8 – 12 Course Menu, with paired drinks

I have been a bad blogger.  There have been reasons for this, but I won’t bore you with them.  Instead I shall offer a gourmet feast for your delectation.

Birthday Dinner TableHowever, before I do that I’d like to quickly address a couple of things:

Firstly, number of courses…it helps to know how many you’re creating so you can brag say, “I cooked an X course meal for eight people”.  I promise, I can count up to twenty and beyond, without even using my fingers and toes, but on this I’m a little confused.

When making the count apparently certain parts of a meal don’t qualify as a course.  If you discriminate against certain foodstuffs in this fashion, and don’t include palate cleansers or coffee, then this would be an eight course meal.  I have questions about the validity of this counting method.

Then there’s the order of courses… Soup before salad? Cheese before dessert? Where do palate cleansers fit in? Surely there must be some kind of standard?  But no, apparently not.  I’m telling you, a quick look around the internet and you’ll see what I mean…anything beyond three courses the whole thing’s up for debate.  Right or wrong, this is how we opted to do things (‘we’ being me, of course!).

Centre pieceThis meal was a really fun thing to do for Big Sis’s birthday.  I had an awesome time, from planning to consumption. Hopefully everyone involved enjoyed themselves just as much!

Recipes will follow, as will the update on the now completed Cupboard Challenge, but for now, let me run you through the menu…

Amuse bouche - dried plums soaked in Armagnac, stuffed with duck breast pâté and topped with crisp pancetta.

Amuse bouche – dried plums soaked in Armagnac, stuffed with duck breast pâté and topped with crisp pancetta.
Drink pairing: Prosecco

Now, those eight courses I mentioned – that includes the amuse-bouche…but are you supposed to include them?

Hand made wild mushroom ravioli with white truffle butter sauce

Hand made wild mushroom ravioli with white truffle butter sauce
Drink pairing: Prosecco

Roasted tomato bisque garnished with crumbled feta

Roasted tomato bisque garnished with crumbled feta
Drink pairing: Wheat beer

Twisted Waldorf Salad - savoury profiterole filled with celery mousseline, topped with diced apple and toasted walnuts, served with a maple syrup and mustard dressing

Twisted Waldorf Salad – savoury profiterole filled with celery mousseline, topped with diced apple and toasted walnuts, served with a maple syrup and mustard dressing
Drink pairing: Dry cider

Lemon sorbet (Not home made.  Don't judge.  Time constraints guys, time constraints!)

Lemon sorbet.  Not home made. Please don’t judge me…time constraints guys, time constraints!

Seriously now, why do palate cleansers not qualify as a course?  In a meal of this type they’re about the same size as other things that pass muster.  Seems a little wrong to me.  It’s like saying, “You’re just here to clean my mouth out…you can’t be a course, you’re not substantial enough.  You’re not even really food.”

Poor bullied sorbet 😉

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Nancy and the Scarlet Slipper

Hot on the heels (sorry) of the dragon slaying shoe, I was asked to do another shoe cake – this time a friend of mine wanted to surprise one of his friend’s on her 50th birthday.  He said she likes shoes and her favourite colour is red…apart from that, the design was left to me. Shoe cakeTaking a huge amount of inspiration from the extremely talented Iris Rezoagli of Cake Dreams by Iris, I created this high heeled shoe cake.

The shoe box cake is a four layer vanilla Madeira cake, filled with strawberry jam and vanilla Italian meringue buttercream.High heeled shoeThe gumpaste shoe was made using the heel mould and sole cutter from the kit I used last time.  However, because I decided to go with a platform sole, it was necessary to create my own toe and heel strap templates.  There was some cursing involved.  And maybe a little bit of pencil throwing.  Got there in the end though.

The upper of the shoe was created using two layers of gumpaste; I made the lacy detail with a heart shaped cutter and two broderie anglaise cutters.  I was initially planing to use Cake Lace but the lace mat I’d purchased wasn’t big enough, and patching bits together wasn’t going to work.  Not to worry, Plan B came out just fine.

(As it happens, I have a future cake planned that will utilise the cake lace, and allows me time to buy a larger lace mat!  That’s assuming I can make it work.  General consensus is that it’s a doddle to use, but I reserve judgement until actual usage has occurred 😉 )

The bow on the shoe and the black flowers (of undetermined species) are both embellished with non-edible diamanté.

PoppyHand modelled gumpaste poppy(ish) flower set against black satin ribbon.

ImprovementsThere are a few key areas for improvement, as detailed above, plus the top of the cake was still sloping at the edges – dammit I will get a straight finish!

That said, I’m really, really pleased with how the shoe came together and the over all look of the cake.  I had fun making it.

