Michael and Claire’s Engagement Party for 60

gazpacho


When catering for large numbers of people, it’s important to plan carefully and well in advance have a few dishes around a theme. I didn’t do any of this which probably explains the anxiety attack I had the night before up until about midday before when it susbsided to highly stressed. I’ve got to stop this what will the market tell me but to be honest I’ve got no idea what around $600 for 60 people’s worth of food looks like so it was a case of buying a bunch of stuff, seeing how much I had left, and then buying some more.

It did work in the end and despite the meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep moments, it is more interesting going I can get this and do this and doable if you have few core items. The were three main items. Gazpacho in a shot glass because they do this at work and it seems like a great way to welcome guests with an interesting sharp start on a warm summer’s night. Green curry, I’ve done this before at a similar sized party (with a shocking hangover so – not sure how I did that), and it’s something you can make before and fill the hungrier people with. Cardboard boxes are cute and save on washing up. Fried wontons, good of people will help you folding them up and people love fried food especially after a couple of drinks. Then you just fill in the spaces, a platter for people to graze, reuse the shot glasses as tuna delivery systems and for a passionfruit and melon sorbet. A bit of lamb on skewers, a few blinis for general classiness, and a couple of boxes of sausages rolls for the end of the night

blini for the kids polenta with tapenade and caponata


Platter with home-made lavosh, beetroot dip, tzatziki, and olives

Lavosh is unleavened therefore easy to make, kinda. The beetroot dip was taken from a salad recipe from Delicious using cooked beetroot, EVOO walnut oil, red onion, walnuts, and rosewater but lightly pureed adding the mint and coriander after for colour. If you’re making tzatziki, leave the yoghurt to strain in a fine sieve. Excess water will strain out and you’ll be left with a thicker richer yoghurt. The best value for olives is still Northbridge Continental on the corner of James and Fitzgerald street.

Gazpacho

The shorter way is to puree the capsicum and tomato and then run it through a strainer. This fills me with guilt and I think it’s better to roast the capsicum to remove the skin as it improves the flavour. Tomatoes are skinned by popping them in boiling water with a cross cut in the bottom. Squeeze over a sieve to remove the seeds and the bread can be soaked in the juice below. It seemed to take about three hours all up to make but extremely tasty and I can’t imagine how healthy it must be. Would make for a superb bloody mary.

Blini with Creme Fraiche, Smoked Salmon and Salmon roe

I used the yeast method rather than just the egg whites and, to be proper like, buckwheat. Salmon roe isn’t cheap but 50gm goes a long way, doing about 30 blini. Creme fraiche is expensive to buy but you can make your own. I did it in a slightly cheaper fashion by using two parts king island cream and one part creme fraiche and letting it sit for a few hours, covered, on the bench top. Blini can be made beforehand and frozen if you like. Reheat.

tuna with mango salsa sashimi tuna with ponzu sorbet


Seared tuna cubes with mango salsa and Tuna sashimi with ponzu sorbet

This was one of the “still got some money purchases and the idea is from earlier here. And the ponzu (soy with citrus) sorbet was still left over from new year. The ponzu makes the sashimi more like a ceviche and won a few converts. Both were served in shot glasses with the tuna chugged with a couple of bites to prevent choking.

Asparagus wrapped in pancetta

People love these. Just trim the spears, wrap a piece of pancetta around them, and cook in a hot oven.

Grilled polenta with caponata, sun-dried tomatoes, and tapenade

Gah! Blisters from stirring one and a half kg of polenta. A cup of milk to make it creamier and parmesan added. Spread out and chilled then put in a sandwich press for a grilled look. Reheated on site.

