My description of the meal below was dismissed as too much like food porn by Rachel,
so Sophie kindly authored this censored menu for our guests.
You can also view the punishing schedule I kept the girls to in order to get the meal out on time!
You can also see the genesis of the main course, and my shopping list.
22nd November 2008
Eldorado Dinner
Fresh sage and onion bread rolls.

Courgette sheets hemmed with chives and fringed with dill gently envelope smoked salmon slivers, avocado slices, asparagus tips and exotic mushrooms. Moistened with mascarpone and spiced with wasabi they lie together on a passion fruit bed.

Plump pan-fried Scallops wearing nests of spiralized crispy beetroot swim languorously in glossy pools of raisin-caper sauce in a white wine reduction. They wink coquetishly across the plate at seared lozenges of Sea Bass dressed in emerald spinach jewels reclining on fluffy pillows of vanilla celeriac puree. Vegetarian jellies wait in attendance - celery and Ricard partnered by beetroot and balsamic.

Creamy crème brûlées drunk on Grand Marnier are tattoed with nutmeg, pierced with slivers of crystallized ginger and then lovingly folded into their ramekins with pureed roast pumpkin. They will be showered in cinnamon sugar and caramelized for your pleasure.

Handmade White chocolate and Chilli chocolate truffles will be served with coffee.

A homemade chilli vodka cocktail will settle your stomach. Or not.

Fish Course
starter main fish
For 6

3 King Scallops per person
1 Sea Bass fillet per person
clarified butter
Celery and Beetroot Jellies
Raisin & Caper Salsa
Celery Purée
groundnut oil
½ medium beetroot of Crispy Beetroot Spirals per person
5 Emerald Spinach Leaves per person
Make the Jellies.

Clean and Prepare the fish:
Check over each scallop. Dry it on kitchen paper, removing any bits of shell. Remove any of the tough muscle along the side which joins the scallop to its shell. Cut away any of the dark veiny threads in the roe-coloured coral that look like intestines or a digestive tract.
Run a cook's knife or fish scaler along the skin of the Sea Bass fillets to completely remove any scales. Do this thoroughly in both directions. Carefully remove any bones using fish tweezers like these Global 12cm Fish Bone Tweezers. Slice away the thin flaps along the bottom of the fillet in parallel with the cut along the spine side. Neatly slice off any neck flaps along a diagonal. Now cut the fillet into lozenges by slicing diagonal sections across the fillets until the fillet is used up. Rub the skin of these lozenges with Maldon sea salt just before frying.
Prepare the Raisin & Caper Salsa and the Celery Purée.
Prepare (but don't cook) the Emerald Spinach Leaves and the Crispy Beetroot Spirals (which can be part-fried).
Prepare a selection of celery and cauliflower pieces for decoration:
Slice a small amount of selected tiny cauliflower florets and thin celery stalks. Parboil them in celery stock. Drain and reserve.

Warm the salsa, the purée and serving plates. Prepare the serving plates each with a slice of the Celery and the Beetroot jellies.
Cook the fish:
Fry the scallops with their coral over high heat in clarified butter, about 20 seconds per side or until the scallop has turned golden and the flesh is starting to turn opaque up the side. Set aside in a warm dish. Mix any juices and pan scrapings into the Raisin & Caper salsa.
Fry the salted Sea Bass Lozenges over a high heat in clarified butter. Cook them skin-side down until the skin is crispy and the flesh has whitened almost all the way through then flip them briefly to finish off the fleshy side. You can do this in the same pan after frying the scallops if you are short of space.
Meanwhile finish off the crispy vegetable decoration:
Deep-fry the spinach leaves in small batches in groundnut oil until they become transparent and set to drain in single layers on sheets of kitchen paper. Then deep-fry the spiralized beetroot (in batches if necessary) until it begins to turn golden. It helps here if the beetroot has already been pre-fried once half-way. Drain in a metal sieve, then on kitchen paper.

