Sunday, 26 October 2008

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Six Friends, Six Countries, One City

When I first moved to Brighton I was lucky enough to meet five amazing girls at pretty much the same time! Since then we became very close - long boozy lunches in the pub in Winter; all day picnics on the beach in Summer; and random fancy dress parties pretty much any time of year. We've been clubbing in Ibiza; sightseeing in Budapest; sunbathing in Mallorca; and moonlight camel-trekking in Morocco. Been through break ups and make overs; late nights and countless bottles of wine. These are my girls - my Brighton family.

When an announcement went out inviting foodbuzz bloggers to submit ideas for a unique dinner to help promote their official launch, I racked my brain to think of a special dinner, with very little success.

I had all but given up on the idea when I went round to Alice's flat to dinner to have our regular mid-week Ladies Night. Then Vicki came up with a brilliant suggestion. None of us girls are actually from Brighton originally - and more than that, we're all from different countries - England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, Pakistan and Nigeria! She suggested that I cook up a menu with different courses for each country. And I was happy and excited to hear from foodbuzz that they wanted to go ahead with her suggestion!

I decided in the end to do a tasting menu - six small courses. It was a wonderful evening. The girls arrived at half seven; the wine was opened and the chat started immediately!

The guests!

From left:
Vicki (Welsh) - recently landed a dream job as an Editorial Assistant in a publishing house - woop!
Alice - the Londoner, going traveling the week before me!
Moon (Pakistan) - getting married in the Maldives in February - and I'm bridesmaid!
Me! Wearing my Joust Winners' Apron
Mariska (Nigerian) - got married in Vegas a couple of weeks ago (intentionally!)
Belinda, moved to Brighton from Sydney only a few weeks before I met her!

The Food

Marinated Kangaroo Kebabs

First up, my Australian offering - kangaroo kebabs. I had to go up to London to get the meat from Borough Market - and most of us hadn't ever tried it before. With some trepidation I marinated the meat in coconut milk, orange juice and lemongrass, ginger, garlic and chili. A light grilling to just more than rare, and it got its rest while I took the photographs!

The meat was deliciously tender, with the smoothness of coconut and the Asian flavours rounding out the rich meat perfectly. Kangaroo has the reputation for being tough, but served rare, was as tender as fillet steak... Empty plates all round!


Akara are bean patties and are the Nigeria course in my international menu. Mariska provided me with a recipe - I'd never even heard of them before! Akara are fritters made from black eye peas, onion and cayenne pepper. Apparently in West Africa they can be served as breakfast, appetizer or snack - and are also sold as street food. And I can see why they are so popular - we all loved them!

Smoked Haddock with Welsh Rarebit

I really wanted to serve Welsh Rarebit for the Welsh course - and smoked haddock seemed like a suitable vehicle! Welsh rarebit is made almost like a very thick cheddar sauce, with mustard, dark ale and worcestershire sauce mixed in. Spread thickly on pan-fried haddock, then broiled til brown and bubbling, the savoury cheesiness matched the smoked haddock perfectly.

Cock a Leekie Soup

Some more Scottish Scran! For a soup course we turn to Scotland, with a bowl of cock a leeky soup. Cool name, huh! Cock a leeky soup is a very old traditional soup - originally made by making stock from a whole boiling fowl, then adding leeks and prunes. More recently, an ordinary chicken is used, and rice is added during the final simmer. I wanted to add prunes - but the shop was out! It definitely hit the spot despite that!

Pakistani Fish Curry with Methi Roti

I asked Moon for a recommendation for what to cook from Pakistan - and she offered me a gorgeous recipe for fish curry - just like her mum used to make! I was excited about making this one, as I love spicy food, and am always happy to try out an authentic recipe. A paste of ginger, garlic, turmeric, chili powder and cumin was cooked out with some water, then yogurt gradually added to make the curry base. I added in fillets of pollack and simmered until cooked through, then mixed in a good handful of coriander.

I finished the dish with sliced green chillies for those who liked it hot - and a yogurt dip for those who didn't! Scooped up with homemade methi roti... heaven. This is a beautiful curry - thank you to Moon , and her mum, for the recipe!!

Banoffee Pie

Banoffee pie! Ummmm... Did you know it originated in England? I didn't - I always thought it was an American creation for some reason. But no, it's English. And not just that, it originated only eight miles outside of Brighton, at the fantastic Hungry Monk in Jevington. Yes, I've been there, and tried banoffee pie in it's birthplace!

Dulce de leche, boiled up from condensed milk; cream whipped with an espresso reduction; coffee-scented biscuit butter base; and chopped perfectly ripe bananas. Simple, easy, irresistible!


