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Monday, November 27, 2006

A Dinner Party with J

veal cutlet with capers
Veal cutlet with capers

J was my fellow foodie at work until he recently moved onto greener pastures. *sigh* The end of an era. No more clustering around the desk as he revealed last night's baking efforts: a huge batch of cookies, a lemon meringue pie, or a dozen melting moments whipped up "because I felt peckish at 11pm".

No more impromptu excursions at lunchtime, in search of good tasty cheap feeds (my favourite kind). No more detailed gossip sessions about the fantastic restaurant he discovered last Saturday. No more trips to the Korean grocery shop where he spent longer than me examining everything excitedly!

For months I had been meaning to officially credit him as a GrabYourFork senior researcher. There was even talk of J's Cooking Corner :)

But now his office is on the other side of town, and although there are occasional emails, it's always better to catch up in person. Last Saturday he hosted a casual dinner party with friends, a chance for us to find out about his new job, whilst he impressed us all with his delicious yet no-fuss cooking.

We unwound with glasses of crisp Moet & Chandon on the balcony as we watched the sunset over Sydney, before heading inside for a three-course dinner.

prawn and mango bruschetta
Prawn and mango bruschetta

Thick slices of bread were spread with freshly minced garlic and toasted under the grill, then topped with a mango salsa made with lemon juice, green onions and finely chopped parsley. A peeled king prawn was laid on top, with scatterings of fried red onions (from Asian grocery shops) adding a pleasing crunch.

noritake plates
Noritake dinnerware

Dinner was served on Noritake dinnerware, a set inherited from J's grandma. I thought the pattern was gorgeous.

veal cutlets in the pan
Veal cutlets in the frypan

veal cutlet with capers on rocket with potatoes
Veal cutlet with capers on a bed of rocket with rosemary baked potatoes

Our mains were a classy twist on the classic meat and potato combination. A rich and tender cutlet of veal (cooked according to individual preference) was balanced with a scattering of salty capers and a bed of peppery rocket. Potatoes were baked to a crisp with the delicate scent of rosemary shards.

caramelised apples and figs
Cooking dessert on the stove

Dessert was apparently a long-time favourite of J's, a recipe he'd read years ago and constantly re-enacted for its apparent ease and crowd-pleasing abilities. Cubes of apples were panfried in plenty of butter until golden, a handful of chopped figs added, then brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla essence and a splash of port combined to create an aromatic and sticky mixture.

caramelised apples and figs with ice cream
Caramelised apples and figs with vanilla ice cream

A wickedly delicious combination when accompanied with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

J - I'm keeping you on as a senior research consultant. Duties may include occasional dinner party host :)

8 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (AugustusGloop) on 11/27/2006 11:58:00 pm


8 Comments:

  • At 11/28/2006 7:13 am, Blogger Yvo said…

    That all looks absolutely scrumptious!!! What a great friend to have. I noticed some small differences in semantics/etc. from Australia vs. the US- veal cutlets are much smaller here, I think those would be called veal chops! I already knew about rocket vs. arugula from another post... and prawn, of course, vs. shrimp. Also, I'm keen on that last recipe but what is vanilla essence? Is that vanilla extract? Or did he scrape out the seeds from actual vanilla bean pods (which are so expensive here!)? Thanks!!

     
  • At 11/28/2006 8:55 am, Blogger PiCkLeS said…

    how lovely! i love home cooked meals and dinner parties. We had a girls dessert night on Sunday but i still haven't put up the photos yet.

     
  • At 11/28/2006 5:35 pm, Blogger Tubby said…

    Wow those look really great! Looks like alot of tender loving care were given to those delicious meals =) The dessert looks absolutely woderful.

     
  • At 11/28/2006 10:36 pm, Anonymous cin said…

    It's great having friends like this. I would love to try that bruschetta out.

     
  • At 11/29/2006 12:15 pm, Anonymous sue said…

    Those meals you had at the dinner party looks fantastic. Looks like restaurant served meals.

     
  • At 11/30/2006 1:14 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Yvo - I agree. The veal cutlets were rather large and more like chops.

    Yes vanilla essence is the same as extract. Language is indeed a strange one when it comes to American vs Australian. We tend to use the word shrimp for small prawns.

    Hi Pickles - Ooh you have a lovely girls dessert night indeed! What a feast. I am so jealous!

    Hi tubby - The food was fantastic. I love it when other people cook (although I did help out with washing up!).

    Hi Cin - Foodie friends are the best. And the bruschetta was a great idea. So easy, so tasty and so summery too.

    Hi Sue - It was tasty indeed.

     
  • At 11/30/2006 7:17 am, Blogger Yvo said…

    Even funnier because in the past, when I've seen "prawn" on a menu or whatnot here, it's been an extremely large shrimp. I'll have to remember not to get excited when I get to Australia and see prawns everywhere :)

     
  • At 1/13/2007 11:58 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Yvo - Most prawns in Australia are pretty large, so you might get excited anyway! Will til you check out our King Prawns. You'll faint!

     

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