Our friends Gary and Jane celebrated their birthdays (both in November) with a big party last Saturday. Gary is a chef, so he was aware that guests would expect something fancier than BBQ and chips. He recruited Angela, Deirdre and me to help him with the food. A long time ago we were planning to have taste tests weeks before the event, but in the end there was no time. He just gathered a few recipes and ideas and after a few tweaks the menu was set:
- Caprese salad (tomato, basil, marinated bocconcini)
- Mushroom bruschetta (Swiss browns, shiitake and porcini sautéed with onion, garlic, rosemary and Parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, dollop of mascarpone cheese)
- Chorizo/haloumi/spiced pear (chorizo fried with chili, pan-fried haloumi cheese, pear stewed with sugar and spices)
- Smoked salmon roulade (crepe filled with mascarpone cheese, garlic, lemon zest, dill, capers and smoked salmon, rolled and sliced)
- Asparagus frittata (crispy prosciutto on top)
- Japanese seared salmon (covered with nuta -miso, Japanese mayonnaise, dashi and sugar sauce- and toasted sesame seeds)
- Beef pesto salad (seared aged beef, sliced thin and mixed with baby rocket, carrots, capsicum, roasted beetroot and pesto)
- Spicy chickpea bruschetta (chickpeas marinated in olive oil, black olive paste, balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary and chili flakes)
Gary and I met at the Buddhist centre (were he and Jane live) around noon and started with the food prep. Angela and Deirdre got there after two and between the four of us had everything ready before five o’clock. Only a few things were left for finishing just before plating.
I went home and came back at seven. Gary had roasted some nuts flavoured with spices and put them on the bench for guests to snack on. The bowl in the photo was almost filled to the top a few minutes before I took the shot.
There was a wide range of chilled beer and wine available, plus wonderful mojitos prepared by Andrey (aka Mojito Man).
At 8:15 the house was half full so I turned on the oven to warm up the chorizo appetizers. I also warmed up the mushrooms and added the Parmesan. We started plating the first lot around 8:30.
Caprese, mushroom/Parmesan/rosemary/pine nut bruschetta, chorizo/haloumi/spiced pear, smoked salmon roulade.
The food disappeared faster than I thought and we soon started plating the second round. The only last minute prep that this plate required was searing the salmon, which I did while the girls plated the rest.
Asparagus frittata with crispy prosciutto, seared salmon with nuta (miso sauce) and sesame seeds, beef pesto salad, spicy chickpea bruschetta.
More people kept coming and we had to put together some plates with leftover bits from both lots. Luckily, the host had bought enough food for feeding a small town, so we just left everything on the bench for people to help themselves.
Wholemeal and seeds sourdough, white sourdough.
Seared eye fillet, grain mustard and Dijon mustard.
Brie, marinated olives, Stilton, smoked salmon.
There was another blue cheese chunk (same size as the one in the photo) and the other 3/4 of the Brie round in the fridge, plus another loaf of white sourdough and heaps of olives. I wonder if there’s anything left.
But it was not all about the food. There was live music too! Our friend Patricia played with her reggae band, and although it’s not my type of music, I could tell people were having lots of fun.
Because it was an important landmark in our friends’ lives (round number birthdays), the cake had to be impressive. Jane’s mum took care of it and brought a massive profiterole tower cake from Paris Patisserie in Bondi.