This year I recieved one of the best and most thoughtful birthday gifts ever from my boys - I have to admit that I might not be the easiest person in the world to buy for! But this year they excelled themselves - they bought me four masterclasses in Bon Appetit Restaurant with the talented Michelin starred chef Oliver Dunne. The first of these was titled "Dinner Party Dazzlers", and it was a fantastic evening - full of doable tips and ideas, Oliver's main aim was to teach us that entertaining at home need not be stressful - just about everything can be prepared in advance, he didn't want us slaving away in the kitchen while our guests were enjoying drinks without us!!!
Probably the best part of the evening were the tips and the foodie gossip - I don't think he could be described as his ex-boss Gordon Ramsey's biggest fan!!!!!
A few of the pointers:
For really excellent balsamic vinegar without the huge price - buy a cheap bottle, reduce it by 3/4 in a large saucepan, and you have deep, sweet, delicious stuff, which makes a perfect dressing combined with olive oil, dijon mustard and salt. The reduced balsamic vinegar is great for presentation, a few dots on a plate really dresses it up.
Always cut chicken to check if it is done - pressing it will never give a difinitive answer and you are far better off having a little nick in the bird than having poisoned guests!!
Always have your pan good and hot before you add butter/oil.
When melting butter, chop it into small cubes - otherwise the outside will have burned before the center is melted.
Speaking of butter - use about four times more than you usually do to have proper restaurant tasting food!
Use icing sugar when making chantilli cream - much better texture.
Oliver seasons with salt at every step - he said that he rarely uses pepper.
|Roasted Quail with Chorizo, Red Onion and Balsamic Dressing
|Warm Goats Cheese and Caramelised Shallot Tart
|Breast of Chicken, Tart Fine of Onions and Creamed Wild Mushrooms
|Smoked Haddock, New Potato, Soft Poached Egg & Mustard Beurre Blanc
|Apple Tart Fine with Chantilly Cream & Butterscotch
|Hot Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Cream
The kitchen prepared samples of most of the dishes Oliver showed us and they tasted just as good as they look!! I'm really looking forward to the next lesson.