Dinner No 5 hosted by Tanyah: September 2011

Well, it has been nearly a year since my first dinner and since then I have done a fair bit of cooking have discovered some new fabulous dishes and also produced some rubbish.  No total disasters but not up to standard!  The thing that has changed for me has been my house, and as a result my oven.  My oven is proving to be my nemesis.  Particularly for baking where cakes are cooking on the outside without even being close to cooked on the inside.  So this has been a careful consideration on this dinner, trying to not be *too* reliant on the oven.  Pretty tall order actually.

My menu is

Caramelised onion tartlets with goats cheese and thyme

Smoked haddock creams in smoked salmon served with a hollandaise sauce

Stuffed tenderloin of pork served with braised leeks

Chocolate delice on praline base served with caramelised hazlenuts and a coffeee foam

Orange and vanilla marzipan stars

I have chosen a vegetarian canape, fish starter and meat main to get a balance.

I have chosen the canape to give me a taster of shortcrust pastry, I figure if it all goes horribly wrong it is only the canape!

The smoked haddock creams are cooked in a ban marie which I have not done before either.  I also anticpate lining ramakins with smoked salmon to be fiddly which I usually avoid.  Also I have never made a hollandaise sauce.
This is a recipe given to me by my mother-in-law so I know who to blame if it goes wrong 😉

Onto the main.  Well for most people cooking a joint of meat would be simple but I have never done it.  I have gone for a no-crackling option as I don’t like crackling and the advice from the butcher was that this was the fillet steak equivelant of pork.  I never cook leeks as my husband is not keen on them so this is a nice opportunity to try out a new way of cooking them.  At some point in the next 24 hours I will try and think of a potato dish that can be done in the oven at a low temp along with the pork.

The pudding is a recipe by Raymond Blanc and looks seriously tricky.  The main body of it can be done the day before which is a boon but the caramlised hazlenuts look fraught with potential ways to go wrong.  This for me is what this process is all about – trying out things that look fiendishly tricky but perhaps are ok once you have tried them.  As for the coffee ‘foam’  I can’t stand foams in restaurants but maybe it will be fun to add some ponce factor to my meal!

Marzipan for petit fours – well I love marzipan and just fancied trying to make my own.  Looks pretty simple.  I know it’s one of those things that people love or hate but as it is a petit four, I am not to worried about people leaving hungry.

My first home-made pastry
Making each one pacman to fit in the canape tin

Baking blind before adding filling

Mushroom stuffing for pork

Rolled up and tied for the oven

Hazelnuts and sugar, whizzed up to make praline base for pudding

Lined ramekins with smoked salmon ready for smoked fish filling

Hollandaise sauce

Hazlelnuts ready for dunking into sugar

This is the only one that ‘worked’ with a tail out of about 30!!
Tartlets with onion and goats cheese

Smoked fish cream with hollandaise

It did look better than this in real life!!!

Seriously chocoalate pudding with a rather flat foam

Marzipan stars

Ellie, Lucinda, Amanda and Emma

Dee, Layla, Tanyah and Tanya
  1. T

    Well only right that I should be first to comment!

    I am so happy with the evening as a whole. Definitely happier than my first round which given my anxieties about my oven is a surprise…

    Canape – this was gorgeous! When I was blind baking 20 tiny pastry cases I was not too impressed and I often think canapes are a pain because they are the most fiddly thing to make and actually as people are arriving and chatting they get the least attention, but somewhere in the back of your mind they *are* making an impression! I loved the combination of goats cheese and onion and it could easily be scaled up to a starter.

    Now the starter was all sorts of new stuff and Chris had to help me turn them out of the ramekins as I was too scared of burning myself. I really enjoyed making a hollandaise, it was ever so easy and I made it earlier and heated it up slowly over simmering water – I am not convinced a sauce was needed but I am thinking that maybe it would not have been as nice without it. All in all a winner for me.

