Dinner 19

Dinner No 19 hosted by Lizzy; November 2014

Completely new to the 8ate club and totally awe struck by the level of cooking so far, needless to say i have been panicking for some time! I love cooking but I am a big boards/bowls of food in the middle of the table type cook and have never plated up courses of food for people before! Having said that I really enjoyed planning my menu and with all the stressing done months before i actually really enjoyed the day itself and it did go fairly smoothly.

Tamari Maple Cashews- These were very quick and simple and now I know this, I will definitely be making them again. Although they were very moorish, unfortunately I made them earlier in the day and so they went a bit sticky. Definitely would whip them up just before people arrive next time.

Crispy Duck Tamarind Lettuce Cups- I have always avoided cooking duck for fear of soggy skin, but these crisped up nicely and I thought the sauce, although time consuming, was yummy. I am planning to make these again over christmas and am also wondering if it would work as a salad, as a starter.

Cucumber Crab Maki Rolls- I love crab and yet never do anything with it at home! Although this recipe did involve making a poppyseed mayonnaise of which only a tablespoon or two was required, I thought they were delicious!

Thai Fishcakes with Cucumber Relish

I order fish when out as I generally avoid cooking it at home. I really have no idea what I am doing when it comes to fish, but really enjoyed making the Thai fishcakes. Really I think they could have been made in advance, but I cooked them at the time as I was worried about them being soggy. With a separate kitchen and dining room I felt it was a bit anti social and I hate missing out on all the fun, so next time i would have a go at making them beforehand and keeping them warm. Pickling the cumber was fairly simple but I thought it added a nice kick and wasn’t too filling after 3 appetisers and preceding beef.

Beef Carpaccio with Japanese Dressing and Asian Slaw

I absolutely love beef carpaccio and if I see it on a menu I order it every time, but it has never occurred to me to try and make it myself! It was a bit fiddly and definitely time consuming but very worth it I felt. Although maybe not traditionally how it is served I think it worked well with the asian flavours. Home made coleslaw is again a favourite of mine but have never made it myself. I really like the nutty flavour of this slaw and it too is earmarked for my christmas menu! I was slightly nervous about serving raw fillet of beef to one ex vegetarian and a few who had not tried carpaccio before but I was left with 8 clean plates! Perhaps you were all just super polite or very hungry!

Passion Fruit and Coconut Semi-Freddo with Cashew Nut Praline

I love making deserts the most, but I struggled to find something I really wanted to try that was inkeeping with the theme of the rest of the menu. I liked how the passion fruit flavour remained in the semi freddo but I think next time I might be brave enough to try an ice cream. I love praline and again have not made it before so decided to use cashews to adjust it to fit the them and it added some texture to the plate. I was fairly happy with it but I am a complete chocoholic so it was slightly out of my comfort zone!

Chocolate, Coconut and Mint Truffles

There just couldn’t be a dinner party at my house without chocolate. I really enjoyed these, but the fresh mint didn’t come through at all! Some were rolled in hazelnuts for those who don’t like coconut. I will make these again but I would halve the quantities, the recipe made boxes full!

  1. Tanyah

    Lizzy, what an amazing meal. I was blown away by the amount of time and effort that went into this spread! I hope that you would make these things again, or at least feel you have stretched yourself that will spill over into your normal cooking or entertaining because it was fabulous.

    Crispy duck tamarind lettuce cups
    I was astounded that you had been roasting duck legs just for the canape! Quite above and beyond. I have a love hate relationship with canapes because whilst I adore eating them I often find they can be one of the most fiddly elements of a meal but with the least satisfaction because people are so busy having a chat and their first drink that they neglect giving canapes the attention thy deserve. I was mindful not to eat more than my fair share but could have happily scoffed the lot. I think they would serve very well as a starter actually.

    Cucumber crab maki rolls
    There are remarkably few foods I don't like but crab is on the list. Being part of the 8ate though means trying new things as well as eating them so I popped one in my mouth and was presently surprised. Not too 'crabby' and I can imagine that if you were a fan of crab you would love these. Again the effort of making your own mayo – phew! Bet they were super fiddly to make.

    Maple tamari cashews
    so delicious! I definitely want to make these and find out what that secret expensive soy sauce type ingredient is! I wasn't so keen on the stickyness of them. But you said they were dry when they were first done. I guess it was as the moisture in the air hit them that they released their moisture a bit? SO delivious!

