BootsnAll Travel Network

Archive for March, 2008

« Home


Friday, March 21st, 2008

Thanks to my EeePC (and a very slow network), I’m able to blog live from a science fiction convention for the first time ever.

If the batteries hold out, that is ๐Ÿ˜‰

Random entries will find their way to either here or my LJ (which is more writing oriented).

This morning I surprised myself by getting up at seven—yesterday’s drinking session nonwithstanding—and getting to the venue (Edwardian Raddissson, Heathrow) by nine, only to find that the registration doesn’t open until ten.

But I could hardly miss the first panel, could I? ‘Russell T Davies: Best of British or Fan Boy Let Loose?’

For tomorrow I’ve brought a hall costume. Watch out for the Sweeper of Souls. (“Isn’t that Death?” “Death tends to drop things, and Hell needs a street cleaner ๐Ÿ˜‰ “)

Borth 2008

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

It was the party of the decade, if not the century!

Aberjazz filling up the Dancefloor

Have a look at the menu and laugh (or weep):

  • 13:30 Soup Lunch & Fresh Rolls: Welsh Cawl, Potato & Leek (V)
    —50 portions @ 250ml

  • 16:00 (pre-rugby) Early Supper: Baked potatoes, chilli, vegetarian lasagne, salad
    —30/15 portions resp.

  • 18:00 Cocktails & Canapés: parmesan tuiles, lapsang souchong-marbled quails eggs, savoury choux balls, rice paper rolls, Thai fishcakes/sausage rolls
    —yes, they were all on the list. I was hoping for three of them to come off. Some did, but not the ones mentioned here.

  • 19:30 Sandwiches: egg mayo, tuna& sweetcorn, cheese & coleslaw/salad, ham & salad
    —20 medium-sliced loaves, mainly for the 50 members of the choir. Next time I’ll ask for thickly sliced!

  • 19:00-onwards Finger Party Food: Tricolore crustades, mini samosas, Thai sausage rolls with soy & ginger dip, savoury palmiers, puff pastry pouches, devilled eggs, cruditรฉs with blue cheese dip baba ganoush and white bean dip, mini baked potatoes, roast vegetable skewers, köfte meatballs with hummous dip, falafel-pita bites with hummous & tzaziki, tortilla bites with mango salsa and soured cream, guacamole, pumpernickel/blini/bread bites with tapenade, mackerel pâté, smoked salmon, prawns etc., stuffed cherry tomatoes and cucumber cups with herby cream cheese, cheese board
    —Most of this got made, but not the way I intended it. For example, did you know that 750g potato curry makes enough filling for 100 samosas, but a pack of Filo pastry has only 6 sheets in it?

It was five o’ clock on the day of the event before I started on the party food prep—at about the time when the chef who was helping said that we should start plating up. So none of the canapés turned out quite as intended. But what is most amazing is that only nine of the 50-odd proposed menu items didn’t get made in the end. No, really.

Long entry warning (2,500 words)
[read on]

Borth 2008: Test-Kitchen—Last Minute Experiments 2

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Tortilla chips with cream cheese-lime and mango salsa:
Tortilla Chip Canapes
These are nice and will look good if I get better at assembly, plus they can be contrasted well with red salsa which I’ll also make. However, they turn soggy fast, so they have to be milled out while people are grazing.

Thai fish cakes with sweet chilli dip (recipe for fish cakes in photo link. The sweet chilli dip is easy to make, too):
Thai Fish Cakes with Sweet Chilli Dip
I’ve tried several dips, but sweet chilli wins every time.

On the other hand, soy & ginger dip goes well with Thai-style sausage rolls:
Thai-style Sausage Rolls

I wasn’t going to do sweets (and I’m not going to on the day), but I had this tin of matcha tea powder left from Nippon 2007, and it needed using. So…

Green Tea Cakes

Green tea shortbread should be a crowd-pleaser. However, these are too sweet. My college-recipe shortbread already uses masses of icing sugar. Sadly, this wasn’t a trial-run: half my green tea cakes are sickly sweet…

Alas, this was the effect I was after.

Without the sugar-coating, the effect is more pleasant. (Note: these things will go from being undercooked to burnt inside two minutes!):
Green Tea Cakes--Actually Green!

Finally, I’ve never baked brownies, but these just looked too spectacular to pass up.

Sadly, the same can’t be said about mine:

Matcha-marbled Brownie
But come on—I’ve never tried this before.

