30 January 2011

PRIVATE DINNER PARTY, Louise and Tony Bush

My latest dinner party was a three course, sit down menu for six people. I gave away the prize of a very special ChefGary Private Dinner Party for a charity event and the lucky raffle winners were Louise and Tony Bush. We planned the menu over the previous week, deciding to experience some food that they wouldn't usually cook themselves and I was very happy with their final choices.

Dinner Menu 

Char grilled asparagus spears,
Wrapped in Parma ham, served with Bearnaise sauce. Watercress salad.

Freshly baked wholegrain bread with pancetta, spring onion and mature cheddar .

Traditional beef Wellington,
Encased in puff pastry with baby spinach leaves and wild mushroom pate. served rare.
Potato and celeriac dauphinoise, honey glazed carrots, saute savoy cabbage & peas with crispy bacon.

Creme brulee,
With fruit compote and crunchy honeycomb topping, vanilla tuille biscuit.

I had a little way to travel to a stunning house not far from Marwell zoo along some quaint little windy roads. I had done most of my food preparation in my own kitchen and just needed to do the final cooking stages at the home of  Louise and Tony Bush. After initially taking a few wrong turnings, I was met by Louise and she made me feel very welcome as she showed me the way through to the kitchen. I unpacked all my cooking utensils, crockery, food, e.t.c and set to work. I had about an hour to get things ready and felt confident of cooking up some great tasting food for the nights guests.

I dished up the asparagus in Parma ham at about 8:45p.m and took out the beef fillet to rest while the starter was being enjoyed. I had some great feed back and so was in good stead to carry on the evening. By the time I dished up the main-course, I had chatted with all the guests and knew I was in good company with a group of friendly and down to Earth people. They were all a bit full after the Wellington and so decided to have a break before dessert. I was invited to join them all for a drink and was very happy to do so. I enjoyed a cold beer while joining in the tables conversation and could have enjoyed more if I didn't have to do dessert! I served up the brulee which again, was well received and I was really happy with the way the evening had gone.

I would like to thank Louise and Tony for being a fantastic host to me and their guests and hope that they will enjoy hosting again sometime.

Asparagus tips, wrapped in Parma ham,
Beef fillet Wellington,
Vanilla creme brulee with honeycomb,

"Hi Gary

Thank you once again for all the wonderful food that you prepared and cooked for us all. The feedback from everyone there on Friday night was that the food was excellent, and they all had a great time. I have been telling everyone what a wonderful experience it was to have a chef come into my home and to cook with only the glasses to wash up!!!!! I only wish I had more of an opportunity to see what you were doing and to pickup some tips!!!! The food looks excellent. It tasted divine. Thank you once again and I know its really cheeky to ask for the recipes but had I been able to get out from the table I would have loved to seen you cook. Best wishes and good luck for the future"
Louise Bush

Recipe for Asparagus spears.

3 Asparagus spears per person.
1/2 slice Parma ham for each asparagus spear.
Salt and pepper to taste.

1) Put a pan of water on to the boil.
2) Trim the asparagus spears to similar lengths of about 3 inches.
3) When the water is boiling, plunge the spears into the water for two minutes.
4) Take the spears out and carefully place them into a bowl of iced water.
5) When they are cool, wrap them with the Parma ham.
6) I then char grilled them for about four minutes, turning once.

ChefGary's tips:
I used large asparagus spears which hold their texture better for this dish. By blanching them in boiling water first, it reduces the grilling time and stops them drying out. At Louise's dinner party, I took the spears out of the char grill pan and flashed them in a hot oven just before serving. This was just to help me with timing when cooking for a few guests at the same time.

I served them with Bernaise sauce and watercress salad.

ChefGary's tips for beef Wellington:
I always use a single piece of fillet for this dish, allowing 5 to 6oz per person. 
Season the fillet with olive oil, salt and pepper, and sear in a hot pan, colouring on all sides.
Make a thin pancake to go between the beef and the pastry to help prevent the pastry from going going soggy.
Cook in an oven at about 200 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes and rest for another 10.
Carefully slice into portions before serving. You can flash them back in the oven if necessary for those guests that would like their beef cooked medium to welldone.

Recipe for honeycomb brulee

750ml double cream,
250ml full fat milk,
120 grams caster sugar,
8 large egg yolks,
2 vanilla pod, (split with seeds removed)

1) Pre-heat your oven to 125 degrees centigrade.
2) Whisk the yolks with the vanilla and sugar for several minutes, until frothy.
3) Add to the cream and milk.
4) Pass the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any unwanted egg shell.
5) Dived into ramekins, (should make about ten)
6) Place the ramekins into a deep roasting tray and fill halfway with hot water.
7) They will take about one and a half hours until set. (They should wobble slightly when shaken)
8) Chill for a few hours before eating.

Recipe for honeycomb:

4 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon water
200g caster sugar
3 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

Preparation method:

1. Grease a 20cm square cake tin or slice tray.
 2.In a large pan, mix the sugar, syrup and water together and boil for about 5 minutes, until dark brown in colour.

3.Remove pot from heat and add the bicarb. Quickly mix it in because the mixture will foam up instantly. Pour immediately into the cake tin. Leave to set then break into bite size chunks.

ChefGary's tips:
I keep my honeycomb in an airtight container in the freezer when made as it keeps well and will not collect moisture from the air and go soft, removing just before serving.

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