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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Roast Pork, Banoffee Pie and Black Sesame Cupcake Cones: Dinner Party at Mine

Stomach's Eleven were on the move, and this time it was my turn to host our travelling dinner party. I don't naturally like organising, but I do hate being stressed, which is why everyone always laughs when they spot the usual "dinner party to-do schedule" on my fridge. But planning ahead does pay off. It means I can cook certain dishes or elements thereof a few days beforehand, and there's less chance of shrieking "oh my god I forgot about the _____" in the half-hour before guests arrive.

I've been meaning to make roast pork with crackling for quite some time, and a ravenous crowd of food lovers seemed like the perfect opportunity. From here, a Spanish-style theme followed, for there was sangria and tortilla and albondigas meatballs, but also a few non-Spanish dishes like my favourite roast pumpkin salad (the hit of the evening apart from the crackling) and an impromptu combination of seared chorizo with cubes of fetta, chickpeas and mint.

Baked polenta

I'm always conscious of appeasing guests' appetites with something to nibble on before dinner. To my surprise, the baked polenta was a huge success, triangles of crispy baked polenta which I served with a small bowl of the tomato sauce from the meatballs, as well as a small dish of smoky chipotle sauce from Disaster Bay Chillies.

Baked polenta
2 1/2 cups (625ml) milk
2/3 cup (100g) polenta + 1Tb extra for sprinkling
25g butter, diced
canola or olive oil spray

Bring the milk to a gentle boil in a saucepan. Lower the heat and slowly pour in the polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir for about twenty minutes or until the mixture thickens considerably and will leave the side of the pan.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter. Mix well and season with salt and pepper as required. Pour the mixture into a greased cake tin about 30cm by 20cm. Smooth the surface of the polenta and allow to cool in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight, until set.

When the polenta is set, slice the polenta into bite-sized triangles or finger-sized rectangles. Transfer the polenta to a baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving a small gap between each piece. Spray generously with oil and then scatter generously with extra polenta. Bake at 200C / 400F for 12min or until golden. Serve with a tomato relish (I used the sauce from my meatball dish to save time) or chilli sauce.

Gambas al pil pil garlic prawns

Next time I would definitely peel my own banana prawns for the gambas al pil pil as the flavour of peeled prawns really doesn't do this dish justice. I wouldn't hesitate on going crazy with the garlic either, and allow the garlic to really caramelise before adding the prawns.

Tortilla espanola Spanish potato omelette

This is probably one of the better versions of tortilla espanola I've managed to create with its gorgeous golden hue and enough egg to keep all the potato together. In the past I've probably tried to pile in too many potatos into the pan. I still adore the comforting combination of layers of softened potato sweetened with onion and swaddled in a yellow blanket of egg. It's also a great dish that can be made ahead and warmed if necessary. [Grab Your Fork recipe]

Chorizo, chickpeas, fetta and mint salad

Roast pumpkin salad with rocket, asparagus, red onion and toasted almonds
[Grab Your Fork recipe]

Albondigas meatballs

Whenever I cook meatballs, I take great pleasure in bashing the mince with gusto, a tendering tip I first saw demonstrated by Maggie Beer on The Cook and the Chef. It simply involves picking up the entire mound of mince and then throwing it against the side of the bowl about 20 times or until you feel the meat "relax", an aggression-indulgent process that also guarantees tender meat.

Albondigas meatballs in tomato almond sauce

250g pork mince
250 beef mince
4 cloves garlic crushed
1 large onion, diced finely
1 egg
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
olive oil

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 x 440g tins of whole tomatoes
150ml white wine
1/3 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons of sugar
salt and pepper

Combine all meatball ingredients and tenderise by picking up the entire mix and pounding it against the side of the bowl until you feel the meat start to "relax". Season with salt and pepper then refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Roll mixtures into small walnut-sized balls, dust lightly with flour and then panfry in batches until golden and cooked through. Set aside.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Fry gently for about five minutes, then add the tomatoes. Add the white wine and almond meal and bring back to a simmer. Add the sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about ten minutes and then use a handheld blender to puree, or otherwise continue cooking until the tomato breaks down.

