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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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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