This is a birthday weekend. My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow – Monday - so I made her a special dinner last night. I had an idea of what I was going to make but I decided to ask her what she would like anyway. She said” I don’t know – it’s difficult – when you go out to eat you get a menu, you are not asked just to tell the restaurant what you want to eat”
So.. I did a menu ..
Really special Prawn Cocktail
Calamari in Beer Batter
Individual Boeuf en Croute with glazed carrots and fondant potatoes
Steak with Frites
Lamb Kebabs with salad, tsaziki and Pitta
And she chose: Prawn Cocktail, Boeuf en Croute and Crème Brule. (and it was a no to the soup)
I love prawn cocktail but I absolutely hate the sad offerings that are served up under this guise in most restaurants. I particularly hate the wet iceberg lettuce that makes up about two thirds of some of them.
This is my way of doing a prawn cocktail.
First make the marie rose sauce – 3 or 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise, a splodge of tomato ketchup, a few drops of Tabasco , half a teaspoon of brandy, a squirt of lemon juice and half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Next shred some salad leaves, nice mixed ones with a bit of flavour to them, mix in a couple of teaspoons of the sauce to coat the salad and make it stick together and either spoon into a glass or put in the middle of one of those rings that help you stack food up into circular piles. Take the ring away and place some nice big prawns round the salad. Sprinkle a bit of cayenne pepper on top - Done
The cost of Fillet steak makes beef wellingtons something that you can’t have very often. However .. If you use individual fillet steaks it makes it much cheaper and has the added advantage of everyone being able to have their steak done how they like it. I love my steak medium rare and everyone else likes theirs well done. This way I can have mine how I like it. I also use an onion and mushroom reduction rather than pate to cover the fillet. Finely chopped onion and mushroom cooked with a little butter for around 20 – 25 minutes until it has lost all the moisture makes a much nicer middle bit.
I rub the fillets with brandy – sear them in a hot pan in a little butter and oil, let them cool, cover them in the mushroom mixture and wrap in a puff pastry sheet. Brush with beaten egg and bake in a hot oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
I did a veggie version with roasted vegetables, little bit of tomato and basil sauce, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and wrap in pastry.
Crème brule – simple and delicious. Heat 500ml double cream with a vanilla pod (I like to scrape all the seeds out into the cream. Beat 4 egg yolks with a tablespoon of caster sugar pour the cream into the eggs in a steady stream and put in a large bowl over a pan of barely boiling water. Heat – stirring – till the cream coats the back of a wooden spoon. Pour into little ramekins and chill. When they are cold sprinkle with a layer of caster sugar and then heat with either a kitchen blowtorch or under the grill until the sugar has gone the colour of tortoiseshell. Chill again before eating.
Today – my other daughter is making cupcakes for her sister – Birthday cupcakes. There has been a bit of a cupcake disaster ... she has been in the kitchen for between 4 and 5 hours now and I can still hear the clash of cutlery on bowl. The first lot (made using a different recipe to her usual) were a disaster and so she has gone out to the supermarket for more ingredients and has reverted to her trusted method. I can’t even begin to tell you what my kitchen looks like right now. It is amazing how far icing sugar can spread itself. I may need a glass of wine!