    The pork was really lovely. As I have never cooked it or even eaten pork tenderloin before it is really difficult for me to know whether it was 'right' but I certainly enjoyed it. My only fault with the main was that it was not colourful on the plate. I did not count on the leeks losing their colour so it did look a bit Eastern European on the plate with the potatoes as well (the flashed out photo does make it look worse). The celeriac with potato was tasty but not particularly different. Not sure whether I would make it again.

    The pudding was tasty, I did serve it in tiny portions, hope nobody felt hard done by. My hazlenuts were a good effort but I don't think Raymond Blanc would be too impressed. The foam was a flop, it kind of tasted foamy but didn't look that foamy. The instructions were fairly vague so I blame them!

    The marzipan stars were cute and I am glad I had a go at making it, not planning to make a Xmas cake anytime soon, so probably won't be making that for a while!

    All in all a great evening, as ever it is the guests that make it and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves x

  2. Amanda

    Firstly thank you Tanyah for a truly lovely evening. I love the fact that the 8ate club is all about food and that the women (including myself) throughout Tanyah's evening discussed recipes, what has worked for them, what hasn't, chefs and even recipe books. It's like a book club but in this clubs case you get to eat your book!

    Parmesan Tartlets – recipe please! I absolutely loved these, they were slightly warm, melt in the mouth, delicious canapes which were 10/10 for me.

    Smoked Haddock creams – I loved the look and smell of these, very pretty but for me perhaps a little too sweet and perhaps instead of the hollandaise sauce a watercress one which has more of a bite? It was delicious but I am glad it was the size it was because of the richness of the flavours. Technically very difficult so well done.

    Stuffed pork loin – another winner and would love the recipe again, very fresh in flavour with the sage and lemon and looked lovely. Absolutely delicious and was complimented well with the soft flavours of the sauce and also the celeriac potato gratin. The leeks were lovely but lacked in colour but overall a plate that was full of flavours that complimented each other and not one thing overpowered the other.

    Chocolate Enrapture – absolutely stunning, woolfed the lot. However did not get to sleep until 2.30ish this morning and as I didn't have any coffee to drink I can only assume it was the chocolate or the expresson foam that kept me awake but it was worth the lack of sleep to taste that pud. I don't think it either needed the hazlenuts of the foam for future as I think it would be simply delicious on it's own but thats just in my opinion. Alot of work as Tanyah described so thank you for going to such effort.

    Marzipan stars – not a huge fan of marzipan but Tanyas was lighter and softer than shop bought. Very pretty when presented and a really nice way to end the evening.

    Thank you Tanyah for a very lovely evening and to Chris for his help too.

  3. Anonymous

    from ellie;
    yet another superb evening of wonderful food, wine and conversation, tan you really are the 'hostess with the most-est'

    canapes, what a winner. looked lovely, and seriously delicious. light flavours which was good as goats cheese can be strong, and for a first attempt on pastry it was perfect, crumbly and short. maybe make them even smaller next time? if you could bear the faff of all the blind baking? it would mean they are a 'one bite' canape, not two!

    starter, this for me was the real hit of the meal, and the first thing i remembered this morning. looked amazing on the plate, how you got them to stay intact i have no idea, rich, strong haddock flavours complemented so well by the salty hot smoked salmon that was just cooked through. the hollandaise was subtle and maybe a little lost. a beautiful starter.

    main, perfectly cooked juicy meat, delicious stuffing, and the gravy especially was wonderful. excellent. leeks are abit of a non event for me, something with abit more bite like crunchy green beans instead maybe?

    chocolate dessert was very rich, but not overly sweet, the hazelnut praline slightly lost, maybe a thinner layer of chocolate would improve it. the idea of you trying to make the hazelnut 'wands' with blutack has had me laughing all day, no wonder it didnt work!

    marzipan, much nicer than shop brought, with a light texture, the orange was the nicest. only problem is its not the most attractive petite four, but agree its hard after a chocolate pudding to choose what comes next.

    all in all a triumph mrs L. many congrats, and cant wait for my turn next!

