Dinner No 4 hosted by Lucinda: May 2011

Well I am so excited about going last!!!  Between dodging dumper trucks on site, choosing appliances and wiping the sweat and dust from my brow I have eventually found time to post the intro for my taster menu.  If I am honest, I think I may have been a bit too ambitious with what I can achieve on the night whilst still being up for hostess of the year award but I felt that if ever there was a time to push the boundaries then this was it, so here goes:

Smoked Salmon and Dill Filo Parcels

Taster Menu
Smoked Haddock Souffle

Baked Beetroot Risotto with Parmesan Crisps

Seabass Ceviche

Summer Pea and Mint Ravioli

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart with Vanilla Icecream

Tea, Coffee and Petite Fours

Ok so now I’ll go into the rationale behind choosing a taster menu and the dishes above.  I struggled to find a main fish dish that I liked but had plenty of starter style dishes in mind, rather than persevere with trying to find a main I opted for the latter and with months to go thought “I’ll be fine, I’ll just deal with it later”!!  Well later is now upon me and I am a little nervous that I might be a rather absent hostess.
There are several skills I have been wanting to try for a dinner party but have not had the courage to go for, up until now.  I love risotto but have always thought it was a very time consuming dish to prepare when the guests are already with you so I am hoping the baked version is going to be the answer; I have never made a hot souffle and although it would be great to present one fresh from the oven I have chosen to make the twice baked one for logistical reasons; Ceviche has never been on my radar for dinner parties but I was inspired on holiday and it uses a tchnique I understand but have never used myself; Well this is the one I am probably most nervous about, the ravioli!  I am using a pasta maching that has been sitting in the cupboard since I have known Robert (yes it even moved house without coming out of its box!) and I am not even sure that it has all the correct working parts, however, I am excited about making fresh pasta and if it goes ok then it will be a great food to work with in the future.  All these dishes are very light and hopefully suitable for a Summer menu.  The Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart really just took my fancy, I have never made it before but love the idea of salty caramel with the other sweet flavours and it sounded a bit decadent!
All that is left to say is…….. “HELP”  xx

                                                         smoked salmon & filo parcels

                                                                smoked haddock souffle

                                               baked beetroot risotto with parmesan crisps

                                                                     seabass ceviche

                                            salted caramel chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream

                                                                     mango truffles

                                                          Alison, Ellie, Sarah, Emma 

                                                      Anastasia, Tanyah, Fiona, Lucinda

                                                      The hostess with her handsome butler

  1. T

    The evening as a whole was totally superb. I think the concept of having a tasting menu at home was incredibly ambitious and whilst it must have caused some stress behind the scenes we were presented with a seamless concerto of a meal.

    I think the idea of having a 'wine flight' was inspired as it brought everything together and actually eight is a perfect number as you do get a nice taster of each wine, but not too much (but I still managed to get rather drunk, shame on me!). The thought that had been put into each wine was clear and Robert did a lovely introduction for each one, I would not have been without this element – it undoubtedly enhanced each course and the evening as a whole.

    So to the food…

    The canapes were lovely, a really nice touch to have hot canapes. I am still undecided about having a more-than-one-bite size canape, but these couldn't have been made any smaller without having the proportion of pastry to salmon being not quite right. Perfect.
    The Krug was superlative, just divine.

    For me the smoked haddock souffle was the winner of the savoury dishes. I loved the fact that there were chunks of fish and the texture was so perfect. I sometimes find souffles a bit fluffy and too airy, but this was faultless. I would definitely make this myself as a starter.
    The chablis was a perfect partner. A gorgeous balance to the richness of the souffle.

    The baked risotto was interesting as for a dinner party risottos are a bit of a right off, because you don't want to be spending 20 minutes stirring a pan. I would not have known that this was not made that way, so a result. I am a huge fan of beetroot so I loved it but even for people who are perhaps not so keen I think would be converted as the flavour was mild. The parmesan crisps were luscious, a perfect accompaniment – I could have eaten a plateful!
    The wine was deliciously light and complimented the beetroot.

    The ceviche was something I was looking forward to, as it is a dish I would be interested in trying myself and have only ever eaten it in restaurants. I thought it was a brave choice but it was flawless. I loved the fact that the all the ingredients; the radish, coriander, cucumber and lime all mingled while remaining individually discernable. Not so keen on the orange, but that's personal taste.
    The sancerre was superb and partnered with the ceviche I was transported into the sunshine.

    I forgot to take a photo of the ravioli, sorry. Pea and mint is such a satisfying combination, and I thought the pasta was a valiant first effort – the ravioli all stayed together and while it was a little on the heavy side, I think the fact that it was home-made more than made up for that. It was overall a light flavour and I would be inspired to have a go myself. It makes serving pasta at a dinner party acceptable if you've made it yourself, and has the WOW factor!!
    This was probably my least favourite wine but that is like saying it was a 9 instead of a 10! The standard was so high.

    I recently made a salted caramel chocolate tart and it was not a patch on this one. This was so delicious that I even had a slice for breakfast the next day (naughty Tanyah). The great thing about it was that the flavours lingered after eating each mouthful and you got the initial sweetness followed by the saltiness which was perfectly balanced and not overpowering. The royal Tokayi was a delightfully sweet partner, and was a far more interesting choice than perhaps a better known desert wine.

    And to top it off petit fours as well! The almond snaps were superb, I was not a fan of the truffles – I loved the texture but the flavour just wasn't quite right for me, not sure why. They looked so cute though!

    AND fresh mint tea. You know, I may just come again….

