".....as many courses as possible really here as the stag is a bit of a gourmand, and if possible, James Bond themed" had been the brief back at the begining of February for the dinner party last Friday night.
It took quite a bit of research to come up with some dishes - this was done on the only quiet week I have had the whole year - back in April. A bit of help from Twitter followers then too - that's how I got the idea of linking it to the cocktails, so thanks everyone. Then a few weeks ago it was time to put together the rest of the weekend's food too - Saturday breakfast and afternoon barbecue and Sunday brunch. There were also vegetarian alternatives to think of. How many courses for the Friday night meal though? Well it has to 007 doesn't it?!
I don't cook for many stag parties it has to be said - most holiday houses don't allow them, because they have a certain reputation, but some houses allow more well behaved parties. This was the second stag party I had done at Park Hall near Kidderminster. I still have vivid memories of pigeon feathers blowing around the terrace from the last one, blowing in through to the hall and all over the kitchen..... great fun. It certainly is the most sumptuous house - like having exclusive use of a luxury hotel but with the freedom of a self-catering house, and when you've got someone like me, the catering is all taken care of.
While Hannah and I looked after the kitchen, Anna and Holly of Party Angels took charge of front of house in party dressed as classy Bond girls.
As James Bond had a certain penchant for cocktails, and this was a stag party (they do like a drop or two) I thought it would be good to take some cocktails that James Bond enjoyed in the books, or may have enjoyed on his travels, along with dishes which feature in the book too.
1: Canape - Blinis with caviar
Caviar and blinis straight from the James Bond books. As a vegetarian alternative I used tapanade instead (looks so similar). We served these with their pre-dinner drinks outside at the front of the house.
2: Starter - Grilled mohito prawns with marinated vegetable salad
Prawn cocoktail comes up quite often in the James Bond books. When I had first seen the mohito chicken recipe I had been wanting to try it out with tiger prawns - and this seemed the ideal opportunity. The prawns had been marinading in the lime, garlic, rum, mint and olive oil while we were in Gloucester serving up a pig roast for a wedding. These were then grilled and threaded on lemongrass skewers. Vegetable salad I cut while the blinis were going out - celariac, carrot, cucumber, coriander, mint, rum, lime, spring onion.
3: Fish course - Crab with whisky and raspberry vinaigrette
Whisky and soda crops up everywhere in the Bond books - apart from the shaken not stirred, possibly the most common. Crab salad also features, so with this course I combined to the two. I crushed up some raspberries with white wine vinegar and passed this through a sieve added whisky and blended it into a dressing with a little dijon mustard and olive oil.
For vegetarians there was avocado and artichoke salad.
4: Main course - Dark and stormy steak with homemade chips
I had given them a choice of 3 main courses and this os the one they went for - classic stag party. Also classic Bond - steak and chips crops up regularly. I had also suggested Duck with kir royale jelly or gilled sole. One of the cocktails I came accross was the dark and stormy - rum, ginger beer, lime and ice. I thought this would go really well with the steak. And it did. The steak too was also marinading in the rum, ginger beer and lime while we did the pig roast. The first largish event I did a few months after starting the buisness over 4 years ago was a caribbean themed canape and cocktail party and I had been hooked on ginger beer for a few months afterwards. It's nostalgia value.
As time was so short I was just going to sear the steaks when I got there - but the le creuset grill pan was a bit too large for the aga, so in the end it wouldn't get hot enough and there was only one thing for it - directly on the aga top, before finishing in the aga oven. The marinade was turned into the sauce, along with some beef stock.
Asparagus and hollandaise was another dish from the Bond books (Moonraker), and this made a nice vegetarian alternative to the main course.
Rooster potatoes made the best chips. I was considering what to put with the steak the day before during making the last minute shopping list and both Adam and Hannah said "Peas!" Well they had a point - buttered peas often turn up in the James Bond books - so they became petit pois a la francaise. Needless to say the stags loved them.
5: Pre-dessert - Shotglass of roasted peach, cranberry curd and candied orange zest
Oh come on - it was a stag party, and there was a running theme of cocktails, so how could you not do something with the sex on the beach cocktail?
Like the apricots for the apricot and frangipane tart we served a few weeks before I roasted the peaches coated in caramel used for tarte tatin apples and a little vodka - extra flavour. Cranberry curd recipe here and orange zest made like the lemon zest.
6: Dessert - Coconut and chocolate tart topped with hazelnuts
This had been staring out of the Marie Claire Food Fast book I had been given for a while. Big coconut fan - I had just forgotten. Another of the cocktails I came accross was the German chocolate cake cocktail. So I took those flavours and applied them to this dessert - hence you have the coconut, white chocolate sauce, toasted hazelnuts. It got the seal of approval from the Party Angels - so it must have been good ;)
As I was plating up the next course one of the stags came into the kitchen routing through the drawers and cupboards. I asked if I could help "I was just looking for scissors and a bowl" he said. There didn't seem to be any scissors in the drawer so I offered mine. "You probably wouldn't want to use them after what we're using them for...." OK - sometimes it's better not to ask......
7: Cheese course - Gorsehill Abbey Farm organic St. Eadburgha cheese with black velvet paste
Originally this was going to be St. Oswold, but the organiser of the stag party had a joke organised for the stag involving the nose of the brie - it is really bad manners to cut the nose off the brie. Apparently. So I changed it to St. Eadburgha which is similar to brie. Black velvet - an unlikely combination of guinness and chamagne seems to have a lot of fans. Guinness goes well with cheese - think that marbled cheddar with guinness or welsh rarebit. I set this with (vegetarian) gelatine and cream of tartar.
With a bit more time for the next time we served this James Bond themed meal I did the cheese slightly differently - as seen here.
Just time for coffee and homemade chocolates.
Then as we were clearing up the camera had an argument with a leaking bowl of water being used for cleaning glasses ("...If a glass comes back with a warm liquid in, it's probably advisable you don't try it...."). That's why I don't go for expensive electronic equipment. Similar thing happened with a mobile phone and a leaking tap a few months ago. So that was it for photos of the weekends' food. Shame because there were some other great offerings the following 2 days too such as the barbecued lamb meatballs and orange, ginger and cashew rice salad for the Saturday barbecue and the chelsea buns, waffles and smoked haddock kedgeree with curry sauce for Sunday brunch. But you know what? There'll be another time.......
James Bond themed 007 course menu replay - next time we served this we were able to refine a few things - take a look!