A day or two onwards, and I’m still shattered from the weekend. One of my closest friends, Caroline and her sister Sarah, are getting married soon and we spent the weekend celebrating their last days as single women with a group of girlfriends in the beautiful Mornington Peninsula.
We rented an amazing house for the weekend which slept 14 people and which was sourced by the lovely (other) Caroline. This was the view from the house at sunset. Wow. It was in the unique position of having views over the ocean on both sides of the peninsula, and was gorgeous with open decks and balconies, high ceilings and a jacuzzi spa. My favourite part of the house however was the kitchen! It was the most well-stocked kitchen I have ever had the pleasure of cooking and entertaining in, with a six burner stove, four door oven, Le Creuset cookware, electric mixers, mortar and pestle, Nespresso coffee machine, a whole cupboard of candles and a wonderful selection of serving plates, platters and props!
A smaller group of us had organised the weekend, and we had decided upon a roaring 20s, Gatsby style garden tea party for Saturday, complete with costumes and live music from the very talented Josh.
After much deliberation and too many hours on pinterest, a garden tea party menu was settled on. As I wasn’t sure how well equipped the kitchen would be and how much time there would be to cook, I tried to pick finger food in theme that was simple and easy to prepare.
This was our menu:
- High tea sandwiches on fresh white and rye bread: cucumber with garlic lemon butter; smoked salmon with dill, lemon zest and cream cheese; egg with spicy mayonnaise and chicken with crunchy celery and dill (it was supposed to be tarragon but there was none left in the supermarket…)
- Waldorf salad
- Cherry tomato, walnut and mascarpone tart
- Mini pissaldieres with caramelized onions and Danish fetta
- Mini pissaldieres with roasted grapes, oregano and brie
- Mini tart provencales with tomato, anchovies, olives made by Ouahiba
- Mini lamb, pine nut and feta sausage rolls made by Claire
- Bocconcini, basil and cherry tomato skewers
- Antipasto platter with cheeses, dips and crudités
- A chocolate sponge and a lemon tart from the bakery
I may have gone a little overboard with the food, considering there were only 15 of us! The kitchen gig on the day was also fairly busy, so I neglected to take photos of some of the culinary creations.
The Waldorf salad was apparently quite popular during the 1920s. I finally got hold of a copy of Ottolenghi’s new cookbook, Plenty More, during the week that I was looking for inspiration for the party food. As I flicked through the book, I fortuitously came across Ottolenghi’s “Sort-of Waldorf” salad recipe, which he originally wrote for the Guardian. Its called a “sort of” Waldorf, as the salad is usually paired with walnuts and does not contain sour cherries or cranberries. Actually, the original salad created by the Waldorf Astoria kitchens in 1896 consisted only of apples, celery and a “very good” mayonnaise; things have evolved since that time. I am curious as to when the red cabbage snuck in, but more vegetables can only be a good thing. For the party, I slightly adapted Ottolenghi’s recipe as set out below. The salad was delicious – creamy with the mayonnaise and sour cream combination, crunchy with the hazelnuts, apple and celery and fresh with the lemon and cranberries. It serves 6-8 as a side salad, and keeps very well for a day or two in the fridge.
- 60g hazelnuts
- 1 mini red cabbage
- 1/2 red onion
- Half a head of celery (5-6 stalks)
- 3 green apples
- Juice of half a lemon, and lemon zest
- 125g dried cranberries
- Pepper, to taste
- 1 shallot
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 egg yolk, at room temperature for at least 20 minutes
- 120-150mL olive oil
- 125g full fat sour cream
- A medium bunch of dill
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Roast the hazelnuts in an baking tray for 30 minutes at 140C. You can skip this step, and just dry roast them in a fry pan for a couple of minutes over medium heat, but the oven roasting really makes the nuts crunchy and a highlight of this salad. Remove the nuts from the oven, let cool and partially crush half of the nuts.
- Prepare the salad ingredients: finely shred the red cabbage and place in a large salad bowl; thinly slice the red onions and celery stalks (minus their leaves) and add to the bowl; core the apples and then thinly slice and add to the bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over the apple slices so they do not brown. Add the lemon zest and dried cranberries to the bowl.
- Make the mayonnaise by finely chopping the shallot and mixing it with the Dijon mustard, salt, vinegar and egg yolk. Use a balloon whisk to mix (or a small food processor, if you have one). Add a teaspoon of the olive oil and keep whisking. Slowly keep adding one teaspoon of olive oil at a time, whisking continuously. The sauce will emulsify and will be ready when its glossy and thick.
- Mix in the sour cream and dill with the mayonnaise and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir the mayonnaise-sour cream dressing with half of the crushed hazelnuts and the rest of the salad ingredients and mix thoroughly so all ingredients are coated with the dressing. Sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts over the top and serve.
Notes: Ottolenghi’s original recipe uses 80mL of sunflower oil and 80mL of canola oil which will give a more delicate flavoured mayonnaise, but I usually make my mayonnaise with olive oil (which I don’t find to be bitter although some people have this issue…) plus I didn’t have the other oils available and I’m not a fan of canola oil. If you don’t feel like making mayonnaise (but really you should, its worth it and really easy!!), buy a good quality whole egg mayonnaise and just mix half a cup of it with the shallot, Dijon mustard and sour cream. Ottolenghi also uses maple syrup in the dressing, but I didn’t think the salad needed any further sweetness with the cranberries and apple.