Every now and then, me and my Dad get together and plan a fancy 3 course dinner for us, the Mr & my Mum. (Our first ever attempt at this can be found on the My Food Story page.)
This time around we decided on the following menu.
Lettuce Soup with Home Made Bread
Chicken with Wild Mushroom Risotto on a bed of Greens
Vanilla & Dark Rum Panna Cotta with Mangoes & Lychees
To be completely honest, it would take you hours to read if I shared all the recipes with you! So below are the recipes for the starter and dessert. If you would like the recipe for the main course – treat yourself to the fabulous John Campbell’s book – Formulas for Flavour: How to Cook Restaurant Dishes at Home. Having attained Michelin Stars left right & centre throughout his career – believe me he knows what he is talking about! I can honestly say that I have never cooked anything in my kitchen more tasty than the recipes I have tried from his book. And I’m sure my Dad will agree!
Anyway! Enough of my babbling – here is what you will need to make enough Lettuce Soup for 4 people. (Recipe is from Michel Roux Jr’s Cooking with The Master Chef.)
- 100g Dark Outer Lettuce Leaves (I used little gem)
- 1tbsp Butter
- 300g Potatoes Peeled & Diced
- 200g Ripe Tomatoes Quartered
- 1.4 Litres of Boiling Water
- Salt & Pepper
- 8 x thin strips of Lettuce leaves (2 per serving)
- 1 x Ripe Tomato Seeds Removed & Diced
- Crème Fraîche
My word of advice with this is don’t skip on the decoration! The crème fraîche really adds to the flavour, the lettuce adds a surprisingly lovely crunch and the tomatoes add a delicious sweetness. I think it would be a little bland without them.
First up, slice the very bottoms of the lettuce leaves off (the parts that tend to be a little brown near the root) and tear the rest into smallish pieces. Melt the butter in a large pan and sweat the leaves for a few minutes.
Add the diced potatoes & the quartered tomatoes and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add in the boiling water, bring to the boil then gently simmer for about 20 minutes. Or until the potatoes are cooked.
Season to taste with salt & pepper then blend until smooth in a food processor or with a hand blender.
Pass through a fine sieve if you like. (I did as it gets rid of the tomato seeds)
Serve hot or cold and decorate each serving with 2 slices of little gem, a good dollop of crème fraîche and some diced tomatoes.
As simple and boring as “Lettuce Soup” sounds, it’s actually quite delicious! It’s a very easy starter to make and very light too – so great if you have quite a heavy/rich main course like we did.
A little bit about the main course before we move onto the dessert. There are so many components to this dish but each one adds a beautiful delicate flavour that just couldn’t be replaced! It is chicken with spinach/lemon butter smeared under the skin then stuffed with garlic, lemon & thyme. Teamed up with a risotto comprising of wine, mixed wild mushrooms, parmesan and chives. All this is laid on a bed of asparagus spears, cabbage & confit onions and topped with a leek cream & a truffle dressing.
Granted – me and my Dad are a bit pants at restaurant presentation but to be honest, it tasted so good that neither of us really cared haha! If you ever want a go at cooking restaurant style dishes at home then I strongly recommend getting the book mentioned above. I have never been disappointed with a recipe I’ve made from it and with what you learn from each process/component – I find myself applying to lots of other things I make in my kitchen!
This is a dessert I have been wanting to try for quite some time. Panna Cotta is a dessert that is reasonably small, light and lovely after a rich main course. I spied this recipe on the Michel Roux Jr iPhone App and thought with the fresh fruits it sounded delightfully refreshing! It’s also a naturally gluten free recipe, bonus! So here is what you will need to serve 4 people.
- 1.5 Leaves of Gelatine
- 300ml Double Cream
- 1 Vanilla Pod
- 50g Castor Sugar
- 1 tbsp Dark Rum
- 1 Ripe Mango
- 12 Lychees (Preferably fresh)
- 2 tbsp Cane Syrup
- 1 Lime (Zest of half/Juice of 1)
- 6 Basil Leaves
- 6 Mint Leaves
- 4 x Ramekins/Moulds or Glasses approx 5cm diameter x 4cm tall
Soften the gelatine leaves in iced cold water then gently squeeze out the excess water.
Quickly bring the cream, vanilla pod (split with the seeds scraped) and castor sugar to the boil – make sure to stir so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
Immediately remove from the heat and stir in both the gelatine and the rum.
Leave to one side to cool – stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. When cold (but not set) pour equal portions into each glass then place in the fridge to set for about 6 hours.
For the fruit – peel and stone the mango and lychees then cut into cubes. Place them in a bowl along with the cane syrup, zest of half a lime & the juice of 1 lime.
When you are ready to serve – put the moulds in hot water for bout 5 seconds then carefully run a knife around to release them.
Thinly slice the basil & mint.
Lastly, Surround the panna cotta in the fruits and scatter with the basil and mint. If you like, drizzle some of the fruit juices over the top.
I’ll be honest there were several things that worried me about this recipe. Firstly- the rum. I’m not a fan of boozy puds but actually – it was a very subtle undertone that worked really well with the zesty fruits! Pleasantly surprised. Secondly, whether the panna cotta would actually set. I have seen it happen on numerous cooking competition programmes where it has not set properly and just looks like a blob of mess on the plate! The proportions of liquid to gelatine seemed to work just right with this recipe though so I was chuffed about that! And Thirdly – the idea of putting basil on a pudding. This terrified me more than anything else to be honest. My mind just couldn’t grasp the idea of using what is usually a savoury herb with a sweet dessert. Biggest surprise on the whole thing!! You could actually smell that it was going to be good when you were slicing the basil together with the mint. I don’t know why or how it works but it just… does! All in all I was incredibly surprised how much I enjoyed this dessert – as did my Dad and guests. Win!
I always throughly enjoy cooking with my Dad so a big shout out to him! Couldn’t have done it without you : )
BUT – I do need to say a HUGE thank you to my Mum and the Mr who nominated themselves to wash all the pots and clear the mess that me and my Dad created! (And I don’t mind telling you that it was bad… I mean really bad!)
Anyway my lovelies, I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and I wish you all the very best for the New Year!