Dinner 23

Dinner No 23 hosted by Lizzy: August 2015

My second attempt at an 8ate club meal and I was much less nervous and really enjoyed the planning the menu (although it did change last minute!) and throwing myself into a list of things I had never tried before. I have too many cook books and so many I haven’t used yet, so I picked all the recipes I made from these. A week on and feel positive about how it all went and tried 3 of the recipes again since.

Watermelon feta basil and balsamic cubes

Prosciutto, gorgonzola and pear wraps

Truffled mushroom crostini

I really enjoy making canapes, probably because I have a slight obsession with miniature things! These were a good size, a bite or two, not messy and not too fiddly to make. I think they were fresh and summery and selfishly flavours I love!

Caramelised fennel and Finocchiona pizzas

I havent made bread dough since i was a child so was very keen to give this a go. Making the pizza dough went smoothly and the caramelised fennel was tasty but unfortunately the pizzas weren’t thin enough (they kept rising because I made them before people arrived) a bit crispy and no where near enough mozzarella for me! Disappointed I made them again two days later with much more success. I discovered that they really need to be made at the time, rolled out, topped and cooked one at a time so not great for making in advance for a dinner party.

Ricotta lemon and mint ravioli with broad bean and hazelnut salad

I have never been brave enough to make pasta and although very time consuming to make enough ravioli for main courses, it was good fun! I really enjoyed the filling, the flavours were interesting and the pasta wasn’t to thick and luckily didn’t split. Podding and shelling broad beans however was much less fun, it was quite an nice accompaniment to the pasta but i’m not sure id do it by hand again! Very keen to try some other ravioli fillings now though.

Strawberry tart with strawberry ice cream

One of my favourite desserts and have never thought to make it! I found the recipe in one of the Tom Kerridge books I haven’t used yet, i think he is brilliant and he is from Wiltshire, so it was an obvious choice! Again I haven’t made pastry since school but actually it was fairly hassle free and i’m glad i made individual tarts, thought they looked neat and pretty on the plate. Creme Patissiere is one of the most delicious things and I thought it was a fairly convincing attempt. The strawberry glaze was a bit thick so not easy to paint on. I didnt buy an icecream churner so the ice cream wasn’t as smooth as it should have been but had an intense starwberry flavour. I was happy with these and would love to make them again (now i have the tins!)

Salted caramel brownies

Salted caramel has become a new obsession of mine so thought I had better try and make it! I really enjoyed these brownies, very sweet but had a good fudgy consistency and had cut to a very small petit four size to have with mint tea. I have made them agin this morning!
It was a fun night and so lovely to see everyone and meet some new faces. Really looking forward to the next one.

Preparations…

  1. Firstly thank you Lizzy and your lovely sommelier Spike for yet another special 8ate dinner. The grim weather was quickly forgotten once Spike put that first glass of champagne in my hand.
    The canapés were delicious and just the right size for popping in ones mouth without having to let go of my drink – always a bonus. My favourite were the mushroom crostini. I'm not a huge fan of mushroom unless it is cooked perfectly and I really enjoyed these.
    The pizza starters were quite large so I couldn't finish mine off and the crusts were a little on the crunchy side but you knew that. The flavours though were gorgeous. Caramelised fennel is definitely on my list to try.
    The home made ravioli was my favourite course. What a brave effort to make pasta for the first time and filled pasta too! The ravioli was silky and the filling was an explosion of flavour for such a small parcel. And to top it off not a single pasta piece fell apart during cooking so you must have got the quantity just right. (Nothing worse than a watery filling)
    I have to admit that I remember the icecream part better than the tart of the pud. I wouldn't normally choose strawberry icecream because it reminds me too much of the cheap napolitana icecream we had as kids but this was smooth and fruity and really lovely.
    Finally the salted caramel brownies. I loved that you cut them up really small so we all felt much better about having four of them! I am big fan of salted caramel so I could have quite happily gobbled the lot.
    So, I was full for about a day afterward but only because I was such a piggy and finished off just about everything, except for my pizza crusts! Thank you Lizzy, and Spike of course.xx

  2. Tan

    How can you not feel instantly at home with you, I know it is all about the food, but I can't not mention the hospitality when it is so wonderful, it's like walking into a loving cuddle.

    Starting off any evening with delicious champagne is fabulous and as usual I'm sure I had more than my fair share. Ah well…. So to the canapes. The truffled mushroom crostini were my favourite, the crostini were perfect and the mushrooms delicious with a great contrast in texture. Posh cheese and fruit! Great grown up alternative to cheese and pineapple.
    watermelon with feta and pear with gorgonzola – thought they both worked well. I also took a look at the book these came from and have put it onto my gift wishlist (husband take note please….)

    I could sense the disappointment with the pizza having been in the oven a little bit too long but all the flavours were there – the fennel particularly was unusual and delicious. Home made pizzas are the best.

    The ravioli was so damn good! I would be delighted to receive that in a restaurant. They looked perfect which in itself is a hell of an achievement having never made pasta. The pasta itself was light, thin, melt in the mouth and perfectly cooked and the filling was do lush. Ricotta can be a bit bland but this was just pockets of deliciousness with the lemon and mint being in perfect balance.

