Sunday, 29 December 2013

New Year's Eve Buffet.... Almost traditional, but with added bling

Celebrate the New Year with a relaxed and stylish buffet and treat your guests to a luxurious feast of simple yet sensational food. These no-fuss dishes will impress your guests and still leave you with plenty of time to, ditch the apron, slip into your little black dress, a touch of rouge, the crown jewels if they are handy and you are ready to party.
Whether with a contemporary reinvention of the Classics, a bit of drama in shape, form or colour, keep it simple. Not great heaped servings and an overload of luxury , but a spoonful or two of festive treats, with flavours intense and complimentary.
And don't forget, that the most basic recipe can be topped and dressed up to look fabulous and as long as you use quality ingredients, they will look fantastic too.
Here, Dinner is served on smart white china with crisp pressed napkins and Champagne , not mulled wine , is the drink of choice.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year. x

Menu :
  • Cherry Gazpacho with prawns
  • Tian of Castleberetown Crab & Goat's bridge trout caviar
  • Winter pears, goat's cheese & hazelnut dressing
  • Maple syrup and mustard ham
  • Smoked haddock, leek & gruyere tart
  • Leek & Stilton tart
  • Remoulade of Celeriac & green apples
  • Carrot & broccoli salad with mixed seeds
  • Peach & Raspberry pots
  • Chocolate & chestnut log

Setting up :

Creating a successful event involves some degree of chemistry, a good mix of guests, a suitable choice of food, drinks and the right atmosphere. Unfortunately , one can't buy atmosphere but here are a few tips in getting it right.
  • Check your bank balance, this will be a good guide in planning your menu. But of course, even if normally, your budget is restricted, it doesn't prevent you from going upmarket for this special occasion.
  • Use Cloth for your table coverings. Linen should be white, iron with spray starch to achieve a crisp look.
  • Napkins should never be put into glasses, they should be presented neatly.
  • Bring out your best china. You can always use mirrors as platters or even wooded chopping boards.
  • Buy ice and place in large pot holders , have beer in one, white wine in another and so on. It's another way to make your guests feel comfortable and mingle by helping themselves.
  • Don't have large floral displays in the middle of the table, as it takes away the visual of the food, you have lovingly prepared.
  • Candles lends atmosphere to a party, use plenty of them. White or ivory are ok, coloured and scented are a big NO.
  • Last, prepare as much as possible on the days before as you want to enjoy the party as well... guides attached to each recipe.
All recipes serves 12.

Cherry Gazpacho with prawns                                          

Here is a smooth and elegant variation of this chilled soup. Serve it on it's own or garnish with a fine brunoise of vegetables/ cooked prawns/ crab meat /cray fish / lobster /crisp bacon strips / avocado, green chilli & tarragon along with some bread sticks  or crostinis. And my version also involves  chilled Vodka. Well , it is a party , after all !!!!!!!!!!

Cherry Gazpacho                                                                                            { make day before }                                                                                                     

  • 1 Tin of Campbell's condensed Tomato soup or Passata
  • 1 Cucumber... halved, deseeded but not peeled
  • 1 Red Pepper ... deseeded
  • 2 Tomatoes on the vine
  • 1 pkt of Cooked fan tail Prawns
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp of good extra virgin olive oil
  • 2  tbsp of Sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp of Tabasco
  • good pinch of salt & blk pepper
  • 1 small glass of chilled Vodka
  • ice cubes

Roughly chopped the Cucumber, red pepper , tomatoes & shallots. Pulse in a food processor.
Add the condensed tomato soup/ Passata , garlic, lemon juice,sherry vinegar, tabasco, vodka,and ice cubes. Pulse until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Chill until needed. The longer the gazpacho sits, the more the flavours develops and vodka is great for absorbing other flavours.
Garnish with finely diced red peppers, cucumbers, peeled tomatoes & cooked prawns .

Chef tips :
Leave the Vodka in the freezer, it won't freeze and you will require less ice cubes.

Tian of Castletownbere crab, new season asparagus & trout caviar

{ make the crab mix day before but only dressed the salad before serving }


  •          1 tub of fresh castletownbere crab meat
  •         New season asparagus
  •     2 spring onions, white parts only, finely sliced
  •         Frisé lettuce / mixed leaves
  •         Creme fraiche mayonnaise

For the mayonnaise.

  •          100 grms of creme fraiche
  •          150 grms of good quality mayonnaise
  •          1 tsp of wholegrain mustard
  •          1 tsp of dijon mustard
  •          Grated lime zest  & small dash of juice
  •          Salt & pepper.

Blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water for 2 mins. Remove and refresh in cold water. Cut the tips to 3 “ in height and slice in half. Finely chop the bottom stems.
Dress the frisé with a little olive oil & lemon juice.
Mix some of the mayonnaise with the crab meat & the chopped asparagus stems until it is well coated but still firm.
Place a chef ring in the middle of your plate, layer in a large salad leaf as it will help your guests to lift it onto their plate, followed by some of the crab meat mixture, press down with the back of a fork & top with the dressed  salad leaves.

Remove the mould and surround with the halves asparagus tips and a dollop of the trout caviar.

Winter pear, goat’s cheese & hazelnut dressing
·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          {make on the day }
  •      6 x pears,with stalk attached
  •           Log of goat’s cheese
  •           Hazelnut oil
  •           Toasted hazelnuts, split in half
  •           Watercress or lambs lettuce or rocket salad leaves
  •           Hazelnut dressing

For the dressing :
·        1 tbsp of White wine vinegar
·        1 tbsp of clear honey
·        2 tbsp of hazelnut oil
·        Fresh ground black pepper & salt
Chef tip : salt will not dissolve in oil or honey, so ensure the salt is fully dissolved into the vinegar before adding the other ingredients .
Add the honey first then the oil . Warm up the dressing on a very low heat in a sauce pan very gently , taking care not to over heat or it will split and the flavours will evaporate .
To serve :
Toss up the watercress leaves in your dressing ,add the chopped hazelnuts.
Slice the pears in half, going right through the stalk ,slice again each half in two,  brush with the hazelnut oil and bake in the oven for 10 mins.
Place a slice of gaot’s cheese on top of each half and place under a grill until the cheese starts to bubble.
Place on a serving dish, drizzle with the hazelnut dressing  . Garnish with the  watercress and toasted hazelnuts.  

Maple syrup and mustard ham
·                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            { make day before }
  •     1x 2kg of rolled unsmoked gammon
  •         2 sticks of celery
  •         2 carrots
  •         1 leek
  •         2 bay leaves
  •         2 tbsp of maple syrup
  •         1 tsp of treacle
  •         2 tsp of mustard
  •         20 cloves

Pre heat oven to 190.
Place the ham in a big pot of cold water, bring to the boil . discard the water and start again, and this time add the chopped vegetables. . Bring to the boil and simmer for 11/2 hrs.
Blend the maple syrup, treacle and mustard.
Make cuts in the fat of the ham in a x cross pattern and insert a clove in each. Brush with the glaze and bake in the oven for 20 – 30 mins until mahogany coloured and dry.
Transfer to a serving dish and rest for 20 mins before carving

Smoked haddock, leek & gruyere tart.

To make delicate pastry , always handle the dough lightly and allow it enough time to rest between each handling.
Short crust pastry : SAVOURY
·                    { make day before & chill } or use a good quality all butter ready roll short crust pastry .
  •     200 grms of plain flour
  •         Pinch of salt
  •         100 grms of unsalted butter
  •         2-3 tbsp of ice water

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Using your finger tips , rub in the butter until it resembles bread crumbs. Sprinkle the water over and use a palette knife to bring the mixture together. Turn on to a lightly floured surface and press it together . wrap in cling film and chill for 30 mins.
Baking blind :
This is the process of part baking the pastry in the tin before the filling is added to ensure a crisp texture, The pastry is weighed down with the help of baking beans.
Roll out your dough to line a greased & floured flan tin . Ease the dough into it . Trim the edges and prick the base with a fork all over. Line the flan with a cartouche of greased proof paper and filled with baking beans. Bake at 1900c for 20 – 25 mins. Remove the beans and paper. To seal the pastry case , you can brush the flan case with egg white or mustard  before returning to the oven for a further 5 mins.

For the  Quiche
·         1 x medium leeks , finely sliced
·         450 grms of smoked haddock ( poached in milk, bay leaf & blk peppercorns )
·         3 eggs
·         200 ml of double cream
·         100 ml of the poaching milk
·         1 tbsp of flour
·         225 grms of gruyere cheese , grated
·         Dijon mustard
·         Itbsp of veg oil & 25 grms of butter
Poach the haddock in the milk , bay leaf & blk peppercorns. Drain and reserve some of the milk. Flake the haddock into the pastry case.
Heat the butter & oil in a frying pan, Sauté the  leeks and cook until soft.Stir in the flour.  
Mix the  eggs, cream , thyme and gruyere cheese. Pour over the leek and haddock mixture . Season to taste with salt & pepper.
Spoon the mixture into the pastry case ( do not over fill , reserve some of the mixture for  top up ) and bake in a preheated oven at 1900c for 40 mins, After 15 mins , top up the quiche with the remaining mixture and continue to bake until set and golden brown.

