Sunday, 11 November 2012

Dressed to Impress....

the table that is - not me!  Last night we played hosts to some friends for dinner and I'd decided to push the boat out somewhat and step up from last time's curry banquet!

After much deliberation I'd narrowed down the menu to - something cheesy to start with, followed by lamb (my absolute favourite meat - and not the easiest to get hold of here in Germany - you can really only get frozen New Zealand imports unless it's Easter) and then I thought something chocolaty for pudding.

So far so good - but the loose airy ideas needed focusing into dinner.  Well, being Autumn, we needed something warming and hearty - and that didn't require too much last minute attention - after all who wants to leave their guests to don a pinny and faff in the kitchen - not me, that's for sure!  I therefore plumped for braised lamb shanks - something I could get going and then forget about.  After much perusal of recipe books and the interweb, I came across this Lorraine Pascale recipe on the BBC Good Food website and felt it was just what I was looking for, strong robust flavours which had mellowed over the 5hours I cooked it for.

Main course sorted I then went to work on the starter.  I'd fancied something cheesy and was erring on the goats cheese/red onion combo which I know works well, but then thought I'd try something slightly different and I decided to add beetroot to the mix - so I was after a beetroot chutney/relish type recipe.  Despite copious amounts of googling, I couldn't find a recipe I was happy with - so had a go at throwing something of my own together and came up with my own beetroot relish recipe.

 500g Beetroot
1 bulb Garlic
1 Red Onion
Red Wine Vinegar

I roasted the beetroot and garlic till soft (wrapped each piece in foil) then fried the chopped red onion in olive oil and added the soft roasted garlic and some thyme and fried a bit more.  The I added the roasted beetroot which I'd diced.  Briefly mixed together, I then added about 3 tablespoons of sugar and about 150-200ml of red wine vinegar (just guessing here as I didn't measure it).  I left this to boil on the hob until it had acquired a deep purple colour and a jam-like consistency - and voila!

I made some shortcrust pasty tartlet shells and put the relish in the cooked tarts and topped each one with a generous slice of a Camembert style cows cheese and grilled it before serving with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

We paired the Cheese Tartlets and the Lamb Shanks with the Nembus wine - which was wine of the month in October - and it definitely hit the right notes with both dishes - suitably robust to cut through the Camembert and the richness of the lamb, but not so much to overpower either dish.

And so to pudding....... well chocolate was definitely order of the day - and I pulled out all the stops and attempted this Moelleux au Chocolat  which was actually a remarkably easy pud to make - it didn't need quite so much cooking as suggested on the recipe but was still moist and very, very moreish!  The pudding is a butter-free recipe ( so almost diet food!!)  The melted chocolate and cream ganache was mixed with egg yolks, ground almonds and a tablespoon of flour,  then a meringue mixture was folded in, the resulting batter baked for 30 minutes to give a moist, sunken cake - which I think could probably be slightly improved upon with a generous slug of Cointreau or Armagnac or the like - will have to remember that next time I try!  Served with cream it was actually a lot lighter than I thought it might be and so finished the meal off perfectly.

Mmmmmm Lecker!


  1. Was so honored to be a guest at this perfectly orchestrated event. The beetroot relish and Camembert pastry was incredible (I will definitely be stealing the recipe!). The lamb just fell off the bone and melted in my mouth- heavenly. And the chocolate torte was divine! Thank you for a wonderful evening!!

    1. Thanks Karen - we had a wonderful evening too and lots of fun planning the meal.

  2. What a fantastic menu! I bet you had a great evening

    1. We did thank you - I haven't entertained like that for a while and I've been bitten by the bug again and can't wait for the next event!

  3. It was a fantastic banquet Emma, thanks, altho Si is still grumbling about the lack of curry! A great evening.

  4. Curry next time then! Who needs an excuse eh?