A Touch of Delicious Class

March 30, 2011

As I am now firmly in my mid-twenties, I feel I am at an appropriate age to be engaging in regular dinner parties. This sounds very Emily Post of me, what can I say….it feels right.

How fabulous is it to create a theme, dress up a little, decorate your dining room and bake?! Clearly my friends agree with me. On Saturday night, my gorgeous friend, Peta, hosted a dinner party. We’ve had lots of dinners together in our little group, mainly involving take-out with the occasional cook-up. But nothing like this…

Peta invited nine of us over for a lovely catch up and to help celebrate our beautiful friend Vicki completing the 6 hour GAMSAT that day. What better way to say “congratulations, thank goodness that is over, now you can go back to having a life” than with fondant?

Peta decorated the table with cream cylinder candles and little white flowers in crystal cups. She also put golden hearts atop of the serviettes and scattered Turkish Delight along the middle of the table. It was stunning.

White hydrangeas and tea lights adorned the side tables.

We started off with Turkish bread dipped in a lovely extra virgin olive oil and dukkah.

Me and my man.

For our mains, Peta made roasted lamb rack with a coriander crust (recipe link). It was absolutely beautiful! I am yet to really work with this cut of meat, but I am so keen to after tasting this delectable dish. They were incredibly succulent, Peta cooked them perfectly. She pressed the coriander mixture onto the fleshy side of the lamb rack rather than along the bone.

Look at those beautiful coriander seeds…heavenly.

There were also fish cakes and corn cakes for those who didn’t eat meat. Peta picked them up at Camberwell market. These babies are air-vacked and were fast and flavourful.

Baby potatoes.

I contributed my beetroot, goats cheese and candied walnut salad (recipe at the end of this post) and Peta also made a lovely, fresh roquette and parmesan salad with a lemony dressing.

We sipped wine as we ate and chatted about all the exciting things that have happened recently. We’re at the stage when we’re making big decisions in our lives, whether it be work, travel, buying a house or getting engaged. So it was really nice to catch up over a special dinner.

My plate.

The stunning hostess with the mostess delicious lamb!

For dessert, Peta blew us away with a chocolate fondant (recipe link). They were all perfect, and although Peta calls it a “cheats fondant”, as you put a bit of chocolate in the centre to ensure the centre is gooey, they were utterly divine.

Fluffy and rich with a devilishly, oozing centre. We all agreed that the almond meal added a lovely texture and flavour. They were served with vanilla ice-cream, strawberries and raspberries. Perfection.

Thank you, Peta, this was such a lovely night, a real touch of delicious class. I cannot wait to return the favour when we move into our new place. I’m thinking a Moroccan or Thai theme…

Roast Beetroot Salad with Goats Cheese, Candied Walnuts and Pomegranate Dressing

This salad serves 6 and works beautifully alongside some chargrilled eye fillet or roast lamb (it could also serve 4 as more of a main, or 9 as a smaller side salad).

Ingredients

4 medium Beetroot, ends trimmed
150g Baby Spinach
1 large Red Onion
200g Goats Cheese (use good quality cheese here, it makes all the difference! I use Meredith Marinated Goats Cheese or Blue Bay Goats Fetta)
1 cup* Walnuts pieces
2 tablespoons Caster Sugar
2 tablespoons Water
A few pinches of Sea Salt

1.5 tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses (from gourmet grocers or middle-eastern delis. I get mine from the Red Hill Cellars, Oakleigh Market or Oasis Bakery)
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Lemon

* It is best to double this amount so you can all stand around the kitchen chatting and nibbling on candied walnuts as your fondant is standing.

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 Degrees Celsius.

Wash the beetroot and wrap them individually in foil. Place them on a baking tray and bake in the oven for ~1 hour (it may take longer, depending on your oven and the size of your beetroot). Be careful not to overcook them. You will know it is cooked when you can pierce the beetroot easily with a skewer.

While the beetroot is cooking, you can make the candied walnuts.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and toast the walnuts in the oven. Be careful not to burn them! They will take 3-5 minutes.
Place a sheet of baking paper over a chopping board, and have two forks at the ready, close by.
Put a heavy-based saucepan over a low flame. Add the sugar and water and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts into a syrup and turns a slight golden colour. Add the walnuts and stir to coat. Once the walnuts are evenly coated, quickly pour them onto the baking paper covered chopping board. Using the forks, work very quickly to separate the walnuts – they will cool and clump together otherwise. Once separated, sprinkle with sea salt and allow to cool.

As the walnuts are cooling, roast the onion.
Cut the onion in half and then slice into wedges. Place the pieces on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Toss the onion in a good glug of olive oil and pop the tray in the oven to cook for ~15-20 minutes (once again, this depends on your oven and how big your onion wedges are). Once they’re roasted and soft, remove the tray from the oven and allow them to cool.

Once the beetroot is cooked, take them out of the foil and run them under cool water. Using disposable rubber gloves (and wearing an apron!!) gently rub the skin to peel the beetroot, discarding the skin. Be careful, it is messy work and beetroot can stain!

Once the beetroot is peeled, cut it into chunks or wedges.

