Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Free Range Foodies Dinner Party

 When I was scrolling through Facebook a while ago I saw a post on Annabel Langbiens page: "I'm putting together a panel of keen cooks – the Free Range Foodies – to give me feedback and help spread the word about my new recipes, products and ideas. If you love to cook for others and share your foodie discoveries through social media, simply sign up below"

I thought this sounded like me so filled out the application form, then a few weeks later I got an email saying that I had been selected, then the following week I received a preview copy of the Summer Annual Cookbook in the post. It was all very exciting! And I then had a lot of fun selecting a menu made up of recipes from my lovely new cookbook.

Typical of me, I planned a very ambitious menu, with probably far too many different things in each course but hey, I do like a good challenge, and I absolutely did not want any of my guests going hungry!

 I hosted my Free Range Foodies dinner party for 14 (myself included, which caused me a great deal of panic as I had never cooked for that large a number before!) on Sunday. I spent Saturday morning shopping for as many of the ingredients that I could get my hands on at the Otago Farmers Market, as well as picking up some beautiful pink peonies. The Poultry stall guy had a very shocked look on his face when I asked for around 16 chicken thighs.

Saturdays main challenge was tracking down red cabbage. I never knew it could be so difficult to find in season produce! Thankfully, a trip a different supermarket on Sunday had some in stock. Phew.
 Due to my overambitious menu, I spent all of Sunday in the kitchen. Which is actually fine by me, as I love to be in there creating deliciousness! Thankfully I had a super helpful boyfriend helping me out. However, I did almost have a meltdown at about 3 pm when I went into the freezer to get out some puff pastry for one of the starters only to find it in a million tiny wee pieces, so it was off on another walk to the supermarket.

In the end, everything came together just fine before the guests started to arrive. Luckily for me, I had super awesome flatmates to help arrange the table and chairs before everyone arrived.

So.. I can assume that you are sitting there wondering what was on the menu??


Asparagus tarts
Spinach, Pea, Mint and Feat Frittata (Pictured)
Cheesy garlic bread (wasn't from any recipe, just threw it together to use up left over Farmers Market Brioche).


Coconut Slaw
Spicy corn rice
Jerk Chicken
Steak with Moroccan spice rub
Sweet corn and pesto polenta

All of these dishes turned out absolutely fantastic. I had never cooked polenta before, but as one of my guests was vegetarian I thought I should put just as much effort into a vegetarian dish as I was the meat dishes. The first sentence in the recipe for the polenta was "cook polenta following the package instructions." The package just said "SunValley Pole
nta". Google search. Looked at four pages on how to cook polenta and got four completely different methods.. oh dear. I just guessed in the end and it turned out fine. I even got lots of comments on how tasty it was.                                                                                                                                                          

Left: Slow cooked steak with Moroccan Spice rub, just the right degree of spiciness. Full of flavour, delicious! And I still have lots of the spice rub left over, looking forward to getting creative with it!

Top left: Spicy corn and rice
Top right: Polenta. Well, what's left of it anyway! It disappeared very quickly.
Bottom centre: Coconut slaw. Green and red cabbage, carrot, toasted coconut with a zesty dressing.

All three of these got fantastic comments =)

The only picture that was taken of the chicken before it was all eaten was a surprise photo of me getting it out of the oven. Of all the main course dishes I think this was my favorite. The chicken was beautifully tender and moist, and the jerk sauce had a perfect balance between the sweetness of orange and the spiciness of the different spices.

If you have been following my blog you would have picked up by now that desserts are a definite favourite of mine. I often struggle to make sure that I keep a balance between baking/desserts and main meals. So of course this dinner was no exception. I made far more dessert than would ever be necessary. Unfortunately, dessert mostly got eaten before anyone remembered to take photos. But we did get one!


Chocolate meringue cake (pictured)
Raspberry ripple ambrosia
Three ingrediant chocolate moouse
Chocolate dipped strawberries (just because I like them..)

I loved every one of these (of course). By this point everyone had already had far too much to eat but everyone still managed to find enough room to fit in these tasty treats.

All in all, this was a really successful night. We all had such a blast and all of the food was fantastic. If you can get your hands on this cookbook, I definitely would! Totally worth every cent.

And to finish off, here are a few pictures of friends enjoying their meal.

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