Dinner No 3 hosted by Ellie

So its my turn!
After the fantastic food produced by tanyah and amanda i have felt somewhat challenged to produce a menu that will provide my guests with an equally scrummy evening.
So i’ve poured over my cookery books, and even brought a new one (fantastic, rachel allen, entertaining at home) in an attempt to find dishes that i’ve not cooked before, but think i can manage, that complement each other, and still provide a varied menu. Oh and i also have a budget that is much more lidl than waitrose!
This is the menu i plan to cook;

roquefort and walnut biscuits
pear and proscuitto wraps

filo parcels with feta, artichoke and mint
served with mixed leaves and balsamic dressing

soy poached salmon with an avocado salsa
served with coriander basmati rice

orange and almond cake with an orange cream

I have deliberately chosen canapes and starters that i can prepare the night before, as being home alone this week with 3 small monkeys i need to do a large amount of preparation the night before. I feel confident cooking the salmon as i have ordered small fillets, but not so confident cooking rice (have had several occasions where ive chatted so much ive forgotten about it and ended up with a gluey mess!) I spent ages thinking about a suitable accompaniment for this dish, and may yet change my mind to rice noodles!
As the main is quite light i hope people will feel like a slightly heavier pudding, but i plan to serve this in small portions as it is quite dense.

So this is the plan, it may change the night before, but so far really looking forward to getting cooking!

The one canape that was left!

The salmon, with rice and salsa

Warm orange & almond pud with homemade ice-cream

Amanda, Emma, Katie, Ellie

Lucinda, Tanyah, Rachel, Nikki

  1. Anonymous

    Ellie – well done you! A truly lovely evening once again, you were a gracious and kind host. Your home looked beautiful, and it was obvious you had gone to a great deal of effort over the evening.

    canapes- I loved both the roquefort and walnut biscuits and the pear and proscuitto wraps. They looked professional and I had never had either before. They also both looked pretty and created a great start to the evening.

    The filo parcels with the feta, artichoke and mint I especially liked as they were light but fresh. I hope like me you are less scared of filo and would use it again as they were delicious. Loved all of the main and had to consciously eat it slowly. Will definitely try the rice recipe and the salsa with the salmon at home.

    I loved the ice-cream, you could tell it was home-made simply because it was so creamy but what topped it for me was the warm cake, delicious!

    Great evening, lovely people, superb food, very feminine again in terms of tastes and design. Finally thank you for all the effort that you went to.

  2. Anonymous

    Ellie – what a fab cook you are – all totally delicious and great to be invited to such a refined evening on a school night!

    I thought the canapes were delicious – the tiny stars were much prettier than the ones in the recipe picture and so yummy! The pear was just a bit hard, but difficult to help that at this time of year.

    The filo parcels were also lovely – I liked the firmness of the artichoke combined with the softness of the cheese.

    The salmon was very tasty and I would definitely do this recipe, and a great combination with the salsa and rice – all very delicious.

    The warm cake was divine (and as Amanda said, so lovely being warm and combined with the cold of the ice cream) and I would definitely make the ice cream as long as I could bear to see the amount of calories going into it!

    I am sorry I had to leave early but networking at 8am meant that I had to get some zzzzs.

    Amanda – thank you so much for inviting me, and thank you to everyone there for making it such a lovely evening.

    You were a perfect host Ellie, although I always feel sorry for the cook when you has to be at the stove rather than chatting!

    Thanks again

  3. Tanyah

    Loved this meal!

    The biscuit canapes were divine (I had 4!!) They were melt in the mouth crumbly, a perfect balance with the creamy filling and although I am not a fan of walnuts, it worked for me as they had been baked, so the lovely nuttiness complimented the other flavours perfectly without being overpowering. I loved that they were in little stars, a definite plus over the recipe. The Pear and rocket was nice but just a little more tricky to eat, so being rather ladylike I preferred the bitsized canape 😉

    I loved the starter, the filo was cooked perfectly and not too many layers, sometimes a bit too much filo has to be overchewed but this was light and crispy, just as it should be. I LOVED the filling. Artichokes are a favourite of mine and a sorely underused ingredient, there was plenty of mint and the saltiness of the feta just married everything together beautifully. Personally I found the balsamic a bit harsh, so would have been happy with just the leaves or a lighter dressing.

    The main was sublime, as I said to you, I just can't remember a time I have enjoyed salmon more. It was cooked to perfection, succulent and moist and the soy, which I had thought might be overpowering was not at all, it was subtle and worked with the natural creaminess of the fish. The salsa was totally perfect and I could have eaten another portion quite happily. Loved it. The rice with fresh ginger was nice as well – not too much to be overpowering but not so little that you couldn't tatste it. Rice is a real bugger to get right and it was cooked to perfection and presented very nicely too.

    It was a lovely and welcome surprise that the cake was warm, and making your own ice-cream too!! I loved the cake, would definitely make it but do as you did and serve it after a light meal as it was scrummy, but very filling.

    I think the fact that there were 8 clean plates for all 3 courses is a testament to what I have always known which is you are a GREAT cook 🙂 And a warm hostess to boot. Good on ya!

  4. Anonymous

    Firstly, thankyou Eleanor for inviting me to be your guest! I had a great evening in the company of seven lovely ladies and enjoyed listening to so many interesting conversations!

    As for the food, it was all totally delicious. For me, the best thing has to be that I ate and enjoyed so many things that I would probably not choose on a menu, including feta, artichoke and avocado, so thankyou for broadening my tastes!

    I thought both canapes were equally scrummy and I enjoyed the filo parcels. I love salmon and when combined with the rice and the salsa I thought it made a perfectly girly main meal!

