You take your place at a table with friends, situated on an elevated platform that overlooks lush vegetation & picturesque water views. A sea of green & blue, as far as the eye can see, slowly fades to black as the curtain of night is drawn slowly over a fabulous Spring day. A gentle breeze carries wonderful aromas of seafood, chorizo, saffron, paprika and other spices, drawing your attention to a professionally prepared pan of paella. The chef, and host for the evening, takes his place at the table and motions for the guests to begin eating.
You could easily mistake this for an alfresco dining experience at a chef’s table at some fabulously expensive restaurant overlooking water views. Oh no, it’s far better than that. This is just dinner at Lex’s place.
Nice view, huh? :)
Lex, chef by trade and food blogger of vue de cuisinier, had invited a number of food blogging friends over to his place for dinner. Whenever I receive an invite to have food at Lex’s, I do everything within my power to be able to make it as I know that there will be some great food, as well as some great company to be had.
Rather than being a pot-luck sort of affair where every guest brings their own thing like last time, this time around Lex takes over the cooking reins and prepares are two course meal of Scallops Boudin, served with pea puree & salmon roe, as well as a fabulous paella.
To see a professional chef at work is something that fascinates me. If you’d like to see how Lex’s Scallops Boudin & Paella are made, feel free to view the embedded video below of the whole cooking process.
Did you catch all of that? :)
Here it is again. However, at a somewhat more leisurely pace.
As stated previously, dinner for this delightful spring evening begins with an entree of Scallops Boudin, served with a pea puree and salmon roe. It’s essentially like a scallop sausage of sorts.
Firstly, scallops are placed into a food processor, along with some cream and egg whites, and blended into a fine paste.
Oh, don’t forget to season! :)
The scallop mixture is rolled into a sausage shape, poached in simmering water until it sets.
Allow the scallop sausage to cool just enough to handle. Place onto the counter top. Removed the scallop sausage from its casing and voila! You end up with a rather unfortunately suggestive photo that may not be suitable for some viewers.
For a recipe of the Scallop Boudin, look no further than Lex’s post of this recipe on his blog.
The pea puree that accompanies the scallop boudin is simply a mix of peas, cream & butter heated through & blitz together. A hand mixer is employed in this case, though I don’t see why it couldn’t be done in a food processor or a blender.
Plate the pea puree and scallop boudin & top with a teaspoon of salmon roe. If you have an eye for presentation like Lex has, it should look at least as nice as the above image.
The scallop boudin is soft and silky smooth, like silken tofu albeit with the taste of scallops and cream. The pea puree complements the scallop with texture and flavour whilst the salmon roe brings pleasant bursts of saltiness to the party.
The scallop boudin served with pea puree & salmon roe once more. Just because it’s so pretty :)
We move onto our main course, which is the fabulous paella. However, this one comes with a bit of a luxurious twist.
The mise en place of onions, potatoes, tomatoes, red capsicum, artichokes, chicken & chorizo are prepared with an effortless grace by a deft hand and a sharp blade.
The ingredients are slowly brought together into the paella pan along with rice & some paprika.
A generous pinch of saffron soon follows.
This looks so good! I could eat this just as it is. However, there’s still more to be incorporated before this dish is complete.
Some baby octopus and a few handful of mussels are added towards the end to add another dimension of textures and flavours.
What about that twist I’d referred to earlier?
Why, it’s strips of wagyu!
Ok, so it’s not a traditional addition to a paella. Believe me, no one was complaining :)
Scatter some freshly chopped parsley & some lemon slices and we’re done.
There you have it. Lex’s paella, and a damn fine one at that :)
Perfectly cooked mussels poke their maws upwards as if to say “eat me”. Why, thank you. I most certainly will! :)
To be able to dine in such luxury with great food and even better friends, all within the comfort of someone else’s home *sigh* :)
A serving of Lex’s fabulous paella, one of a few that night. The green slime looking thing was additional pea puree. Everyone loved the pea puree so much and since there was so much of it left, we slathered it generously onto every serve.
With a paella and pea puree this good, I assure you that there were no left overs to speak of.
For dessert, Steph brings along a wonderful creation of cupcake cones. Chocolate cupcake on top of a wafer cone filled with a vanilla white chocolate filling. Both on top of and within the cones, pop rocks are incorporated into the dessert. The pop rocks, with its mouth tingling fizz & crackle, renders civil adults, young and otherwise, to the level of primary school children with all the innocence, joy and wonderment that that would imply.
The cross-section of the cupcake cone, cut with expert precision by Richard, along side a whole cone.
Recipe for Steph’s cupcake cones can be found in her post “Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes (with popping candy!)”.
My contribution for the evening was macarons from Adriano Zumbo’s Macaron Day.
I told you there would be another post on this. Promise that this is the last one. Well, for this year at least :)
The macarons are (from top left to bottom right), Lord Nelson beer, chocolate & passionfruit, cheeseburger, Golden Gaytime, doughnut, & mastic, yoghurt, cucumber & mint.
From top left to bottom right, chocolate foie gras, burnt toast & butter, goats cheese & blueberry, & Vegemite sourdough.
As with the previous macaron marathon session, there were some good and some not so good ones. Surprisingly, the cheeseburger wasn’t as good as the previous one I had. It lack a lot of the complexity the previous one had, as it was predominantly tomato sauce and nothing else. I have an appreciation now for why some people weren’t as won over with the cheeseburger macaron as I was the first time around. The other one that didn’t really do it for me was the chocolate foie gras. The cube of foie gras in the center of the macaron didn’t taste much of anything other than perhaps a lump of fairly flavourless fat. It felt more like a textural component than anything else.
Some winners for me were the old favourites the burnt toast & butter & Vegemite sourdough. A new one to add to the favourites list is the chocolate & passionfruit, with its wonderful passionfruit tang which counter balances the richness of the chocolate. The Lord Nelson beer one we had lacked a yeasty note that others experienced previously. It was alright as it was but I imagine it would have been something a little more special with that yeasty element.
A great night of food, friends and fun. Can’t wait for next time!
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