Monday 16 March 2009

Mid Week Dinner Party

There's a lot of twaddle written about dinner parties. In Table Talk AA Gill derides dinner parties as being the "work of the devil" and you'll struggle to pick up a weekend newspaper without reading about how dinner parties are the new restaurant. Personally, whilst I agree with AA Gill's aversion to eating food cooked by people who don't know their micro-wave from their tumble drier, let alone their sugar from their salt, I am rather partial to the odd dinner party.

As is Cowie. Although with Cowie I think she likes them because it gives her a chance to serve food on dangerously hot plates and draw up a seating plan. The poorer we all get, the less often we'll eat out and the more often we'll find outselves entertaining at home. But then again cooking for 14 is never cheap anyway!

Cowie took control of the beginning and end of the meal, leaving me to cover the interval.

Cowie, inspired by a certain Jamie Oliver, served up a quite brilliant starter. It ticks all the boxes for a dinner party: the wow factor comes with relatively little effort. Simply wrap some asparagus spears in parma ham and grill unitl cooked. Meanwhile, soft boil some eggs. Remove their lids and serve the eggs in their cardboard box and pretend the spears are soldiers. Celery salt in a ramekin was a good idea too. If people don't gasp I'll be shocked. It's such a winner.

Asparagus and egg dippers

Asparagus dippers

Great start from Cowie. Over to me. Sweating and already slightly pissed I took over gleefully.

I'll have to wind you back 3 days to when I made the marinade for the miso cod. Simply follow the Nobu recipe on Epicurious and you can't go too far wrong...

"For Nobu-style Saikyo Miso
* saké
* 3/4 cup (150 ml) mirin
* 2 cups (450 g) white miso paste
* 1 1/4 cups (225 g) granulated sugar

Make Nobu-style Saikyo Miso:

1.Bring the saké and the mirin to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil for 20 seconds to evaporate the alcohol.

2. Turn the heat down to low and add the miso paste, mixing with a wooden spoon. When the miso has dissolved completely, turn the heat up to high again and add the sugar, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon to ensure that the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn. Remove from heat once the sugar is fully dissolved. Cool to room temperature."

Once the mixture is cooled simply pour it over your cod fillets and let them marinate in a non reactive dish for 2 or 3 days before grilling to perfection and garnishing with a stalk of bright red hajikami. Rest the cod on a bed of miso risotto (recipe is here). Some stir fried pak choi and oriental mushrooms is a good accompaniment.

Miso cod

I have to say I've had a few disasters on my road to perfecting the art of miso cod... but I'm getting closer to my goal. This time the cod flaked. The skin crisped up. And lips smacked with joy. And as for the risotto... well the fact that some of the girls had thirds speaks volumes! Victoria even asked for the saucepan and a wooden spoon so she could get every last grain of rice.

Feeling redolent with pride and probably insufferably big headed by now, I handed the batton back over to Cowie who brought us home with her brilliant lime and cardamom mousse that is fast becoming as famous as the guy who wrote the recipe (Gordon Ramsay). In case you are wondering, it was a mouse sized mousse and Jelfy is a dwarf. The spoon is a perfectly normal size!

Jelfy lime mousse

It was a brilliant party. The more we cook and entertain the more we love hosting dinner parties. The Devil's work? I think not.


kerstin said...

that looks fantastic!

Browners said...

Thanks Kerstin. It was great fun. Maybe we should open a restaurant????

eatmynels said...

totally agree that AA is spraffing out of his arse when he so eloquently undermines the 'dinner party'.....

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of the dinner party and always have been, I think it's probably going to become more fashionable now that people are trying to spend less.

I love the way you've presented the eggs, they look great!

Browners said...

eatmynels - I love dinner parties. And actually his article is very funny. Mainly because it is so inflamatory!

Ginger - glad you like the eggs. It's such a fun idea. But we stole it from good old Jamie.

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

I love a good dinner party, there's nothing better than eating with friends....only thing is, it can sometimes get just a bit too stressful when your juggling various timings, and then you have to keep dissapearing to the kitchen ....probably doesn't help that I'm normally half soused whilst preparing the starter, by the time I'm onto the main I normally can't see straight.

Anyway....Your Lime and Cardamon Mousse - May I ask which Gordon Ramsay recipe book it can be found in? and if it isn't in a book, would you mind posting the recipe?

Browners said...

Hi Dan,

I think it's in "food for friends". I'll check and post the recipe.

I know what you mean about boozing whilst cooking. It can all get a bit out of control!



The Ample Cook said...

That starter looks really appetising - what a simple and delicious way to start a meal.

Agree HUGELY re AA Gill comments. Is there anything better than being with friends and eating and drinking?

Browners said...

Hello there Ample Cook,

I agree too. Food and drink is such a great way of bonding and sharing. Looking forward to our first BBQ party of the year.

Dan said...

Hi Browners,

Any idea where that Mousse recipe came from?
I bought Ramsays food for friends, and it's not in there :)
I've got a dinner party coming up and I fancy having a crack at that.


Browners said...

Sorry about that Dan! I'll get Cowie to find it and send it to you. Our email addresses are on the blog. Could you drop us a line with your details so we can send it!



Browners said...

@Dan - I am so sorry. I got the wrong book! The recipe is in Ramsay's Healthy Appetite book...


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