Thursday, 18 November 2010

16 Guests, 7 Courses, 1 Baroness

At the beginning of this year I cooked a birthday meal for Baroness Pitkeathley and her guests. I had such a fun time planning and cooking this meal and although unfortunately I don't have any food photos I would like to share the menu and some of the recipes with you. 

Along with some grand help from my trusty Sous-chef, Harriet and two professional waiters, Jack and George here is the menu the guests enjoyed:


Smoked Salmon Roulades
Pear, Beetroot and Goats Cheese Rounds
Chicken Liver Pate with Loganberry Jelly
Red and Green Pesto Palmiers

The Meal

A Salad of Yellow Nectarines with Mozzarella Di Buffala, Parma Ham and a Sweet Rosemary Vinaigrette
Salmon Fillets Wrapped in Serrano Ham with Saute Spinach and a Lemon & Caper Sauce
Basil Sorbet
Roast Haunch of Venison with Green Bean parcels, Miniature Yorkshire Puddings and a Red Wine Reduction
Served with Garlic Roasted New Potatoes
Vanilla Panna Cotta & Poached Pears
Coffee & Homemade Macaroons Filled with a Dark Chocolate Fondant

This was an important event for me and I took great pains to ensure everything came together perfectly, and as far as the guests were concerned, effortlessly. Working out the exact timings was the most crucial element. The Salmon needed to be pink in the middle, as did the venison, and both had to rest properly before going to the table. I had done my preparations well and everything ran extremely smoothly.

The Basil sorbet was absolutely my favorite flavour of the evening and well worth a try if you have the inclination.

Fab relaxing after a busy service

The first time I tried this delicious sorbet was when a friend and I went for dinner at Fabrice Morrell's restaurant in the south of France. The whole meal was outstanding: At one point Fabrice nipped out of the kitchen especially to see if we had enjoyed our amuse bouche. Could we guess what was in it? 
        'Pigs Trotters and Snails!' he told us gleefully, hoping we would be slightly appalled by these ingredients. We weren't as it had been extremely tasty; little chunks of meat in an indescribably delicious and complex sauce topped with lightly toasted bread crumbs. 
Here are a few photos of the meal we enjoyed:

By the end of the meal what we really wanted to know was what produced the flavour in the sorbet he had served with his trio of desserts; a sorbet of the palest green nestling in the finest brandy snap basket I have ever eaten.

We spent a long discussion over coffee and petit fours trying to decide what it could be.

The idea of something really sweet in the middle of a meal doesn't appeal to me so basil sorbet as the palate cleanser for my menu was a good choice. It went down very well with the guests and they too had trouble identifying what the flavour was.

Though I am still waiting for Fab to give me his exact recipe here is one that works very well too:

Melt 5 1/2oz of caster sugar in 500ml of water and reduce for 3 minutes. stir in 2oz fresh basil and 2 tbsp lime juice. Blend well and press through a fine sieve. Allow to cool completely before freezing in an ice cream maker.

The starter is also an amazing dish to serve. My mum Anthea, first made this for us in Italy as a large platter for lunch with figs in it too. It looks great, takes very little time to put together and all the flavours, so fresh and delicious work very well together.

The dressing is a very simple vinaigrette of sweet balsamic vinegar (belazu is a good one to use), salt, good olive oil and very finely chopped fresh rosemary. Make a tower with the nectarines (peeled and sliced) followed by the mozzarella and a twist of Parma ham. Top with a sprig of fresh basil, drizzle the dressing around the edge of the salad and scatter with lightly toasted pine nuts. Yum!

Here is the letter I received from Baroness Pitkeathley a few days after the event:

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