  2. Anonymous

    from ellie,
    well im glad you were last lucinda as i wouldnt have wanted to follow this amazing evening!
    -canapes, very nice to have a warm canape, and you made a much better attempt with the filo than i did, very light. was the salmon smoked? it had a more subtle flavour than that, but was light and lovely.

    -smoked haddock souffle, beautiful, my favourite main dish, light, tasty smoked fish, just the right size, and very nicely displayed on the plate.

    -risotto, looked superb on the plate, crisps delicious, they would be a good canape in themselves. the beetroot taste was subtle, not sure if risotto is my favourite dish, would have liked some more of the chunky roast beetroot on top to balance it, but as it was a small portion it wasnt too heavy.

    -cerviche, very nice, not sure about a cold course mid way through, maybe at the start? but this was wonderfully light and fresh. i will definately make a larger version of this as a lunch dish.

    -ravioli. very impressed that you attempted pasta, the middle was perfectly cooked, and even if the ravioli edges were abit 'al dente' i still really enjoyed this. the sauce and sweet petite pois made this a lovely dish.

    – my favourite, dessert! what a triumph, and glad it came from my cookbook as i will be making this one for sure! amazing contrast of salt, sticky caramel, dense rich chocolate and crumbly sweet pastry. very well done.

    the petit fours were a nice touch at the end, almond snaps especially good. but i think we were all rather full by then!

    and finally i must comment on the wonderful hospitality shown to us all by both you and robert. a real treat with beautiful wines, and proper service!

    so looking forward to the next round!!

  3. Anonymous

    From Alison

    3rd time lucky to leave a blog! Thanks Tan for the reminder and sorry it took so long to get around to this.

    First of all a very big thanks to you Lucinda for a great evening and an amazing gastronomic experience! Thanks too to Robert as he expertly presented the wines/schnapps & champagne for the evening – is this his alternative career?

    I have never experienced a taster menu so was somewhat daunted whether I could get through so many courses but you judged it all perfectly. I cannot remember when I last enjoyed a meal so much.

    I absolutely love salmon canapes and have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed the three I had! The schnapps was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed the champagne as the initial beverage for the evening

    And then came the souffle – I loved it and agree with Tan that it was my favourite savoury course. It was so light and tasty – I just wanted more and did not want it to finish

    I love risotto but have only made it once and it was disaster (rice pudding!) . My husband cooks it for me now but yours was wonderful. I do not eat beetroot but would definitely do this myself and knowing it was baked sounds more appealing for me to try out too. It was scrumptious and it has made me think about eating beetroot again!

    I loved the ceviche and thought the lightness of it and the combination of flavours were great at freshening up the pallet for the next courses.

    I think you set yourself a major challenge then to throw in making your own pasta! It was such a shame that the pasta was a bit too 'al dente' but the flavours were great and yes I ate it all up as I did love it!

    Oh my goodness then came the salted tart – I can still taste it now nearly 2 weeks later! Please please please can I have the recipe? It was amazing and I soooo did not want it to end. The flavours worked perfectly and for a chocolate tart it was just marvellous

    Sorry I did not try the homemade biscuits but I have to admit to having more than one truffle as they just melted in the mouth -they were a great way to end what was a great meal.

    You should be really proud of what you achieved – I think I would have struggled with successfully making any one of the courses, let alone them all for one evening!

    You looked so calm and serene throughout and not at all in a 'flap'. Hope you enjoyed the evening as much as I did

    Thank you again

  4. Lucinda

    Firstly I would like to thank you all for coming, bizarrely I had a good time despite being very nervous about the pending outcome! Thank you also for the fab comments so far, it's great reflecting on the evening and I now fully appreciate the sinificance of receiving feedback. Soo…. how do I think it all went? Firstly I was hugely relieved that I was able to present 5 courses without any significant delays and also that I wasn't absent for huge periods? I was delighted with the rhubarb schnapps as I started it about 6 weeks ago but had no idea how palitable it was going to be. The canapes were easy to make but an added challenge having them hot as I couldn't have them sitting on the table before you all arrived.
    Ok, so now for the taster courses. I really enjoyed the haddock souffle and will definitley do this again as it wasn't too challenging to make it was more about managing the timings. You defintitley don't need much mustard sauce but it brings out the smoked haddock flavours (I thought). The risotto isn't everyones cup of tea but I love the soft flavours with the contrasting parmesan crisp, I'm a sucker for presentation and it looked great in the book so I'll defintely do that again too. The ceviche was fun to make and I think an ideal starter for summer time dinner parties, flavoursome and colourful and can be ready to plate before your guests arrive. The pasta, however, my greatest challenge of the evening! more research needed on the recipe and more cooking time also! Although I enjoyed the flavour of the pea and mint, the pasta wasn't good. I won't give up on it yet but it does require time so I'm going to leave it for a rainy day!! Pud pud!! loved it and have made it again already, definitely something to serve when you have had a lightish meal as it is sooo decadent. The petit fours were not great but looked ok, I enjoyed the orange florentines the most and they have kept well in a tin too!
    I would like to thank my gorgeous butler for his services on the night!! I would have struggled to serve you any wine at all that evening and Robert did such a good job!
    All in all, I am delighted that I pushed myself and I will definitely make most of those dishes again (just not all of them on the smae night!!) The pasta machine has been dusted off and will not be put away for so long next time but if any of you have any top tips for good pasta I'd love to know!
    Thanks again for coming and for all the beautiful flowers/chocolates/wine/pampering gifts – gorgeous!!
    Lou x

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