As soon as the Sea Bass is ready spoon a small amount of Raisin & Caper salsa onto each plate (this has a very strong flavour - so don't overwhelm the scallops with too much), decorate with a scattering of choice parboiled vegetable pieces, top with 3 scallops, a grating of nutmeg and fork over a small nest of crispy beetroot.
Now spoon a generous puddle of Celery Purée onto each plate top with two or three of the Sea Bass Lozenges skin-side up, scatter over around 5 Emerald Spinach Leaves.

Celery Stock
soup ingredient veg vegan
2 heads of celery
1 onion
1/2 head garlic
Slice the celery and onion, peel and split the garlic cloves. Put in a pot with enough water to just cover, add a splash of wine if you're feeling adventurous. Simmer until the celery softens completely. Strain the stock, reserve the liquid.

Celery Purée
side veg
Feeds 6

½ head celeriac
½ cauliflower
½ head garlic
1 vanilla pod
1 cup/300ml single cream
celery stock
Choose approximately the same volume of celeriac as cauliflower. Break the cauliflower into florets and fry them until browning in butter. Crush the garlic and add this to the cauliflower towards the end.
Peel and dice the celeriac into 1cm cubes. Cook gently in butter until golden. Don't burn! Slit the vanilla pod lengthwise, add it to a pot with the cream and bring to the boil. Simmer briefly to flavour then allow to sit and infuse the cream, then remove the pod.
Purée the cauliflower, celeriac and the cream with enough celery stock to loosen the mixture. The stock will also give the purée a deeper, rounder flavour.
The purée will keep covered for several hours.

Raisin & Caper Salsa
sauce veg vegan
Feeds 6

1 cup drained capers
1 cup sultanas
bunch parsley
dry white wine
celery stock
Put the drained capers and sultanas in a pot and cover with white wine. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the wine has almost evaporated. Add torn parsley leaves. You may have to adjust the amount of these, but a generous bunch is about right. Roughly purée the mixture, moistening with celery stock as necessary. Take around half of the mixture and purée it to a smooth paste, the idea here is to have some rough salsa-like texture with enough blended paste to provide smooth undertones and a rich sauce.
There's a fine balance here between the raisin, caper and parsley flavours. Also between the textures. Don't overblend the rough salsa portion, and add parsley and celery stock as needed to get the flavour right.

Crispy Beetroot Spirals
side veg vegan
Peel and spiralise your beetroots using a vegetable spiraliser tool like this Lurch Spirali. Deep-fry the spirals in hot ground-nut oil in batches if necessary (avoid putting in too much beetroot at once - the hot oil will boil over). It's best to do this in two stages (like making chips) part-fry each batch then leave to drain in a metal sieve. Finish off in freshly heated groundnut oil until the beetroot just begins to take on a golden colour. Don't burn them!
The flavour of these crispy beetroot strands is nutty and robust

Emerald Spinach Leaves
side veg vegan
Select and wash fat juicy spinach leaves which don't discolour, disintegrate or become transparent in the water. Snip off their stalks, shake off excess water and leave to dry thoroughly between layers of kitchen paper. To fry them, heat a pot of groundnut oil and drop in the leaves in batches, fry until they become transparent and emerald coloured and begin to stop fizzing, then scoop them out with a metal basket or slotted spoon and spread out to drain on kitchen paper. These fried leaves will only stay crispy for around 10 minutes, so don't prepare them too early.
The flavour is astonishingly delicate but they melt delightfully in the mouth, providing a wonderful crisp counterpart to moist fish for example.

dessert veg
The two tasty white chocolate and chilli chocolate truffles were made following the recipes in Chocolate by Maxine Clark. I made some chilli vodka for the truffles by soaking a few red chillies in a jar of Absolut vodka for 2 weeks. We used the delightful jamaican coconut rum Koku Kanu to soak the dessicated coconut, but don't overdo the quantity.

Chilli Vodka Cocktail
drink veg vegan
I tried out mixing the home-made chilli vodka left over from the truffles with a Mickey Finns sour apple schnapps and also with added lime juice, but it was really too harsh and hot. No one liked it. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.