Dinner No 30 hosted by Elo: February 2017

I chose Metabolic Balance because I really believe in eating a balanced, varied, nutritious diet that is sustainable and which addresses the issue with processed sugar that I also think is a problem in our world today.

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.

The Menu

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:

Menu:

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.

Tomato soup
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!

  1. My one dream of being a zillionaire would be to have a full time cook, cooking food just like this for me every day. I would be slimmer, fitter (and definitely poorer hahaha!)

    Overall I thought the theme of the menu was brave, afterall don’t we all just love our rich dinner party dishes, but there was certainly nothing lacking here. Far from it – the combination of all the different flavours was treat after treat and at the end I didn’t feel that sinking full feeling or the desire to lay out on a sofa and rest from the exertion of digestion!

    The other thing that I think you did so expertly was to judge the portion size – so SO easy to over serve each dish but the petite portions meant that I could really enjoy each one and was scraping the dish each time wanting more. In a good way!

    To start the canapes were just as canapes should be – light morsels to get you in the mood, using cucumber as a base makes for a clever light substitute for pastry or bread and is also less filling – my greedy mistake is often to go mad on canapes and then have problems filling up before a meal is finished.

    Loved the pate and I adore rye bread – a great combo actually as the rye stands up to the punchiness of the mackerel.

    The slaw – loved it – could have eaten a bucket of it – the cuteness of the presentation was totally appreciated by me, SO cute in the little jar and ribbon, it was like a gift 🙂 It was zingy, crunchy and packing a punch.

    The soup in hindsight was my favourite dish of the night. I ate my neighbours as well – I am glad you made the decision to serve warm as I think it brought the flavours out even more. I find it so hard to believe that this wasn’t cooked – the flavours were so intense I would have sworn the tomatoes had been slow roasted, I cannot understand how the flavour could be so concentrated. My mouth is genuinely watering just thinking about it! I have taken the recipe and will be making next week. Again the presentation in the beautiful tea-cups with tiny spoons was delightful.

    I found the duck dish tricky to eat as it was in a small bowl, but I got round this by popping each sliver of duck into my mouth without cutting it! Loved the little salsa which complemented the richness of the duck perfectly. And the sweetness of the plum too.

    The curry was delicious – can’t believe you haven’t made curry before, you would never know – it was so delicious with the firm monkfish.

    The next plate was such a kaleidoscope of colours – it was beautiful to look at. I know that originally you were going to serve these separately and I think I would have done that as there was almost a sensory overload having them all together. I adore beetroot and goats cheese so this was heaven for me – the beetroot was perfectly firm and it looked gorgeous – I thought the beetroot might bleed into the goats cheese but the layers were really clear looking. I loved it. The creamed corn was GORGEOUS and this showed what a star vegetable can be and you don’t need to spray sugar at everything to get sweetness, I still can’t quite understand how this was made, I am pretty sure if I put sweetcorn in a blender it would turn out to be a watery mess!! Perfectly cooked steak – how can complain! What I thought was amazing was that it wasn’t until it was pointed out that I realised we had had no carbs with the meal – you just don’t miss it when you have all these interesting dishes.

    And to the puddings. Why have one pudding when you can have 3!!?! I found the avocado one had some objections from my taste buds – it didn’t taste like a pudding to me. I felt a bit like I should have it on nachos! The avocado part only – I loved the base, and could have happily chomped that on its own – it tasted like the best kind of energy bar.

    The eggy mousse was the only dish of the night that I didn’t like. It was a combination of the texture and flavour, didn’t do it for me personally and I left it after a couple of spoons.

    The molten chocolate was superduper – again I finished off mine and my neighbours! Although having said that it was a perfectly sized portion, I am just greedy. Super rich and decadent.

    I am also quietly impressed that one person owns enough crockery to serve this many courses to a group of 8, I would have had to be dishwashing in between courses!!

    This whole dinner would have been totally at home as a tasting menu in a restaurant – it really was a triumph, Elo – you should feel super proud of what you served up. It really was inspiring and you are the best kind of host.

  2. Hi Elo,

    What a wonderful evening, with such wonderful food. I didn’t really know what to expect with Metabollic balance, but was definitely pleasantly surprised.
    The vodka cocktail was so delicious, I was rather sad to be driving, and not able to have more than a mini glass, but will definitely repeat – despite the fact I think it could be quite dangerous !

    Canape’s were scrummy. I’m a sucker for a mackeral pate and crab, I definitely think I ate more than anyone else at this stage …. Then the dining room …… (keep the colour!)…………….

    I love my jar – thank you very much for that lovely touch. I’m not normally a fan of slaw, but am growing into it and I really liked this one, v crunchy, fresh. I think it would be really nice as a side to some protein favourite, like a little nest of pulled pork or something.

    Next the tomato soup – I honestly think this was my favourite thing of the night. So deep and complex, would be great as it was, on it’s own, or a fab sauce for other things, AND so healthy ! Please can we have the recipe, I need to make this (and keep lots in the freezer).

    Then the monkfish curry. This was super tasty and what a treat to have monkfish. I have never cooked monkfish and sometimes find the flavour a bit bland, but in the curry it was just right. Perfect texture and flavour combo.
    Then … yes there’s more (still can’t believe how many courses you did) … the steak, corn, beatroot terrine. This worked really well together, even though it was supposed to be, and was actually better together I think as the steak and corm might have seemed a bit lonely as a twosome. The colour combo was fabulously bold. I probably wouldn’t choose to make corn cream (or whatever it’s proper name is) but it tasted great and I definitely need to work out how to have that at home.

