Dinner party at Mount Ephraim

Behind closed Dawes…

I love being asked to cater a dinner party and when it takes place in such a grand setting as Mount Ephraim, it’s an even greater pleasure.  I have done a few dinner parties there, when people have hired the Garden Wing for a special birthday weekend and on those occasions I cooked and served in the lovely Garden Wing open kitchen and dining area.  Last month I catered a birthday dinner party for a member of the Dawes family and as a family member they used the main dining room of the house, a part not open to the public, so that was rather special.  I still used the Garden Wing kitchen, but then had to walk through the house to serve in the dining room.  It was a small and select party so it was manageable with just me and my son helped me in the kitchen as he didn’t want to serve at the table.  We got a good routine going where we started the plating together and then I left him to continue plating the rest by himself whilst I began to take them through to the diners.  It worked very well and the mains were nice and hot and no one had to wait long for their plates.

The squash and beetroot wellingtons ready to be sealed

The squash and beetroot wellingtons ready to be sealed

There were a couple of dietary requirements to contend with which were that two of the guests were vegetarian and one of the other guests had a mushroom allergy.  With that in mind, the host and I came up with the following menu:

Starter

Beetroot-cured salmon, dill-pickled cucumber and crusty white bread

or

Roasted sweet potato and red pepper soup with garlic croutons

Main course

Beef wellington

or

Squash and beetroot wellington

both served with dauphinoise potatoes, thyme-roasted Chantenay carrots and buttered leeks

Pudding

Chocolate roulade with raspberry coulis and fresh raspberries

The beetroot-cured salmon ready to serve

The beetroot-cured salmon ready to serve

I would normally make a mushroom duxelles to go between the pastry and the beef of the wellington, but I had to use something different due to the mushroom allergy.  I made a very delicious kale pesto and used it on both the beef and the vegetarian wellingtons and it worked really well for both.  To accompany I made a gravy with the meat cooking juices and for the vegetarian wellingtons I used some of the kale pesto and made it into a tasty sauce with some vegetable stock and cream.

The guests all enjoyed the meal which is always nice.  I always look at what I can improve for next time and on this occasion I thought the vegetable wellingtons were maybe a bit large and I would also like to think about ways to make the main course look smarter and a little less rustic!  Presentation has never been my strong suit as I’m all about the taste, but I like to try and make improvements where I can.

The ultimate compliment is when you’re booked again and the next one is in the diary.  I’m looking forward to it.

Dinner party at Mount Ephraim Gallery