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#1 Ms J

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 06:36 PM

We have the Supper thread, which covers everything from quick pasta dishes to parties, but considering all the time and effort most of us put into planning dinner parties I thought it would be worth having a separate thread to talk about what we're cooking for other people.

This weekend, in celebration of living close to a number of interesting South Londoners, having a new dinner service and inheriting a table large enough to seat more than six, I concocted a dinner party for eight. This was a brave thing to do given that my work party was the night before, so as well as losing out on prep time there was a better-than-average chance I'd be hungover on the day everyone arrived. With this in mind, I planned my menu around ROASTED MEAT, which is the simplest, lowest effort thing I can think to cook. My menu looked something like this:

Nibbles
Pistachios
Huge green Queen olives
Cured black olives with chile

Starter
Crostini 1: chickpeas, black tapanade and rosemary
Crostini 2: pesto and roasted peppers

I prefer to serve plated starters, but my starter-sized accent plates weren't in stock when our service was delivered, and therefore I have nothing to serve a plated starter ON until this Wednesday. Hence crostini, which had the virtue of being easy as well as casual. One problem: the chickpeas tasted good, but were difficult to control. I will probably be finding escaped chickpeas in all corners of my living room for days to come.

Main
Mock Porchetta a la Zuni Cafe (ish)
Fennel braised in lots of Porchetta juices
Slightly over-enthusiastically roasted parsnips
Roasted shallots
Steamed ruby chard with butter & nutmeg

I followed the recommendations given by the Zuni recipe, and although I enjoyed the flavours (lemon, caper, fennel, sage, etc) in retrospect the rolled pork shoulder was just NOT quite a voluptuous as I'd been expecting. In the future I'll try it with pork belly. (To paraphrase Homer Simpson, "Mmmm, pork belly...is there anything it can't do?") The crackling turned out well, but I thought the meat could have been more succulent. Many thanks to Vanessa, who rescued me from a mid-afternoon panic by telling me that string for tying meat is found at WH Smith in the UK rather than at a supermarket. (Ahem.)

BTW, is there anything I can do with ruby chard stalks? I have loads of them, and they look fabulous. It seems a shame to just get rid of them.

Dessert
Super-lazy warm chocolate pudding-cake a la Nigella
Tamarind ice-cream

In celebration of my new ice cream maker, I decided to make a flavour that I knew I couldn't buy. It worked well, although I think I've still yet to find the perfect insanely easy yet decadent chocolate cake recipe.

All of this was helped along by copious amounts of red wine and a bit of coffee at the end.

So that was my low-effort dinner party for eight.

Next? :D
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#2 Vanessa

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 06:55 PM

Next, Miss J invites us over for a Fuchsia Dunlop party. The excuse used to be no space which is no longer valid :D

I did once find a recipe for chard stalks in a Marcella Hazan book - some kind of simple sauteeing and seasoning with lemon juice if I remember right. But it really didn't taste inspired. I agree, there must be a good way of using them but I haven't found it yet.

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authenticity is a fog that recedes just when you think you may be getting near it - R Schonfeld

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#3 Wilfrid1

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 06:59 PM

No cheese? :D
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#4 Daisy

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 07:03 PM

BTW, is there anything I can do with ruby chard stalks? I have loads of them, and they look fabulous. It seems a shame to just get rid of them.

You can sautee them with garlic, sprinkle with grated gruyere and run under a broiler. Not pretty but tasty. Even tastier if the sauteed stalks are mixed with a little bechamel or mornay before gratineeing.
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#5 Adam

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 07:17 PM

Chard stems can be used in a gratin, which is nice. String. I had issues with string in the UK, in the end somebody bought some back for me from Paris.

I am having a SE-Asianish themed dinner party on the weekend. For ten people, two fish eating vegetarians, one non-beef eater, one squeamish eater. After careful consideration I have decided on the following.

Starters:
Balinese Temple satay
Grilled venison in betel leaves (or mint leaves depending on betel leaf availability )
Thai fish cakes
Loaitian stuffed lemon grass
Deep fried pandanus wrapped fish

Mains:
Singapore Fish Head Curry
Malay Rendang curry (lamb I think)
Eggplant dish, lotus root dish, tofu dish, gado gado, maybe a green mango salad
Sticky rice, Jasmine rice

Dessert:
Not sure. Maybe a lemon delicious pudding with the lemon replaced by pandanus and lime flavours.

Will make the non-fish and non-salad dishes the day before, so should be able to do it all.

