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