Dinner partyThere can be few greater pleasures in life than planning and making an epic, delicious meal and sharing it with some fantastic people (and a little splash of wine). The best home cook I’ve ever had the joy of wearing an apron with happened to be in Sydney for a few days, so we decided to take our time putting together a three course meal for eight people. Kate is a much more adventurous and ambitious cook than I am, but we were pleasantly suprised by how smoothly the whole process ran.

We prepared everything in reverse order. First we put together the desserts: Kate pitted ruby red fresh cherries, doused them with amaretto and topped them with crushed biscuits and almond meal for a delicious crumble, while I chopped chocolate croissants into an artery-assaulting bread-and-butter pudding. Then we prepped the various elements of the individual beef wellingtons, assembled them and left them to chill while we parboiled potatoes we’d later fry to serve with the wellies. Finally Kate handmade ravioli in wonton wrappers, with a spinach, ricotta and goat’s fetta filling, while I threw together a rocket, pear, avocado and blue cheese salad. The ravioli only needed to cook in boiling water for about 30 seconds, and we served them with a sauce of two punnets of cherry tomatoes reduced down with olive oil and thyme.

The best beef wellingtons you will ever eat

(serves 8) Caramelise three brown onions over a low heat with a heap of butter and some sherry if you have it. Meanwhile, chop six big mushrooms (stems removed) into thick slices and marinate with six tablespoons of olive oil, some fresh thyme and fresh rosemary. Wilt 2-3 bunches of english spinach and set it aside to cool. Fry up the mushrooms with any marinade they haven’t absorbed. Chop/crumble about 200g nice stinky blue cheese (we used Stilton). For each person you’ll have a round little steak, cut nice and thick – eye fillet would be ideal, we used a New York cut scotch fillet cos we’re pov – seal these quickly in a hot pan.

Lay out a sheet of filo pastry for each wellie… cut it into as big a circle as you can manage, then cut out some corners to make a cross. Layer some spinach, blue cheese, caramelised onion, mushrooms, steak and more spinach, then fold in the flaps and seal up the package. Flip it upside down onto a greased oven tray, brush with a beaten egg, and do some pastry art on the top if you’re feeling fancy. Bung them in the freezer for a good hour or so, so the wellies hang together when they go into the oven. They need to cook for about 45-50 minutes at 180 degrees, give them another egg wash first and, you might want to blast them at higher heat for the first 10 minutes. Let them rest for a few minutes before you serve them. They’ll be steaming little bombs of cheesy goodness, and hopefully your meat will still be just pink. Mmmmmmmm…

If you prefer a more professional recipe, here’s our source!

Chocolate croissant bread & butter pudding

This pudding was super easy to make, and when it finally came out of the oven our judgement may have been sedated by a reasonable quantity of vino and two other courses, but it was possibly the most delicious thing ever. Slice up about three chocolate croissants (they can be a day or two old), arrange them in a greased pudding bowl, and pour over a quick custard of 130g caster sugar, three eggs, 3/4 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of cream. Cover with plastic and let it sit for a good few hours, then bake at 180 degrees for about half an hour. It will be totally soft and gooey and with just the right amount of chocolate surprises…

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