Both the meatballs and the sauce can be prepared ahead and stored in the fridge until needed. When ready to serve, gently heat the sauce and meatballs together in a saucepan until warmed through.

Roast pork

Is there any greater delight than roast pork with the accompanying joy of bubbled crackling? I cooked 4kg of roast pork for ten people (it was Stomach's Ten for dinner this time) and we managed to eat three-quarters of this in addition to all the other dishes.

Roast pork

2kg of pork belly with skin and preferably rib bones still attached
1 teaspoon of salt

Score the pork belly skin with a sharp knife. Put the pork in a large saucepan or stockpot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 90 minutes. Remove to a colander and then pat dry with a paper towel. Place the pork between two sheets of baking paper and weigh down with tins to help flatten the meat. Leave for an hour in the fridge, then remove baking paper and rub skin with salt. Leave uncovered in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

Place the pork on a rack in a roasting tin and pour in about 2cm of water. Roast in a 240C oven for 20 minutes, then lower heat to 200C and cook for 40 minutes. If the skin hasn't blistered sufficiently, place the pork under a hot grill under it bubbles into crackling. Use foil to stop areas of crackling burning if other parts still need more heating.

Banoffee pie

Dessert was banoffee pie - I figured that the dulce du leche counted as a Spanish contribution. [Grab Your Fork recipe] - I didn't use macadamias this time, and needed only one tin of caramel. A handy tip is to boil two tins of condensed milk anyway, so you have a spare tin of caramel for a faster banoffee pie next time.

Adding the caramel (or dulce du leche) to the biscuit base

Adding the cream to the layer of caramel and bananas

You can never have too much cream when it comes to banoffee pie

Black sesame cupcake cones

And because it was M&L's birthday (one week apart!) I created an ice-cream themed birthday dessert for the ice cream afficianados. The G-man didn't even realise these weren't ice cream but icing on top of cupcakes. And the flavour? Black sesame because that's one of L's favourite ice cream flavours :)

Black sesame cupcake cones

125g butter, softened
125g sugar
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 Tablespoons of black sesame powder (from Asian grocers)
1 teaspoon of black sesame oil
2 eggs
1-2 Tablespoons of milk
12 flat-bottomed ice cream cones

Preheat oven to 180C or 170C if using fan-forced.

Place all the ingredients except the milk into a food processor. Blitz in short bursts until the mixture is well combined and smooth.

Whilst pulsing the mixture, gradually pour in one tablespoon of milk through the food processor funnel. Blitz until the milk has been incoporated. The mixture should look smooth. Add another tablespoon of milk if necessary. Taste the mixture and add more black sesame powder and/or black sesame oil if preferred.

Place a mini muffin tin on a baking tray and fill with ice cream cones. I used a small dab of cake batter on the bottom of each cone to help secure it to the tin. Spoon a small amount of batter into each cone, less than a third of the total height of the cone (I had to do a second batch as the first overflowed). You will probably have 1/3 of the batter leftover. Bake this separately as cupcakes or mini cupcakes.

Place the baking tray carefully into a 200C oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

When the cakes are cool, pipe over generously with black sesame icing so it resembles a soft serve ice cream cone.

Black sesame icing
Beat 125g softened unsalted butter with 250g pure icing sugar and 3 Tablespoons of black sesame powder using an electric mixer. Beat in 1 teaspoon black sesame oil. Beat until smooth.

