Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dinner for Friends and Creme Brulee

Last night we had a old friend of Dons and her partner here for dinner. These days I barely get time to do the basic mundane things involved in living let alone have dinner parties but it was a nice break from the usual to make the effort and have people here. Gina only eats seafood so while I was initially disappointed to not be able to make one of the many meat dishes I have been wanting to try, I figured at least she wasn't a vegetarian...or even worse a vegan! In fact if she had been a vegan I wouldn't have even entertained the thought of a dinner invite...closed minded I know but I really have no desire to cook vegan food. 

Anyway I figured I could do seafood quite easily as well as making it taste really good and maybe get out of my comfort zone. The only problem is that it did involve a lot of last minute cooking but I did manage to do most of the preparation beforehand so it wasn't too bad. 

For the starter I made Scallops on a Cauliflower Puree with a Balsamic Drizzle and a Bacon Crumb. I really wish I had remembered to get a photo of this. It looked lovely on the plate and tasted fantastic. I am not a fan of cauliflower but cooked like this it tasted delicious and had the most amazing velvety and smooth texture. I managed to cook the scallops perfectly and they had a nice caramelisation on them without being overcooked. The balsamic drizzle was just balsamic vinegar cooked down with some brown sugar so it was nice and syrupy and I think, combined with the bacon crumb (which Gina didn't have), it really added to the dish and brought all the flavours together. 

The main was fresh pan fried Terakihi on a decadent Lemony Mash with a Pernod Sauce served with fresh green beans and broccoli. This was so delicious. I got the recipe from the first Masterchef cookbook. The pernod sauce was lovely and the mash really smooth (thanks to the potato ricer and warm cream). The vegetables were cooked well so they still had some crunch and were a good foil to the richness of the sauce. I did remember to get a photo of the fish (without the veges) just before I tucked into it. It isn't the best photo but at least I remembered this time. I got the fish and scallops from the Fish market so they were really fresh. The fish was succulent and just fell apart so I was really pleased with how it turned out.

Served on my Grandmother's Royal Doulton dinnerset

Dessert was Creme Brulee served with homemade Lemon Shortbread and Poached Quinces. I wasn't so happy with the quinces but I think that had more to do with the fact that the ones I bought weren't all that good and has quite a lot of bruises on them not leaving many pieces to choose from. The shortbread was really lovely and I thought it complemented the creme brulee. The creme brulee itself was a recipe I kind of made up after searching for what I thought would be the perfect recipe. It turned out so well and it was very easy to make. It had that lovely crunching sound as you broke into the toffee top too. I have made creme brulee before but in the past have sprinkled the top with caster sugar. This time I used icing sugar and it caramelised easily and well without having a chance to burn. Although the dinner on the whole was a bit creamy it was a pretty good effort if I do say so myself. It does mean that I will have to take the dog for a big walk to day but it was worth it to break free of my diet for a night.

Creme Brulee

750 ml cream
6 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla paste
1/2 c vanilla caster sugar
1 Tbsp Cointreau (I would double this next time)

Heat the oven to 150 C.

In a mixer beat the egg yolk with the sugar and vanilla paste.

Scald the cream in a pot. 

Temper the eggs by adding in a bit of the hot cream and mixing it well before adding the rest of the cream in. Make sure you stir it vigorously and well. If there is any foam on top skim some of it off or else bang the bowl down on the bench to try to get rid of the bubbles. Pour it into 5-6 ramekins (make sure they are shallow and wide rather than deep and narrow).

Put the ramekins into a baking dish and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake about 30 mins until they look set but still have sexy wobble to them. Remove from the baking dish and cool on a wire rack then put into the fridge for at least 2 hours (I made mine the day before).

Just before serving sprinkle over a generous amount of icing sugar and caramelise with a blowtorch.


  1. guess Miss Isabella won't be getting a dinner invite than

  2. I know I'm such an imbecile...and a carnivore too!!!