Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Fancy Schmancy Dinner Party (Round Up)

      So it may seem like the blog is dead but I haven't thrown in the towel just yet. I refuse to let my blog die, but I'm not all too fussed about readership anymore either, I want to keep this blog just as a little personal journal, which is what it always has been but I guess the added bonus was that I actually had people following my ramblings. But if there is anyone out there still reading my little old blog, thank you.

      I wanted to do a yearly round up of our Fancy Schmancy Dinner Party series since we kicked off two years ago but well, the beginning of last year came and went in a blur and this year has already felt like it's disappearing fast too. We also had a bit of a hiatus on the dinners last year after our first one due to a major accident that happened to someone in our circle but we did end the year with a bang with one awesome home cooked degustation dinner, which you'll read about at the end of the round up. Looking back at those couple of old posts and the photos of all the dishes, I'm really proud of all of us who put our heart and soul into every dinner party. Just seeing how far we've come with what we're capable of cooking and even our presentation of those dishes, the photos really are worth a thousand words if you're not into reading. I'll try not to waffle on too much.

Fancy Schmancy Dinner No. 5 - Menu (March 2013)

Entree - Chicken Sausage Rolls with Homemade Tomato Chutney
(using home grown tomatoes) by Celine.

Behind the scenes action in the kitchen, excuse the blurry photos.

Main - Salmon with Lemon Butter served with a warm pumpkin and feta salad
and potato chips by Joy.

Dessert line up.

Mango Cake served with Homemade Coconut Sorbet by Tita(Auntie) Jeanne.

      This dinner also coincided with Ryan's birthday so he was surpised with a birthday cake and Jessica made some strawberry rekorderlig macarons to go with it. We all rolled home afterwards.

      Fast forward about three months to June 2013 and it was Fancy Schmancy Dinner Party No. 6
We weren't sure that this dinner was going ahead as we kept getting people pulling out. Our large group of about 12 people dwindled down to about 6 and then we added on another diner so we ended up with an intimate group of 7 people for dinner. Made it a lot easier for the cooks though.

Menu for the night.

Entree - Pressed Double Roasted Pork Belly with Cauliflower Puree
and Minted Peas by Ryan.

      Ryan was on entree this round and wanted to try out a Gordon Ramsey recipe for the pork belly (or was it Heston). I tried helping him but ruined his minted peas as I cooked them in some stock which diluted their taste. There's Jessica deep in concentration plating up.

Main - Barbecued Veal Cutlet with Potato Rosti and Parsley Walnut Pesto.

Main also came with a side salad of purple cabbage, pear and cranberries.

      I think I was originally allocated dessert but then we moved the date and dinner fell around the time of my birthday so I was suppose to get the night off and Ryan offered to take on dessert too. Me being me I couldn't help taking over in some parts 'helping'.

Dessert - Chai Souffle served with Vanilla Ice Cream and Honey.

      I also received a surprise birthday cake from the girls. I decided that since it was a special occasion I had to pull something out of the collection of wine Ryan and I had accumulated.

Our other family.

Fancy Schmancy Dinner Party No. 7 - October 2013.


      Good food should be accompanied by good wine. I wanted to crack open a bottle of sparkling wine Ryan and I picked up on a trip to Tasmania and Tito Rommel added a bottle of sparkling shiraz.


Entree - 'Chicken and Corn Soup' - Chicken Boudin with Sweet Corn Dumplings
in Chicken Broth. By me!

      Some rare photos to show me on the other side of the camera when I'm cooking. I was on entree this round and really wanted to push my creativity and take a regular concept of a dish and change up the elements, almost like deconstructing it and re-presenting it in a different way. I also wanted to try at least one new technique - I made a boudin for the first time which is a French white sausage. I also wanted to make pasta from scratch but wasn't too confident so ended up using wonton skins to give it that Asian chicken and corn soup element. I ended up steaming the dumplings as I didn't like the texture of boiling them.

      The chef and her pork. We were actually lucky to pick our choice of protein for our main. One person among us doesn't eat seafood but as the assigned chef wanted to cook with Salmon she also cooked up some pork belly. Happy to have been able to try both.

      Crumbed crispy fennel rings and... Crispy chicken skin crumble!! OMG this was mind boggling amazing stuff.

