Ah, the forgotten daylight savings post. As per usual, I’m behind with entries and therefore things seem like forever ago and as a result, I tend to skip over them altogether. April has been busy so far though. I don’t think I’ve been in a single night since it began..a bad thing for regular posting but a very good thing for blog fodder, considering my camera is full of food shots and new restaurant experiences. I need to get it together, as I truly admire all the bloggers out there who have crazy hectic schedules but still have time to throw up a post or two. I’m going to be that person. Eventually…I hope!
Back to the post. There’s not much to it really, except for the fact that the images here really mark Spring for me. The night I took these photos, time literally changed (sounds dramatic) and evenings became longer, brighter and generally more enjoyable. On this night I also happened to arrange a little dinner for my Dad’s birthday. He’s a huge fan of his birthday. He wants to be suffocated with fuss and attention, and doesn’t care who knows it! None of us mind either of course, because he does a hell of a lot for us and he works incredibly hard.
My Dad is probably the person I have to thank for my foodie ways. We’re pretty similar in our food and wine tastes. And out of our family of five, we’re definitely the most adventurous in that area. To complete his birthday week of celebrations, he chose the menu for dinner and I got to cooking. Everything turned out great, and it’s nice to know that I can cook a meal for six after a Friday night of debauchery with old friends. I wouldn’t recommend it though. Especially if you’re the nauseous hungover type. Anyway, enough of that. I’m trailing off topic again.
I started with the Hummingbird Bakery’s pecan pie. I nearly always start with dessert. Doesn’t everybody? The recipe called for chopped pecans…fun fact on that- chopping wastes time! Pecans are so soft, I just crushed them to a pulp with clenched fists. Worked a treat. You’ll notice in the background there that the pie crust is already done. Next time I’m going to make it look a bit more neat and professional, but sure no one is perfect so pie crusts don’t have to be! Next time I’ll also source a disposable aluminium pie tin, so I can remove the pie and serve it that way. I used golden syrup (I don’t think you can buy dark corn syrup here) and the whole thing was a breeze to make. I would also serve it warmer next time, as the filling tends to take on a jelly like consistency when it’s cold. Recipe is here. I love trying new recipes and learning what works best.
Next I got to work on the main course. It was a pretty simple choice, but a new recipe for me – the humble fish pie. I followed Neven Maguire’s Killybegs recipe. I seasoned handfuls of cod, salmon and smoked coley, added a few bay leaves and poached everything in milk
…before peeling off the skin and flaking the fillets. It’s not all glamourous, you know. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I enjoyed it. The Neven Maguire recipe was interesting and I would make it again – you use the milk from poaching to make a sauce, mixed with crème fraîche and lots of vegetables. The recipe also calls for pesto, as does the mashed potato topping so it was a nice twist on the classic fish pie dish. The pie was served with steamed mangetout, green beans and carrot and parsnip mash.
Dish three was the fastest. Prawn and corn chowder. Chowder is such a comforting winter food and it’s really easy to make. This Jamie Oliver recipe for prawn and corn chowder was a lot lighter than your usual chowder and probably took about ten minutes in total. Very easy effort with maximum effect. I love how bright the colours are…this was before I drowned everything in cream and stock. The recipe was taken from Jamie’s Ministry of Food (which is an excellent book, by the way) and it features here on RosieCasie’s blog.
The last thing I made was a plate full of gougères. I’ve wanted to try making these for a while now, after I saw the recipe on Mimi Thorrison’s blog, Manger. It’s such a beautiful blog, full of gorgeous stories and recipes that Mimi creates and photographs beautifully. She makes everything look so elegant and simple and her ingredients are sourced in the most organic way, where her and her family live in Médoc.
On her blog, Mimi says gougères are typically served at Michelin star restaurants and go wonderfully with champagne. What better event than a birthday, right? A complete arm workout later (a lot of rapid stirring is required) I had perfect gougères on a plate. I don’t know why it took me so long to make them before – I’ve heard choux pastry can be difficult to master but her instructions were excellent so they turned out great and were loved by all.
The key to choux pastry seems to be timing. They’re definitely going to be my dinner party thing now! I wanted to use Gruyère cheese but ended up using Emmental – Gruyère is not that easy to find, let me tell you…but Emmental is a little milder and worked fine for my first time.
I would definitely recommend trying her very straight-forward and invaluable recipe. I guess I would call it a gateway recipe…I feel confident now to try profiteroles, éclairs, beignets…
Even Meems was curious when it came to the gougères. She had never seen one before.
(I really love these paintings)
Wine and conversation flowed and we have a long leisurely satisfying meal, followed by cheese and port (with homemade tomato and chilli chutney..I didn’t make it myself but I’m now inspired!) pecan pie and cream.
It was a memorable evening with family and friends, a (hopefully) memorable birthday, and the best way to lose an hour.
♥ ♥ ♥