I consider myself very lucky to have Ankle Biters with quite adult palates. Well there is both luck and good management involved in that. However, I have lately been overcome by a burning desire to throw a good old fashioned grown up dinner party. The Bread Winner is about to vanish to far away ports for a month and I decided that it had to be done before he deserted me went. Besides, I’ve had my thermomix for twelve months now and that’s how long I’ve really been wanting to have a bit of a do for. Its the perfect machine for rolling out a big menu with minimal effort and maximum time enjoying our guests.

So. The Menu.

chorizo in potatoes
prawns in bloody mary
Amuse Bouche
garlic soup
fried cheese stick salad with warm caper and olive dressing
mini baguettes
lemon vodka sorbet
lemon and mascarpone stuffed pan fried spatchcock on bed of wilted spinach
White chocolate panna cotta
coffee/tea/cheese platter
King Island Black Label Blue; Gippsland Blue, Victoria, Jindi Vintage Cheddar, Victoria; Udder Delights Goat’s Brie, Adelaide Hills; Mauri Taleggio, Lombardy, Italy; Arla Havarti, Denmark; Tamar Valley Apple Paste, Tasmania; Tamar Valley Blackcurrant Paste, Tasmania; Victorian walnuts

The wines – Seppelt Fleur de Lys Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV, The Yarra Hill Shiraz 1999, Brown Brothers Orange Muscat and Flora 2006

The trick with a menu this big is, of course, getting it all made. And still dealing with the Ankle Biters, getting the house clean and so on and so forth. I’m a born organiser so I like the planning stage. Deciding on the guest list. The menu. Writing the shopping list. Allocating days to various parts of the shopping. Dividing up the steps in each recipe and allocating a time in which to do them. Now that’s my idea of fun!

With the exception of last minute fresh greens and the like, the shopping was complete by Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, I placed 2 cups of vodka in two glass jars. To one I added a small handful of peppercorns. To the other, the zest of half a lemon.


Wednesday I made the mascarpone (super quick and easy in the thermomix). I also removed my sewing and knitting detritus from the dining room. Not to mention the piles of crap very useful items waiting to be listed on ebay.

Thursday. Things are hotting up. Clean the silver and stemware. Polish cutlery and flat ware. Start setting the table. Place ice trays in freezer to prepare ice. Make berry coulis. Print menu. Prepare garlic soup. Pick up organic chocolate.

menu in placeholder

rapunzel organic white chocolate

By Friday, I’m in a frenzy. The house gets cleaned from top to toe, with of course, the depressing knowledge that much of it will need re-cleaning by tomorrow afternoon. The starter for the baguettes is prepared and refrigerated after after for hours proving. The panna cotta is made. Somewhere in there I managed to get the Ankle Biters to swimming and do the last minute shopping. All is going swimmingly.

Saturday arrives. Fist task is to take the bread starter out of the fridge. It will need three hours to bring it to room temperature so I can continue to work it. The greater part of Saturday was spent in the kitchen. The goal being to prepare each course to the point that come evening, I can spend my time with my friends. Not in the kitchen.

What I love the most, other than the food and feeding of course, are the little touches. Attention to detail. The bud vase of flowers in the loo (and the dining room).

Fresh candles. Some floating. In blue water. I’m considering adding a drop of red to that to soften it a little. Must check with the Bread Winner, he’s good with colour. OK, I asked, he hadn’t noticed the water. Its not very nice to call your wife anal is it? I added the red anyway.

Nicely cut pats of butter for the bread.

Can you tell I’m in my element here?

Our guests were due to arrive at 7.00, by which time all was ready and I was just finishing the last minute cooking of the canapes. Perfect. We started the evening with bubbles and the canapes. The bloody Mary prawns exceeded my expectations and the potato and chorizo were everything I’d hoped for. Both platters vanished in a trice.

(excuse the worse than usual photos to come, the lighting is awful at Chez KP at the best of times, evening is just impossible)

A quick trip to the kitchen to warm the soup and we moved to the dining room where the mini baguettes were waiting. The soup was truly amazing. Truly. I will be making this again and probably within the next week. The baguettes were good but great. I wasn’t overwhelmingly thrilled with the last rise. Something I need to work on. And I will.

The salad was a well balanced blend of flavours but messy as all buggery to put together. The last minute frying of the cheese was my longest imprisonment in the kitchen. I’m not sure I’d bother with this one again. Not that it didn’t taste great, I just think that similar can be achieved with far easier clean up! You’ll have to take my word for it because the oil splattered all over the stove top drive photography from my mind. It didn’t reenter my mind until long after the sorbet was consumed. Ah, the sorbet. The flavour hit the perfect balance between the sugar, vodka and lemon. The texture could have been fluffier (for want of a better word). I need to fiddle with the quantities there.

The spatchcock were moist and succulent. The creaminess of the marscarpone, the lemon and the spinach perfectly complementing the tender morsels of meat. Definitely a dish to make again. It was at roughly this point of the evening that the star performer appeared. The Yarra Hill ’99 Shiraz. Words fail me. I could weep, it was the last bottle and it’s hit perfection. Why oh why don’t I have more stashed away? Why? I don’t recall ever tasting a more perfect shiraz. Seriously.

The white chocolate panna cotta with berry coulis was next. Accompanied by the muscat (served chilled). The flavour was divine but texturally there was room for improvement. It really needed a good stir right when I had Son and Heir at his swimming lesson on Friday. C’est la vie. Here are the happy diners, minus the Bread Winner with their panna cotta before them.

After all that, there was room left for cheese. Be still my beating heart. If stinky is your thing, check out that little round number bottom right. Udder Delight’s goat brie. Get yourself some.

And after all the splendour, the fun, the companionship, the good times, the happy bellies. After all the good …

come the dishes.

Recipes to follow in a separate post