On Saturday I hosted a small party in honor of the first birthday of TMC. Barrett and Todd were invited, but strangely they did not show up. Perhaps the 2000km trip put them off, I don't know. I do know that the people who did come were disappointed not to meet these mysterious figures and I have promised that if either of them ever does make it to Paris we will be having another, grander party!
The party we did have, though select, was perfectly satisfactory and I hope everyone had a great time. I know I did! Not only was it a great chance to gossip, trade foodie tips and grill our friend Clotilde on the secrets behind the success of Chocolate and Zucchini, but I even got a couple of presents (pictured here). And I'm not sharing them!
Well, okay, I might share the delicious peppery Rowallan Olives oil from trees owned by my friend Sam. I was honored to receive one of the first bottles produced and it will feature in all my favourite dishes. The chocolates from Alisa are mine, all mine, though...
As the party was in honor of a food blog, it's only right that I run through the dishes on hand. For the ones I prepared, I tried to keep to recipes posted on our site in the last year, though there was one I was certain had been mentioned but was inexplicably not found by our search engine.
However, before passing to the recipes I used, let me thank my friend Alisa for making the delicious Polenta sticks with Mexican pesto and Blue Cheese sauce (pictured in the photo above). I wasn't able to get the recipe from her in time for this post, but I'll be publishing it soon. A fantastic flavor combination, these babies went fast!
Brie and onion tartlets. Nigel Slater's brie and onion tart (as modified by me) was in the first set of recipes I posted on TooManyChefs. This is not chance: it's probably my favorite recipe. Ever. For the party, I tried something I've always meant to do. I used cutters to make tartlets, making it easier for party guests to eat them. (Use a large round cutter to create the tartlet, and then gently press a slightly smaller one in the center to trace the crust in the dough.) My advice to anyone who wants to do the same is to make sure you do not let the puff pastry dough get warm at all before cutting it, as it makes it very difficult to cut. Otherwise, it worked a treat.
Herbed Hot Goat's Cheese and Tomato Tartine. This one came from the Is My Blog Burning event hosted by Clotilde. It was the first IMBB? we participated in and I have a soft spot for the recipes.
Barrett's Mexican Black Bean Tarts. The cornmeal crust on these turned out a little crumbly on me, but it is a testament to my inability to follow directions and not the quality of the recipe. This is a truly original dish and was a big hit at the party. Again, I modified the form of the recipe in making little tartlets in tiny mince pie pans to make it easier to serve in a party. Try it!
Quail's eggs with Sesame salt. As mentioned in my Easter post, the recipe came from Epicurious. Fun and surprisingly tasty; I think the yolk-to-white ratio is perfect in these little babies and they are something new for many people. I also served them with the same variety of mushroom salt that RisaG finally received in the mail as a prize for the TooManyChefs Quiz. RisaG if you are reading this, it was very nice with eggs!
Todd's Spanish Tortilla. I became a huge fan of tortilla the first time I visited Spain (with Barrett and another friend, in fact) mainly because I found it next to impossible to remember that a Spanish tortilla is not the same thing as a Mexican tortilla. Luckily it's also really tasty and so eventually I started to order it intentionally. Todd's instructions were very clear and easy to follow and amazingly enough my tortilla tasted just like the ones I remembered from Spain. Thanks Todd!
Chicken fingers with mustard sauce. I could have sworn I mentioned this in one of my posts about grilling on the terrace last summer but couldn't find any evidence of it when I came to write this. In the end, the dish wasn't grilled anyway, so it's a new one but very, very simple. Take six free range skinless chicken breasts and poach them in a pan of boiling water to which you have added a glass of white wine, a little salt and a teaspoon of dried tarragon. After ten minutes or so, check if they are done by cutting a slit in one (no pink center, obviously!) and if so let them cool down. Once they are cool, cut them in lengths about the thickness of a finger and wrap them with a bit of Parma or other similar ham. Up to this point, you can cover them and keep them in the fridge until the party starts. For the sauce, mix two tablespoons (heaping) of crème fraîche with a heaping tablespoon of Dijon grain mustard and a heaping tablespoon of Dijon smooth mustard and a teaspoon of dried tarragon. Put the fingers under the broiler or the grill element in your oven for about seven minutes, or until the ham is crisp but not burnt. (Thank you, Clotilde, for stopping me from burning the last batch!)
Mini smoked eel salads on endive leaves. I tried smoked eel for the first time recently and posted the recipe for a delicious salad with it. In order to make it user-friendly for party guests, I adopted a trick recommended by all American cookbooks from the fifties to the eighties: take a leaf of Belgian endive and place your nibbly bits (in this case, eel, potato, tomato and sauce) on the end of it.
Purple Potato Salad. A mixture of roasted garlic, olive oil, salt and earthy potato goodness. My friend Owen exclaimed, "But I'm Irish and I've never heard of them!?!!"
And now on to the photos of the guests. Click on the images to see them enlarged.