Mini tarts two way:
Garlic Mushrooms and Parmesan;
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes w/ Balsamic Onions
Beans Salad w/ prosciutto and Roasted pine nuts
Spaghetti w/ Garlic Prawns
Assorted Biscuits from Marks & Spencer (courtesy of Ali)
Earl Grey Tea truffles
Camembert Cheese w/ crackers & muscatels
Pims & Lemonade Cocktail (courtesy of Ali)
After chomping down the club sandwich at Cafe Fiori, Ali and I strolled down Chapel Street and did a bit of shopping before we headed to Richmond to stop by Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder for some cheese and muscatels and then braving peak hour traffic back to the 'burbs to do some shopping for the dinner party that we were hosting that night at my place.
Ever since she moved to Sydney to pursue a career at Qantas, we have always had catch up brunches, lunches or dinner whenever she comes back to Melbourne for a quick holiday. So even though she changed status from Sydneysider to a 'Londoner' this year, it was only natural that the little catch up party routine remained unchanged. We had a farewell dinner in the city before she and Ange left for London, so I suggested that we should have a dinner at my place for a change as that would be a more intimate and private affair plus it would give her a better chance to 'flirt' amongst the crowd . :P
She was quite happy with the idea and (Ali being Ali) even wrote down a list of food she wanted me to make: Fried chicken, Baked Potatoes Ala TGI Fridays and I added the Lychee Jelly because I knew it was also one of her favourites. (Baked Potatoes never made it to the table because we forgot about it)
So the call went out and in less than a week we had a firm 10 to attend, 1 for tbc and 1 gate crasher who didn't RSVP (;p).
As I was cooking for about 11 people, I decided to go with only well tested recipes to avoid any unwanted disasters from happening. The appetisers were the same ones that I had made for HHDD#5, the recipe for the Tori Karaage was one that I have made a number of times from Jane Lawson's Yoshoku, my favourite Beans salad was adapted from Marie Claire's Kitchen and the Spaghetti with Garlic Prawns was straight out of Bill Granger's Bills Food (plus the pasta of course).
Mini Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Balsamic Onion tarts
Tori Karaage w/ Kewpi Mayo and Sweet chilli sauce
Beans salad w/ prosciutto and roasted pine nuts
Spaghetti w/ Garlic Prawns
For dessert, I chose to make the Lychee jelly, which is a party favourite of mine and we bought some camembert cheese from Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder. The Earl grey truffles was probably the only first timer in the list. It was pre-prepared Sunday night when I got home from our Sydney getaway. I found the recipe on a November 2004 Christmas Edition of Vogue Entertaining, not realising that the recipe was infact from Claudia Fleming's Last Course. My mum had picked up the magazine from her workplace and gave it to me on one of the weekends that I went home for dinner. I only realised that the recipe was in fact from the Last Course when I went through the 'parcels' my courier from London brought back for me :)
It was like Christmas in September that Monday, I had received my Swedish BBM parcel from Clivia of Clivia's Cuisine and Ali brought back all the gifts that she and Ange had bought me on their weekend trips away and their shopping trips BUT most importantly, she also brought back ALL the books I ordered from Amazon UK via free delivery hehe. (It worked out to be too expensive to have them delivered to Australia so I hired a courier and paid her wages by hosting her party hehe)
Ali also brought back a bottle of famed English liquor Pimms and a box of assorted biscuits from Marks & Spencer to share. She and Ange had both been raving on about Pimms and it was only natural that they bring me back a bottle hehe. Ali's contribution for the night was to make the Pimms cocktail and oh.. did I mention she funded the dinner party??
Dinner was a bit slow that night (I'm sorry everyone!! I blame Ali and shopping) but it turned out well because everyone was too busy chatting away (had to be ordered to eat before the food got cold) but once I got the appetisers out of the way I managed to concentrate on the rest of the cooking. All in all a great success! A belatd "Welcome Back" Ali!
(Recipes to follow)