Come Dine With Me 3

Our Come Dine With Me series came to a close on Saturday – Phil had prepared Lasagne al Forno in March and then Omar had prepared Braised Lamb Shank in April, so it was the turn of Claire and myself to host a dinner party in May.

The starter was Crab-stuffed Avocado, containing white crabmeet, basil leaves, a hint of red chilli and accompanied by two prawns, and served with Conto Vecchio Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2010 brought by Phil.

The main course was Roast Rolled Scottish Sirloin, purchased from Armstrong’s Of Richmond Butchers, and served with Shallot and Red Wine Sauce with a hint of Rosemary, Roasted Summer Vegetables, and Potato, Parsnip and Cheese Rösti, and accompanied by Louis Jadot Combe aux Jacques 2009 Beaujolais-Villages brought by Omar.

The desert was Banana Cheesecake (using an adapted recipe for New York Cheesecake) served with cream and mint leaves, and accompanied by the desert wine Chevalier du Pastel d’Yvon Mau Sauternes 2007 brought by Omar.

The Cheeseboard contained the cheeses Green’s of Glastonbury Mature Cheddar, Saint Endellion Luxury Cornish Brie, and Gorgonzola Piccante, and was served with a basket of home-baked crusty white rolls.

This was the first time that the whole menu had been served together, although we had carried out several practice runs of constituent parts during the preceding couple of weeks. Claire was responsible for the starter, the meat of the main course and the roast vegetables, and I was responsible for everything else.

The starter worked perfectly and was extremely well presented. We had tried to practise this dish earlier in the week but a cellular data outage as we approached the supermarket meant that we had to guess the ingredients. That practice run went okay, but showed we needed more ingredients and needed to give the dish time to stand, and so we took this on board for the main event.

I had cooked several Röstis earlier in the week in order to find the right balance. Some had been uninspiring, whereas others had been overpowering, so I guessed the level of ingredients based on these lessons. While preparing the main event the Rösti broke apart a bit, meaning not all of it was cooked evenly and hence some it went a very strange grey color, and there was a comment that it was quite strong, but it came out okay.

The sauce was incredibly hard to get right as it had so many constituent parts. During the practice run I set of the smoke alarm while sautéing the Shallots, used too much wine, and then let the sauce go thick. This time I was much more careful, although annoyingly the sauce suddenly went thick just before being served.

The cheesecake was very well prepared. I had made several cheesecakes over the previous couple of weeks and was familiar with the best way to blend the ingredients and how long to leave the dish to stand. We made a sample dish using leftover filling to try the night beforehand just to check that the cheesecake was going to come out well.

The cheeses were selected from Waitrose and were deliberately chosen to offer a varied selection – we like cheddar and have good memories of the Glastonbury area, I love Gorgonzola, and we felt the cheeseboard should contain some sort of rich brie.

The cheeseboard was served with a selection of home-baked rolls that I had freshly prepared earlier in the day. I had spent several days practicing making rolls in order to learn the best way to knead the dough, how long to let the dough stand, how much yeast to use, and how long to bake the bread for.

We started preparing on the day at 7am and had about 30 minutes of rest during the day. The evening finished at 11pm, and the following morning I spent a couple more hours tidying the flat and washing up. Hosting a dinner party is a massive amount of effort, but was an incredibly enjoyable experience.

The following recipes were used or adapted for this menu:

* http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/9093/crabstuffed-avocados
* http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4794/parsnip-and-potato-rosti
* http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/11210/layered-roast-summer-vegetables
* http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2514/shallot-and-red-wine-sauce
* http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2869/new-york-cheesecake