Lamb skewered on rosemary

Keeping Sam Kekovich happy. Cubes of lamb marinated in EVOO, paprika, and garlic and then threaded onto sticks of rosemary. Kept my rosemary bush under control. Leave some leaves at one end to sprinkle over the meat. Cooked in an oven and then taken off the sticks and piled on lettuce.

sporks Ash's nimble hands green chicken curry


Green Chicken Curry

Charmaine Solomon’s trick is to reduce some of the coconut milk over heat to about a quarter then add the paste and stir until the paste starts to release oil and then add the meat, stir until it’s cooked on the outside, and then add the rest of the coconut milk. Chopped green chilies and coriander are added at the very end. I used a few different cuts of chicken including a whole chicken cut up and the best was drumsticks. They were the cheapest cut and gave the juiciest meat which just dropped off the bone. I was a bit surprised by the popularity as I thought I’d just have it as a filler but everybody wanted some and sadly some folks missed out. I could only offer hugs as consolation.

deep fried wontons


Deep fried Chirashi Sushi and Prawn and Pork wontons

Mmm fried. While colder food suits the more receptive palate of the early evening, nothing suits the booze soaked tongue than a bit of fried food. Vinegared rice with soy and wasabi with shiitake, black mushrooms, and tree mushrooms in one. Pork, prawn, spring onion, chives and the same mushroom mix in the other. The first is vegetarian so you can keep vegetarians happy by serving the separately, unless you mix them up, which I did, and tell somebody it’s kind of vegetarian lucky dip and then be told that they’re vegetarian which was a tad insensitive on my part really. Fair enough. For person who didn’t like rice or fish and wasn’t around for the lamb though, tough titties I am forced to say.

Passionfruit, melon and vodka sorbet

and cleanse. Pulp is from a jar, melon adds volume, make some sugar water to taste, vodka makes it a little bit slushy. Too easy.

Cheese platter

Figs, grapes, crackers, one stinky, one soft, and one hard. For the browsers. Was having a bit of a chat about cheeses and one guest told me she doesn’t have cheese because her boyfriend doesn’t like it. Tsk, the feminist struggle is far far from over.

people eating my nosh general chaos one soft, one stinky, one hard and another one


A success. A haphazard and incoherent way to do it but I don’t think I could do it any other way. Handiest thing for the evening was my cook’s uniform. Kitchen’s in parties are messy places to work. People like to linger and chat, ask questions about where the glasses or bottle openers are, kids will run around, offer to help, and this is nice it’s not until 70% of the dishes are out that my head has unwound enough to appropriately deal with this. If I were wearing jeans when I say “no”, wave a cleaver at a child, or say “that’s a really bad place to stand” I’d just be that rude wanker in the kitchen. In uniform, I am that rude professional wanker in the kitchen. All in all a horrible mad stress filled thing to do but it’s doing things like this and getting through them that make us feel alive. Michael and Claire were lovely hosts. Toni, Ash (hands pictured above), and Malinda did the dishes and served stuff making an otherwise impossible job possible. It’s chuffing to have people come up and say nice things about the food or just watch a few under 60 eat your curry, and for complete strangers to offer to help. Oh the recently completely house is for sale if you’re in the Fremantle area – nice, very nice. The kitchen is still in one piece too.

quick the cake

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25 comments

  1. sue’s avatar

    Outstanding!

    a)What did you serve the green chicken curry with and in?
    b)May I please move to that house in Fremantle?
    c)Professional chefs uniforms rock!
    d)What should i do with squid ink pasta shells?(i’m thinking it to be part of an antipasto)

  2. Anthony’s avatar

    Outstanding in the garden with a beer in my hand was where I should have been.

    a) Jasmine rice and in a chinese takeaway box that they don’t use for chinese takeway here. Nifty handle too.
    b) You’ll have to ask them. It’s such a great house, they lived in and renovated it – lots of great touches like V shaped corner draws and the best outdoor urinal I’ve seen in my life ever.
    c) Like most duffers, I feel a sense of both I’m so cool and I’m such a pseud but yes they do rock. The pants are comfy, the jacket is great if you spill something hot on yourself, and the kitchen birkies make me look like a robot (which is also good).
    d) I’d recommend as little as possible, maybe just some olive oil and something else like chili, lemon, coriander, or garlic. Don’t want to squash the flavour. Having it with little bits of squid has that referential touch.

