives that you wish you can replicate at home.

Dessert was interesting - I found the recipe in one of my trusty old Gourmet Traveler magazines. I made sure I prepared as much of it as possible earlier, even measuring out the flour, sugar and separating the eggs so I wasn't so inebriated by the time it had to be made and I couldn't close the deal. I had to use slices of poached pears to line four souffle dishes and then make an almond pudding filling. The pear and almond pudding was then baked and turned out onto a plate and served with double cream - we decided when we started eating it we also needed icecream. In retrospect we also needed a caramel or butterscotch sauce. Maybe next time..

By midnight I was in bed and could not for the life of me finish the Corona I thought I needed but actually didn't. P and Kevin stayed up till 1.3oam contemplating I don't know what but it was probably only the play list on Rage.

The next morning approximately 7am (Kevin and Lea and Theo (their 3 year old) stayed that night) with the 3 kids and a raging head for all - after a round of Beroccas, some great Lavazza coffee and tea and a beautiful double cheese omelette made by P (recipe from Sophie Grigson's Organic cooking book) we were ready to start another day.

I have yet to purchase my digital camera so I start recording some of the food that was prepared and the beautiful flowers I bought. I am currently in love with yellow Gladiolies in a huge vase in my hallway and I put some gorgeous iris's on the dining table. Maybe next time.


Post a Comment

<< Home