Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Birthday Dinner Party


As a VERY late birthday present I owed my friend Lisa a home-cooked birthday dinner and that is what I made and invited 2 of our other close friends over for a lovely meal. After a few weeks of thinking of what to make I decided on the following things; Cheese & chive soufflé, piri-piri chicken (by Jamie Oliver) sided with roast pumpkin, mixed leaf, beetroot, nectarine & grapefruit salad, and for dessert vanilla panna cotta with a blueberry jelly and sauce.
Cheese and Chive Souffle (serves 4-6)
  • Melted butter, to grease
  • Dried (packaged) breadcrumbs, to dust
  • 30g butter
  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • 310ml (1 1/4 cups) milk
  • 80g (1 cup) coarsely grated cheddar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 4 eggs, separated

  • 1. Place a baking tray in the oven and preheat oven to 200°C. Lightly grease ramekins (including the rims) with melted butter and dust with breadcrumbs. (Depending on the size of your ramekins depends on how many soufflés the recipe makes)
2. Using a medium saucepan, melt the butter (30g) until foaming (not burning or caramelising). Add the flour, stirring and cook for approximately 2 minutes, or until mixture begins to bubble and comes away from the sides of the saucepan. Remove from heat.
3. Whisking constantly with a balloon whisk, gradually pour in the milk until mixture is smooth and combined.
4. Place the saucepan back on medium heat and bring to boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat. (This step is a bit difficult to determine, so what I did was judging from how the liquid ran along the back of the wooden spoon). Set the mixture aside to cool for a few minutes.
5. Add the cheddar, chives and egg yolks, and stir until cheddar melts and the mixture is well combined. (Add the yolks one at a time and stir straight away to avoid the eggs from curdling.)
6. Use an electric beater, beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until firm peaks form. Fold in one-third of the egg white to the cheese mixture until just combines. Add the remaining egg white mixture until just combined.
7. Pour the souffle mixture into prepared ramekin. (Ensure you do not drop any mixture on the rim of the ramekins as this will result in the soufflé sticking and not popping up like a top hat)
8. Place souffles on pre-heated baking tray and back for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. ( soufflés  are best when they are slightly runny.)
9. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

**NOTE: My souffle got stuck to the sides of the rim because the original recipe said to run something along the rim to get the top hat effect, which resulted in the removal of the breadcrumbs and NOT getting the top hat effect. And it was a bit over cooked.

Piri-Piri Chicken - Serves 4 (Recipe from Jamie Oliver - 30 minute meals)

I doubled the original recipe so it was 2 pieces per person, it depends on what sides you are having and how hungry the people you are feeding are.

Ingredients (original recipe)
4 large chicken thighs, skin on and bones in
1 red capsicum (sliced into strips)
1 yellow or green capsicum (sliced into strips)
6 sprigs of fresh thyme

Piri-piri sauce
1 red onion (roughly chopped)
4 cloves of garlic
1-2 bird's eye chillies
2 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika
Zest of 2 lemons
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcester sauce
large bunch of basil

Piri-piri sauce:
In a blender add all the piri-piri sauce ingredients, and blitz until smooth. Add a bit of water (no more than 1/4 cup) for a smoother sauce. Leave aside.

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. And put a large griddle plan on a high heat.
2. Slash the chicken a few times on each side. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Put on the griddle pan, skin side down. Cook until golden and turn over.
3. Add the sliced capsicum to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and keep moving the capsicums around until softened.
4. Place the chicken in a roasting tray, laying the capsicums on top. Pour the ready made piri-piri sauce on top.

5. Scatter sprigs of thyme on top of the sauce and place in the middle of the oven.
6. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Mixed leaves salad bag
1-2 nectarines
1 pink grapefruit
1 can of beetroot wedges.

1. Cut the nectarine in half, to remove the seed and slice.
2. Peel the grapefruit, (including the inner skin) and cut into wedges.
3. Drain the can of beetroot.
4. Combine all into a salad bowl.

