Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Anniversary Night

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On Friday,  I hosted the 1st  anniversary supper. It was a lovely night with some amazing food and lots of help from family,  friends  and fellow supper club hostess, Wendy Paterson of InsideoutChef. One guest fed back that the food was the best so far and I am inclined to agree. We started the evening off with an apperitif of Sloe Gin and Cava served in champagne coupes. I then broke with the classic menu style and served seven amuse bouche/canapes in place of a starter. The guests remained standing for these and mingled with the other guests. We started with a vibrant orange Soupe de Poissons topped with a  Rouille and Croutons and a nicely contrasting  velvety Spinach and Rosemary soup both served in little demi-tasse cups.

We then served Pan fried Scallops served with Green Apple Puree and Boudin Noir topped with a slice of green apple. The combined flavours of this verrine are divine and a freshly fried scallop needs no explanation.

My friend Guy kindly provided some  Foie Gras he had picked up on a recent trip to France  served on a toasted panini on little glass canape spoons supplied by Wendy who also found these in France . This canape, in one guests words, took the evening to new heights. I am uncomfortable with Foie Gras myself but decided to serve it anyway.

Next we served  freshly Pan Fried Pheasant (sourced locally from a friend whose husband, a gamekeeper  rears them with love and dedication , you can certainly taste that!). I  served this with my own Nectarine Relish and Red Amaranth Salad. I made little bread rolls to put all this in. Seriously cute!

To top it all we then received two vegetarian offerings from Wendy. She served Pesto Palmiers and Tomato Lollipops which were fabulous to look at and eat. TheTomato lollipops were visually great and  injected some fun into the proceedings and were a perfect rounding up of the canapes.

The guests especially enjoyed the canape selection as I knew they would.  They are my favourite things to make. One  guest said it was great to get to taste so many different offerings.

For the palate cleanser, friend Guy made a stunning Nettle sorbet. Guy of Thorncroft Drinks fame is responsible for creating a wide range of drinks. He is now embarking on a new venture producing and selling a range of iced tea called Yum Cha. When I sat down with the guests, they complimented the sorbet and they weren't surprised when I confessed to having an expert produce it. It is also nice when someone goes for a walk and comes back with an ingredient for dinner!

By this time everyone was seated and chatting away. I had loads of help this time but it was still hectic. Serving over 22 people at once is no mean feat especially as I offer more than one option! The two main courses were Slow Roasted Lamb with Lemon Potatoes and Open Lasagna with Roasted Butternut Squash,Wild Mushroom Marsala Cream Sauce topped with Sage leaves. One of my ovens, I discovered was not working properly so I was worried about the lamb being cooked enough. Fortunately, the canapes and sorbet slowed the evening down and it came out perfectly in the end.  My sister, Kim has lived in Zante for over 25 years and runs restaurants and a hotel with her Greek family. I have always loved the way they cook their potatoes in the oven and manage to infuse the lemon flavour. This is what I was aiming for here and I think I got pretty close. I served it with a version of  ratatouille where the vegetables are chopped into very small cubes to ensure the combination of flavour. It was a truly delicious compliment to the lamb and potatoes. Finally , I put jugs of mint and redcurrant jelly sauce on the table. The lasagna dish was also perfect taste wise  with the most incredible mushrooms bought in Morrisons of all places (can't resist showing you them) cooked in a Marsala and Cream sauce.

The butternut squash is roasted with chilli flakes in the oven and adds a nice sweet zing. It is a yummy dish with fresh saffron lasagna. However, while I have nailed the presentation in the past , I didn't really get it right this time and was disappointed in the plates going out. I will revisit this. Alas no photographs of the mains. We were all so busy!

Always a pleasure, desserts are another of my favourite things to do. I presented Chocolate and Raspberry Tart with Mint Ice  Cream which I have to say I think I did a very good job of. The fresh raspberries  buried under the chocolate is beyond good, not to mention the mint ice cream.

I also did Creme Caramel which worked well.

Wendy did Pavlova which was a complete show stopper. I am told itwas perfectly cooked with a crunch on the outside and chewy in the middle. I can't eat cream so Pavlova is not on my personal repertoire but it was the most popular choice for the dessert.

And , once again, regular waitress Jade produced exquisite cheese plates using Borders Cheeses this time

 To finish we served truffles and coffee and a bit more of that sloe gin slipped out of the kitchen though free of charge of course! Half the guests were still here at 1.30 a.m., several hours after the food was served, chatting and mingling. Without a doubt it was a really good night with now regular guests (some have been up to four times!) and new people too who all said they are keen to return.  I think it would be fair to say no-one leaves my suppers hungry! They were disappointed when I told them the suppers at my home will run quarterly from now on (less is more). The next  supper will take place at the end of June so if you are interested , you will have to be quick to book. I plan to do more canapes to start and an amuse bouche selection for dessert which will include a series of little mouthfuls of heaven. So you won't have to choose!

A big thanks again to everyone who helped me this year and on Friday and to Wendy and Guy for their lovely food contributions. Karen