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas 2010 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Teochew feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Mole poblano and pulled pork tacos (Me)
Stomachs Eleven: Pizza and friends (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Ten kilograms of mussels (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Shanghainese banquet (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Wagyu shabu shabu and dessert sushi (Silverlily)
Stomachs Eleven: Stuffed deboned pig's head + nose-to-tail eating (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: French feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Whole suckling pig and Chinese banquet (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Hotpot night (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Crackling roast pork and black sesame cupcakes (me)
Stomachs Eleven: No ordinary steak dinner (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Polish feast (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas 2009 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Char siu and Hainan chicken (me)
Stomachs Eleven: Amazing impromptu dinner party (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Dumplings and Shanghai soy duck (M&L)
35 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/08/2009 10:46:00 pm


  • At 3/08/2009 11:17 pm, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    I'm gobsmacked of anybody who can organise and cook a big dinner party. Roast pork, crackling, banoffee pie and Spanish dishes?! Ooh care to make it Stomachs Twelve? :)

  • At 3/08/2009 11:42 pm, Blogger cupcake said…

    OMG!!! Amazing stuff- so impressed!!! your food looks fantastic! Especially loving the pumpkin salad and tortilla ^^ Your dessert looks sooo yum - banoffee pie and black sesame cupcakes - so cute XD I haven't made banoffee pie in a while - you have def inspired me to make one next time I have a chance to bake something. Ah so jealous of all your party guests getting to have some of that stuff!

  • At 3/08/2009 11:50 pm, Blogger flexnib said…

    Wow - what an amazing spread!

  • At 3/09/2009 12:21 am, Blogger K said…

    It was fantastic indeed! Thanks once again!
    Wait... you forgot all about the fluffy-as-clouds chiffon cake!

  • At 3/09/2009 7:00 am, Blogger oneordinaryday said…

    Wow - that dessert is amazing. What a creative presentation and I love that it's a grown-up version too. Very nicely done. I'm sure you had very appreciative friends!

  • At 3/09/2009 9:25 am, Blogger einna said…

    oooh Banoffee pie! I've been dying to make this but terribly afraid of boiling cans of condensed milk. Can I ask where you got the dulce de leche from?????


  • At 3/09/2009 10:03 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    this looks absolutely amazing! and i can very empathise with the "dinner to do list". i have one whenever i host too (to save me from opening my fridge up at the end of a meal and finding a big bowl of something that i forgot i made).

  • At 3/09/2009 10:36 am, Blogger Forager said…

    That looks so amazing! For whatever reason, the sesame "icecream" cones made me the most hungry! What a clever twist. Now I'm craving black sesame

  • At 3/09/2009 11:12 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The cupcakes in cones have worked really well. I'm surprised the cones were up to being baked, but they look great.

  • At 3/09/2009 11:19 am, Blogger Y said…

    Everything looks extremely delicious, especially the pork and albondigas. Oh, and the chorizo. Mmm.. pork products...:D

  • At 3/09/2009 11:55 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The picture of the crackling made my heart skip a beat. What a wonderful picture on such a drab, rainy day.

    The cupcakes are genius. I too am surprised the cones baked so well without browning.

    Planning is nearly half as fun as the eating. I love constructing menus, shopping and to do lists. Really gets me in the mood.

  • At 3/09/2009 12:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    roast pork oh my look at your crackling! a jolly well done lad! heh and the black sesame cupcakes were freaking awesome i managed to eat the whole bag in 5mins...

  • At 3/09/2009 1:32 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Amazing... I know what I'll be trying to pork up my weekend now!

  • At 3/09/2009 2:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That looks like an amazing spread! Did it take a long time to prep and cook everything?

  • At 3/09/2009 2:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fantastic looking dinner chef! Very creative and variety in flavours and presentation.

    Just have a question, for the black sesame ice cream cone cupcakes, where can you buy black sesame oil?


  • At 3/09/2009 2:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey, I was reading your Banoffee recipe and am completely freaking out about the condense milk part where it say that it will not explode IF......

    Has anyone ever had a can explode?

  • At 3/09/2009 3:29 pm, Blogger Peabody said…

    The cupcakes look like lots of fun.

  • At 3/09/2009 3:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    LOL icecream cones with 'no boring bits!' :)

  • At 3/09/2009 6:09 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Ok, WOW! That pork looks INSANE. I can't believe the ingredients and method are so simple!

    I'll definitely be whipping that one out at my next dinner party.

    Lovely dinner party!

