Christmas dinner - photos and post mortem
Of course, we know that all great parties begin with great food :) so without further ado, the Christmas dinner menu post mortem:
1) Green chilli tapenade
Not too bad... the anchovy fillets didn't process too well, so a couple of people got 'anchovy bombs' but overall pretty good with a very homemade taste. Wouldn't use the organic rice cakes again though, they were a lot more cardboardy than I expected.
2) Parmesan, nori and sesame puffs
Photo a little skewed (uploading newbie, and too lazy to transfer the photos to my hard drive to edit). These looked just like the photo in Yoshoku, so feel pretty chuffed. Tasted really good too, helps to be generous with the parmesan. They got a little hard as the night went on, definitely have to serve them hot. Gonna try varieties of this in the future, they'd look especially pretty with paprika I think.
3) Mentaiko dip
This was a last minute addition as Philippe declared we needed one more starter. Had to go to the Isetan at Lido for last minute shopping, so decided to make a mentaiko dip by simply mixing mentaiko and mayo, plus loads of black pepper. (Been craving mentaiko ever since trying it in Tampopo's Kyushu Jangara ramen.) Couldn't find grissini sticks so used Glico. Surprisingly yummy for something so simple.
4) Tomatoes a la Xi Yan
Again, simple, gorgeous and yummy (although you can't really see it in the photo). Splurging on the beef tomatoes was definitely the right decision, they looked great and were so thick and sweet, wouldn't have been the same otherwise. Used most of the shabu shabu sauce and tossed lots of sugar in as well. This would actually be a great snack for eating in front of the tv!
5) Asparagus, parmesan and mint salad
This was really amazing, although the recipe seemed fairly straightforward. Dressing was lemon juice, olive oil and equal parts mint, parsley, chervil and chives. Trick is to chop the herbs very coarsely so that they cling patchily to the asparagus. Each bite then has a different flavour, depending on what herb piece you picked up. Literally took 5 minutes to make, and another 5 minutes for it to disappear off the table.
6) and 7) Ham and turkey from Mezza9
Can't take any credit for this, but people are still raving about it over e-mail today and I'm actually enjoying the leftovers :) The sauces were also wonderful - a brandy raisin sauce for the ham, and cranberry sauce (you can still make out the individual cranberries) and giblet gravy (ditto with bits of giblet floating around) for the turkey.
8) Baby potatoes
This was supposed to be a potato and lardon casserole, and was planning on stuffing it into the oven after the first guests start arriving. Just as well I waited, as it turned out we had a Muslim guest, so decided to hold the bacon and serve the potatoes simply boiled and tossed in butter and fresh thyme. Birthday girl Jean decided to do the potato boiling honours and they came out perfectly. In the rush of it though forgot to take pictures, but you can imagine what a bunch of boiled baby potatoes look like.
9) Korean chocolate upside-upside-upside-upside-down cake
This was supposed to be a very beautiful and sleek chocolate tart per Donna Hay. Unfortunately, substituting a shortcrust pastry crust with a Keebler chocolate cookie crust made a huge presentation difference, since the cookie crust decided to crumble into a million pieces after trying to flip it out of the aluminium pan it came in. Nicky and Jean, the Korean danger twins, had so much fun with the first flip that they decided to flip it again and again and again, hence the upside-upside-upside-upside-downness. Definitely not a pretty sight, but it was saved by its exquisite taste! On the sagely advice of June of Nibbles and Scribbles, decided to splurge on Valrhona chocolate and damn it was good. For those who asked for the recipe on Saturday night, it was really easy and fast to make as well (if you can get hold of a pre-made crust). I haven't baked in years (actually I think since Home Econs in secondary school), so if I can manage to not completely screw this up, I'm sure you can too. All credit goes to Donna Hay's Modern Classics 2:
1. Whisk 7 egg yolks with 3 tablespoons of sugar, set aside.
2. Bring 2 1/3 cups of cream to the boil over medium heat, then remove from heat and add 200g of chopped chocolate (only the good stuff). Stir until smooth, then pour in egg yolk mixture and stir until well mixed.
3. Bake 15-20 minutes in a 150 degree oven or until set. Leave to cool completely. Serve with berries or cream. Keep all Koreans out of the kitchen (ok Donna Hay didn't specify the last one).
10) Nectarine clafoutis
This never got made, as Nina got a bit carried away by the Christmas spirit and bestowed 4 boxes of mince pies and a Christmas fruitcake from Marks and Spencer upon us. Ate the nectarines with leftovers last night though, yum.
11) Sangria and Nicky's Special Mojito
Philippe is usually bartender extraordinaire, and creator of such what-the-hell-were-you-thinking cocktails as balsamic vinegar and cumin vodka shots. Deciding to play it safe this year (at least while the night was still young), he made the lovely sangria above. But he readily admits defeat to Nicky's signature mojito, which we've never managed to replicate no matter how hard or often we try. So Nicky was called upon for slave girl duty, working hard in the kitchen while everyone else was having fun. What to do, with great power comes great responsibility! No photos of the mojito unfortunately, but rest assured even if I had a photo, you'd never be able to make it taste as good as Nicky's!
Phew, that's it, Christmas dinner reviewed! Probably won't get a chance to hit the kitchen for another week or so as will be spending Christmas in Hong Kong, also our fridge fortuitously died the night before the party so needs to be replaced. I'm not planning on writing any restaurant reviews in this blog, but may have a few words (or pages!) on our Hong Kong trip, since planned some good meals there. To be continued!