  3. J’s avatar

    hi anthony, i am speechless with amazement, but won’t let that stop me from saying, WHOAH! that’s one superhuman, monumental spread for one man to cook. albeit, for the man that cooks, no doubt it’s water off a duck’s back ;)

  4. Anthony’s avatar

    Hey J
    I wish. Unlike professionals, I get the day after to laze around patting myself on the back. It’ll be to my great shame when my lovely wife starts a blog of “dishes I have to wash and nonsense I have to put up with”.

  5. Sue’s avatar

    Cool. Love those noodle box thingies. Kitchen birkies: my next birthday gift I think, at the moment I wear my old soleless birkensandals. They give good foot support but should a knife or hot soup fall on my tootsies, they won’t be much use.

    Tanks for squid suggestions, will take on board.

  6. chika’s avatar

    beautiful job Anthony! it must have been quite a work, but the way you show it all somehow gives me this impression that you’ve done it all like a breeze. kinda.

    completely off-topic, but it seems like i may hit australia next month, not sure if i can make it to the west coast tho…

  7. Anonymous’s avatar

    You never cease to amaze Anthony. If you had then told us you also knocked up the – is it a Gateau St Honore – I would have to celebrate you as a minor deity. As it is you are already legend status!

    saint

  8. Anthony’s avatar

    Sue
    Yeah I’m surprised Chinese restaurants don’t use them, they could serve half as much, charge 50% more and make a squillion bucks.
    Soleless? Lucky for resurrected in the body.
    Steel capped kitchen birkies, good foot support and your potential best friend in a scuffle. We’ve got a no-shoe house but these get special exemption because of OH&S reasons and II got tired of stepping on bits of raw meat.

    Hi Chika
    Thanks. More wheezy than breezey but it kind of made sense. The biggest prob was me not sitting down and saying I’m going to make this, this, and this.

    I’m going to have to ban people from saying they’re coming to Australia but not Perth. Breaks me little West Australian heart it does. But if you change your mined…

    Saint
    Very close, the Gateau St Honore has a ring of profiteroles but a Croquembouche. I didn’t make it so you are saved from the perils of polytheism. A lucky thing as a minor deity I would make all followers watch Stone at least once a year and ermmm that’s it.

  9. Jeanne’s avatar

    OMG, did you ever know that you’re my hero, you’re everything I would like to be????? ;-)

    Truly amazing – I think I lack the planning skills to pull that sort of thing off. And of course, I lack the professional chef’s uniform, which hugely diminishes my chances of reaching your stratospheric culinary heights. But fabulous to enjoy your triumph vicariously :-)

  10. Anthony’s avatar

    Ah pish posh that’s just silly, look at my hair for example.

    A million miles from organised but accumulated habits can be handy. Now I think about it, it’s a bit like my ex-cop friend suggested of somebody pulls a knife you just keep chucking what you’ve got but with ermm dips. The uniform is important, everyone’s got a bit of Prussian in them and as my old tennis coach said, if you can’t be professional, look professional. He also said I should treat my racquet like my girlfriend but that’s another story.

  11. chika’s avatar

    oh I’m glad your old tennis coach didn’t say that you should treat your girlfriend like your tennis racquet. That’d be another story.

  12. Anthony’s avatar

    : ) Perfect proof of if A then B, not = to if B then A.

    I think it was when I found myself in a cinema watching “An Officer and a Gentleman” with my tongue stuck in the strings of a Dunlop Maxply McEnroe that I may have misunderstood things.

  13. deborah’s avatar

    I really love everything you have done with the menu Spicey. Especially the gazpacho in shot glasses – and uuuhh everything else.

