I have not blogged for a while due to being busy doing other things like costume making and gardening now we have a bit more sunshine, so here we are with the French classic - Oeufs a la Neige "snow eggs" or Floating Islands for the English viewers! This recipe, which I have been wanting to try out for many a year (I know - why so long!), but I now feel that I have the confidence to undertake this recipe which is not too taxing but a technical challenge for several reasons. Also, having visited a dear friend who raises rare breed French hens, she kindly donated a dozen and this WAS the only recipe to undertake!
What a fabulous, rich and creamy dish this was and that is why I am sharing with you dear reader. Ideal for any menu where you will have lots of sauce or gravy to mop up!
The long awaited private supper club date was upon me so I was definitely in my happy place, cooking for people who just wanted an informal get together to celebrate a birthday without the hassle of waiters, other diners or even traveling far! New cooking techniques employed via Julia Child, whose recipe for this French classic was utilized. Had some difficulty in obtaining the beef to the size that I wanted but made do with what was available and changed the cooking time accordingly. Next time, I will give the butcher plenty of notice of what my requirements would be. Lesson learnt! Will be doing the garlic mash again and it is a recipe that I will share with you, dear reader, on my next blog. The next scheduled supper club is the 18th March 2023 and there are still a few places, so if you fancy a quiet night in, why not come dine at mine, it would be lovely to meet some new faces, and give you the opportunity to meet and make new friends. The Kitchen's Supper Club
Yesterday I spent the day studying and taking an on-line Hygiene Level Two certificate for food handlers course and exam, which I passed, which is good news as I have to cater for a private dinner party tomorrow! A small party of 4 who have opted for an adaptation of menu one; no starter, Boeuf Bourguignon and Sorbet au Chocolat which will be accompanied by Crepe Suzette as it is Shrove Tuesday! So tomorrow I will be in my happy place cooking and creating a meal to delight my guests. I will of course post pictures after the event, but I am looking forward to hosting my first Kitchen Supper club.
This is my first attempt at cooking halibut - the king of fish, and regal it is too! Halibut is the main dish for my supper club so it was important to trial this dish as we, (hubby and I) are not great fish eaters, but halibut, although not cheap, will be part of our tea/supper repertoire in future. The fish was cooked beautifully just in good olive oil (not virgin) and the butter sauce which I have never even heard of until starting to learn French cooking, was a revelation! Acidic and creamy, this sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the fish. I don't know whether I will do the turned vegetables again, but if I do, I will do a different mix. The rosti was lovely, but again not certain I will do this type of potato to go with this dish (it is a Swiss dish after all!). I tried to get away from placing the fish on a bed of greenery, i.e. spinach, I think this change will set off the fish a lot better, especially when the dish is served on a white plate. Over all, really enjoyed both cooking and eating this dish, and I can't wait to serve it to some eager supper goers.
Yesterday I made a luscious chocolate sorbet which is part of menu 1 for the supper club. Really easy to make with only 3 main ingredients (if you can call water an ingredient!). 60% dark chocolate melted with a sugar syrup which can be flavoured with a liqueur if you wish; I used an orange liqueur in mine which is reminiscent of a dark chocolate orange one gets at Christmas time as a stocking filler. This recipe is so easy I want to share it with you, dear reader, so here we go:
As promised - the results of yesterday's baking endeavours. The Queen of Sheba Cake or Gateau Reine de Saba. Taken from The Best Ever French Cooking Course, this recipe can be found quite readily on the internet. The Julia Child recipe is quite different to that of the book I used so I will try her recipe at a later date! As you can see from the ingredients that are ready to be amalgamated, there is nothing bad or false about this beauty. Straight forward in its execution the cake will take about 10 minutes to be put together ready for the oven. I used 60% dark chocolate for both the cake and the glaze, and this gives a really rich bitter flavour to the resultant cake. If you like a more bitter tasting cake then try 75% or even 80%, but having worked with chocolate for a long time, I would really think twice before going much higher than 80%! I did include Amaretto liqueur in both the cake and glaze (Julia uses dark rum), which really complements the ground almonds in the cake mix. \i decided not to use a spatula to move the glaze over the surface of the cooled cake, instead opting for pour in the centre then extend out to the edge of the cake and allowing the flow of ganache to coat the side of the cake. Flaked almonds were painstakingly applied one by one by hand - but that I just me being anal!!!! A definate "I'll be baking this again" recipe I do hope you have a go yourself!
Just had a call from a very dear friend who still works in the NHS. She has been quiet poorly over the past few weeks, so, being a good friend, I have invited her to stay for some recouperation time. This will give us some girly time whilst keeping warm, fed and tucking into a Queen of Sheba cake. I am hosting a chocolate course tomorrow (Saturday) so will have some 60% dark Belgian chocolate spare; so what to make? A cake that sounds so delicious I can't wait to make it and more importantly, taste it! I will post when it is made to let you know how I got on.
