Virtual Dinner Party No. 7 – Bulgar Soup, Lamb Fillet, Quince Cake!

Robin Boyle Australian, Cakes & Biscuits, Dessert, Dinner, Dinner Party, General Interest, Middle Eastern, Soup

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(Update: For VDP No. 8, click here)

Coronavirus Lockdown

With most of us in self-isolation or even total lockdown, a VDP (virtual dinner party) is one way to catch up with friends and to continue to test your cooking skills.

We have now had a number of VDPs. Here is the link to the first of those: Virtual Dinner Party No. 1

From there you can link through to subsequent ones.

Last Saturday night was VDP No. 7 when we were joined by only one other couple, our friends from Adelaide.

Following are our menu and running sheet.

Put together by our Adelaide friends, the menu included a very interesting Middle Eastern-style soup, a healthy main course and an upside down cake for dessert.

(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. 7

Our aim is for a menu that is easy to prepare and finish off and for dishes that are not too heavy or rich.

(Some of the links below might not open if there is a paywall.)

My Astoria Soup from Jamie’s America – Jamie Oliver – Recipe

Main Course
Lamb Fillet With Pea Puree – Unknown author – Recipe

Quince and Almond Cake – Andrew McConnell (Saturday Paper) – Recipe


A Riesling followed by a Shiraz or Merlot, then a sticky white for dessert.

Running Sheet

While it might seem somewhat prescriptive, the aim is to keep things moving and coordinated and for everyone to serve the same dish at the same time.  The times given below are Adelaide time (half an hour behind Melbourne time). Much of the preparation is done beforehand.

Adelaide time 10.30 am (11.00 am Melbourne)

10.30 : Poach the quinces – up 5 hours

Adelaide time 4.00 pm (4.30 am Melbourne)
4.00 : Make the cake

5.30 : Prepare the soup ingredients and cook to the spices stage. (Leave the addition of the bulgar and tomatoes until after 7.00 pm)
6.00 : Trim outside sinew off lam fillet or backstrap
6.15 : Prepare beans and ingredients for the pea puree
6.30 : Cook bulgar and set aside
6.50 : Marinate lamb

7.00 Adelaide time (7.30 pm Melbourne) : Log in via Zoom
7.01 : Raise our glasses. Cheers to us all!
7.10 : Oven on for the tortillas
7.15 : Finish off the soup – add bulgar, tomatoes, etc
7.25 : Tortillas in oven
7.30 : Serve soup
7.30 : Oven on for the lamb
7.45 : Finish off the pea puree
7.50 : Pan fry the lamb
8.00 : Lamb into oven
8.05 : Boil beans
8.10 : Serve main course – lamb with pea puree and beans
8.45 : Serve dessert

How it all panned out

Even though there were only two couples this week, we still had plenty to talk about – again we ran overtime, serving the dessert over an hour behind the stated time. But who cares! It was fun and the dishes were great. The running sheet is essential as it helps for the sequencing of key tasks and giving the timing of each dish.

The highlight dish of the night was Jamie Oliver’s soup: unusual ingredients, but easy to put together, and quite delicious; definitely something to cook again. The main course was a healthy one, with simply cooked lamb fillet or backstrap served with green beans and pureed peas. Below we have a photo of what we dished up (we used lamb fillet; we added some roasted potatoes) and one of what our Adelaide friends dished up (they used lamb backstrap). The recipe for the cake gave a substantial serve – enough for eight to a dozen. Plated upside down, it does look quite spectacular – we cooked ours in a spring form pan; our friends used a loaf tin. This is a versatile recipe that could easily be used for other fruits, for example, caramelised apples or pears, or poached stone fruit.

Following are some photos taken on the night in menu order, with contributions by both couples. Forgive the poor quality of composition and plating as it does become rather hectic trying to keep up with everyone and still take photographs. We don’t always bother to plate the dishes in a fancy way as there is no one else but us to see the results, and it does save on washing up! And because it gets a little hectic, we don’t remember to photograph every dish, or don’t have time.

Some Useful Links

Dinner parties go digital during coronavirus outbreak: ‘We lock in every Saturday night’

How To Throw A Virtual Dinner Party

How to have a virtual dinner with friends or loved ones

Here’s How to Have Your Own Virtual Dinner Party During Coronavirus Quarantine

Contributions welcomed!

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.