    Now whilst I wish I wasn't, I am very much a dessert girl and so for me the warm cake and rich ice cream were total heaven. It is probably a good job that I didn't stay the night as knowing there was more cake and icecream in the house would have been too much for my minimal willpower when it comes to sweet things to resist!

    So well done Eleanor, my admiration for your cooking continues…

    Katie x

  5. Anonymous

    thank you ladies for your lovely comments so far. thought i should leave a comment just as a de-brief on how i found the menu when it came to actually cooking it!

    i was really busy the night before and made the biscuits (easy, and the recipe gave me way too much dough, so half is in the freezer – bonus!)filo parcels and the orange and almond cake, again easy to make.
    i then had a moment of madness and decided to try and make home made ice cream. i dont have an electric whisk, so was stood for AGES whisking away, and i didnt think much of it when i put it in the freezer. but to my amazement when i tried it in the morning it was fantastic! thank you racheal allen, one i will definately make again.
    i prepped the fish fillets in the morning, and they were really the only thing that gave me any trouble on the night. i had made them long and thin so as to look nice on the plate, but when poached nearly all of them broke in half. i could reassemble most of them on the plate, but still it was frustrating.
    overall i was very pleased with how the food turned out. i felt really proud of my efforts and was chuffed at the clean plates.
    a hugely enjoyable experience, cant wait for lucindas meal!

  6. Firstly to all of the founders of 8ate Club what a fantastic idea. I absolutely love the whole concept, the rules/etiquette you have created and the way you carry it out. Just brilliant and refreshing lovely. Lucinda thanks so much for taking me as your guest and letting me in on the experience, I hope I didn't expose too many stories!!

    Ellie – what a wonderful evening, your home looked lovely and the little touches such as the weetabix name tents made it for me.

    I enjoyed the canapes particulary the roquefort biscuits and I have to say the pink fizz went down very well.
    I like the format of canapes and the hosts doing the introductions, it eased us guests into the evening, setting the tone (!!) and taking the pressure off us having to introduce ourselves, which I always find a nightmare. Great idea.

    I like the lightness of the starter, especially the mint in the parcel. It changed the taste dynamic of the filling completely! (look at me! I have gone all food critic with phrases like that!)

    My favourite course was definetly the salmon. Which is a surprise as salmon is never a first choice for me. The fish was delicious and a great texture. Ellie I know you were worried about it collapsing but it was eaten too quickly to be noticed! Again the unusual flavours you combined with the rice and then the avocado salsa, on paper I would fear would not work but in reality were fantastic and my favourite.

    I enjoyed pudding and like everyone else think the warmth of the pudding made it. I think it would have been a bit too heavey if served cold.

    My only improvement for the night is that because the food is the focus of the evening and you are not allowed help, we don't get to see much of the hostess and I felt guilty seeing Ellie slave away on her own for so much of the evening.

    Otherwise thanks for a fantastic evening, so great to be meet new and fab people and on a school night too!
    Hope to meet you all again soon,

  7. Lucinda

    Ok, so I've cracked it – hurrah!

    Ellie, what a fabulous evening! It was clear how much effort you had made to create the perfect evening, the house was looking gorgeous despite your attempts to persuade us that it was food on time vs presentable house – you won on both fronts!
    I loved the fusion of colours and glasses on the table!!

    I enjoyed both and to my surprise, again, I really enjoyed the roquefort and walnut biscuits. I have not been a lover of either roquefort or walnuts but the biscuits were fantastic; delicately flavoured, light and they just disintergrated in your mouth and the walnuts are great when baked – a real winner with beautiful presentation! The pear and procuitto wraps were also delcious, I found them a little on the large side for one bite however they combined lovely Summer flavours and colours to contrast with the biscuits.

    the filo parcels with feta, artichoke and mint were light and yummy. You could really discern the mint which I loved, it complemented the creamy feta but didnt overshadow the artichoke which also had a mild kick of its own. My personal preference would have been to have a slighlty crispier filo but I know how difficult it is as it can suddenly brown off too quickly.

    Gorgeous! The salmon just melted in your mouth with wonderful, subtle hints of soy which didn't detract from the lovely taste of salmon. I love salmon and am always looking at different ways of cooking and presenting it and I will definitely try this recipe. The rice was fantastic, I have never eaten rice that was so light. I really enjoyed the influence of ginger and onion, very subtle with the occasional punch from the fresh ginger. The avocado salso was zingy and gave the dish colour,texture and fab fresh flavours to perfectly complement this light tasty course. I thought the presentation was great and I wouldn't worry in future if the salmon breaks as it tastes great.

    The orange and almond cake with orange ice-cream was beautifully presented. The 'moment of madness' icecream was really creamy with such a delicate hint of orange, I loved it, if you are going to eat ice-cream then you have got to do it properly! the cake was delicious and served warm wth the ice-cream was a wonderfully decadent end to a gorgeous meal!

    Ellie thank you for a wonderful evening! You were a calm, welcoming and acomplished host who, along with all the other wonderful hosts so far, has given me the unenviable task of going last!!
    Thanks for a great evening! x

  8. Emma

    Hi Ellie,

    So sorry for late comments!!
    I had a lovely eve at yours,you made me feel very welcome and the atmosphere was warm and cosy. I agree that you worked so hard and that watching someone else hard at it is not easy!!.

    The food… well after reading all the other detailed descripions I feel that I'm just going to say what my favourites were as it was all yummy!.

    My fav canapes; proscuitto wraps, I loved them! will be making these!.
    Salmon, rice, salsa lovely delicate tastes.
    And the recipe i wrote down even while tucking into my 2nd helping was the orange ice-cream, fantastic!.

    Thanks again Ellie
    LOVE Emma x

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