Friends of ours hosted a Pot luck dinner party last night, in honour of another visiting friend. It was a great excuse to eat, drink and generally enjoy the company of all our amazing friends. We are very lucky.
There were no rules for the pot luck, it really was a surprise what everyone bought.
Its a lovely way to feed a lot of people without the onus being on the hosts to provide for the 15 of us.
As it happened and because everyones tastes are different there was a good variety of courses and dishes.
Standouts include Mels beetroot, butternut pumpkin and goats cheese salad on Nicks freshly baked Baguettes, topped off with a piece of rocket. Delish!
Mains included Honey Soy warmed chicken salad and bbq pork.
Outstanding mars bar slice and cupcakes from the ladies. Hummingbird Bakery has a lot to answer for with the number of cupcakes being made recently and eaten (mostly by me it seems I can't stop going in to their Soho shop). Dangerous!
So personally we contributed with Nicks Baguettes, amazing, fresh and moreish. (See bread quest for his endless quest to make the perfect loaf of bread)
I made dessert. Now funnily enough I don't really like cooking and I hardly ever do it. Funny yes considering my passion for food, I really do love looking for new taste sensations, I'm happy to push the boundaries of my palate. But I love desserts and I wanted to give this a go.
I had a recipe for waffle berry pudding from a colleague and I'd made it before so it was a tried and tested choice. Its tasty, not hard to prepare and feeds a lot of people. The great thing about this recipe is you don't have to follow the measurements exactly which is good for me, its not perfect and I'd rather it wasn't all going to be down to me putting the exact right amount of everything in. When it comes to me and cooking it never goes smoothly and thankfully Nick was there to help me save it when I had a moment of dispair after pulling it out of the oven to find the eggy cream centre had risen to form something resembling a souffle on top of the pudding. (note this shouldn't happen if the cream soaks in to waffles before you put it in the oven)
I've looked at the web and this is quite a popular dessert. I don't agree with the recipe I had that it should be cooked for 20-25 minutes, it needs longer. Most other recipes on line I found suggested more like 30-35 and that's what I ended up cooking it for.
Also I added a bit of a twist by reducing some Creme de Cassis (blackcurrent liqueur) in a pan and cooking the blueberries in it quickly just to plump them and fill them full of the cassis goodness.
WAFFLE BERRY PUDDING
Serves 4-6 people depending on how much you want!
1 packet of toasting waffles approx 250 gram pack
500 grams of raspberries and any other berries you want (I use blueberries)
150g grams white chocolate
500 grams of Creme Fraiche
55 grams of caster sugar
1tbsp plain flour
1/2tsp vanilla essence
Icing sugar (this is just to sprinkle on top afterwards, but I didn't I sprinkled caster sugar at the end to brown and make the top form a bit of a crust in the oven)
Creme de Cassis (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Now my twist was to take some Creme de cassis I had, around 1/2 a cup and bring to a simmer in a pan, start to reduce it and add the blueberries. Let the cassis soak in to the blueberries but only for a couple of minutes. You don't want the blueberries to burst. Use these when you're layering and keep any left over juice to put in the cream filling.
In a deep baking dish (a casserole dish is a good size) start by layering the bottom with waffles cut in to about 1 inch peices, cover the whole of the bottom.
Then rougly chop half of the white chocolate and sprinkle on top, you can be as generous as you want!
On top of this, add some raspberries and blueberries, around half of what you have.
Continue by layering more waffles, chocolate and berries.
In a seperate bowl combine flour and caster sugar then whisk in eggs, vanilla essence and creme fraiche. At this point I added the remaining reduced cassis from the pan I'd cooked the blueberries in. Pour evening over the waffle berry pudding. (If you don't think you need to use it all don't. Depending on the size of your bowl you may find this too much) It should soak though. You might have to help it a bit by getting a knife and poking a few holes in it or pulling away the sides. Last time I made this it worked perfectly. This time it kind of sat on top and I really had to help it along. I think next time I'll try adding some of the cream half way through as Im making layers to make sure all the goodness gets through the middle.
I finished with a final layer of waffles, to form something like a pie crust. Now this worked for me before, not so much this time because the cream wasn't soaking through well. I think it was all to tightly compacted and the dish smaller than one I'd used before. Alternatively you could pour the cream in and then add the final layer of waffles. I say this is a good one for experimenting with, you can't go wrong, it always tastes good.
I ended up cooking it for 25 minutes until the pudding had nearly set and then sprinkling a few more berries and waffle pieces as a top layer with caster sugar sprinkled on top to crisp up. If you have a look at pics on line it looks like this is the right method.
I cooked it a further 5 minutes after this, let it cool, took it to the party and later heated it up for another 5 minutes when we were ready for dessert.
By all accounts it tasted great, sweet berries and cream with a hint of cassis. Almost a sponge cake quality. We ate it with vanilla ice cream and it was all gone by the end of the night.
Hooray! Maybe next time I can try this cherry tart I've been eyeing up in one of Nicks cook books.