Dinner No 24 hosted by Trish: November 2015

I was terrified doing this dinner. I had loads of ideas and no time to prepare and execute so Monday night I was still deliberating whether I should go ahead or not. Happily I decided to forge on because of something I heard on the radio about taking risks and pushing ones self. Now I am not suggesting that 8ate is risky but it certainly gets full marks in the pushing department.

I had decided I wanted an Autumnal theme running through the menu so started with a small teacup of butternut squash cappuccino. Sadly our milk frothier doesn’t work so I couldn’t achieve. the frothy top that I had hoped for. It was very tasty but for me I always prefer sweet potato.

In the summer I was lucky enough to be included on a fishing trip to catch local mackerel and sea bass. Our intrepid gaggle of 12 women caught absolutely nothing but fortunately for us the skipper had caught some fish the day before and we had on board a wonderful chef who prepared the mackerel ceviche style and a wonderful fish paella for our lunch. Inspired by the mackerel ceviche I wanted to recreate the experience. Sadly I am rubbish at preparing fish ( I blame my lack of knives and now have a sharp knife for filleting fish on my Xmas list) however I managed to skin my fillets and marinate them in a combination of lemon, lime and salt for 45 minutes. These I served with a beetroot and ginger relish which I was quite pleased with. What I loved about the mackerel is that the acidity of the lemon and lime cooks the flesh but you are left with a lovely plump fleshy fish taste theft is not too strong or overpowering as mackerel can often be. I want to perfect this technique, after Xmas!

My main course was pork belly with a red cabbage and Stilton slaw. I have never cooked pork belly before and my first impression was poor. There seemed to be hardly any meat on this cut! Nevertheless I ploughed ahead as I had no alternative. I marinaded the pork in fennel, star anise, brown sugar and salt overnight and then washed it off the next day in preparation for slow cooking. The red cabbage slaw was pretty straight forward and very tasty but the pork really was melt in the mouth and the crackling worked!

In keeping with the Autumnal theme and something I have never made I decided on maple and apple doughnuts for dessert. The dough itself was not at all tricky but the cooking was slightly nerve racking! In hindsight I would let them cook a little longer but still they looked and tasted like real doughnuts. I injected the fillings into each doughnut which was childishly satisfying, watching them plump up and the piping bag make funny noises. To go with the doughnuts I made vanilla and cinnamon ice cream with crushed amaretto biscuits.

So all in all I think the night went smoothly. I wish I hadn’t been quite so stressed but I think I met the brief on trying new things and tempting failure! This is my last 8Ate officially but I am hoping I might get asked for a guest slot once in a while as it really has been fun and I love the girls! Xxx



  1. Tan

    For someone who was worrying about not being able to produce a meal, you produced a hell of a meal!
    I was very happy not to be driving for a change so merrily tucked into the sparkling.
    I loved the soup, so many flavours I couldn’t work it out at all, I even thought there was goats cheese in it!! My tastebuds were obviously a bit mental. It was totally delicious and very autumnal. When I get the recipe section sorted out that needs to go in for sure.
    The cured mackerel was not quite for me. I’m not sure why, the flavour was just a bit too fishy which of course sounds utterly ridiculous, the pin bones were no problem though, I didn’t get anyway. I loved the beetroot relish and they went really nicely together.
    The pork belly was OMG lush. I don’t normally eat crackling but the flavour from that rub really shone through and I scoffed the lot. I am beginning to realise that pork is my favourite meat. Why it has taken me so long to work that out, I’m not sure but this was just sublime. So tasty and tender and not at all fatty (I’m sure it was in calorific terms but not in chewing terms!).
    And what a finale. I am loving the doughnut as pudding – I think you were right they were *just* underdone in the middle but hardly. I thought the fillings were gorgeous and elevated them. And to have that delicious ice-cream as well. Absolute heaven. You will be so missed in the 8ate but maybe you will dip back in for another round in the future…. You are an amazing cook and such a gracious host. I bow low to your SKILLZ 🙂

  2. Emma Crane-Robinson

    Thank you thank you Trish for the most utterly delicious and spoiling meal that I have eaten in bloomin’ ages. You totally pushed the boat out for us lucky ladies last Tuesday. It was spectacular in every way and I loved every minute.

    And now for my confession….Father, I don’t like Pork Belly and I don’t like Doughnuts. …

    EXCEPT, that is for the pork belly that you cooked for us last Tuesday at 8ate. Trish, I am a convert! To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced that – even now – I would order these two particular food products at a restaurant, but I sure as hell would eat them ANY night round at chez Skinner. Every night actually. Please?

    The pork belly was cooked in a way that made all the normally associated fat disappear, leaving only deliciously tender and tasty meat, and the crackling was crackled to perfect. I also loved the side: slices of pear amongst wonderful autumnal vegetables. Utterly perfect for the time of year (as I write this comment I am listening to the wind howling around the chimney pots outside).

    I should start with the soup though. And this first course was one I would love the recipe for please (am looking forward to those recipes online – a great idea). It was wonderfully hearty, without being too filling, and had an impressive array of flavours, without coming across as overly complicated (I loved the presentation too).

    Tan, I agree, you are RIDICULOUS! Of course the fish was fishy! Otherwise it wouldn’t be fish? I am a huge fan of ceviche – something very stylish and special about if for me – and I can still recall the sensation of it in the mouth – as I think I said earlier – very spoiling. I didn’t get any bones, despite your concern Trish (tut to the fishmonger), and again the side, beetroot in small cubes (with a cheese – goats, feta, eek, forgotten already) was more than quite delish.

    And so on to the doughnuts. I cannot imagine EVER being brave (or generous) enough to make home made doughnuts. Somehow I wouldn’t even consider them as dinner party fodder. But they really worked. Gone was the fairground doughnut or Sainsburys 6 in a packet greasiness and doughiness. Perhaps it was those yummy apple and custard fillings? (I’m not going to mention what you said filling them reminded you of Trish (!)). I polished off every last morcel. Probably very quickly. I was also particularly chuffed with the slippery nipple raspberry (or possibly loganberry? Let’s say ‘thingy-berry) on top of my rich and creamy icecream! Dix points for a memorable garnish.

    So thank you again. Massively. And of course to you Tan, for muificently persevering with my invite to 8ate, and for honouring me with letting me drive you. I had a truly awesome evening – lots of fun and fab conversation with a great bunch of girls. One for the memory bank. Love to all. XXXX

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