The evening was a success! We didn't finish eating until half 11; there was much hilarity and I don't think more than ten seconds of silence at any time. On the whole, we all enjoyed the drawn out dining style... with the notable exception of Alice... The grazing thing is fine, but what I really like is sitting down to a big plate of pie!

The sign of a good night!

Thank you to foodbuzz for giving me the chance to spend such a wonderful night with my best friends. And thank you to my best friends for being there!

I will be posting up the recipes over the course of the next week - stay tuned!

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Peter M said...

Kittie, congrats on pulling off a successful evening and your international dinner concept no doubt, helped all your pal gals feel a little closer to home.

I must seek and eat kangaroo...nice work!

Helen said...

This is such a wonderful meal, I love the idea! You know how curious I was about that kangaroo meat too! I love cock a leeky soup, it was a childhood staple in my house but I've never heard of adding prunes before, I am curious!

glamah16 said...

You made Akra! My father is Nigerian and that one of my favaorites. We add dried shrimp and chopped bell peppers some time. CS loves it. What a great group of friends you have there.Wonderful dinner. One day I may actually try kangaroo, my Aussie friend swears by it.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

What a great job Kittie! Lucky girlfriends! I now really want to try kangaroo meat!

Ben said...

Great job! The idea was just amazing. I might be stealing it for my next dinner party ;) Congrats on the great dinner.

Psychgrad said...

Looks like a great night. Do you guys need a Canadian representative? :)

Heather said...

What lucky girls you all are to have met each other. Maybe next time I can represent the US!

The menu is to die for too, really. Lovely. Great job, Kittie!

Dee said...

Whoa! To say I'm impressed would be an understatement :) Will eagerly await the recipes.

Sam said...

Looks like you had a great evening, the food looks wonderful. Good job!

Lizzie said...

What a brilliant idea! The food looks lovely. I think I'll need to try out some kangaroo soon.

kittie said...

Thank you Peter! It was such a fun night!

Helen - I know - prunes in soup sounds so weird. I read somewhere it was to add nutrition!

Hey coco! I heard about adding dried shrimp - but wasn't sure if I should have rehydrated it first - what do you reckon?!

Thanks Judy - I'll be using it again, I just wish it was easier to get a hold of!

Hey ben - thanks - and I just finished reading about your dinner party - sounds amazing!!

Hi psychgrad - sure - let's have a virtual dinner party!

Hey heather, yay - another participant for a virtual dinner party! Thank you!

Thank you dee!

Thanks Sam - the company, the food and the wine made for a wonderful evening!

FoodJunkie said...

What a multi-culti dinner! Congratulations. I am really looking forward to the recipes!

kellypea said...

What a spread! Truly tempting dishes and flavors always get me wanting to scoop up to the table. I have a group of good friends who get together and cook regularly and it is so much fun. I know it's a lot of work, too, so congrats to you on a clearly successful party! That pie recipe sounds amazing. I've never heard of it before...

bostontparties said...

wow, what a creative, and thoughtful idea! I love akra -when I lived in paris, there was a tiny storefront near my apartment that sold it. pure heaven. I'm impressed your kangaroo came out so well, as the one time I tried it, it was dry as jerky.

Lo said...

What a nice idea. I love the kangaroo concept... must try that when I get the chance!

kittie said...

Hi foodjunkie - "multi-culti" - great word!! Thanks :)

Hey Kellypea - never heard of banoffee?? You must try it!

Hi bostontparties - thanks for stopping by! I was worried about the driness - so verged on under rather than over cooking!

Hi Lo! I hope you get a chance to try it - I'd recommend it to anyone!

Apples and Butter said...

What a fabulous globe-trotting evening you had without even leaving your kitchen! Having close girlfriends to share a night like this with is such a gift!

glamah16 said...

Oh rehydrate it! I leaned the hard way.I found some ground dried shrimp powder at the Asian Market. I might use that next time.

Rose said...

What a great idea - congrats on pulling it off!

Foodycat said...

Gosh you have pretty friends! And that is a fabulous looking meal. Well done!

kittie said...

Hi A&B! I know how lucky I am - they're great gals!

coco - ground shrimp powder? My cupboard needs that!!

Thank you Rose! I had a couple of panic moments during the prep - but it all came together in the end!

Thanks foodycat, I'll pass on the compliment!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Every 24/24/24 post I'm seeing lately is really something--this meal especially! Fantastic work putting together such a creative spread. I've got a few things on my to-do list, like "find kangaroo"...

Maria said...

What a great post! You look like a wonderful group of friends who had an amazing dinner.