Wash the spinach and add it to your favourite salad bowl, along with the beetroot, onion and goats cheese.

To prepare the dressing, add the pomegranate molasses and olive oil to a jar. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon (or a whole lemon if it is not a particularly juicy one) and then use a little whisk or spoon, stirring briskly to incorporate the liquids. Add more molasses if you like a sweeter dressing or a touch of water (or more olive oil) if you want to dilute the sweetness a little.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and gently mix the ingredients with serving spoons or tongs. Scatter the walnuts over the top and voila!

Heidi xo

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  • wholesomecook March 30, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Oh my gosh! The lamb looks really good, I must try the recipe. And you probably already know I'm crazy about beetroot, goat's cheese and nut combos. Yum.

  • Carolyn March 30, 2011 at 8:41 am

    wow all the food looks so good. dinner party with friends is so much fun πŸ™‚ good food, drink, and company

  • denitamudge2014 March 30, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Wow! What an amazing dinner! Mmm.. that lamb looked absolutely incredible. I will definitely be making that salad by the way. Beetroot and goat's cheese – 2 wonderful ingredients.

    xx

  • Heidi March 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Wholesomecook – yes, do try the lamb recipe! And I knew you'd like the salad πŸ˜‰

    Carolyn – it was such a lovely night πŸ™‚

    De – I was thinking of making it next Thursday for you & Jenna, as I knew you'd love it!

    Heidi xo

  • Anna March 30, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Oh I agree Miss Heidi, I love a good dinner party, this sounds odd, but I love watching as everyone takes their first bite. It is very rewarding. Not a huge lamb fan, but that rack looks gorgeous. πŸ™‚

  • Lisa March 30, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Mmmm, that all sounds delicious. I've been meaning to get on the dinner party bandwagon for years, maybe this is the menu to get me going!

  • Ashley March 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Wow! Looks like you guys had an absolutely wonderful meal! The chocolate fondant looks delish!!

    I love dinner parties myself, I've always been known to host them with my friends (with the help of my mum :)). Just had a baking night not too long ago where I whipped up a simple salad which my friends fell in love with, then continued to put everyone one into a sugar coma with chocoholic cookies and strawberry cupcakes!

  • Hannah March 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Okay, you and your man are too gorgeous for words! And even though I love my chocolate, your salad is my favourite part of the meal πŸ™‚

  • Leah March 30, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    looks like such a fun night πŸ™‚ I adore a choc fondant!!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella March 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Aww it's like flipping through a photo album of fun times! Love your dress or top too! I love ruffles πŸ˜€

  • Blithely Unaware March 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    That salad looks absolutely delectable Heidi, great post.

  • msihua March 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Oh nom.. love love love the pic of you and your man!! And the one with berries… I agree… sit back and enjoy.. the mid-twenties is all about dinner parties (or should be!!)

  • Heavenly Ingredients March 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Heidi – don't think my comments came up from this morning? I promise they were nice…

    I'm going to try those candied walnuts – I have heaps in my cupboard. loved all the recipes in this post, yum.

  • Iron Chef Shellie March 30, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    oh how i love a dinner party. just wish i had a dish washer and more room and I'd do it more often.

    how gorgeous is that pic of ben and you? <3

    xx

  • The InTolerant Chef March 30, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    I love a real dinner party, they are such fun to plan and cook for. Pomegranate molassas is great with the sour sweet tart thing going on, yumm…

  • Heidi March 31, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Anna – yes, it is rewarding seeing everyone enjoy your hard work!

    Lisa – have fun! You'd throw such a nice one, I'm sure.

    Ashley – sounds amazing!! I'm sure you're friends were loving it πŸ™‚

    Hannah – awe thanks, lovely πŸ˜€

    Leah – ooooh me too. A real favourite!

    Lorraine – thank you! It is a new purchase πŸ™‚

    Blithely Unaware – why thank you πŸ™‚

    Msihua – completely, while you have the time and no screaming babies!

    Laura – hmmm I have no idea where the comment went! I didn't see it, only this one! Hope you enjoy the walnuts, it makes them even more addictive πŸ™‚

    Michele – thanks πŸ™‚ I like it too. Especially with the instagram filter hehe. I know, a dishwasher would be nice. & more room – thankfully we're about to move somewhere bigger, so I see many dinner parties in my future!

    InTolerant Chef – isn't it?! I adore it.

    Heidi xo

  • CC11 March 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Oh man – you've got me wishing I threw more dinner parties! It's the clean-up I dread, but if everyone takes turns hosting then it's so much fun!

    Your salad has me drooling, pretty much my perfect salad.

  • Anonymous April 1, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Heids! Beautiful photos and I do love that beet salad. Peta! Looks like it was a wonderful dinner party. Food looks divine. Bummer I missed it
    Bhey xox

  • Anonymous April 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    DELICIOUS!

  • zoepitchi June 6, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I can't wait until about a year from now when my friends and I will be at a similar stage of our lives. I LOVE dinner parties. That salad recipe looks amazing, now all I need is for it not to be winter so I can make it…I seem to only want to eat soups and warm hearty casseroles/pastas right now πŸ˜›