Dinner Date; Gastro series
Me and my fiancé had a great idea to create a dinner date weekend with some what the same type of idea as in the Dinner Date TV show. We decided to have 3 course dinner. The idea was to decide 3 courses that we wanted to cook for the other person. For executing this idea we had two different weekends. First my fiancé treated me with 3 delicious dishes and I can say that after those dishes it was easy to fall asleep.
Preparations for the dinner date
Previous night I made the ciabatta for the appetizer and two layers of meringue for the pavlova. Just alone the meringue takes about 1,5 hours to bake in the oven and it was smarter to do those beforehand. Saturday mid-day rolls around and I start my race with 3 course dinner. First off I messed up at the very beginning with the caramel! I boiled the sugar and water mixture way too long and instead of being an amber color it was more like black. So, for my safety and sanity, I made an executive decision and sent my fiancé to buy some ready-made caramel from a store. (The burnt caramel made a huge mess and next time I will use some other technique when making homemade caramel.) From that disaster I started prepping my vegetables for my main, which were parsnips, carrots and the horrendous sweet potatoes. I can honestly say that after chopping the two sweet potatoes to shoestring like bits, I won’t be chopping anything for a while, especially sweet potatoes.
For appetizer we had an oven-baked Camembert with garlic and rosemary with drizzle of olive oil. For dipping, we had homemade toasted ciabatta wedges, cashews and cranberries as well as green apple slices. The idea to have an oven-baked Camembert came actually from the Dinner Date TV show. Few of the “contestants” had this as an appetizer and ever since I first saw this idea in the show it has been stuck on my mind.
The appetizer was so easy to make and the combination of the ciabatta, Camembert and apple was exquisite! I think my ciabatta was a bit dense, but for a first try, it was good. I would recommend this appetizer for anyone, it would be a nice dish even for parties or other gatherings. The saltiness of the Camembert and sweetness of the apple was just divine. Accompanying wine for the appetizer was a rosé, Mateus The Original Rosé (Portugal) which worked well with the appetizer.
For main dish I made deconstructed Beef Wellington, red wine jus with seasonal honey-glazed vegetables and shoestring sweet potatoes. I wanted to recreate a Beef Wellington with a twist and my inspiration for this came from Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington. Although, I think Gordon Ramsay would 100% shout at me for this weak dish. I can already hear him shout “It’s f***ing raw, it’s so raw that it can still walk! *throws the meat across the room*”. 😂
So the main was a bit of a challenge for me, it had different components that needed to be made at the same time. And I need to confess that I had some help in the very end with the beef. For the deconstructed Beef Wellington I baked squares of puff pastry for top and bottom. I added the sautéed mushrooms and beef on top of the puff pastry and lightly added the jus and covered with the other puff pastry square. The shoestring sweet potatoes were lightly coated with salt, pepper and olive oil and baked in the oven until done. The honey-glazed vegetables was actually a Gordon Ramsay’s recipe and those were so good! My plating isn’t the prettiest and I should work on that. Overall the main dish was delicious and very filling. We actually took a little break before the dessert.
For the jus I used the Mayu Reserva Carménère (2015, Chile) red wine, which we also enjoyed with the main. This red wine was excellent for the jus and now I understand why lots of people like this wine. I have started to appreciate red wines just few years ago. I think it needs some adjusting to the taste and just trying different red wines until you find something that suits your taste puds. Pro tip: don’t start your red wine experience with expensive red wines.
For the dessert I created light and airy pavlova with fresh fruit, whipped vanilla cream, raspberry faux caviar and drizzled caramel. Pavlova is one of my favorite desserts of all time. I wanted to try basic cold oil based spherification and decided to add them to the pavlova. I think I handle desserts and other sweets way better than savory dishes.
As I earlier mentioned, I made the meringue the night before which made the assembling of the pavlova way quicker. Although making the faux caviar took some time, I made those just for my curiosity. Making of the faux caviar was quite easy and fun, next time I would use other type of recipe, liquid and dropper. The actual pavlova was airy, sweet and light after the other hearty dishes. With the pavlova we had a dessert wine, which was La Caliera, DOCG Moscato d’Asti Borgo Maragliano (2017, Italy). The wine was sweet but not overly sweet, it had some sparkling and accompanied well with the pavlova.
Final Thoughts of the dinner date
In retrospective I would change and do some things differently. First off we agreed that if we do this again it would be more fun to cook the food together and have just one or two dishes. As far as the dishes go, for the appetizer I would change the cranberries and cashews to grapes or something else. For the main course I would change the shoestring sweet potatoes to sweet potato gratin stacks or wedges. I would also change the puff pastry squares and plate the food differently. For the dessert I would just do one layer of meringue and take off the faux caviar.
Overall I did learn new things and this was a great date night idea. Have you tried to do 3 course menus? What would you make? Comment below! 😊