Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Dinner Buffet aka Feast fit for the famous

So after our market excursion (with me blinding my favourite market sellers momentarily with my flashing camera - like mad market frenzied tourist), we re-grouped at 4:30 at Mik's place to start the preparations.
i had spent a good portion of the previous Friday night discussing the menu with another cooking enthusiast friend - Eugene. With so many people to cook for, we knew we didn't want to cook anything that was too time consuming or difficult. We wanted variety and ease without comprimising on taste, plus we needed to juggle the logistics since we knew we only had one oven and one grill. Not forgetting catering to the meat lovers, the vegetarians and the sweet toothed!

The Great Big Menu
We finally decided on the following:


Bacon wrapped Enoki mushrooms (we decided this was a breeze to make - only requiring short grill cooking time)
Assorted Crostinis (this is something i've made before. Pretty easy to prepare and always fun for guests to nibble on before dinner. Also a vegetarian option.)
Prawn and squid cooked with lemongrass, chili and garlic sauce.
(not much cooking time required, cooked on the hob - great with bread).

We were happy with this choice. Each of the starters offered a variety of flavours, not too heavy to kill the appetite for mains and easy enough to cook without breaking into too much of a sweat!

(We had vetoed ideas like baked baby potatoes with blue cheese topping - blue cheese expensive, and not always agreeable to everyone )

After another round of debate, we agreed on the following:

Roast Beef (This was Steph's idea. She wanted to try a roast beef recipe that she had seen in one of her cooking mags. At first we were going to opt instead for a honey glazed roast pork that Eugene had insisted was really easy and cheaper than beef, then finding out this required a BBQ grill, we reverted back to initial option of a roast beef)
Roasted Vegetables (veg and beef could go into the oven at the same time, simply chop, season, add some olive oil and roast!)
Pasta (a simple spaghetti and tomato dish as the carb option - I decided it was important that this didn't clash with the star dish of the night- the beef! and hence needed a v simple pasta recipe)
Mixed Salad - for the vegetarians and an option to accompany the big beef dish. Steph immediately said she would take care of this - her famous avocado, pineapple with lettuce and a sweet vinagierette salad.

We had wanted a fish dish (thinking a salt crusted baked salmon would have been beautiful - but none of us knew where to get a big bag of rock sea salt!) we couldn't think of other 'big fish' centrepiece dishes that would have complemented everything else, so the fish idea was scrapped.
Steph had initially thought of a chicken green curry dish (easy to make, can be made in advance) but we vetoed that idea eventually given that it didn't quite go with the other western options on the menu.

The Dessert
Apple Crumble

This was a pretty simple choice. My friend Audrey had been wanting to make it for a while, I wanted us to make it together, it was easy to prepare, not too heavy after such a big meal - perfect.

roasted veg Posted by Picasa

These were the roasted vegetables before they went into the oven. We had yellow and red capsicums, aubergines, courgettes, and mushrooms. Seasoned with thyme, basil, salt, pepper and a big dash of olive oil.
We had a slight problem with this dish. After a good hour in the oven, it came out looking soggy, sweating away in a pool of its own watery liquid. We figured this could have been a result of one of two problems:
1) We didn't sweat the aubergines long enough (i think we only sweated it for like 10 mins, when it should rightfully be 30 mins)
2) We added a whole bunch of veggies that tend to be watery in nature (although i don't think this is it).

We drained some of the water, added more oil and salt and baked it some more. It tasted fine, but not as flavourful as it should have been i think!

testing temperature! Posted by Picasa

We learned some important lessons with the roast beef.
1) Roast beef is really easy to make! Simply season with salt and pepper a few hours before hand. Stick in oven for over 1 hour.
2) As you can see from the pic above, we were trying to test whether it was done or not. I had brought along my meat thermometer (i had bought this to measure the temp of water for my bread baking expeditions) and stuck it into the centre of the sirlion. The temperature rose to 50 degrees celcius.
We all stared at each other wondering aloud the significance of this number. Eugene and I looked at each other and said '50 degrees seems really hot doesn't it?' Audrey looked at it quizzically and said, 'i think it's ready. It looks ready!'
Steph rummaged frantically through her beef recipe and said 'found it! 50 degrees is rare!'
Audrey said 'It's done! its done! Rare is good!' (she's the one that eats her beef almost alive). I agreed, not wanting to overcook the beef and figuring that letting it sit would allow it to cook some more on the inside. We all agreed those who wanted it medium could eat the outside bits.

And that was all there was to it! Season, stick in oven for about 80 mins. and voila! A rare perfectly cooked Sirloin!

Roast beef!  Posted by Picasa


  • Great blog. I'm just amazed how orchestrated we were in the kitchen with 6 chefs (mind you, the kind of small kitchen that's part of a 1,200 sq ft apartment type). We were all very in sync and everyone just know what to do and when to do it. Best team work ever - kudos to the chefs!!

    By Blogger Steffles, at 9:03 PM  

  • Hey, just found out why our mediterranean veges "stewed" instead of roasted. Read it in a cooking mag that one must put the vegies in one layer (not stacked up like ours) and some space between chunks to allow it to roast properly. Alternatively, use a few smaller trays to accomodate everything! but guess we didn't have 1) enough trays 2) enough time. Points to consider for next round of roast veges!

    By Blogger Steffles, at 7:51 PM  

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