Well that is our February dinners done and dusted… the theme as we were close to Valentines was loosely followed and we found we had a full house on both nights and I am glad to say the challenge of a last minute cancellation was also filled quickly… The cancellation was the first one we have ever had to deal with that close to a dinner and we had already purchased food and started our prep so this meant we had to use all our means of contact to fill the space.
This web site is self built using a template on WordPress and I am by no means an expert and it is all self taught but I have recently discovered how to place a form on the site so am now trying to use these to gather information from our followers and punters… For example if you want to be made aware of a last minute cancellation why not fill out this form below and we will create a specific mail list to let you know.
I have also recently transferred my email list of addresses to an internet mail service called mail chimp… this enables me in one click to send an email that is specific to a special list and also see statistics who might have opened the email and gauge also what formats work best… again something to play with in the future and a lot less time consuming in keeping you all up to date.
The format of this site will also change slightly and I will start using the blog aspect more as it is a much quicker and an easier way of reporting what is happening and updating you all of some exciting developments that will be happening over the next few months. The pages will be more informative of what we do but effectively our home page will be the news and musings of yours truly…
Warm Roasted Aubergine, Red Pepper & Cumin Terrine
Chicken Breast Roulade stuffed with Spinach, Pine Nut & Feta Cheese
served with a light sherry jus.
Green Beans wrapped in pancetta
Hari’s Selection of Cheeses with Porridge Oat Biscuits
Roasted Rhubarb Tart with Walnut Ice Cream
Coffee with petit fours
So back to this months dinner… well we kicked off the dinners with some assorted nibbles that we think went well… the Friday night guests were served some Parmesan Lollipops that are just grated parmesan thinly spread on baking parchment and with the addition of some caraway seeds then baked. Once lightly golden and removed from the parchment and cooled they crisp up nicely and look impressive on the tables…The Saturday night guests were due the same but somehow I managed to mix my cheeses and added cheddar to the mix and when I started to bake them they went all greasy and horrible!!! So a minor alteration was made and the use of some butter puff pastry turned my cheese mix into some baked cheese Palmiers… We also on both nights served a little shot glass of mushroom cappuccino, simply a homemade mushroom soup topped with a milky foam… it seemed to be well received and will see what else we can dream up for these shot glasses in the future…
So our first course was a fairly ambitious one… a warm terrine of Aubergine that is set in a red pepper egg custard flavoured with cumin. I have to admit this was not all my own idea but one gleaned from a chef demo I had seen many years ago at a cookery demo in the Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School, London. It was Moroccan inspired as this accomplished chef had spent some time cooking at the La Gazelle D’Or in Taroudant and the marriage of aubergine, red peppers and cumin is a classic north African one. It was not till I researched a bit about the Cumin a spice that I realised it had some great “lovers” connections as well. It is the second most common spice used throughout the world and this terrine for me was a challenging one to serve warm to bring out the cumin flavour. It was a long process as the aubergine required a little salting initially (having been sliced length ways) then grilling and then when cold layered in the terrine moulds with the egg custard mix added. The cumin initially dry roasted and pounded in the pestle and mortar was added to the custard mix and when baked slowly emanated a truly wonderful aroma. The terrine was then sliced last minute and reheated in the oven to warm it up and help bring out the flavours. A simple salad garnish made this a great starter that was also very vegetarian friendly as well.
Next came our main course… the roulade of chicken, here we beat out a chicken supreme (the skinless breast) thinly and then before rolling it up tightly we placed some sautéed spinach, crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts as the filling.
The roulade rolled in cling film meant the best cooking method was to then gently poach them in chicken stock so ensure the meat remained succulent. A light jus with the addition of sherry and chopped sun-dried tomatoes proved an extra dimension and the clean plates that all came back seemed to be an approval of our efforts!
Next our ubiquitous cheese course was made up of a selection… we had marinated some fresh goats cheeses in an olive oil mix of dried chilli, chopped chives and basil for a couple of days, then a small wedge of Gorgonzola was the blue addition and a soft French Pié d’Angloys. We then also included as the hard cheese our local Winterdale Shaw but this time the standard one and a sliver of their smoked version, this is the matured cheese that is then halved and taken off to the Weald Smokery and smoked naturally over oak wood chips. One guest remarked how it took him right back to an earlier food memory so it certainly did its job!!!
Finally the dessert we served was a warm Rhubarb Tart that was served with some walnut ice cream. The pink rhubarb sliced and being placed raw on the puff pastry bases was then baked with addition of sugar and cinnamon.
Finally it was coffee served with an assortment of chocolates including some rather good Spanish Turron, it was a nightmare to cut but the broken bits that kept falling off found a good home!
The atmosphere of both nights was great and first night seemed incredibly loud with a constant background chatter, then the second night guests were treated to a firework display by one of neighbours so an added bonus… at no extra cost as well!!!
So that rounded up the dinners and we now start planning our next one…it will be a fish theme and will I am sure will be over subscribed once again…menu coming soon so watch this space…