Mid-September in Melbourne 2020 and we are still in lock down, possibly until mid-October. We are largely confined to our homes. Country Victoria has fewer restrictions, while the other states of Australia have resumed fairly normal lives and lifestyles.
We were pleased when our Adelaide friends were in contact to organise another virtual dinner party. Just the four of us this time. How envious we were as they described their visit to one of Adelaide’s (and therefore one of Australia’s) top restaurants. And walks with their dogs and coffee catchups with friends. And a planned trip on the Ghan railway from Darwin to Adelaide.
They developed the menu for VDP No. 12. It was one of the most diverse of all the VDP menus. With just two couples, as we were all ‘on the one page’ in terms of timing, cooking and serving, so we didn’t prepare a running sheet.
Here is the link to the first of our VDPs: Virtual Dinner Party No. 1. From there you can link through to subsequent ones. (If you think you might give a VDP a try, at the end we give four useful web links that are worth reviewing.)
The Menu for Virtual Dinner Party No. 12
Our aim is for a menu that is easy to prepare and finish off and for dishes that are not too heavy or rich (though the dessert failed to meet that requirement). Some of the links to recipes might not work if there is a firewall.
Tequila-spiked scallop ceviche – From Taste.com – Recipe
Duck Marylands with orange sauce – From Nine.com – Recipe
French beans and mangetout with hazelnut and orange – By Yotam Ottolenghi – Recipe
Apple and honey pancake gâteau – Australia and New Zealand Complete Book of Cookery (1973)
Jean-Georges’s Orange Dust – From Marthastewart.com – Recipe
A dry Italian white such as Vermentino or Soave with the ceviche. Sagrantino or Sangiovese with the duck. A fortified Muscat or similar with the pancake gâteau.
How it all panned out
The ceviche was, as expected, lovely and fresh and clean tasting. We did not have any tequila so we used some pisco and a dash of Pernod instead. (Photo above.)
We pricked the duck skins and pan fried them alone in order to render out much of the fat. After draining it off, we proceeded with the recipe as given. The result was reminiscent of traditional duck à l’orange. We also used some of the orange dust as a garnish after we plated on the vegetables.
The green vegetable mix with hazelnuts was a highlight of the night. Very elegant and moreish. We added baby asparagus as it was in the market that morning.
The dessert really was a throwback to the cooking of our parents’ era. Using a traditional crêpe recipe, we make seven pancakes. In the meantime, peeled and cored apple was softened with lemon over heat, in order to provide a sauce of spreadable consistency. The crêpes were then layered together, with some honey spread on the top of each, and some apple sauce. The last crêpe was left uncovered. The recipe called for a sprinkling of caster sugar and cinnamon, however, we used orange dust. We served slices with lovely cream – a sublime dish of rich silkiness.
The orange dust is something you would do when you have a little extra time when you have the oven going. Perfect for when you want something to take a dish to a new level with a colourful garnish.
Some Useful Links
If you have had your own VDP (virtual dinner party) or virtual foodie or wine experiences, we are happy to hear about them, including the menu, wines, etc (and good quality photos if you have any) and why it turned out so well.