Now, I can with great joy note I have received the remaining photos from my dinner party – Old Fashioned Lolly Shop. My thanks to Ms J.S. for the excellent photos!.
This makes me happy, since we did have quite the rollicking good time and now I have photographic evidence to that effect.
In the interests of getting on with it, let’s take a look at what happened.
So, many months ago I dreamed (literally) of a dinner party. Inspired by Heston – a Sweet Lolly Shop themed dinner. This dinner party was my attempt to capture that into reality. Unfortunately, without the amazing set design my imagination dreamed up!
Pre-dinner drinks: Miniature Brandy Alexanders
Brandy Alexanders are my hands down favourite cocktail. Creamy, a touch chocolaty with a delightful scent.
Simple to prepare..
- Equal parts of brandy, crème de cacao and pouring cream.
- Shake over ice in a cocktails shaker.
- Serve in shot glasses and dust with grated nutmeg.
Cute, chocolaty and tasty!
(no pic, sorry...)
Entrée: Heston’s vanilla butter and
sea bass red fish.
As it turns out, getting sea bass in Australia is pretty much impossible. Impractical at least. So, I dutifully went to the good quality fish place and asked for advice. The nearest thing identified to sea bass was Red fish. Yes, it’s actually called that.
It’s this… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redfish not this.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Fish_Two_Fish_Red_Fish_Blue_Fish
(admission: I don’t cook fish often, and thus know very little about choosing fish. I might have been completely misled, but we work with the information we have.)
This is actually a very simple recipe. Or rather pair of recipes.
Having learned a thing or two about Heston’s quantities, I looked up how much butter I would actually need for the 8 serves I was making. Then scaled accordingly. This was an excellent plan, and one I recommend. Unless you can think of using a lot of frozen vanilla butter in your future. Perhaps your freezer is larger than mine, but I just don’t have the space.
Anyway this is dead easy.
Take vanilla pods. Cut them open and scrape out the seeds. Decide that throwing them out is a big waste and stick them in a zip-lock bag for the next time you make ice cream.
Let the butter soften a bit.
Mix the vanilla seeds through the butter.
Shape the butter into a log shape on your wax paper, roll it up and finesse the log shape a bit.
Put the log in the freezer.
When ready to serve, slice into the number of serves you planned. Ta da!
Sea bass Red fish
This bit is really kind of straight forward. Take a hot pan, cover the bottom with oil. Put the fish in it. (I also cooked some asparagus in butter on the side. This is also a Heston recipe, but really. There's not much more to it than that. Oh, and salt and pepper).
When you fish is cooked, put the asparagus on the plate....
Things I learned.
- I need two pans (and probably a larger stove top) if I am going to cook fish for eight people again.
- I'm glad I wore my apron, as the hot spitting oil from the fish was a bit ... energetic. I think it may have scared the guests a bit.
- The 10g of butter per person was just right, don't bother making more vanilla butter than you need.
Verdict:This was nice. Not.. "amazing, oh-my-god" but tasty and very good bang-for-effort. Makes a good starter. The vanilla was nicely savoury and interesting as your brain tried to figure out if it should be tasting sweet, but wasn't. The red fish was a bit.. average. Not bad, but really I thought it just tasted like white fish. I don't know if sea bass is more flavoursome?? It made a good backdrop to the vanilla butter and was suitably white and soft with nice mouth-feel. Of course, it could be my novice fish-cooking skills (at anything except salmon anyway) that stopped it being amazing.
The asparagus was very nice cooked in butter. I wish I could do it all the time, but wow so unhealthy! But delicious as a special occasion and worked very well with the buttered fish.
Taster opinionsGenerally people liked the dish, with positive comments. Most people enjoyed the vanilla butter after the initial surprise. It made a suitable entrée and start to my Lolly Shop theme!
Next time - Mains - Roast venison with chocolate sauce and beetroot puree, glazed carrots and potato rosti