Dear Reader, I have come to the conclusion, very reluctantly, that perusing the idea of obtaining a Personal Alcohol Licence for my supper club is going to be too expensive. With every thing that has to be done, applied for, registered etc., the cost was very quickly building up to nearly £600! Yes, I am not joking!!!! This would be a heck of a cost to pass on to the price of the supper club; so, dear reader, I am suggesting that you bring your own preferred tipple. This decision taken, I have now been able to publish dates for the supper club. They are all to be held once a month on a Saturday, so could be your 'date night' events. I have started with two supper nights for March, as this ties in nicely with Mothering Sunday which falls on Sunday 19th March; hence, this could be a lovely way of celebrating your dear mothers. Guests are restricted to 6 per evening which is a lovely number of people who may not know each other, to become acquainted in a nice relaxing way. Menus are set and cannot be altered as this means I can keep costs to a minimum whilst offering a good range of French cuisine for each evening. The Kitchen's Supper Club
I now have, after much thought and research, produced 3 set menus which I hope you will find tantalizing. These menus' cover a range of techniques, cooking styles and flavours. I have tried to include some French classics - why not, they have worked for decades, if not centuries! I am not re-inventing the wheel, I am hoping to learn from the wheel (of time) that is. I still have some clerical work to do before I can publish dates, but please leave a comment (so I know, dear reader, that some one is out there), but I am truly feeling really energized by what I have put together (from scratch) myself, including learning new IT skills! Make every day a learning day, and you will never be bored - as boredom is the thief of time!
Today I have been doing a bit of fun stuff - researching to put together my first menu for the Kitchen's Supper Club. I have decided to go with a Julia Child classic recipe of Boeuf Bourguignon served with buttered peas and garlic mash, washed down with a classic Claret or Burgundy wine. Of course, the wine cannot be offered if I don't get my learning head into gear and spend 8 hours learning the ins and outs of applying for a Personal Licence, that will allow me to retail sale of alcohol, even though the alcohol on offer will be set with the menu and hence forth, part of the ticket price for a seat at 'The Table'. I also have to go through a basic DBS check (that ensures I have been a good girl), and under take a basic hygiene certificate, which I have already, but will need to renew it. I'm going to be a busy lady next week sorting all that out as well as getting ready to hold a chocolate course for beginners on Saturday! Anyway, take a look at the menu and see what you think. Dates will follow once I comply with the Licensing Act of 2003.
Dear Reader - look what I found in my home office. I finally got around to sorting out my office after the Christmas carnage where the detritus needed for Xmas gets shoved away to be dealt with later. Perusing through my many cookbooks, look what I found that I had forgot that I had! I must have bought this book over 30 years ago and I must admit, had never used. It goes into great detail about all the techniques that every chef needs and what some cooks may require - yes, I mean ME! Some of the special techniques do seem quite dated (from the 1970/80s), but look fun to do. Who would have thought that you needed to 'turn' vegetables, but guess who will be giving it a go!
Today's recipe from Marguerite's French Kitchen is Filet de Porc a la Sage, a recipe taken from The Best Ever French Cookbook, page 177. A simple and quick recipe resulting in the most tender and succulent piece of pork. The orange in the sauce brings a fresh aromatic flavour to the dish and allows the flavour of the sage with a touch of garlic just in the background. Over all, pleased with this and will be doing this recipe again. Served with Pommes de Terre Saute au Romarin, or sauteed potatoes with fresh rosemary leaves, and greens.
Yesterday I decided to have a go at making Pate Sucree - or posh sweet pastry! Following the recipe on page 153 from the Le Cordon Bleu cook book, I did every thing other than make it by hand; Kitchen Aid food processors were invented for a reason! Simple to follow, pastry rested prior to rolling, then I decided to rest it again once the flan tin was lined. I think I remember James Martin doing something like this on one of his master classes. Anyway, baked blind, I was surprised just how much the pastry actually shrank in the tin. Maybe a bit of a rethink here when I next do this. Then, I made a lemon filling to make Tarte au Citron - posh lemon tart for the posh pastry!!!! This recipe came from The Best Ever French Cooking Course on page 190 but I am sure that you can find the equivalent on-line. The resultant tart did look a bit anaemic, but this reflects the state of our egg industry at the moment, with hens being kept in-doors due to bird flu, so hence no rich, bright yolks that you get when birds are free range! Anyway, the tart was delicious and worth doing and will be made again.
French Onion Soup - what could be more of a classic French dish? A true winter warmer. The recipe was taken from The Best Ever French Cooking Course by Carole Clements & Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen, page 12. An easy recipe to follow with great tasting soup as a result. Using Spanish white onions give this soup a sweeter flavour than using English whites as Spanish onions are a bit milder than English. I used Knorr stock pots to add to the volume of stock that I already had in and are a great alternative to making ones own stock - that will come later in my cooking venture. the addition of really thick baguette croutons topped with Gruyere cheese really did finish off this dish very nicely and is a step that I think should not be missed. You can add brandy to the soup at the very end, but as this was for lunch I decided to forgo this but would add it if doing this dish for a dinner party.