Roasted Pumpkin
Pumpkin - approximately half (I used Kent, but if you prefer other pumpkin then use them.)
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Rosemary (or mixed herbs)

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper.
3. Peel the pumpkin and cut into wedges. (All roughly the same size so they cook evenly)
4. Place the pumpkin on the baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper and rosemary.
5. Bake in the oven (on middle or highest in the oven) for at least 1 hour, or until tender.

**NOTE: The base of some of my pumpkin pieces burnt because I forgot to rotate and move the tray to a different level in the oven.

Panna Cotta (with a blueberry jelly)

There is 2 ways to make this; you can either make it so you turn out the panna cotta on a plate or that you eat the panna cotta out of a ramekin or cup. In this case I made it so I turned it out onto a plate. If you make it the other way, then make the panna cotta first, and then the blueberry jelly.

Panna cotta
  • 3 teaspoons powdered gelatine
  • 1 cup thickened cream
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Blueberry syrup
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 125g blueberries

Blueberry Jelly
1/3 cup of blueberry syrup
1 teaspoon of gelatine

Blueberry Syrup

1. Start by making the blueberry syrup. Place sugar, vanilla bean paste and 2/3 cup of cold water in a saucepan over a medium heat.

2. Lightly stir for 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves (don't boil).

3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 7 minutes or until slightly thickened.

4. Add blueberries, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until berries start to collapse.

5. Remove from heat, and cool for 10 minutes.
6. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Blueberry jelly
1. Lightly grease four 1/2 cup - capacity moulds with non stick spray. (Similar to these moulds)

2. Strain 1/3 cup of blueberry syrup into a jug (or bowl).

3. Sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of gelatine and whisk immediately until gelatine dissolves. 

4. Pour mixture evenly amongst prepared moulds, and cover with plastic wrap.

5. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until set.

Panna cotta

1. Place cream, buttermilk and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, by stirring for 6-8 minutes, or until simmering (don't boil).

2. Stir in vanilla bean paste, and pour mixture into a heat proof bowl.
3. Sprinkle of gelatine, one teaspoon at a time and whisk immediately. (This is to avoid the gelatine from clumping). Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

4. Take prepared moulds out of refrigerator and check is jelly has set.

5. Carefully pour buttermilk mixture, over the back of the metal spoon into each mould. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.
6. Turn out the pannacotta and spoon over blueberry syrup and serve.

**As you can see, my blueberry jelly didn't turn out quite right (there was meant to be a layer of jelly on top, then panna cotta), but still tasted nice!

**NOTE: If the jelly has not completely set through, but the top has, pour a few teaspoons of the buttermilk mixture on top (just to cover the jelly) and place in the freezer for 15-30 minutes (this is to avoid the blueberry jelly from running through the pannacotta). Once that layer of pannacotta has set, you can continue to pour more of the buttermilk mixture and refrigerate.

Turning out the pannacotta
There are a few ways to do this, but the easiest way is shown by a helpful hint provided by taste, titled How to turn out panna cotta. Another way to turn them out is to run a round bladed knife around the pannacotta and hope they turn out onto the place. You can also run a blow torch around the moulds to loosen the panna cotta and gently tap it against the place.

Overall the dinner turned out great, and everything was eaten! The panna cotta was definitely the highlight as it was my first time making it, and it was quite a success (despite the blueberry jelly). I really hope all my friends enjoyed the dinner! And another late birthday shout out to my lovely friend Lisa! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LISA!

Good food, good times!


chocolatesuze 15 February 2012 at 11:16

i looove souffle! your friend is very lucky!

Anonymous 15 February 2012 at 20:46

mm souffle + piri piri chicken sounds delicious. wish my friends would cook for me for my bday!

thanhalang 15 February 2012 at 23:50

Food is the way to peoples hearts! I picked her favourite foods as well hahaha.

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