We and 2 other couples have been hosting each other for dinner for 15 or so years. We are all into our food and wine so these are the nights when the good bottles of wine come out and quite a bit of thought and effort goes into putting a menu together. These dinners are not quite culinary wars but we do strive to impress.
Last night I cooked from Heston Blumenthal at home. This as it turns out is a pretty good book. I would say of the five courses I cooked, time management and prep are the things you need to look out for rather than the cooking being super tricked up (though I did use sous vide for one course and dry ice to make ice cream in another).
First up I served Red cabbage gazpacho. Can’t say I’ve juiced a cabbage before, but I have now. This dish is successful because of the combination of the acidity of the red cabbage juice/mayonnaise mixture balancing with the sweetness of a scoop of mustard ice cream. A fresh start to a meal. The gazpacho is poured around the ice cream at the table.
Red Cabbage Gazpacho – wine match 2011 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling
Then it was on to snail porridge. Sounds bad, tastes great. This dish is all about savoury flavours and texture. The oats are swelled with stock then flavoured with parsley butter. Parma ham, sautéed snails and fennel on top. I love it.
Snail Porridge – wine match 2010 Cape Mentelle Chardonnay
For main we had salmon with bois boudran sauce. The bois boudran sauce is essentially a spiced up tomato and onion sauce containing sherry vinegar, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, dijon mustard, olive oil, tarragon and parsley. On top of the plated sauce were crushed potatoes followed by the salmon which was cooked sous vide for 15mins at 50C before having the skin quickly browned up in the frying pan. The salmon was vacuum packed with olive oil prior to being cooked. The texture of the fish was terrific.
Salmon with Bois Boudran sauce – wine match 1996 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey Chambertin Combe Aux Moines 1er Cru
We had a Heston interlude at this stage to enjoy a 1994 Henschke Mt Edelstone Shiraz (which was drinking beautifully) with some hard goats cheese from the Vic Market’s French Deli.
I think the next dish, Pain perdu with bacon and egg ice cream, was probably the hit of the night. And also the best fun to make. The ice cream was a three day process. Firstly milk is infused with cooked bacon overnight. Then a very eggy custard with 24 egg yolks is made (yes, lots of meringues and friands to make today). Finally the mixture is turned in to ice cream by the addition of crushed dry ice. With all the vapour flowing out of the mixer, it looks like a mad science experiment, but the result is very smooth, yummy ice cream. The pain perdu is caramelized french toast I guess, but again the process takes a day. Served with a slice of caramelized bacon.
Pain perdu with bacon and egg ice cream – wine match 2002 Three Bridges Botrytis Semillon
Finally, as if we hadn’t eaten enough, liquid centred chocolate puddings. The liquid centre is achieved by placing a block of frozen chocolate ganache inside the cake mixture before cooking. Works a treat. Did I need to eat the whole pudding? No. Did I? Absolutely!
Liquid centre chocolate pudding – wine match Jones Olorosso