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Sunday, May 30, 2010

a fabulous french night

I greeted the guests with an apertif called a Kir Royal (champagne with a splash of Creme de Cassis). There were eight table guests and of course me as the, etc.  It was bit experimental doing it this way, but thought it worked well as I could focus more on the food and just allow the guests to chat amongst themselves.
The started was served in the lounge room, which I thought a comfortable place for people to begin chatting and enjoying the fun of fondue (Fondue de Fromage), which I served with bread, roasted potatoes and lightly steamed broccoli. It was a recipe out of a french cookbook, which I even attemped to make the night before as a practice round.  Round two was not much better as I was not really that happy with the consistancy ,but the taste was still good and the guests seemed to dig in.  I will definitely try a different recipe next time!

As for the main, 'Pot au feu' this was my big challenge... cooking beef for pretty much the first time (I don't actually eat beef myself). The idea of the recipe was to slowly cook the short ribs in red wine, beef broth and herbs for a few hours, then add the root vegetables to cook the last hour. It is pretty much like a stew, the dish is then served with cornichons(baby gherkins), mustard and course salt.   I think maybe it would have been good to somehow make the sauce a bit thicker, but from what I could tell the guests seem to enjoy this rustic and hearty dish.  ( I even sampled it myself and found the beef very soft and easy to chew.)

As per usual the dessert was my favorite, I did another dessert trio which included:

Crème Brûlée
Gâteaux Meringués
Tarte aux Pommes Feuilletée

The creme brulee was definitely the best I have ever made...the recipe was perfect (I will put it up later)!  The Gâteaux Meringués were basically little meringue cakes filled with a whipped chocolate ganache and then a layer of smooth ganach on top. I must say my husband was extremely thrilled with this dessert, I was encouraged.  It was definitely the more time consuming dessert, but seemed to be worth it.  The third dessert was a simple apple pastry served with a dollop of chantilly cream (whipped cream with vanilla and sugar).
What a fabulous night indeed, I was delighted and very pleased! The conversations were fun and interesting with a variety of people at the dinner table .  The clanking of dishes, the constant chatter and smell of good food warmed my soul, I just hope everyone else felt the same way.  My brain is already spinning with ideas for the next stay tuned and book your seat fast!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

recipe #36

tonight i made 'chicken cacciatore', i used a recipe out of an australian magazine called 'delicious'. i used chicken breasts instead of chicken marylands and it was really good. although i served it over penne pasta and i think it would have been better with rice (now i know for next time). definitely a winner in terms of serving a group. we had a few friends for dinner and was just nice to pull it out of the oven and serve it up.

i also finally accomplished making an apple clafoutis (which is similar to a cobbler) and it was beautiful. it would have been perfect with a scoop of vanilla icecream, but all i had was custard. maybe i should make this for tablenosh on saturday....hmmmm.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

exhausted but pleased

oh the things i get myself into doing! i was very excited about the opportunity to cater for a friend's birthday party, well a party for her little girl. it was a fabulous opportunity to delve into catering for kids...and was fun to have a theme, which was Alice and Wonderland. the only problem was i never give myself enough time and have a problem with cramming way too much into my weekend, but hey i suppose it is all good learning.

so what did i learn? first of all when i commit to doing these things i should never book anything else! second when making meringues don't put too many in the oven together and expect them all to be okay! third making candied toffee apples is hard work...and i did not really get them right (but the children did eat them). fourth, children do not eat sandwiches, i definitely reckon i should have made fairy bread. fifth, to make a deeper red icing just add a bit of cocoa to the buttercream and some red food coloring - i am very excited about this discovery! sixth, my piping bag definitly looks better than me spreading it with a knife. and seventh i have the best husband ever, not only did he pop the popcorn that i forgot about but while i was away at the party he did all the dishes!!!! he is too good to me :)

all in all it was a good day, i even had some great chats with new people about tablenosh and possible catering opportunities, although after today i now know why caters charge so much! it is a lot of work - you definitely gotta love cooking.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

new recipes continue

so i have not really written about the new recipes i have been making, but i did do several new recipes for tablenosh last weekend. the shrimp boil, baked cheesy grits, hushpuppies, pumpkin creme brulee and the derby pie tartlets were all recipes i have never made before.

i have joined a fruit and veg co-op so just went out to the markets this morning bright and early. it has been great and we are saving quite a bit of money as well as getting much better produce. it looks like i need to do some new asparagus, mushroom and eggplant recipes since those are all in the veggie box!

i love that it is cooling down outside and i can get out my slow-cooker again and do more hearty foods. and of course SOUP! i love making up soup recipes and of course learning some new recipes.

hopefully this week i can get 2 new recipes added to the list...i just need to find time to look at my cookbooks.

ps. if you want the recipe for any of the mention items from above let me know, i got most of them from a new website i discovered:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The First Tablenosh Dinner

The first official Tablenosh has happened...I did it! It was a lovely evening with a great bunch of people and I was pleased with the menu for the most part...but there is always room for improvement!
The Menu:
Aperitif ~ Scarlett O'hara Martini

Starters ~ Mississippi Hush Puppies Chorizo & Sweet Potato w/Garlic, Lemon Mayonaise

Main ~ Southern Shrimp Boil w/ Baked Cheesy
Okra Grits and Sauteed Squash
Dessert Trio ~ Pumpkin creme brulee, Petit derby pies and Bite-sized apple crumble
Tea & Coffee ~ assorted teas & coffee

What in the world are Grits, might the Aussies ask...they are a very traditional southern food and you cannot get them in Australia, they are made from the inside of the corn kernal also known as hominy.  You have to biol them and then usually add salt, butter, cream and whatever else you want to season them with.  I added cheese & okra. The shrimp boil was okay, probably not as good as I had hoped after all my hard work of chopping the heads off and de-veining them the night before!!!  It probably needed a little more seasoning or maybe some extra butter sauce would have been good.

The pumkin creme brulee was a certainly a new concept for most, it was smooth creamy and similar to a pumpkin custard.  The dessert trio was a fun concept and I will definitely do it again, it was nice having a variety and also looked pretty to serve (even though my picture is terrible!).
Pumpkin Creme Brulee
All in all, I was pleased with the food, the guests and the evening, so much that I did not even mind all the dishes I have had to do!