With only a few days of holiday left before the usual work routine started up, I was determined to make the most of it. A fleeting visit from America by some lovely people was the perfect excuse to throw a dinner party and give myself a nice culinary challenge.
I wanted something that was British, seasonal and with a cheeky nod towards Christmas. Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food is definitely my cookbook of 2013 and it really came up trumps this time.
Crayfish and Watercress Salad
This was a great starter to prepare – once you’ve go the poatoes in the oven there’s nothing else to do until a few minutes before serving. The crayfish and smoked trout work really well together, the fresh apple providing texture and acidity. I served it with a really nice dry white from Camel Valley – all the better for being from England!
Venison, Peppered Sprouts, Squash Puree and Chocolate-Red Wine Sauce
This is a lovely warming winter dish – the sprouts are sweet and hot, the squash buttery and smooth. The chocolate sauce is very subtle and full of blackberry and redcurrant flavours. Cooking six venison steaks at the same time was a bit of a challenge, but I think I managed to judge it okay.
Orange Cake, Plum Sauce and Christmas Pudding Ice Cream
The orange cake is a fat-less cake which makes it a little tricky to judge when baking. The end result is a lovely moist cake without the richness of a traditional sponge. The plum sauce is a lovely colour and sets of the orange nicely. The real star is the christmas pudding ice cream – rich, creamy and with a lovely spice.
No dinner party would be complete without a cheeseboard and this was no exception. We had a lovely selection from Neal’s Yard as well as a few interlopers including a stunning french washed rind.