  4. Lucinda

    Another gorgeous evening, thank you Tanyah! I love the way that you are always so calm and composed whilst delivering another stunner of a meal!
    ok so to the nitty gritty!

    I loved the caramlised tartletts, the pastry was light and short and literally just melted in your mouth. The filling was again light but the flavours were perfectly balanced and nothing was overpowering, I love goats cheese and red onion so this was a winner for me. I agree that they would be great bite size, starter size or exactly how you did them.

    The smoked haddock creams tasted fabulous, I love smoked fish and this was a great combo! I think you achieved a great flavour without too much saltyness which is difficult to do when you are using 2 smoked fish! Perhaps the haddock filling could have been firmer so that they held their shape more and then the hollandaise would have been even more appropriate. The hollandaise was also was gorgeous; light, creamy, lemony, yum!

    The Main Course
    The Main course was full of flavour. I know that the pork was a big challenge for you and you cooked it beatuifully, the stuffing was really flavoursome and you could really taste those flavours in the jus which I thought was stunning. I am a big fan of celeriac so was delighted when you said it was in the gratin potatoes, which I really enjoyed and will make this winter as I have celeriac in the garden! I always find leeks difficult to cook, I love their flavour and I think that despite the lack of colour they tasted great. If I was going to be picky then I would say that the dish needed a bit more variety of colour but the taste was all there!

    The power of chocolate! This was so decadent and delicious and I am sorry that I didn't finish mine but it was a little rich for me. I think the flavour and texture was spot on and I loved the praline base, I expected it to be crunchy and got a nice surprise when I realised that it was chewy. It might be nice to have either a little more base or a slightly thinner layer of chocolate but that's just being picky!

    Petit Fours
    As you know ground almonds are not usually 'my cup of tea' and although these were so much tastier and lighter than any other marzipan than I have ever tasted, it's still not 'my cup of tea'. Really cute looking stars, so beautifully presented but I am not sure that after a desert like that you really need any petit fours!

    All in all you can see that this meal was full of culinary challenges, some personal and some just simply challenging but you did it!! It was a great meal and as always a fun evening with fab people, thank you and over to you Ellie!!

  5. Layla

    Well thank you again Tanyah another delightful meal and you always amaze me at your attention to detail in not only preparing the food but also in serving the food. It was clear that every course was enjoyed by all as I don't recall anything other than clear plates.

    CanapĂ©s – these were delightful and the pastry perfect, not too heavy. I was expecting the parmesan to be a stronger flavour but it mixed very well with the goats’ cheese and did just melt in your mouth. Either as a canapĂ© or a starter these would be a winner.

    Starter – I love fish but very rarely prepare fish meals for myself and the combination of the 2 smoked fishes worked extremely well. Once the smoked salmon was broken the inside did pour out…..and I was very impressed with the light hollandaise sauce.

    Main – what I loved about this was the meat was very tender; there was no fat on the joint which meant no picking at the meat. The cider gravy complimented the course very well and very impressed with the use of celeriac. It's one of those vegetables we have all heard of but never cooked. So was really pleased you used it. As a vegetable 'lover' ;o)) – I actually enjoyed the leeks more than I thought I would. They certainly are one of the less colourful vegetables, but wouldn't have expected them to lose their green colour as much as they did.

    Dessert – delightful, I loved the praline base, lovely chewy texture and the portion size was perfect. I normally struggle to finish a rich chocolate dessert but not this time. I will be thinking of cocktail sticks and blue tac for quite some time – I loved the fact you went to that effort. Foam a little foamless – good to try though, the rest of the elements of the dessert lead to plenty of conversation so not a necessity to include foam.

    Marzipan stars – lovely addition, nice to have something light after the chocolate dessert. Vanilla was my favourite and presentation so cute.

