Our First Dinner… 2010

First Dinner of 2010… 5th and 6th February 2010

Well we have had our first dinner of “twenty ten” and we thought it appropriate to post a bit about this last weekends goings on.

The menu was themed around what’s currently in season and what would balance well to make some interesting food combinations.

We kicked things off with a hot starter… this was ambitious and worked OK… but ever critical of my culinary prowess it could have been better.

The idea was to make a vegetable Subric out of fresh beetroot that would then be garnished by freshly poached mussels and some de stoned fresh lychees that were then all sauced by a light curry broth made from the mussels cooking liquor.

In principle it all sounded great but on the night the Subric whilst it had an amazing colour and flavour was a bitch to turn out of their moulds and some duly collapsed… it provided a slight panic moment however, the punters liked it and one even admitted they “hated beetroot and had not eaten it for twenty years” but loved this dish and the plates all came back clean.

We then continued the seasonal theme and chose to serve a breast of Guinea Fowl.

This is a very under rated fowl that has a mild game taste and is served either roasted or pot-roasted. Having removed the breasts from the carcass I then stuffed them with a forcemeat of game with the addition of some dried porcini and a good slug of Jack Daniels.

Wrapping them firstly in cling film and then silver foil I dry roasted them initially for about ten minutes before colouring them off in a bit of butter for a couple more minutes.

These breasts were succulent and moist (no comments please) and served with a shallot tart tatin that provided a sweet accompaniment to the slight game flavour. A red wine jus made from the carcasses of the guinea fowl just bought it all together. Along with this we served our ubiquitous signature dish of Haricot Verts… and a classic Gratin Dauphinoise… that all got polished off.

There were yet again some lovely clean plates that seemed to tell me something and comments ranged from “never had this before and loved it” to it bought back some “great memories”. It was certainly a pleasure to cook and has rekindled a whole feast of other ideas.

Next on the menu was for many the “King” of cheeses, a Vacherin Mont D’Or This had proved a little tricky to source locally to me in Kent so meant a trip to London was required.

A cheese emporium in the concourse of Victoria train station was the eventual supplier that at a somewhat inflated price supplied me with a cheese that was perfect for eating, runny and unctuous it spooned out perfectly. It was a good 40% more expensive than a supplier in France.

Well worth it in the end as the season for this cheese made with the winter milk (unpasteurised) of cows draws to an end.

With the cheese I had made some of my current favourite cheese biscuits. These were made from a batch of milky porridge that with addition of rock salt and crushed Szechwan peppercorns. The porridge is than poured out onto a silicon paper and worked to a thin covering. Left to dry out slightly I then baked them in an oven at 150 degree C to dry out totally and brown slightly. After this they can then be broken up randomly and made the perfect foil to the runny cheese.

To finish off the meal we then served the diners with a homemade lemon tart a classic that was glazed with sugar to hide some deep crevasses that appeared on the tart after its cooling!!!

A generous dollop of mascarpone and then some tart raspberry coulis made the final garnish.

With the coffee we served a little pot of homemade peanut butter fudge recipe courtesy for Waitrose Magazine and a Sophie Dahl recipe that was dead easy to make.

The guests departed promising to come back with more friends and one couple of ladies promised to bring their husbands next time. All in all it was another success and we now look forward to our next date.

We aim to provide good well-cooked food that is imaginative not necessarily ground breaking but at least when we can showcase some great ingredients and good seasonal produce.

Once again we were also rather pleased with the atmosphere we had managed to create and the dining area looked great, candlelit and bedecked with simple floral displays… it was hard work but worthwhile and we were on a high when we had wound down.

Now we have our next date looming as a “Valentines” night and have planned to do an “in the pink” theme… having recently attended another underground restaurant with the Saltoun Supper Club in Brixton we were impressed by a pasta dish of Potato Gnocchi served with blanched cauliflower and infused with white truffle oil and topped with freshly grated Pecorino cheese… it had inspired me to make use of the “white” vegetable head in a slightly different way so plan to make a cauliflower terrine – it’s a dish I once produced for a dinner in depths of Hampshire at a private dinner for some minor royalty… but more on that later…

Hari Covert

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