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