 Leek & stilton Quiche
  •          2  medium leeks , finely sliced
  •          1 onion , sliced
  •          200 grms of smoked bacon
  •          2 cloves of garlic , creamed
  •          2 tbsp of fresh thyme
  •          3 eggs
  •          290 ml of double cream
  •          1 tbsp of flour
  •          75 grms of stilton
  •          Short crust pastry
  •          Dijon mustard
  •          1 tbsp of veg oil & 25 grms of butter

Remoulade of Celeriac & green apples
                                                                                                         {make on the day }
      Peel the celeriac and using a vegetable peeler or mandoline , slice thin slices length wise Stack up a few slices and cut into Julienne ( thin strips ), add the grated  apple. Mix the two with a splash of lemon juice to prevent discolouration .

For the dressing :
  •         2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
  •         4 tbsp of olive oil
  •         1 tsp of digon mustard
  •         1 tsp of whole grain mustard
  •         100 grms of creme fraiche
  •         ½ tsp of sugar, salt & pepper

Whisk the oil & vinegar to an emulsion , then whisk in the mustard & creme fraiche . Season to taste . Fold into the salad .

Carrot & Broccoli with mixed seeds 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           { make on the day }
  •     6 organic carrots
  •         1 head of broccoli
  •         2 tbsp of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  •         A hand full of mixed seeds
  •         3 tbsp of extra virgin oil
  •         1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
  •         1 tsp of whole grain mustard
  •         1 tsp of honey
  •         Salt , black pepper

Peel and grate the carrots .
Cut the broccoli into florets and blanch into boiling water for 2 mins . Refresh immediately in ice cold water to stop the cooking process . Drain and allow to cool . Make the dressing by putting all ingredients in a jam jar and give it a good shake . Toss with the vegetables, parsley & seeds. Serve in a white or glass dish to put forward the fresh colours .

Peach & raspberry pots
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          { make day before }
  •    250 grms of mascarpone cheese
  •         Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  •         75 grms of caster sugar
  •         200 ml of double cream
  •         400 grms of raspberries
  •         6 ripe peaches ( or use a good quality preserved peaches in jars )

Cream the mascarpone with the lemon juice,  zest & caster sugar.
In another bowl , whisk up the cream, until it holds into shape, then fold into the cheese mixture.
Pulse ½ of the raspberries and mix in  the remainder of the raspberries.

Slice the peaches and place at the bottom of each glass.
Spoon over some of the cheese mixture and top with the raspberries mix. Repeat the layer and chill for 1 hr.

Before serving, top with toasted almonds and a sprinkling of edible dust for extra bling.

Chocolate & Chestnut Log      
                                                                                                                     { make the day before }
Ingredients for the sponge base:
  •         200gr Dark Chocolate
  •         5 Eggs
  •         140gr Caster Sugar

Pre-heat oven to 180oc.
1.      Melt chocolate in a bain-marie (a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water) and set aside to cool.
2.      Seperate the eggs and using an electric whisk, beat the egg white to stiff peaks and set aside. Next whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar until thick and pale. Fold in the melted chocolate.
3.       With a spatula, stir in 1/3 of the egg white  quickly to loosen up the mixture and fold in the other 2/3 gently.
4.      Pour the mixture into a line baking tray and bake for 15 min until springy to the touch.
5.      Cover immediately with a damp cloth to prevent the sponge from cracking until cool.

Chestnut butter  icing

  • 250 grms of unsalted butter ( softened )
  • 500 grms of icing sugar  ( double sifted )
  • 2 Large tbsp of good Cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp of warm milk
  • 1 tsp of Cognac
  • 1 tin of unsweetned Chestnut purée

Cream the butter and add the sugar ¼ at a time, until it is smooth and fluffy.
Stir in the warm milk and Cognac. Continue to beat until smooth. Add the Chestnut purée.

Chef tips 
Replace the Cognac with lemon , lime or orange juice and add some very finely grated zest.
Add 1 tsp of instant coffee to the warm milk for an expresso flavour.

To Assemble & decorate
·         Chopped up chestnuts / glacé fruits
·         Edible gold dust
·         Chocolate leaves / Berries / glacé fruits
Slide out the sponge onto a work surface . then spread out the Chestnut butter cream evenly over the sponge , scatter over some chopped up chestnuts .
Starting from the edge closest to you , roll the sponge up and over away from you, while lifting  the paper. Firm up the roulade by enclosing it with the paper and chill for 15 mins .
Place the roulade on to a serving dish and spread over the remaining chestnut butter cream with a palette knife . Run the tines of a fork along the log to create a wood effect and smooths the ends.
Dust with icing sugar / sprikling of edible gold dust / chocolate leaves and  frosted berries for a festive look .


©2012-2013;Robert Jacob;jacob'scrackers;jacobscrackers9; All rights reserved.

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