Just a quick post to feel my way back into the blogging lark. It's been a while... Blame Scrabble on Facebook. Blame vegetarian adventures. Blame anything except your lazy correspondent.
Saturday was another one of those Notting Hill catering days. Previous successes have included the New Year suckling pig, and the hugely successful porchetta experiment. This time round was to be a smallish affair: nine of us sitting down for a civilised dinner party. And just to add a little spice we decided to try a little Halloween theme to proceedings.
We started off with a bit of a failure. I was hoping to reproduce the effect I'd seen on some marbled tea eggs somewhere to create cobwebby quails eggs as canapés. Clearly I didn't go as far as looking up any recipes, though, and my chosen method of hard boiling them, cracking the shells and soaking them in red food dye and cold water proved fruitless: any colour that had got through the cracks simply came away with the membrane when the eggs were peeled. More research next time...
Next up was a Gordon Ramsay recipe for mini goats cheese and red onion tarte tatins. These worked really well, despite the seemingly piffling quantities of onion and cheese we were spooning into the muffin tin. The puff pastry base filled out very satisfyingly and, served with a generous shot of bloody Mary, these made for a very popular amouse buche.
We followed with roasted pumpkin soup, for which two large pumpkins were dismantled (five smaller ones were also sacrificed in the name of competitive lantern carving: my humble emotikin is pictured above). We served the soup with a fried slice of some delicious cumin-scented morcilla, and, as if the blood and the pumpkin weren't Halloweeny enough, stirred through a big handful of Compté, which produced a very pleasing stringy cobweb effect. This was a very filling soup, though, and some of us - your blogger included - struggled slightly with the rest of the meal.
The main event was dubbed "slithy" toad in the hole. Lifted more or less directly from Hugh F-W's Meat book, this was chock full of pigeon and pheasant breasts stuffed with prunes and wrapped in bacon, as well as some choice wild boar and venison bangers. A veggie equivalent with slices of puffball mushroom and Haloumi went down just as well as the meat feast. Romanesco cauliflower (or is it broccoli) florets with chilli and garlic were supposed to add a bit of gothic punch, but lacked a bit of bite and ultimately disappointed.
As a pre-dessert, "Old blue eyes" was a bit of fun. Just lychees, raspberry jam and blueberries. And a rich and rewarding blackberry and apple pie, made and lovingly decorated with bats by hostess Jaq, completed proceedings.
On Sunday, appropriately enough, I felt like death.