We decided on bruschetta for starters, Peking Duck salad for entree, rack of lamb with a walnut and rosemary pesto served on potato rostis and broadbeans for main and the chocolate, pear and almond souffle for dessert.
Sorry no photographs, it was so much work getting it together and to the table in one hit there was just no time for one of us to stop for photographs.
We served the bruschetta with smoked trout on a coriander pesto and thinly sliced fillet of lamb on tapenade. Both were divine and very simply to prepare. I bought the ciabatta, pesto, tapenade and smoked trout from the Farmers' Markets that morning. We usually take a lamb back strap or lamb fillet and coat it in pepper and olive oil sear on a grill till it is left just pink inside.
I prepared the ciabatta traditionally (although not browned over an open flame) however I did slightly brown the slices of ciabatta under the grill and rub the toast with fresh garlic and brush olive oil over them before placing the toppings on.
The entree was extremely easy to prepare we bought one and a half ducks from China town and made sure they were not chopped up and removed the flesh in nice chunks. The salad consisted of chinese cabbage, shallots, Vietnamese mint, mint, coriander, bean sprouts, red chilli and toasted cashews and sesame seeds and fried Asian onions. We made a dressing with soy sauce, hoi sin sauce and honey. The duck was grilled just prior to serving on the salad.
Oh I forgot we didn't waste the bones of the duck, we put them in my big Le Crueset Dutch oven and covered them with water and simmered them for a couple of hours then strained off the stock. We served the stock as a consume in small espresso cups between entree and main. It was beautiful, the consume had hints of star of anise and a warm follow up contrast to the salad. With the left over stock I have frozen it and hope to make a Laksa in the next week or so.
This was a fantastic entree all the preparation done early and no cooking as such. If it were winter we may have made fresh pasta but I liked that it was so simple to throw together and still had great visual impact and duck, what can I say - who can resist duck, well P's bosses wife that's who dammit. She has the appetite of a flea so I am not surprised she didn't eat entree, half the main (of which she was already given less than the others) and less than a third of the dessert - Cest la vie.
I was so enamored of this salad I have made it a few more times since using thai fish cakes instead of duck.
For main, P finally settled on rack of lamb which he simply prepared for roasting, just some olive oil and salt and ground pepper. He made a rosemary and walnut pesto which he later coated the cooked racks with and they were served on sauteed broadbeans with dill. Loved the broadbeans would definitely do those vegetables again despite having to peel nearly 400 broadbeans in one afternoon. Dill was a lovely enhancement after sauteeing finely diced shallots and garlic then adding the broadbeans. P cooked the rostis as well, dill again, grated potato, egg and parmesan and shaped in egg rings then cooked in a frypan with some olive oil. P also prepared a red wine jus which I thought the dish needed for some additional complexity.
P got a little stressed during the serving of this dish. I think it's not uncommon to get a little stressed around this time, I have witnessed it in many commercial kitchens and when your endeavouring to give your best then that's what happens a little stress escapes in the pursuit of excellence. I told P later what happens during service stays in service.
Main was enjoyed by all, we had to account for one guest having their lamb very well done and everyone else having it rare, P cooked it according to our tastes.
Lately he has been disappointed with the outcome of his dishes, but I think that disappointment comes from the amount of preparation and time he has devoted to the task and his expectations being greater than they should have been. I thoroughly enjoyed the main course. I was let down a little by my dessert, not because of the way it turned out but that I wish I could have chosen another recipe version. P had already told them what they were having for dessert so I didn't feel as though I could change the recipe. I wanted to make a lighter chocolate souffle something without flour if possible.
A fairly successful night our guests said they enjoyed themselves, I know we put the effort in so it must have been okay!
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