    Thai fish cakes and cucumber relish:
    Love this simple pickling of cucumber and it went so well with these light and flavoursome fishcakes. I understand that cooking while your guests are there is not ideal, but I bet you could cook these and keep them warm in a warming drawer or oven and they would not lose anything for it. A perfect starter. Light enough not to fill you up but plenty of flavour and spice to get the taste buds in gear.

    Beef carpaccio with Japanese dressing and Asian slaw
    I loved this so much I want to make it for a dinner party this weekend. I think I would do it as a starter not as a main, only because a cold main is a bit controversial in our house. Very traditional husband. The 'slaw was out of this world, I could not identify all the different flavours but they all worked together and I loved your idea to bring your asian theme to something you have wanted to make for ages. I have to tell you it was outstanding.

    Passion fruit and coconut semi freddo with Cashew nut praline:
    So much going on here and every part of it was delicious. Tropical, fruity, light, refreshing, interesting and more nuts!! (I love nuts!) I think for ease of serving I might make this in a loaf tin and serve it in slices.

    Pistachio chocolate fudge
    chocolate and coconut/hazelnut truffles
    I can't deny I was full by this stage but in the interests of completion I had to try both the truffles and the fudge. I could see how much effort had gone into the petit fours, another dish that sometimes doesn't get the love it deserves as often time consuming and fiddly. I liked it but as I saw I was a bit full so couldn't fully appreciate it. I would have loved a little doggy bag to scoff in the morning!!

    Such a lovely relaxed evening, you are a wonderful hostess and it was an absolute pleasure being cooked for by you. I must also say you had a very charming sommelier throughout the evening.

  2. Christina

    First I must thank you Lizzy for preparing and cooking such a wonderful meal, and everyone who was part of it for a lovely, lovely evening. I cannot attempt to match Tanyah’s level of detail, but will describe various – numerous, highlights.

    The barn is amazing: Open to the rafters as they should be, and with memorable detail. I loved the idea that right here, wee piglets were once suckled. Champagne on arrival from your super in-house sommelier, helped to soothe my ‘outsider’ nerves. Lizzy I too was super-impressed by the amount of effort you had gone to in preparing every course, even yes!! Roasting duck legs in order to make… canapés. These were wonderful : a whole meal of flavours and textures in a mouthful. All the canapé varieties also looked mouthwatering . I really hope you feel that all your efforts were worthwhile, and that you’ll have no doubts about serving these dishes to others.

    *I’ve had to come back up here to say something about the sticky maple cashews which I forgot! I seem to remember there being many ingredients in the sauce/coating for these, but again the result was amazing …and a conversation starter which is a very strong plus point for a canapé. I’m kinda glad I wasn’t left alone with these otherwise there might not have been room for anything else.

    The Carpaccio was the stand-out dish…so tender and melting , and I LOVED the Asian slaw accompaniment which made it all very refreshing. So you are well able to innovate with flavour combinations. .. Did you try these things together before that night? I enjoyed hearing the history of preparation tips for the beef too. Presentation was also a high point throughout… A trefoil of carpaccio. I agree it is not the expectation to be served a cold main course however, I thought it was knock-out. Good idea too to have a break in the intensity of preparation so you could relax more.

    The dessert was perfectly judged and not too sweet. I love passionfruit but often the flavour is too intense and cloying … this mixed so well with the creamy semi-fredo. Very nice to have the dessert wine with this too.
    And then came the petits fours! Wow, I could have continued to eat these all night. A lovely contrast to that elegant dessert, these were rich and decadent and very satisfying to finish. I honestly still can’t decide which of the three I liked best…loved the chewiness of the chocolate fudge. I need to try them all again to be sure!

    Overall I thought it was a really well balanced meal: Warm, fish/seafood starter, cold main but with some depth from the beef and with some spice, colder dessert and then those truffles to end. I learned some fascinating things, mostly about ironing. I am not sure I shall ever get to the point of ironing smalls, but I am intrigued by the prospect of ironing sheets once they are already on the bed. We already have the ‘self-ironing’ shirt. I shall be truly happy when someone has invented the sheet that can get itself onto the bed. Or even better, the food shopping that puts itself away.

    Thank you again to everyone for their company, to Tanyah for believing that one day, I would be able to come, and to Lizzy for all your hard work and wonderful hospitality. Long live the 8ate.
    Christina.

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