  • At 3/09/2009 8:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Veruca Salt,

    A work colleague had a story of his mother experiencing that. The aftermath saw to a large kink in the heavy metal pot lid with dolce de leche all over the kitchen, including the ceiling.

    The thing that made it worse was that the ceiling had a textured surface to it. They removed as much of it as they could from the ceiling and painted over the rest.

    I think I'll stick to making it the traditional way. There's a lot I'd sacrifice for food but an upper cut to the head that would turn my jaw into peanut brittle followed shortly by the sweet caress of molten lava is something I can do without :)

  • At 3/09/2009 8:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OOh *drooolll* what a great feast!! You guys are always throwing such awesome dinner parties haha :P making me jealous hee hee! That banoffee pie XD I wannnnnttt!

  • At 3/09/2009 10:03 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Karen - That's what lists are for :) Break it down into little manageable tasks and anything is possible! And joining Stomach's Eleven means you have to play host too :)

    Hi Cupcake - Aww thanks. The banoffee pie was a huge hit which was great. Always good to end the meal on a high (and sweet) note!

    Hi CW - Thanks. It seemed the least I could do after Pig Flyin's amazing efforts!

    Hi K - I didn't take pics of the black sesame chiffon but I will probably attempt it again, and double the recipe next time!

    Hi oneordinaryday - Thank you and yes, it was quite fun having a table of adults licking icing like it was a soft serve cone!

    Hi Einna - I made the dulce du leche myself by simmering a tin of condensed milk in hot water for 90min. Click on the link under the first pic of the banoffee pie for the recipe :)

    Hi Shez - I'm not an obsessive list-maker but I do find they keep you on-track and sane in moments of otherwise chaos. I also prefer spreading out the tasks over a few days rather than cooking like crazy on the night itself!

    Hi Forager - lol. You'll have to find yourself a tub of black sesame ice cream or make the cupcakes yourself :)

    Hi Arwen - I'd seen ice cream cones used before by many other foodbloggers to make cupcakes - they didn't brown at all, I guess because there's little sugar in them.

    Hi Y - Oh yes, I seem to have a porky theme whenever I host a dinner party. My favourite meat group I think :)

    Hi Veruca Salt - Yes I think you're more dedicated than I am when it comes to pre-planning!

    The cones were fine although I did have a few hairy moments when they were in danger of toppling over. And mmm I wish I had some more of the pork crackling right now. The leftovers were still surprisingly quite crunchy the next day.

    Hi Chocolatesuze - lol. Did your Mum get any cupcakes? Glad you enjoyed the leftover batter - was too good to waste but I couldn't face eating any more myself! And yes perhaps just as well I didn't indulge in Lowenbrau again or I would have turned into a pork knuckle myself!

    Hi yummystuff - Ooh have fun :) Nothing beats homemade crackling!

    Hi Simon - I spread the tasks over a number of days so it wasn't too bad. I did spend much of the Sat at the Eveleigh Markets and didn't get home until 2.15pm. Dinner was on the table at 7.30pm so it was all good!

    Hi Meow - You can get the black sesame oil at Asian groceries store, perhaps try a larger one. It's right next to the normal sesame oil and it's essential as I think that's where all the black sesame flavour comes from.

    Hi Veruca Salt - Hush hush, don't fret. It's never happened to me :) And don't listen to Simon (below)!

    Hi Peabody - The cupcakes had lots of cute factor and really quite easy to make too.

    Hi Christie - lol. True! Hadn't even thought of that!

    Hi Sarah - Ooh you know how to throw a good dinner party too. I know, I've seen so many of your pics :) And happy eating!

    Hi Simon - Now don't freak out Veruca! I admit I was constantly nervous - every time I heard the pan rattle, I would open the lid to check the water hadn't boiled dry and often I would remove the pot from the heat until the rattling calmed down.

    I think the trick is to make sure there's enough water and to ensure it's a gentle simmer, not a rapid boil. I did monitor any expansion of the can in case I needed to abort my mission.

    Hi FFichiban - I could do with another slice or two of that banoffee pie as well! And ah nothing beats a good dinner party. You should start a travelling dinner party of your own!

