Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Lessons from the first night.. and a menu for the second.

Party of ten coming on Saturday. I learned on the opening night that I need to be able to overlap prep of both first and second course. Practically, this means one on the hob and one in the oven. I could probably do with fewer items in my starter. My vinaigrette of green veg has... ten elements and each one needed to be cooked separately. I also want to use more slow cooking. Partly because it's a way to ensure lots of flavour but also because it's more forgiving of timing, especially with a large party who may eat fast or mull over every (delicious) mouthful.

I also realised that, unlike when you're actually hosting a dinner party, you have plenty of time to prep a complex dessert. This gives me more options for hot puddings, fondants etc later in the year.

Finally, if you're serving spinach for 10, you need a lot... more than you can shake several sticks at. Fieldsful.

With all this in mind... I think I'm going with the following:

First Course: roasted beetroot (purple and golden) with curd cheese and pea shoots. Fresh and simple. Pea shoots are just delicious now; the essence of pea. Must try making a pea shoots soup, maybe with salted mint jelly and crisp pancetta.

Mains: slow cooked, rolled beef brisket in a red wine sauce, with garlic field mushrooms, wilted spinach and caramelised onion and parmesan polenta (set and fried with a crisp exterior). I need a glorious recipe for the beef.  If anyone can suggest, I'd appreciate it. I might just improvise midweek. I mean slow as in eight hours by the way. I want to do more food that's eaten neither in restaurants, because of order timings, nor at home, because we can't be arsed any more (shocking).

Dessert: Charlotte's Higgledy Piggledy Tart. This is an old Prue Leith recipe. I can't find a link to a picture which is a shame as this is a real table gawper of a pud. It's a crumbly walnut pastry, filled with creme patisserie and whipped Chantilly mixed, topped with cut fruit and finished with an apricot glaze. It's one of my all time favourite desserts. I've been making it for twenty years.

My only major reservation is with the main course. Do I need something with some bite or acidity? I don't want the sauce to do it. I think I need another element. Perhaps something pickled?

1 comment :

  1. I'm adding balsamic glazed roasted vine tomatoes, to add colour and more importantly, acidity.