    Thank you for hosting dinner number 5 and inviting me along as a guest. The company was brilliant, the conversation delightful and the food exquisite – so glad you can now cook a joint of meat!!

  6. emma Schwarz


    Ooooh I do like to rebel a bit – I circa 12 hours late on our new rule to publish comments within a wk!!

    Thank you first of all to T and C for a fabby evening and all the effort and attention to detail. I had a great time.

    Scrumdillyumpcious! just melt in your mouth. Actually think they are a perfect canape – full of flavor and mourish. Don't agree with comments about them being sized up for a starter.

    Stunning again but for me the sauce was not needed on top of the already very tasteful smoked fish. Too creamy. Plus I think the runny sauce did not help show off the skill of the ramekin formations.

    Gorgeous, delicious….never really have pork (Jewish husband!!) so a real treat for me! Agree with T's comment about color on the plate…that's my only criticism too.

    OMG !! Yes not enough! hazlenuts were super effort and the foam…..well Tanya…I bet that's the only thing you have never been able to foam up!

    Marzipan – sweet and different but not for me, however I am so impressed you made it and gave it a go……plus the vanilla stars really surprised me!

  7. Dee

    Firstly, well done Tanyah for pulling of a 3 course dinner party with kids around….I take my hat off to anyone who manages that!!!!

    Secondly, this is the second time that I have written this unfortunately, as my ipad decided to have a flip out on me!!


    Canapes – the pastry tartlets were delicious, so much so that I had one for my starter!!! The pastry was very professional and as previously mentioned, they just melted in your mouth. I'm not a fan of goats cheese but they really were tasty and not to strong in flavour…just right!

    Starter – I'm afraid I can't comment on the taste of it as I don't eat fish, but it looked beautiful and everyone seemed to polish it off rather well!

    Main – the pork was lovely! Believe it or not but we don't actually eat much pork! So it was really lovely to eat a tender, lean cut of pork which was tasty and delicious! The stuffing complimented the meat well. The celeriac potato gratin was a lovely twist on a traditional dish finished off well with the leeks. If I was to be fussy, I would agree that some colour would have been an addition to a gorgeous meal.

    Desert – Chocolate!!!!!!!!!! I thought it was very very tasty! The praline base was great and chewy and I was very impressed with the haslenuts, they made the desert really interesting and went well with the dish. If I had to be critical, it would have been nice to have a bit more base and probably didn't need such a large portion, but well done it was delish!!!

    Stars – I'm not a fan of marzipan either but they looked lovely and it was great to try them, well done!

    So thank you for a lovely evening, and thank you to Lucinda for inviting me as her guest!

    Dee x

  8. Anonymous

    Firstly i just finished writing my post and pressed something on the keyboard and lost it all so i will start again!!!

    thank you Tanya for a fantastic evening of great food, wine and company. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. and a big thank you to Ellie for inviting me and for my wonderful introduction! I was very touched.

    As for the food:

    Canapes – i hate goats cheese BUT i loved these! Tiny little nuggets of yum yum. It must be the onion, of which i am a great fan and the fact that you didn't overpower it with cheese.

    Smoked haddock was so light and fresh, i think i licked the plate clean!

    Pork – i am a real meat eater and don't usually go for pork until i tasted some hand reared pork from my friend, so can now taste the difference between a run of the mill pork and tenderloin! It was delicious, the stuffing was so tasteful too. i love leeks, so a hit with me. I think Tanya thought it didn't look that appetising but i disagree. It looked very edible and indeed was. i hate it when people put too much on the plates as you can't possibly eat it all and lose the flavours.

    As for the dessert i don't usually partake so thought it would be quite sickly. It was very nice though! As for foam, i don't think it needed it!

    I don't like marzipan but did try them! And they looked so cute!

    Sorry i'm a meat and potato girl!
    again a big thank you to Tanya for a lovely evening, and for Ellie for inviting me. Tania x

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