  • At 3/09/2009 10:13 pm, Blogger Beaujolais said…

    that is quite a food selection you have there. Some really great ideas. http://beaujolaisbistro.blogspot.com/

  • At 3/09/2009 10:59 pm, Blogger K.G said…

    oh my gaaaawd! the cupcake in a cone thing is ingenious! that is sooo coool!

  • At 3/09/2009 11:13 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Helen, you're right. I shouldn't be scaremongering.

    Veruca if you're a little concerned, bear in mind that with modern technology providing kitchen innovations such as kevlar gloves, I'm sure we'll see protective aprons such as this to deal with any potential mishaps.

    Sure, like the glove, it may look somewhat utilitarian. Give it some time though. No doubt that a Hello Kitty version will be released. She gets her little paws onto everything! :)

  • At 3/09/2009 11:32 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Jokes aside, there are other methods of making it the short cut way i.e. using sweetened condensed milk. Some are listed at this site.

  • At 3/10/2009 12:37 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Black sesame cupcake looks great! I like sweets with black sesames you know? (wink wink)

  • At 3/10/2009 12:37 am, Blogger enchilada8me said…

    That looks like a huuuuge spread! Very impressive meal. That banoffee pie looks WAY better than any banoffee pie I've ever had.

    Were you at Piedmont this weekend? I didn't see you at Eveleigh! Went a little crazy this time: got mussels, pate, mayonnaise, Iggy's bread, and loads of veggies... no butter though :(

    You gonna be there next Saturday?

  • At 3/10/2009 8:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    banoffee pie .. love that dessert! nice dinner helen.. hard work huh? haha..

  • At 3/11/2009 12:49 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Beaujolais - Thanks. Always great to share good food with friends :)

    Hi K.G. - It's not an original idea but I'm surprised it worked too. It's a cute idea although I don't know how you'd transport them beyond the dining room - they tend to topple quite easily!

    Hi Simon - I did look at alternative methods of making the caramel but the thought of washing up a sticky sugar-crusted pan lost out to playing chicken with a boiling can. It's really not that bad. Gentle simmer and lots of water.

    Hi Yas - Duly noted :)

    Hi enchilada8me - The thought of a Saturday sleep-in won out last weekend. I've got a bit weekend coming too, but will try to get to Eveleigh if I have time!

    Hi Kay - Ahh nothing wrong with a bit of effort if it results in deliciousness :) Will have to do the roast pork again...

  • At 3/13/2009 10:30 am, Blogger Foothill Foodie said…

    I made your Banoffee pie this wk and all I can see was that I was known as the best wife and mother ever. My family loved it. I have to say I was so scared of boiling the can of milk that I did not sit down while it was on the stove, but I will be more relaxed next time. Thank you for the wonderful recipe. Just as an FYI I found your website from Foodgawker and am so glad I did.

  • At 3/13/2009 5:02 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What lovely food for a dinner party! The Banoffee Pie looks fantastically yummy and the black sesame cupcake cones are very impressive! I'm jealous of your dinner party guests.

  • At 3/13/2009 5:14 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Smylie - Fantastic. Isn't that the best part about cooking for others - seeing their happy faces and then getting brownie points for being such a good cook!

    So glad your family enjoyed it, and I agree, I don't stop stressing until the can is off the stove but I think a gentle simmer is the key. Next time you should boil two at a time so another banoffee pie will be ready in an instant - and without the brief increase in stress levels!

    I've only just started using foodgawker. I love the concept. Simple, beautiful and ultimately very functional!

    Hi Anita - You could easily serve elements of this to any dinner you may choose to host. I would definitely recommend the banoffee pie - it's such a great recipe to prepare ahead and never seems to fail to please :)

  • At 3/14/2009 6:02 am, Blogger AMI said…

    What an inspired idea! Cupcake cones, looks interesting!

  • At 3/18/2009 1:31 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Lisa - I've seen cupcake cones done on quite a few other blogs. A great idea with so much potential!


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