    And finally – dessert ……. Or should I say desserts … I wasn’t so sure about the cholcolate one or the eggy one, but I LOVED the avocado cheesecake, even though there was no cheese in sight. I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth so maybe that’s why I liked it more than others, it didn’t seem to be everyone’s favourite, but I loved the avocado topping, and the crunchy base with a hint of sweetness. I could have eaten the rest of it, but clearly cannot afford to cook it!

    Lots of dishes in here I will be recreating at home, and with the added bonus of being super healthy. Winner. Thank you very much for all your hard work and preparation that went in to the evening, it was a very special night.

    p.s. any chance you found my necklace ? xx

  3. Firstly, a huge thank you to Elo for such a gorgeous evening, although I didn’t appreciate such a late finish midweek at 7am the next morning!

    As a client of the metabolic balance programme, it was very appealing to be invited and sample some of the exciting foods which are to come in the near future, my love of restricted foods was starting to diminish, so to taste such gorgeous, elegant & tasty food was such a welcome to me, despite only being able to glance at the gorgeous wine on offer, Id have far rather been able to sample it!!!!

    So onto the food:

    To start with, the fig and proscuito was delicious and gave me a lovely nibble to begin with. Unfortunately, with not eating fish, I couldn’t sample the cucumber and crab, but they looked lovely.

    The slaw which was served in a jar was so refreshing, and it had such a clean lovely start to a meal, one I will endeavour to try shortly. I really appreciated the presentation, with the little ribbon, and to top it all off, I got to take my jar home!

    Then followed the raw tomato soup, unfortunately Im not eating tomatoes but I did on this occasion just have a mouthful, it was so goooood, that I then had to be naughty and have another couple of mouthfuls. As I can’t eat tomatoes, I thought I would try this recipe using red peppers instead, it was so fulll of flavour, definitely a fav!

    The duck breast salad followed, which was delicious, so very pink & I loved the asian flavours.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t eat the fish curry so I can’t comment, but you all thought it was gorgeous, and Im sure it is!

    Then followed my favourite, the fillet of beef with sweetcorn mash and goats cheese & beetroot terrine. For someone who doesn’t really ‘do’ cold goats cheese, this was absolutely delicious. It didn’t have the sour bitter taste of goats cheese that you eat when its cold, but instead the beetroot gave it a sunny, bright look and a real sweetness to the flavour of the cheese. The beef was cooked to perfection in my opinion, as I love rare beef, and the sweetcorn mash was AMAZING!!!! Never would I have thought Id be able to eat it with beef, totally gorgeous!

    Lastly, was the trio of puddings. How lucky we are! The chocolate pudding for me didn’t work, but thats a personal thing. I think if you’re going to have a chocolate pudding, Id rather just have chocolate in a tiny portion! However, the lemon mousse I did like, and the key lime avocado cheesecake was delicious. Not only did it look great, it tasted really good! The lime took away most of the avocado, but it was so clean, delicious!!!! And the base could be turned into a wonderful energy bar!

    There were many dishes that stole my heart, but the main ones were the the fillet of beef and the trio of puddings.

    Finally, a huge thank you for a wonderful night, I didn’t manage to keep to my strict quanitites, and came away feeling very full, but it was a lovely evening, with lovely people and wonderful wonderful food, so thank you Tan for inviting me!

  4. Claudia

    Dear Elo

    There are so many things I loved about that fabulous evening at yours.

    The overwhelming first was the A-mazing food which was so up my street I can’t tell you. I think this is partly why Scotty thought of me as her guest as I’d served her the avocado pudding once before along with some other healthy and experimental dishes! I have to say though that both times I’ve done it the recipients – including her , very ‘honestly’ shall we say – gave at best mixed reviews and I can only say that yours was infinitely better! I thought it was totally delicious as did everyone else and you have given me the confidence back to try it again sometime so thank you.

    I don’t follow a special diet but I do love to experiment and try to eat heartily and healthily and have found that some of the Hemsley’s and prior to that Gwyneth’s recipes have stuck with me but they are definitely not for everyone (my husband in particular is generally not a fan of anything he brands ‘healthy’ but again I can definitely see from your menu that there are avenues I haven’t tried and would definitely work for him as well.) Which is also great as I too find I end up with a cupboard of random ingredients that I don’t use very often and it’s great to have rejuvenated some if not all of them these past few weeks since.

    So, on to specifics.

    I loved the Vodka cocktail, even more so that it was good for me! I was lucky not to be driving so was able to savour a long glass of this at the start of the evening..

    The canapés looked beautiful and tasted better. It was at this point that I started to realize we were in for a very spoily culinary treat.

    There wasn’t a dish that I didn’t like nor finish so I think better for me to tell you my highlights. Firstly the Fennel, onion, red cabbage and apple slaw. Beautifully served in the gorgeous jar and I am loving having been able to take it home with me as a (very useful) memento.

    The tomato soup was also a total winner particularly as it was no cook and tomatoes are my single favourite food that I once said I’d take to a desert island if I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life. I would definitely like the recipe please to make again.

    The sirloin steak – one of my favourites and rare too. Perfect with the sweet corn mash.

    Finally, those puddings. I did like the lemon mousse, unlike some others however I would agree that it paled into significance next to the other two. I’ve already mentioned the avocado but it was heavenly. I’m going to do this again.

    Lastly Elo, I just wanted to say it was wonderful for me to have been invited albeit indirectly – into your home without us even knowing each other. It was so kind of you to have me along and I was really pleased to meet you at last, and in your amazing home and treated to your extremely warm hospitality amongst a lovely group of ladies. I also appreciate SO MUCH all the effort you put into the food. I often try to ‘do it all’ but end up ditching a few things at the last minute as I run out of time and often steam. So I am in awe of all that you achieved in such a calm way, particularly as you say that you don’t normally cook this sort of food in this way so massively HUGE thanks again; you are an inspiring and impressive cook.

    Love, Claudia

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