Friday, 28 June 2013

Taylor Wimpey - My Dream Dinner Party Menu

I love dinner parties!  It’s a chance to show off my creative flair, and to utilise all those tens of plates and table knickknacks that I keep purchasing everywhere I go (that frustrates my husband no end), but does make my dinner parties feel special, and go with a bang.

Romantic dinner party for 2
I have had some good ones over the last few years, and I know I spend far too much time prepping for them, but it always is worth the effort.

Raclette dinner party for 4
The good people over at Taylor Wimpy Homes have set a challenge to devise a dream dinner party menu.  As I don’t actually have to cook it and photograph each dish, or need a brigade of chefs to help me (as my menu would take an age to cook all by myself), I felt I could really let my imagination go into overdrive!

So what would my menu comprise of and why?  Well first off as we live on the Hampshire coast and have fresh catch daily, it would be a travesty to not include some wonderful fresh fish.  Secondly I would love to boast about the dish containing fresh herbs from my own garden (and you can’t get more locally sourced than that).  And thirdly, a consideration for seasonal ingredients is a must to any serious cook as it’s bringing the best taste OTM straight to the table.   

So without further adieu, here is my dream dinner party menu entitled

'The Best of British'

Welcome drink:
Frozen Elderflower Liqueur and Sparkling Wine Cocktails with Popping Candy.
Since discovering this liqueur I’m hooked, and I couldn’t think of a better way than drinking this on the terrace with your guests on a hot summers evening, with the addition of popping candy running through the mixture to create excitement and help imitate that sparkling element on the tongue. Elderflower is in season this month too, so some fresh flowers to decorate would make a nice touch.

Mackerel Tartar, Beetroot Gazpacho, Horseradish Ice Cream, Watercress Oil.
Johnson’s fish market two miles from my doorstep provides me with fresh fish that has been sourced locally, and Mackerel when cured to make a Tartar is one of the best dishes I have tasted.  As beetroot is bang in season, piling this fish tartar in the centre of a plate with a gazpachio and adding a small scoop of creamy horseradish ice cream on top would make such a flavourful and visually captivating starter. Not forgetting our famous Hampshire watercress made into watercress oil and drizzled over the dish!

Loin of Hampshire Buffalo, Cauliflower Puree, Parsnip Crisp textures, sautéed Cabbage and Bacon, Port and Jasmine Tea jus.
OK, this may at first glance sound a bit wintry, but trust me as the British summer sun disappears around 8:30pm, we all know how quickly it cools down, so I couldn’t think of a better full bodied dish to have after a light starter. Buffalo is not a meat we have that often in the UK, but I’m always seeing it at my local Southsea Farmers Market, and it’s just as versatile as beef.  With lashings of port and jasmine tea jus made from the base of a good quality meat stock, it's sure to be truly mouth-watering! Brownie points with my guests too for finding a different flavoursome chic alternative to beef!

Lavender Crème Brulees with Rosemary Tuille Biscuits.
Quite simple, it needs little explanation, but how about showing off my homegrown lavender and rosemary in this stunning little dessert to end the evening!

Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Shiraz.
Hard task this, but if I could only chose one wine then it would have to be this.  A red wine that would go with the main course, yet it’s sparkling, so would be light enough on the pallet to pair with the beetroot notes in the starter.

Well although I may not be able to manage cooking all these dishes for one dinner party, after devising this menu, I feel sure that I should include some of the dishes in my future dinner parties, so people watch this blog for updates!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Florette One Minute Wonder Salad Recipe Competition

This is the kind of challenge I love!  Can you create a salad that can be made in under 60 seconds?

Florette Salad challenged it's customers to do just this.  So I got my little grey cells into action.

It's very easy to just think of a few of your favourite ingredients and chuck them in a bowl together, but I didn't want to be guilty of devising a bland, dry salad that looks good on paper, but would leave you gasping for a jug of water at the end of it.  So a dressing is essential. This was my starting point. I'm always making honey and mustard dressings at home, as it only needs 4 store cupboard ingredients to make.

From this as my base idea, I then decided how well pork marries with the honey and mustard elements of the dressing, and so too does apple, and a few moments later my salad was born....

Ham, apple and Brie Salad, with a Honey and Mustard dressing!

Remember there's only a minute to make this so, I didn't want to over complicate things.  This I feel is a well balanced salad, with sweet, and savoury elements, fruit to add texture and interest, and Brie for that added indulgence, all brought together with a tasty dressing.  It also has an all year round appeal, great for all family members, and the ingredients are easy to come about in their raw state - so no cooking needed!!

I was invited to London to showcase my salad making skills in front of the camera, and explain a bit about it.

5 of us regional finalists now go head to head on Facebook for the public to vote which salad they prefer.  The winning dish will appear on a national TV advert this summer.

So why not log on to the link below and support the South of England by voting!   

Every vote is eligible to win a spot prize, so it really is worth a few seconds of your time.

Ham, apple and Brie Salad, with a Honey and Mustard dressing  
  • 1 Bag of Florette Sweet Crispy Salad Leaves
  • 1 Apple
  • 100g Brie
  • 100g Wiltshire Cured Ham
  • 1tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
  • 1 tbsp runny Honey
  • 3tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
Slice 4 sides off the apple discarding the core.
Lay the sliced apple next to the wedge of brie and ham slices, and using a large knife quickly finely slice all three together.
Shake or whisk the dressing ingredients together and dress the salad leaves, tossing through the sliced ham, brie and apple