Borth 2008: Test-Kitchen—Last Minute Experiments 1

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

My experiments in egg marbling haven’t progressed much:

Unevenly Tea-marbled Quails Eggs with Dip

But this may be as good as it gets. The eggs have been marinated (l-r) for 1h, 4hrs and overnight respectively. Suffice to say that marinating time has less influence on the outcome than handling.

Quails eggs are fragile things and bruise easily. The shell is thin, but the membrane is tough, so peeling is fickle—rush and you’ll end up with nicks. Specks of shell will remain no matter how carefully you wipe, but they can be washed under running water. Finally, not all quails eggs end up egg-shaped.

Borth 2008: Test Kitchen—Mini Palmiers

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

In the final few days before the big occasion, I’m testing out recipes that are new to me or that I haven’t made for a while. Today I’m making oriental foods, but because of the time it takes to prepare them I’m usually lagging at least a day behind with updates.

So here’s one I made earlier:

Mini Palmiers

Mini palmiers are a canapé-party standby, but a modicum of practice is nessecary—as you can see from the somewhat amateurish result.

The classic filling for savoury palmiers is red and green pesto, but I’m avoiding nut products so I’ve tried alternatives.

Roast vegetable pasta sauce was not a success because the red pepper clashed with the parmesan and puff pastry. The whole thing tasted somewhat metallic. Puréed roast vegetables would work, but cut back the pepper and add sunblush tomatoes and basil.

Mushroom duxelle with cheese was tasty, but may need to be cut finer. Sprinkling the things with parmesan means that they brown a bit much and the spiral pattern is somewhat obscured.

These things are tasty enough either (slightly) warm or cold and I will make them. The maximum time for them to stay crispy is 4 hours. Don’t you hate the stale sausage rolls that are usually dished up at buffets? This is why (but in fairness, we’ll have an adjacent kitchen).

Borth 2008: Test Kitchen—The Countdown Begins

Monday, March 10th, 2008

I’m twitching in my chair as I write this. I want to get going with a few more test recipes, but I’m not running the oven today and it’s still too early to think about baking anything.

As for tea-marbled quail’s eggs: I’ve got to be in the kitchen for that so I can keep an eye on them and since our kitchen in unheated and devoid of comforts such as chairs I’m writing this upstairs.

My first attempt at marbling eggs was not a success:

Tea-marbled egg

Verdict: I boiled this egg together with John’s sandwich egg and chilled both under ice cold water, for too long as it turns out. Plunging the eggs into cold water causes the albumin to contract and separate from the shell. That makes for easy peeling, but insufficient contact for the tea marinade to penetrate, hence the lack of marbling. I haven’t yet tried this with quails eggs; they could well behave differently.

The list so far: 26 spices and 25-odd bits of kit brought from my own kitchen, 116 different ingredients ranging from avocados to Worcester sauce (what, I haven’t got anything with ‘z’?) and about 80 recipes ranging from soup & dinner rolls to dips & canapés.

Not only don’t I know yet whether I’ll have access to the prep kitchen on the day before the shenanigans, I also wonder whether I’ll have any assistants, preferably with professional catering experience…

Party Preparations

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

I never got the stomach bug, but then John is stressed. Yesterday he had to put in an all-nighter, thanks to a power cut that took down the entire network. After one hour’s sleep he then had to go back to prepare for client meetings. However, if he hadn’t been there late in the evening to do just that, he’d never known about the power cut, so my philosophy is never to be the last one at work ๐Ÿ™‚

(OK, so it would have been a disaster if he hadn’t been there to save the day, but you catch my drift.)

Because of work shenanigans, we are undecided about our planned break in the Caribbean. First John will have to get a new passport which takes around six weeks. But at least we’ll be in Wales next weekend for my sister’s long awaited post-wedding party!

And guess who’s doing the catering for the 100+ attendees?

I’m making inroads with long lists of dishes and canapés, recipes and equipment. It’s a good excuse to go up to London to buy some specialist ingredients. I may be getting carried away, but I don’t expect every dish to work and I need a few aces up my sleeve. One of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten is sate lilit in Bali (made with ground pork rather than seafood), so if I can find cheap lemongrass skewers… nobody will mind if the rolls don’t work out, will they?

I’m going to blog about my progress and the event here. It’s not strictly about travel, but there will be plenty of world foods and people from a dozen nations ๐Ÿ˜€

PS. We still haven’t moved. A mere decade ago, nobody would have asked if we were smokers—it was nobody’s business. These days, we can’t rent a place because of it. Go figure.