Dinner No 27 hosted by Harriet: June 2016

Having been asked by Tanyah to have a turn cooking at the 8ate group I thought about what I least like to dish up or the things I avoid if I have friends round for dinner. I dislike serving food on plates and have a tendency to put large dishes out on the table for people to help themselves. Perhaps a fear of things going cold or having to eat things you don’t want to out of politeness I’m not sure but that’s the plan for my dinner, let’s hope I don’t drop any plates on the way from the kitchen.

As it will be my dinner the night before the referendum I plan to celebrate the European Union with a menu of classic dishes from across Europe:

German sausage on rye bread, Italian bruschetta

Spanish Gazpacho

A Greek carrot, squash, labneh and walnut gremolata salad

A cold rare British beef with a French dill and mustard sauce

French Crème brulee with raspberries

I’m always wary of serving a joint of beef as my family are very much in the well -done camp (except me). I’ve tried and failed with crème brulee before so we shall see if I can get it right this time!



  1. Wow, am I really the first to write the blog………

    Harriet, thank you so much for such a fun, delicious and special evening. I loved your theme of celebrating Europe on the eve of the ‘never endum’ a topic that we didn’t get to until near the end of a fabulous dinner, we clearly had a lot of important chat to get through before moving on to this hot topic!!
    Changing the style of your dinner party is a big deal as it really takes you out of your comfort zone, especially going from serving at the table to plated food – love my food on a plate! I thought you absolutely mastered it as you were a very present hostess with perhaps the beef taking a little longer to prepare but otherwise you were totally engaged with your guests which is no mean feat when your wingman is absent!

    On to the food…..

    I thought the bruschetta was so vibrant and appertising in colour and therefore perfect for summer entertaining. I loved the flavours of the salsa verde, the lemon burst through which was a lovely surprise and the sardines added a rich creaminess which was a great blend of flavours, I am not normally a big fan of sardines but this was perfect for me. A slightly thinner slice of soughdough might be easier to eat but that’s probably just because I am a nibbler!
    The German ham on rye bread had a lovely smokey taste which I really enjoyed and I love a cornichon but I did find the rye a little dry.

    Spanish Gazpachio
    This was oh so smooth and perfectly balanced for me, I have only had quite punchy gazpachios in the past but this was delicious and a real winner for a cold soup. I loved having your top tips on the sieving, how it removed any bitterness and seeds and you were spot on with omitting the bread, i can’t imagine how it would have enhanced this fab soup.

    Greek yogurt, squash, labneh and walnut gremolata salad.
    I think this was the star of the show for me. The flavours were absolutely gorgeous, from the spices to the intense (but delic) garlic coupled with the tender flavours of the carrots and beets left me planning my next dinner menu with it being the centre piece. It looked beautiful and so enticing and the taste sensation definitely delivered what it promised, so yummy!

    Cold beef with dill and mustard sauce
    Perfect, the beef was beautifully cooked and was absolutely my kind of pink, your family don’t know what they are missing out on!! The dill and mustard sauce was a lovely sweet accompaniment which I enjoyed tucking into for seconds and thirds I think! The peppery watercress worked well with the beef but I did think the beef looked a little lonely and may have bennifitted from something else on the plate if you were doing a 2 or 3 course dinner rather than 5 courses.

    French creme brûlée
    It was a shame that this didn’t set after all your efforts Harriet however, the favour was rich, creamy, vanillery and the sugar had just the right amount of blow torch action to give a perfect sweet crunch to the dish. You have got to keep going with this one as it tasted great and only needs a bit of tweaking to get it to set!

    It’s dangerous when your guest picks you up and drives as its only will power between you and the next glass; It was lovely to have Ellie there last night, thank you for coming!
    It was also lovely to be in your blossoming garden for drinks and canapés Harriet, I loved the champagne and should have stopped after the first glass, but didn’t! The wines were gorgeous too but the sticky was AMAZING, I am going to have to invest in a bottle or two for special occasions as it was just delicious! I also got stuck into the cheeses, I think I was worried about not finishing my glass of red so had to pair it up with the cheese board, the goats cheese was my fave.

    Harriet thank you so much for a wonderful evening and I think it’s safe to say that you plate up brilliantly!!

    Lou xxx

  2. German sausage on rye bread, Italian bruschetta
    I enjoyed the salsa verde so much with the lovely cherry tomatoes – I normally try and avoid anything with bread as a canape as I have a small appetite but this was so moreish I was back for seconds before they all got snapped up. I will be totally making this – just need the recipe. I am not keen on anchovies but actually they added a bit of ‘back up punch’ which worked well here.
    The ham and cornichon on rye was perfectly lovely – could have done with a gentle lubrication – maybe a little horseradish crème fraiche!

    Spanish Gazpacho
    The gazpacho for me was divine. Couldn’t get over how creamy it was, my only complaint was it was gone too soon, I loved the way every flavour held its own and came through. A great summer dish and one that probably improves by sitting for a bit so great for making in advance. Personally I like the additions of chopped up veg as it just makes it a bit more fun.

    A Greek carrot, squash, labneh and walnut gremolata salad
    Wow, the garlic in the labneh cheese was waking me up in the night!! It was soooo strong! There is something so special about that kind of young cheese made at home that elevates a dish and this was such a stand out dish for me. The sheer amount of different flavours that were all perfectly balanced and the gorgeous heat from the cayenne coming through afterwards. I loved the spiced veg and the beetroot was heavenly. I would be so happy to have this as a main dish but even though it was a nice sized portion because it is mostly veg, you can enjoy all those flavours and then not be full at the end. I love food that you can eat lots of!

    A cold rare British beef with a French dill and mustard sauce
    And to the beef. I never knew dill was easy to grow in the garden – I am definitely getting on to that asap as I adore dill. The sauce was so delicious, amazing how something so simple can add so much. The beef was perfect and the platter with extra bits got hoovered up rather quickly (mostly by me!). Just so simple and utterly delicious. Not easy to slice up either, well done, I would be probably be slicing my fingers off!

    French Crème brulee with raspberries
    It was interesting to see the casualties of the crème brulee experiment – I think the lesson is cream, cream and more cream, none of this low fat rubbish hahahaa! I am not convinced that serving it in a large dish is going to take off and I’m guessing the compromise on consistency probably stemmed from the large dish. But it didn’t take away from the flavour. My all-time favourite pudding – it is just so decadent and when done right, like this, the flavours are sublime.

    Spoiling us at the end with the cheese board as well – my tummy was clapping its hands with glee as the cheese board came round once and then twice 🙂

    A totally splendid meal and I must hand it to Mr P, I have never felt wines have been as well matched as at this meal. The white and red were both perfect. Probably a good thing I was driving as they were a little *too* delicious. And to finish the night with the Klein Constantia dessert wine. HEAVEN.

    Harriet I hope the nemesis of serving plated foods has been put to rest as from a guest’s point of view it felt so relaxed.

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