    I am a huge fan of broad beans and having shelled and de-jacketed them for an 8ate dinner myself I know what an absolute pain it is but they are such a treat to eat. I loved the full-on garlic and hazlenuts – was a perfect partner for the pasta. I loved it and knowing I am far too lazy to make it myself I made sure I enjoyed every mouthful to the full!

    And the pudding – wow, for me the stand out dish along with the pasta, this strawverry tart was such a pleasure from start to finish. The pastry was a little thick for me (I need to conserve my appetite at this stage of a meal!) but the filling was just gorgeous, creamy and tasted very FRENCH!! Looked beautiful and the ice-cream was lovely too, although we were definitely spoiled to get both.

    I was grateful that the salted caramel chocolate brownies were so tiny, I still managed a few. I am greedy for salted caramel so maybe a touch more? but the SQUIDGE factor was 10/10. Washed down with a wonderful fresh mint tea and I rolled home a happy woman, thank you to Matt for the lift and car chat.

    Lizzy you are amazing. A wonderful relaxed hostess. It's like watching a swan, beautiful, relaxed and graceful but knowing all the hard work is all going on out of sight.. and you are a fabulous cook. Love ya x

  3. Sophie

    Last Wednesday was my 3rd time (!) as a guest of the delicious 8 club. After this many times I suppose it's only apt that I actually write a review of the meal at Lizzy's!

    Everything was delicious but that is hardly surprising because Lizzy is a fab cook. There were a couple of things which I didn't like very much but that had nothing to do with the way Lizzy prepared the food and everything to do with my childish taste buds!!! One was the blue cheese canape, which to me looked gorgeous, but I just don't like blue cheese. The second thing was the bean salad. It had lots of garlic, which I loved, and nuts, which I loved, but it also had big beans, which i don't like very much. I had to pretend I was allergic so as not to offend but Tanyah quickly pulled me up on this! But, it did look beautiful and if I were a bean fan it would have been perfect.

    Everything else was amazing. The canapes- loved loved loved the watermelon, feta and mint! It was so refreshing and melted in my mouth. The mushroom crostinis were lovely too and I was thinking those mushrooms would be great in a pasta dish.

    The main meal- We started with mini pizzas which is always a winner. They would have been better with a bit more cheese, but I'm a gooey pizza lover so it could just be my simple tastes again! We then moved on to Lizzy's homemade ravioli…wow. Those were SO delicious, rich, filling and packed full of flavour. The lemon was a nice addition to the filling. They were beautifully presented, we had 6 each but that was plenty as they were big.

    Finally, the pudding…oh.my.god. Strawberry Tarte. With real patisserie cream. This is my all time favourite pudding in the world. My mom is french so from my 1st birthday onwards I've always had a strawberry tarte as my cake. I even have a photo of me face down in a strawberry tarte (don't worry, I was only one). When Lizzy pulled out the individual tartes i thought they looked the part but would they taste it?? Could anyone except for a patisserie chef actually get the cream right?? The answer is YES- Lizzy's tarte was just as good, if not better, than all the tartes I've had in France, as a child, from Patisserie Valerie etc etc etc. It was amazing. Really really delicious. And it brought back a lot of good memories from childhood birthdays:)

    The night ended with mint tea and gooey chocolate brownie bites. I was so full from the rest that only had one. It was like heaven in my mouth!

    The whole evening was so much fun, what a great group of women!!! Thank you Lizzy so much for inviting me again. Can't wait for the next one;)

  4. Looking at the photos and reading your account of preparing this meal has brought a big smile to my face and happy memories of a gorgeous evening – thank you Lizzy!

    When Tanyah showed me your menu I couldn't focus on anything except SALTED CARAMEL BROWNIES which meant I was highly determined still to have enough room for them by the end of the meal! A big challenge which I nearly failed on arriving and being assailed by such a delicious array of canapés and champagne in quantity!

    I am not myself much of a chef though I am a very appreciative diner. The subtleties of preparation and technique may have been rather over my head but I enjoyed the continental-inspired menu enormously. From the freshness of watermelon in the canapés to the rustic flavour of the pizza, followed up by lovely fragrant lemony ravioli plus that bean salad accompaniment… it was all such a feast. I would have loved to come back and have pizza with you again as a main course since I love it. As a starter it didn't quite do it for me, because of the problem of saving room for the brownies! It grieved me to have to leave my crusts – but a necessary sacrifice! Because the strawberry ice cream and brownies were both divine. I enjoyed the strawberry tart but it was the ice cream I will remember specially. It reminded me of boiling hot childhood summers when my mum would make it – that intense flavour that makes you surprised it's not an actual strawberry, perfectly ripe and sweet, in your mouth!

    I was delighted to make it to the end of the meal with space for a brownie or five and thought they were well worth waiting for – went beautifully with my after dinner coffee… and more wine…

    What a convivial evening it was. A dinner party is about food I know, specially at 8ate, but the wonderful company and Lizzy (and Spike)'s hospitality was just so enjoyable. I had a fabulous time and felt privileged to have met such a vibrant, amusing, thoughtful group of ladies. Hope our paths will cross again one day.

    Despite not being a keen cook, it was also lovely to hear the enthusiasm with which you experts discussed the meal and shared tips. Almost enough to inspire me to think about doing something far less elevated but dining-related with friends… hm, I shall continue to think this over.

    Thank you Lizzy for a wonderful and memorable evening: it was an exceptional experience on all fronts and I am so pleased I was visiting Tanyah at this opportune moment!

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