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#6 clb

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 07:23 PM

Mock Porchetta a la Zuni Cafe (ish)
Fennel braised in lots of Porchetta juices
Slightly over-enthusiastically roasted parsnips
Roasted shallots
Steamed ruby chard with butter & nutmeg

I followed the recommendations given by the Zuni recipe, and although I enjoyed the flavours (lemon, caper, fennel, sage, etc) in retrospect the rolled pork shoulder was just NOT quite a voluptuous as I'd been expecting. In the future I'll try it with pork belly. (To paraphrase Homer Simpson, "Mmmm, pork belly...is there anything it can't do?") The crackling turned out well, but I thought the meat could have been more succulent. Many thanks to Vanessa, who rescued me from a mid-afternoon panic by telling me that string for tying meat is found at WH Smith in the UK rather than at a supermarket. (Ahem.)

BTW, is there anything I can do with ruby chard stalks? I have loads of them, and they look fabulous. It seems a shame to just get rid of them.

Dessert
Super-lazy warm chocolate pudding-cake a la Nigella
Tamarind ice-cream

I adore that Zuni mock porchetta and cooked it on Friday (just for us, though :D ): GP top of leg made it plenty succulent, I thought, and the leftovers were wonderful.

There's a Zuni recipe for chard stems deep/shallow fried in lemon oil which I was looking at earlier today and sounds good.

More about the tamarind ice cream, please. :D

Oh, and thanks for passing on V's tip about where to get butcher's string. I've been using the last of a ball of undyed knitting cotton which is just not strong enough. :D

clb

#7 Vanessa

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 07:33 PM

Or Ryman's. A stationer's, basically :D

v
...it actually comes down to what thrills you - Hugh Johnson

authenticity is a fog that recedes just when you think you may be getting near it - R Schonfeld

The most political act we do on a daily basis is to eat - Prof J Pretty

this city without boundaries we all share - zigzackly


#8 Ms J

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 09:09 AM

No cheese? :D

Wilfrid, for some reason no-one at my parties has ever had room for both cheese and dessert. Maybe I'm organising my menus poorly. Or inviting the wrong people. I just don't know. :D

Adam, your upcoming SE Asian menu looks amazing. Please don't make the mistake I did and forget to take photos of the finished dishes to upload into this thread.
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#9 Kikujiro

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 09:22 AM

At times like this I wish I lived in Edinburgh.

Put the ruby chard stalks in a vase :D

Fuschia Dunlop party: oh yes.
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#10 ampletuna

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 09:24 AM

this weekend Sunday lunch for a few MF's, I think I will be making:

Starter
Pork rillettes served with toasted poilane and conichons

Main
Shoulder of Mutton stuffed with anchovies and capers
Roast potatoes
French beans
Roasted squash

Dessert
Something light, maybe elderflower jelly?

Cheese
Flower Marie
Epoisse
Beenleigh Blue
Montgomery cheddar

never made rillettes before and am getting a bit nervous about it.
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#11 Robert Schonfeld

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 02:36 PM

never made rillettes before and am getting a bit nervous about it.

Nothing to it. If you want to be nervous, make the bread.
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#12 ampletuna

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 02:41 PM

never made rillettes before and am getting a bit nervous about it.

Nothing to it. If you want to be nervous, make the bread.

it's just that HFW's recipe doesn't make it clear if I add the cooking liquid (i.e lard) to the shredded meat or just put a thin layer on top...
Yes, I would not recommend smell, touch or taste when it comes to old cock selection. Opinions differ though. Adam 2/3/05

#13 Ms J

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 02:50 PM

When I made the rillettes from the Moro book last year, I seem to recall adding a bit of the liquid to the shredded meat. I was nervous too, as it was my first foray into rillettes, but they turned out beautifully.

You'll be FINE Charlene. Post pics, please. :D
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#14 Ms J

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 02:59 PM

More about the tamarind ice cream, please. :D

Ooops, I overlooked this. Sorry clb. Tamarind ice-cream is very easy:

1. Make custard
2. Add tamarind
3. Squish tamarind around as though making tamarind water
4. Press through strainer and discard tamarind fibers/seeds
5. Chill, then churn

The end result is appealingly golden brown and looks as though it should taste of toffee, which makes the tamarind tang all the more interesting.
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#15 g.johnson

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 04:22 PM

never made rillettes before and am getting a bit nervous about it.

Nothing to it. If you want to be nervous, make the bread.

it's just that HFW's recipe doesn't make it clear if I add the cooking liquid (i.e lard) to the shredded meat or just put a thin layer on top...

Elizabeth David says that one should drain the meat in a sieve before potting. And serve at room temperature.
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