Dinner No 30 hosted by Elo: February 2017
The project enabled me to aim for excellence, tapped into my creativity and challenged me to cook from previously unopened recipe books or choose recipes with ingredients I had either never heard of, or would certainly never buy due to either expense, exclusivity or plain weirdness.
I now have a cupboard full of them, which I will now continue to cook with. It’s exciting.
As the process unfolded, I indeed, became less concerned about how to impress you all with my high convoluted cooking (another time!) but rather genuinely using it as an experiment which had the benefit of hopefully inspiring you all, my guests, to pick up tips, have an honest discussion on our thoughts of the new eating habits filling our media today, and actually taste the food in question.
I was surprised to find I was on just as much a taste adventure as my guests even though I had cooked the food. I even found I actually disliked one of the puddings – even though I had taste checked it during cooking.
I gave myself a cooking time limit of 24 hours. Of course the planning, research and food purchasing has been going on for weeks! The limit was important for me so as not to allow it to overtake other current priorities in my life and also the time pressure meant I did not waste the time available, and was able to focus more effectively.
As a priority, I chose foods of variety displaying metabolic variations using multiple mini courses, as opposed to delectable dishes coming together in an incredible crescendo of taste sensation! I hope it all tasted good, but because the entire way I was cooking was totally different to how I was brought up, I felt a bit like a beginner. No butter, sugar, flour. No reductions, caramelising, no roux. No fried bacon, onions and garlic in olive oil with cream and cheddar!! It was a steep learning curve. So with very limited experience, and leaping into the dark:
Vodka and Lemon cocktail with sparkling water and raw honey.
Figs wrapped in Parma ham
Greek Kalamata olives
Rye bread with mackerel pate made with goats cheese
Cucumber circles topped with smoked salmon and some with white crabmeat made with horseradish
Fennel, onion, red cabbage and apple slaw served with a dill and natural yoghurt dressing.
This was made by liquidising all the raw ingredients, no cooking at all. We ate it warmed through, but it would make a good gespacho. Served with olive oil and chives.
Duck breast served on a bed of lettuce with a spring onion salsa and plum sauce with sesame seeds
Malay red curry served with king prawns and monk fish
Sirloin steak served with sweet corn mash and a terrine of beetroot and garlic creamed goats cheese and basil.
Avocado cake with a pecan and date base.
Lemon mousse made using coconut cream
Molten chocolate pot made using raw cacao and figs
Fresh peppermint tea
Having cooked this celebration dinner, it has inspired me to cook more in this way, using far more spices herbs and honey than I would usually. As a norm at home I would like to cook in this healthier way. Having said that, in the name of balance and variety, I would also enjoy with relish traditional cooking with cream, butter and sugar – but maybe just not so frequently!
Food is wonderful and being part of this club has inspired me and encouraged me!