The recipient was reported to be delighted and amazed and so all is well in my little corner of the universe.

x

Frozen Party

One year on from the cake that got me hooked on fondant and  I was thrilled, once again, to  be asked to help make a special birthday for Barn’s niece.

Birthday girlThis time I not only made a cake, but also planned, designed and styled a whole dessert table, and several other elements of the party.  It was such delight to do!

Frozen Lunch BoxesSnow White has lunchSavoury food was provided in individual lunch boxes containing:

Freshly baked mini rolls filled with ham and cheese,
Olaf Noses and Blizzard Dip (carrots with cheese dip),
Sven Antlers (Twiglets),
Cherry tomatoes,
Crisps.

Definitely no poisoned apples involved!

DrinksDrinks were served in mini bottles with paper straws.

Left to right:

Melted Snow (water)
Princess Potion (apple & strawberry juice)
Winter Frost (blueberry & blackberry juice)

Icicle treeFrozen Table Decorations - Anna and ElsaThe centrepiece to the dessert table: Anna and Elsa stand in snow at the foot of tree laden with rock candy icicles (bubblegum and pink raspberry flavours).

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Ageing Boxes

Aging BoxesAs the cost of actual vintage boxes was prohibitive, when I was preparing for Mum’s Vintage Sunflower birthday party I tried my hand at ageing some new ones.

I bought a set of raw wood, cheap pine crates online…the type intended for decoupage and other crafting.

To make ‘wear and tear’ scars, the crates were gouged with a screwdriver, bashed with a hammer and thumped with a bag of screws.

They were then painted with several coats of potassium permanganate solution (1 part potassium permanganate crystals to 50 parts water – it’s bright purple and seems unlikely to be what you want to put on wood…but it’s ok, no purple staining occurs!).  The stain gathers in the ‘damaged’ bits, helping to create a well-used appearance.

Once dried I stencilled on some lettering.

Things I would do differently next time:

  • Before doing anything else, lightly sand boxes and wipe with white spirit to remove any grease and dirt.
  • Stencil before staining and lightly sand lettering to give it a more aged look.
  • Find a way to soften the edges and corners of the crates.

That said, I think these turned out really well for a first attempt…I was certainly happy with how much money it saved and I think they looked great on the table.

x

Vintage Sunflowers

When it came to styling and organising Mum’s 2014 birthday party I decided to go rustic with a yellow and brown colour scheme, using a sunflower motif throughout.Edited welcome signBirthday flowers in ceramic bootsBirthday flowers in a pair of ceramic yellow welly boots.  I spotted the boots lurking in the far recesses of a charity shop and gave the poor, elderly volunteer quite a shock as I let out a whoop of glee at their perfectness!
Birthday garden: water dish, centre front, beloved of small birdThe girl with the 500 other party plans still in her head!Birthday gardenThe weather was kind and people were able to sit out in the sunshine, enjoying the beautiful garden, whilst eating with friends.

_DSC7407Pack your own picnicThe savouries table was set up in a farmers’ market style – guests were provided with brown paper carrier bags and invited to create their own picnic.

market tableFreshly baked bread, crisp and juicy apples, a basket of speckled brown boiled eggs, cheeses wrapped in brown paper, pickles, miniature jars of chutneys, tiny tomatoes that burst in your mouth when you bit into them, and bunches of lively spring onions.

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Party Bags

Party bags collageWhen looking for party bags for Big Sis’s birthday I found myself faced with a familiar problem…the ones I liked were too expensive and the ones I could afford weren’t pretty enough.

In the end I got plain white mini carrier bags and tarted them up using printed labels, stamps, ribbon and pearls.  I wish I managed to find a more closely matched shade of green for the bird ink stamp, but apart from that I was happy with them.

x

 

“A kids’ party raised to adult level”

During some extended internet pootling I’d been utterly enchanted and more than a little inspired by the many examples of gorgeously styled dessert tables; so, when it came to Big Sis’s 2014 birthday, I pounced on the opportunity to try my hand at one.
IMG_6050Roses, ribbons, hydrangea and pearls adorned the welcome sign on the door.IMG_6028

Desserts Menu (made by me):
Centrepiece birdcage birthday cake
White chocolate & pistachio cheesecake served in dark chocolate cups
Fresh raspberry mousse served in dark chocolate shot ‘glasses’
Raspberry lemonade cupcakes – mini & regular
Chai cupcakes – mini & regular
Strawberry Belgian chocolate rose shaped lollipops

Also on the table (not made by me):
Pink Champagne truffles
Bon-bons (cherry; chocolate; apple)
Assorted flavours pink & green jelly beans

IMG_0491

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