Saturday Tea – 06.08

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If you’ve followed the blog for a while then you’ll know that once a month I set out to make a special meal for the family to enjoy. It’s been a few months since I posted about what I served up, but I thought after this weekend’s three course affair I would try and get back into the swing of writing them up.

To kick the meal off was this beetroot and goat’s cheese stack…

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To make the starter I cut both beetroot and feta into small cubes. The beetroot I let sit in a mixture of freshly chopped mint, garlic olive oil, Aceto Balsamico di Modena (that’s balsamic vinegar from Modena to you or I) and some herbs for a while. To the feta I added a blend of herbs for flavour, though I wouldn’t do this next time I make the dish as I think it detracts from the clean white colour of the cheese. I then layered the dish up using a hexagonal presentation ring.

I wasn’t sure whether to serve just the goat’s cheese and beetroot stack on it’s own. In my worry I surrounded the stacks with fresh rocket leaves. I then drizzled the leaves with a blend of garlic olive oil and more of the Aceto Balsamico di Modena. I think this livened the dish up, although I know sometimes I do overdo it a little. I was meant to top each stack with walnuts, for a extra nutty texture, but to be perfectly honest I forgot!

In some ways I wish I hadn’t added the leaves as they detracted from the appearance of the stack, including the bleed of the beetroot on the plate. I do think that they brought a bit of crunch to the dish and a difference in texture as both the beetroot and feta were quite soft. My portion size was spot on, the starter was meant to be light and whilst my main ingredients were rich the small size I used stopped the dish from being too much.

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For the main course I served a warm, light pasta salad with mozzarella. I was worried that the dish was a little bland and that I could have incorporated more taste. I did season the dish, adding both garlic oil and crushed garlic (we’re quite the garlic fans!), but I wasn’t sure it was enough. To that which you see above I added peppers, red onions and cherry tomatoes based on people’s individual preferences. Were I to do this dish again I would oven roast the vegetables for a better flavour and appearance.

The pasta I had bought on a visit to TK Maxx a couple of months back, there wasn’t much in the pack, but thankfully Saturday was quite warm, so I could get away with smaller portions. The pasta cooked quite easily, and I left it simmering away as we ate the starter (I inhaled mine and then hurriedly returned to the kitchen). I liked using it and had been waiting for the summer months to do so, it looked bright on the plate and made the dish look more appealing than had I of just used regular pasta.

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To finish the meal I opted for small ice cream puddings with a hidden surprise. To make these I used Carte d’or ice vanilla cream which I scooped and pressed into individual sponge tins, that I used as makeshift moulds. When the moulds were about two thirds full I added a good teaspoon of Fudge Kitchen Rich Chocolate Liquid Fudge sauce and covered with ice cream to level off the moulds.

The ice cream wasn’t quite as set as I would have liked – they had not had long enough to freeze. When they were turned out the ice cream was still slightly too soft around the edges, meaning they started to melt faster than I would have liked. I would definitely try this dish again and I think next time I would prepare the pudding earlier in the day.

To improve on my presentation I brushed the plates with the chocolate sauce before turning out the moulds. I think this worked quite well and would have looked even better had the ice cream been a little firmer.

I must confess something, before this post is concluded. If you follow this blog or have me on Instagram, then you will know the plates in chez Balme are blue, with a leaf motif on the edge. These plates are not blue, these plates are white. In a bout of narcissism prior to the meal I went and bought a white dining set. It’s terribly indulgent of me to do so, but I think my dishes look better now, as often the blue of our usual plates, beautiful though they are, can spoil appearance of dishes.

I’m very good at criticising myself and my own creations, but all in I think the meal went rather well, and was (hopefully) enjoyed. I relish being able to cook, trying new skills in the kitchen and whilst I admit they don’t always come out the way I envisaged first time round, I find cooking very cathartic regardless. Cooking and baking are both big passions of mine, and I hope that shows in the dishes I create.

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