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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Hog Roast & Hoopla

INVITATION Posted on blogAs chief party planner and celebration organiser within my family I get plenty of opportunities to play with ideas and indulge my creative whims.  As years have gone by a ‘How’re you going to top that?’ mentality has arisen within me.  This can sometimes lead to me getting a bit carried away.  I may have done that with my plan for Mum’s birthday party in June.

See, the thing is, this party isn’t only for Mum, it’s going to be a joint celebration with Little M, who will be visiting from New Zealand with Baby Bro and Lady S.  Much excitement!  There’s only a couple of days between Little M’s and Mum’s birthdays but until this year, physical distance has prevented the presence of either at the other’s celebration.  Of course this means I want to make this an extra special day.

On top of that, assuming Big Bro and Lady J can get down from Scotland (keeping all things crossed as we await their respective employers’ confirmation of authorised holiday time), it will mean that this will be the first time my entire family have been together for several years.  This calls for a extra, extra special party!

So, I’ve decided to throw a village fete themed party in my Mum’s garden.  There will be a suckling pig roast and BBQ, a beer tent, tea and cakes, games like hook-a-duck, hoopla and name the bear…and please, please, please, there will be good weather too.  All plans are being made with wet weather plan Bs in place, but it would be much better not to have to use them, so let’s keep things crossed.  I should probably point out at this stage that my Mum doesn’t live in a place with ‘grounds’ or anything…just your average suburban semi!

Getting this one right will involve a lot of crafting, pre-planning and organising…as well as some assistance from the ever helpful Petit Man and Medieval.

I’ve already designed the invitations (see edited version above) and have started creating lists of things I need to source…and sourcing them!  I’m going to have so much fun with this 🙂

Further posts as things progress.

x

Birthday Banquet: 8 Courses and Counting

It’s Big Sis’s birthday in May and I’m delighted to once again be in charge of planning a celebration for her.

Last year I created my very first ever dessert table for her, which was great fun to do and went down a storm with the family.  This year, determined to do something completely different, I’ve committed myself to creating and cooking an 8 course meal, with paired drinks.  When I told Chef J what I was planning, he started laughing and asked if I was drunk when I’d decided to do this.  The answer to this is no.  But I might have got myself into one of those slightly showy-off moods that certain company can trigger 😉

It’ll be fine.  It’s not like I’ll be doing it completely single handed – Petit Man and Medieval will be assisting with cooking, and Baby Bro, who knows about such things, will be putting together the drinks list for us.  I’m telling you, it’s gonna be totally do-able.  No, better than that – it’s going to be carried off with style, flair and aplomb.  And the kitchen will not devolve into a scene of devastation.  I’m far more excited than I am nervous.

In planning the menu I have, however, been careful to not go too overboard in the Estimation of Personal Ability department; dishes have been chosen and planned so that they can, on the whole, be prepared in advance and will  only need to be ‘finished off’ (assembled/heated/final stage cooked) on the day.

The menu is not completely fixed, and accompaniments, garnishes, finishing touches etc. are still being contemplated.  However, as things stands, this is what is being planned:

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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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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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Haunted House

Apart from pretending to be freaked out by the mini vampires and hobgoblins at the door, and distributing sweets to the neighbourhood kids whilst we’re about it, we’re not doing anything for Halloween this year.  In fact, now that Petit Man is less petit, we rarely bother any more, so there are no cleverly carved pumpkins or spooky costumes to photograph and show you.

Once upon a time though, we had a ridiculously over-the-top party involving invitations designed like ancient spell books, the entirety of the ground floor of the house being ‘papered’ in printed vinyl sheets, and the front garden being turned into a cemetery, complete with tombstones and an open grave.

Sadly, some six years and two computer crashes later, I’ve lost most of the photos.  Here are a few of the ones I could find…3177028105_382acb8e71_o3177031533_27ee8d9527_o3177872580_4de9eeaffc_o3177887202_ecc979886f_o

3177889582_b2ae074fbb_o3177029689_3e3e705db5_o3177862620_ebe3826991_o (1)This is Betty.  She wants to be your friend.
3177034817_5259e4ec9c_o
This is Cedric, the Real Spiderman.  He doesn’t want to be your friend.

3177037871_ee2d4ef784_oThis is Fred.  He’s sick of being mistaken for Yorick.

3177041327_7c726abacd_o 3177042479_48a03eec82_oThere were rats in the toilet…

3177869308_2785565c2b_o3177880076_aa8c59dab0_o…skeletons in the bathroom…

3177890982_4ecc7fdfcc_o…ghosts in the mirrors…3177048805_e155d07697_oand spiders on the walls.

Everyone dressed up, the cocktails flowed and very merry time was had.

If you’re celebrating this Halloween, I hope you have a fantastic time…take care of each other and stay safe!

x

Cake and Pimms, Dahling?

I started to get a clue that my cakes and family birthdays were becoming a synonymous thing when I received a telephone call from my mother, which went something like this:

Mum:  “Your sister and I have been discussing my upcoming birthday.  I’d really like to have a Pimms and cake party, but there’s a problem.”

(Pause to allow me to make appropriate querying noises)

Mum: “Yes.  You see, we have the Pimms side of things sorted.  We have the ingredients for Pimms cocktails.  We know how to make Pimms cocktails.  The problem is the cake.  We have such a severe shortage of it.  In fact, we have none!”

(Slight pause for dramatic deep breath…continues, in tones of faux distress…)

“This is such a huge problem, we don’t know how to get ’round it.  And I do SO want a Pimms and cake party for my birthday.  I don’t suppose you have any ideas, do you?”

(Pause, filled with expectant waiting and the sound of Big Sis giggling in the background.)

Me: “Would you like me to make you some cakes for your birthday party?”

Mum (in totally feigned surprise): “Oh, would you?  How incredible of you to offer!”

And so, this is how it came about that I made four fresh cakes for my Mum’s 2013 birthday party, including my third fondant covered and decorated cake.

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