One Busy Weekend

Dinner parties are a great chance to show off – to use great ingredients and really push yourself as a cook. I love the challenge of getting several dishes to follow one another in a tiny kitchen. With plenty for me and my friends to celebrate last weekend, I set to!

French Rolls
I needed a little something to keep my guests going while I prepped the first courses, this is what I came up with: a simple white roll with a chunk of camembert baked inside. It’s great with cranberry sauce. I shamelessly stole the idea from my flatmates fiancée who did a wonderful version with a whole loaf of bread.

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Caprese Salad
A classical tomato/mozzarella/basil salad with an exciting twist – the mozzarella explodes. This is my first foray into the wonderful world of ‘molecular’ ingredients. I used Sodium Alginate to gel liquid mozzarella into little spheres that burst in your mouth. I’m still getting the hang of the process – but they turned out pretty neat in the end. It’s a great effect, but it needs a much stronger flavour than cheese. I’d love to try it with a dessert – cherry spheres would taste great.

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Carrot Soup
The caramelised carrot soup was one of the most popular dishes in the original Modernist Cuisine – this simplified version is from their new book – Modernist Cuisine at Home – is a little easier. You pressure cook the carrots to caramelise them quickly then blend them with some carrot infused butter. The result is a fresh, intense flavour. I’d really like to try this recipe with different ingredients – it could make a stunning onion soup.

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Venison, Haggis, and Roasted Figs
This is a dish I’ve borrowed from The Crooked Billet – haggis works really well with the venison. I cooked it sous vide to keep it tender without it appearing too pink. Figs add a lovely sweetness which helps cut through the rich meat.

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Champagne Grapes
This quick little dish gave me time to plate the dessert. Simply pop some fruit into a soda siphon/cream dispenser and charge it with CO2, give it a few hours in the fridge and they become carbonated!

Chocolate Fondant
I’ve cooked chocolate fondants before and the trick is in ensuring a nice gooey centre while still having a properly cooked sponge around it. This particular recipe is a Heston Blumenthal – you make a water ganache, freeze it and then pour a chocolate sponge on top ensuring a soft liquid middle when its baked. I served it with a pistachio ice cream, salted caramel and some pink pralines. It went down really well!

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