Sunday 28 April 2013

Bill's Big Bash

Parties of ten are always going to be a challenge, just in terms of crockery if nothing else. But also anything on the hob needs careful thought. Do I have a pan big enough?

Bill's party were great fun and very catholic in their tastes; no lamb and no smoked salmon being their only stipulation. I grabbed my chance to cook pork belly again. There's nothing quite like a good soft belly with glass-brittle crackling.

They arrived slightly late (problems on the M25) and with a very high bottle-to-person ratio! Although I was informed this was normal. I must confess that I see this as a good sign (being a little bit of a drinker myself). I think it shows a certain doughty insistence that you are going to enjoy yourself. In the end they took six bottles away with them at midnight... back to another house to continue the party.


Starters was new: herby gnocchi with butternut squash, mushrooms and fried tomatoes in brown butter. To be very honest, it wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped. I'd made it several times in the week and again on the day but then scaling up to ten servings meant the gnocci wasn't as crisp as I'd like. Simply too much moisture in the pan I think. Ah well... next time I'll do them in smaller batches and keep them crisp in the oven; the same way I maintain my potato rösti. Mains was slow roasted pork belly with a Marsala reduction, served with a fennel tarte tatin, roast onion puree, parsnip and apple puree and green beans. That's Bill on the right finishing his pork. 

Dessert was one of my most successful: the sticky apple tarts and rhubarb sorbet. Everyone seems to like this. It is a bit of an adventure though, prepping ten plates with a frozen element. Needs some careful planning. The square plates were a Christmas present from my youngest son Etien, who's now showing some enthusiam to get involved. He's a bit of a cook himself. He specialises in home-made pizza (including the dough).

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