Mary's Dinner Club Stories - Valentine’s Dinner
I am not usually a big Valentine’s Day fan, but this one somehow turned out to be very special. The guest list was ‘subject to changes’ till the very last minute, but magically we ended up a wonderful group of 3 couples and 2 singles. There was lots of laughter and teasing and yes… love was in the air too. We already started off being silly over welcome drinks, creating new ways of getting those strawberries out of our sparkling wine.
However, the food took up quite a bit of everyone’s attention... the starter which had turned out perfectly at the first try was much appreciated - spinach, walnuts, dried cherries, diced pear and added on a whim, wedges of sautéed red onion - all covered in blue cheese dressing (home made of course). Tangy, sweet, crunchy, cheesy…. a perfect combination of flavors.
The main course was called love birds - squares of pastry filled with fig preserve, cheese and chicken fillet with rosemary. I was not really impressed with the first result and decided to revamp the whole thing – different pastry dough, the fig preserve made milder by mixing it with quince jam, less strong but much more cheddar cheese and more rosemary. The result – wow!! I decorated the little packets with pastry hearts sprinkled with chili flakes making it a treat for the eyes as well. This one will go down on my list of personal favorites – Valentines or not.
The side dishes were also pretty to look at: beet-red wine risotto molded with a heart-shaped bowl and a bundle of green beans tied with spring onion. The servings were not exactly small and I was impressed by the appetite of the rather petite female guests.
Basically it was lovely, loving people loving the food – how very Valentine. The dessert brought on that by now famous silence. Chocolate mousse with passion fruit cream – hhmmm. The trial run of the mousse went ‘ohhhkay’ so out went the recipe. Things were greatly improved by a shot of brandy, a different kind of whipping cream, darker chocolate and a bit of ‘Crème pâtissière’ (yep, straight out of the box). The texture which had previously caused a bit of concern ended up just right for a half of a passion fruit to sit on there with a dollop of cream. Not that I can afford to have chocolate mousse regularly, but it is still nice to have this decadent little secret up my sleeve.
I am very glad I got to share my new culinary discoveries with such lovely new friends – thank you everybody and keep working on those strawberry tricks. This Saturday will feature my native Austrian cuisine with Wiener Schnitzel and Sachertorte. There may still be a free seat or two if interested. Visit my Facebook page to book.
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