Main 1 - Crispy Skin Pork Belly served with Pumpkin Puree,
Crispy Fennel, Vincotta & Orange Jus by Tita Jeanne

Main 2 - Kitchen Sink Salmon with Roast Vegetables and
Chicken Skin & Pastry Crumble.

Dessert - Raspberry Mango & Macadamia Vacherine by Celine.

      Some extreme slicing action going on. It's funny how the very first dessert I made for our very first Fancy Schmancy Dinner has made a come back later down the track. This was a delicious frozen version though with ice cream in the middle.

Fancy Schmancy Dinner No 8. January 2014.


      As our group numbers had dwindled, we inducted a new member to our circle, the wonderful Miss Chai.

My man/chef hard at work.

Entree - Salad of roquette, nashi pear, prosciutto, roasted hazelnuts
with foie gras crumble and a lemon olive oil dressing. By Ryan.

All hands on deck to help out our new member.

Main - Bacon wrapped Chicken Breast stuffed with Spinach and Fetta served with a roasted vegetable & haloumi stack and mushroom sauce. By Chai.

The lovely Miss Jessica serving up her pre dessert.

Pre dessert - Rekorderlig Strawberry & Lime Slushy Shot.

Plating up dessert.

Dessert - Strawberry, Lime and Mint Ice Cream Cake with Meringue. By Jessica.

      As it was Tito Rommels birthday, there is of course a birthday cake after dessert to celebrate. We seem to have set a bit of a trend here pairing up these fancy dinners with birthdays, what better way to celebrate though. We were also very privileged to taste a very special (and expensive) bottle of Shiraz the girls has bought for their dad. Not long after we had this dinner there one among our group was involved in a major accident so we had to postpone our dinners indefinitely. After many months of recovery and rehab our dear friend and family member was back on their feet so we thought we should celebrate with a bang. The girls had also been keen on a tag team degustation style dinner so we picked a date and allocated chefs to courses and that was our last dinner for 2014.

Fancy Schmancy Dinner Party No 9. The Degustation Edition (November 2014)

      Fancy Schmancy table settings and menus to match. We even had matching wines for the night selected by our in house sommelier Tito Rommel.

First Course (Celine): Coconut Crumbed Prawns served with Mango and Chilli-Lime Mayonnaise.
These were so moorish... everyone wanted more!

      I tried taking a group photo at the table but didn't realise that the camera was not only crooked but wasn't focusing on everyone at the back. Also with the timer on my camera, the settings were crappy and the only way I could set a longer timer was to do continuous shooting... At least everyone had fun with it :)

Second Course (Chai): Oriental Tasting Plate - Fried Peking Duck Wonton, Hainanese Chicken served with a Green Mango Salad and Crispy Chicken Skin.

Third Course (Tita Jeanne): Bloody Bird - Blood Plum glazed Spatchcock with Kumara Crumble and Cranberry Sauce.

Fourth Course (Me): Steak Frites - Porcini Crusted Beef Fillet, Lettuce Foam, Fondant Potato and Deep Fried Enoki Mushroom with Bernaise Sauce.

Fifth Course (Ryan): Splice Donuts - Mini Donuts with Pine Lime Curd and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
      I was pretty happy that Ryan made a bucket load of the pine lime curd, it was mega awesome and lasted us for a while.

Sixth Course (Jessica): Summer Verrine - Coconut and Lime Pannacotta, Mango, Coconut Meringue Crumble, and Lime Curd Ice Cream served with a Poppin' Lime Macaron.

      The chefs, all very tired looking by the end of the night after we finished cleaning up. It was a fantastic evening sharing our passion for food and cooking (and eating). And we were all pretty amazed by each other's efforts, from the table settings and menus, to all the food and how we managed to pull off an awesome degustation at home. Not bad for a bunch of home cooks huh? Well done team!

Our food mug shots... Photos from Tita Jeanne.

      All Fancy Schmancy and DESSERTed Dinner Parties will be on hold this year as Ryan and I are GETTING MARRIED in August. All our time and energy is being spent planning the wedding and also fixing up our future home on top of our full time jobs while trying not to be too anti social either. Keep following me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc for our food adventures. I can't wait to be hosting friends and family in our 'new' home.