    Toni is a gem. And I am the first the encourage her spin-off blog – th wife of spice or something silly like that:)

    Also, those white cardboard boxes can be seen in Sydney – Thai Number 1 @ Ashfield and Pentai in North Ryde. There are also some salad bars who use them. Funnily they seem to hold so much more than usual – perhaps they buy the medium size. For a long time I only saw them in Hollywood film or American sitcoms remember?

  14. Anthony’s avatar

    The gazpacho in the shot-glass idea is nicked from Jackson’s (steall from the best).

    Yeah bless ‘er, I’d still be in a pickle.

    I’d imagine they could be seen in Sydney. Yeah the boxes were a staple prop, I think I’ve never seen a plastic container in American show. That and paper grocery bags.

  15. Barbara’s avatar

    Bloody brilliant spread Anthony. Thanks for the coconut cream Charmaine tip. That will make such a difference to my watery curry attempts.

  16. Kate’s avatar

    You doing weddings? I’m looking for a caterer easter 2007. You’ll have to fly to the Hunter valley for a few days of course…

  17. Anthony’s avatar

    Barbara
    Oops. Charma”i”ne, thanks for that. It makes a difference and turned out much better then a previous attempt following a Donna Hay recipe (who seems to willfully restricte herself to five ingredients and five steps).

    Kate
    “You’ll have to fly” me “to the Hunter valley for a few days of course…”

    Never say it’s for a wedding, the price automatically goes up by 150%, say it’s a family get together with a costume theme of “wedding”.

  18. bramble’s avatar

    omg, omg, and one more for good measure, omg!

    stunned speechless.

    while feeling unworthy of even commenting on such a brilliant menu, may i mention reading somewhere that should the fine sieve be in use elsewhere in the kitchen, the yoghurt (and the cucumber) for tzatziki can be strained in a clean coffee filter. (tried it before purchase of much needed sieve; it works)

    and while i’m still here drooling, my heartfelt condolences to Toni for what must have been days of high stress followed by the sigh-relieving surge of post-traumatic stress testosterone.

  19. Santos’s avatar

    lovely job per usual, you seem to thrive in that environment, despite the anxiety attack.

    out of curiosity, how does one handle garbage disposal for a party of 60 during the party? i can’t imagine that the hosts let 60 takeout containers and sporks be littered amongst the table ornaments, but i can’t imagine a giant black bin bag spoiling the effect.

  20. Anthony’s avatar

    Thanks Bramble

    Every menu needs some work and I appreciate the advice. I’m actually hankering for a chinois, maybe I should tera myself. (What say you people?)

    Poor Toni indeed, I’m trying to convince her into some obsessive hobby that she drags me into to provide some balance.

    Santos
    I think I need to lie on the Santos sofa and chat about these things. I’m cursed with being a lazy, obsessive compulive, adrenaline junky with waking dreams of people going hungry or dying from insufficient menu items.

    It was a big place (1/4 acre mostly garden) and Perth homes have these big wheely bins for stuff. It was a friend’s party so there was much helping out around the place for things like that and it was still in full swing when I made my apologies at 1:30 so I’m not sure how the place ended up.

  21. Santos’s avatar

    i was wondering more specifically about during the party–was toni stuck with clearing up after people or did the hosts find 60 sporks stuck inside the grand piano in the morning?

  22. Anonymous’s avatar

    excuse me i seem to be lost can someone please direct me to the 2 funny chicks

  23. Anthony’s avatar

    Santos
    The good thing is the sporks can be placed in the container making rogue sporks less likely. Toni said she didn’t clean them up so I’m guessing people just put them in the bin which is damned responsible.

    Annonymous
    Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley? Oh yes I know who you mean, downstairs just look for the piicture of the black ram, can’t miss them.

  24. Alicia	Matthews’s avatar

    sometimes i also have anxiety attacks and when it happens, i just breathe slowly and deeply to help me relax.:,.

    1. Anthony’s avatar

      I usually find that once I get into the job, I’m less anxious. More sweary, but less anxious.

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