International Cuisine Dinner Parties and “52 new recipes in 52 weeks”!

Some friends of ours have got together and formed a group that has themed dinner parties every 6 weeks or so. The first, which was mainly a meeting to figure our rules, was a couple of weeks ago. The theme is International cuisine – with a different household holding the dinner party each time. Each couple decides on a country and we have a dinner around that theme.

20140104_201404So at the inaugural dinner, there was a lot of food and a lot of COCKTAILS! The basic rules are the hosts provide snacks, 1 main dish and COCKTAILS – the rest of us bring a dish each. Now, originally I thought this was a “Come dine with me” style evening, where you’d give scores. Admittedly we didn’t really get stuck into finalising the rules so much as we did enjoy the COCKTAILS! Did I mention there were cocktails?!

Well, Mr & Mrs G sure started the bar high for the first dinner. There was a colour theme, balloons, a giant table beautifully decorated – they’d gone to a lot of effort. We had cuisines from all around the world; Californian rolls (USA), Meatballs and Salsa (Mexico), Pizza (Italy), Chicken & Chorizo bake (Spain) and lots more. I brought an Eton Mess (UK), as we chose Britain for our theme night.  I picked an Eton Mess as it was so simple (and Chef was working!). It didn’t matter if it looked messy, as that’s really the whole point! The night was lots of fun and the next one is coming up this weekend – a MEXICAN FIESTA!! Chef is in charge of dessert this time (sigh of relief) and he has something pretty cool planned.

20140104_194232So since I hadn’t made an Eton Mess before, that also doubled as week #1 of my new years resolution “52 new recipes in 52 weeks”!! Perfect for a quick and easy desert;

Eton Mess

1/4 cup caster sugar

900g strawberries, hulled, quartered

300ml thick cream

4 (10g each) meringue nests, crumbled

  • Sprinkle quartered strawberries with sugar and put to one side.
  • Whip cream – if desired.
  • Place strawberries in a bowl with cream and the meringue.
  • Fold everything together until just combined, then spoon into four glasses and serve immediately

How easy is that?! I used disposable wine glasses to serve them in.

20140104_173846There are a lot of variations to this classic dish. Some add raspberries too (like me). Nigella Lawson uses vanilla sugar and some pomegranate juice. Heston Blumenthal actually tried to develop and change this dish and he came to the conclusion that it shouldn’t be altered. That it’s simplicity was what made it so popular. The dish is from Eton, a village just a few miles from Bray, where Heston’s “Fat Duck” restaurant and “Hinds Head” gastro pub are.

My effort for Week #2 I wasn’t impressed with – it was Chocolate beetroot brownies (from a Coles Magazine). I didn’t really enjoy the flavour – so I’ll just share the good recipes with you – Week 3 coming soon!

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