Monday, 25 June 2007
24 Hour Party People
It has been a quiet time on the writing front of late. The one and only reason for that is I have been devoting my time to preparing for a large afternoon garden birthday party which occurred yesterday in beautiful Whitburn, Tyne & Wear. Thanks to Carol and John's amazing house and skills in organising for 60 people to come and party at their home, and despite the bizarre June winter we are experiencing at the moment, the day was a huge success and at point of writing, no complaints have been issued to the chef.
When I first spoke to Carol a few months back, I suggested an English Tea Party as a good event to have. Carol agreed to the menu, one which consisted of such delights as traditional sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, pea and leek tarts, wild mushroom and bacon tarts as well as a whole host of fattening delights such as chocolate cake, lemon tart, summer pudding and banana and walnut loaf cake. As you can see from the list of goods, a whole EU mountain of butter and flour was churned in my kitchen this weekend. And what fun it was, especially to see my mountain of scones all rise to perfection and stay moist and buttery as a good scone should.
The star of the show was a whole wild trout which, for me, meant absolute precision and care in the preparation of it. Considering it was line caught in Alnmouth, Northumberland just the day before the event, meant that it was as fresh and stunning a fish that I have ever had the pleasure to prepare. It demanded respect and hopefully I gave it that. I felt it deserved a good poach in nothing more than a classic Court Bouillon to bring out the amazing taste that a wild trout has. In my opinion, it is far superior to a salmon in both flavour and texture. Bringing it to the boil in a huge fish kettle on Saturday evening, I nervously turned the heat off as soon as the first bubbles appeared and left it to cook in the cooling liquid.
Thanks to observing Hannah from MasterChef fame at first hand in the kitchens of Waddlestone Manor last year, I was able to produce a few tomato roses to add to the garnish that gave the fish a fine farewell on a silver platter. It was a truly beautiful fish and it was a little emotional to see it devoured with gusto from the hungry guests. Or was that just chef's jealousy at being on the wrong side of the counter? Either way, it was a fantastic if exhausting weekend of cooking and serving to the guests of two of the loveliest people I have had the pleasure to cook for. Happy Birthday John and thanks Carol.
PS An extra special mention has to go to my assistant in crime for the day, the lovely Tania who was possibly the most pleasant and courteous hardworking helper a man could ever ask for. And cracking company too. Cheers Tania x
Poached Wild Sea Trout (or any trout or salmon if wild is not available)
1x Wild Sea Trout, gutted and cleaned with head and fins intact
For the Court Bouillon
Half a bottle of white wine
1 carrot, sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 Bay leaves
1 - Place the fish into a suitably sized fish kettle.
2 - Put all of the Court Bouillon ingredients into the kettle then pour in enough cold water to just cover the fish.
3 - Bring to the boil on the hob then turn off the heat immediately. Leave to cook and cool in the liquor.
4 - Drain, then place the fish onto a platter or large plate. Refrigerate until ready. Serve and garnish as you like with a fresh green salad and new potatoes.