NYE 2017

For New Years this year we hosted a big dinner party at home. Because it was New Years I wanted to go all out & make it completely over the top. I decided that in order for a dish to make it onto the menu it had to be bloody hard or very time consuming to make. I think most of my friends thought I was pretty crazy (especially since I had a one year old running round the house) but they were happy to enjoy the results.

There was a LONG list of possible dishes that I looked into trying to re-create at home from some of my favourite restaurants. I spent a few weeks researching them all. The criteria I ended up using to decide which dishes would make it was;
1. I could actually get the ingredients I needed for the dish (the Movida dish almost didn’t make it because I had a tough time finding a good quality dried beef)
2. I could make it without having to purchase any crazy expensive specialist equipment (the Croquembouche very nearly didn’t make it because of this – I ended up buying a giant traffic cone/witches hat from Amazon for $16 instead of the $200+ on a special mold)
3. I could find a recipe from a reliable source that looked like it would provide similar results, so that I wouldn’t have to make 10 trials beforehand, (quite a few dishes got crossed off the list for this reason).

Here’s what I ended up with on the menu;

Entree – Son in Law Eggs (Gingerboy, Melbourne) & Air dried beef with Truffle Foam & Poached Egg (Movida, Melbourne)
Main – Lavender & Honey Duck (Eleven Madison Park, New York)
Dessert – Croquembouche (Adriano Zumbo)

The Son in Law Eggs from Gingerboy ended up being the easiest both to make & to find a recipe for. Gingerboy put the recipe up on their website, you can find it here. I thought that these would be a lot harder to make, but the recipe was really good & provided detailed instructions on timing & temperature for the cooking of the eggs.

The beef with truffle foam & poached eggs was also pretty easy to make. I made the truffle foam in the morning on the day of the party & then poached the eggs just before serving. The truffle foam recipe I used you can find here.

For the Lavender & Honey Duck I found this article explaining the process they follow to make this duck at the restaurant & then tried to match a recipe to it. For the preparation & cooking of the duck itself I ended up using this gourmet traveller recipe for roast duck. To work out the ratios of the spice mix I sprinkled a teaspoon at a time of each of the ingredients onto a tray trying the match the appearance & distribution of each from the pictures in the article. Here’s the ratios I ended up with.

Lavender & Honey Duck Spice Mix
2 parts Lavender
5 parts Cumin Seeds
5 parts Coriander Seeds
2 parts Sichuan Peppercorns

The croquembouche was made using this recipe. But for some reason the Masterchef Australia website has left off the ingredients for the Creme Patisserie & Toffee, luckily though, this blog has the recipe on it. This was the dish that took most of my time & the one I was most worried about. It took me almost an entire day to make and at almost every step along the way I was paranoid it was all going to fail miserably! I’m very happy to report though that it all worked out & I only ended up with two minor toffee burns – success!

Filling all the pastries

Success! I got it out of the mold.

The finished product – complete with spun sugar!

The cooking & prep for this dinner party was seriously hard work, and I enjoyed every single second of it. It was a great way to round out the year, doing something I thoroughly enjoy to bring happiness to my friends. 🙂

Polish Honey Cake

Without a doubt this version of a Polish Honey cake of my favorite cakes to make when the weather starts to cool off. There is something so comforting about the flavour of spiced honey. When paired with a nice cup of tea it makes for the perfect afternoon tea on the weekend.

The recipe for this cake comes from Belinda Jeffery in the Australian Delicious magazine (June 2010). You can find it online here.

I’ve made this cake countless times over the last 7 years & it is consistently good. The texture is soft & moist, the flavour rich & the kitchen is filled with the most beautiful aroma when it’s cooking. The honey is clearly the star of the show yet the cake isn’t sickly sweet. Instead it allows you to really appreciate the different notes of the honey. The flavour changes with different types of honey & I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with different types. My only problem is they’re all so good I can’t pick a favourite!

Hazelnut & Blood Orange Cake

This Gourmet Traveller recipe has been on my ‘to try’ list for a ridiculous amount of time. The problem was always the scarcity of the two main ingredients here in Michigan. Blood oranges are available here around January & hazelnuts are hard to find reliably (at a reasonable price), let alone hazelnut meal*.

However recently my friend told me that Trader Joes stock raw hazelnuts on a pretty regular basis, so this year when I saw blood oranges at the supermarket I decided to give this recipe a whirl.

I’m glad I did, this was really a lovely cake to make. It was super easy to make & tasted fantastic. I followed the instructions exactly. My only note is that I probably poured too much of the syrup into the pan before putting the butter on, it didn’t really affect the cake so much, but because I had a springform pan it leaked a little & left a bit of a gooey mess on the drip tray. I also didn’t have much syrup left over to pour on the cake to serve which is a shame because it was pretty tasty.

The end result was a very moist cake, not too sweet & not too tart – a perfect treat for afternoon tea. I’d happily recommend this recipe & will definitely be making it again next January.

*To make hazelnut meal myself, I just blitz hazelnuts in a food processor. It doesn’t come out as fine or as soft as a commercially bought meal but for most recipes it does the trick.