It’s been a little while since we had an Unseen Restaurant event. I don’t really know what happens over the summer – I always mean to hold one but somehow time gets away from me. Anyway – we are now back in business.
If you don’t know, the Unseen Restaurant is an occasional restaurant that I hold at home. It is advertised through a Facebook group and people attend on a first come first served basis – one menu, one price, all profits to Shelter for Humanity.
I plan, shop, cook, serve (with a little help from guests), wash up, drink wine & collapse. And I love it. I particularly love seeing how disparate groups of friends get along – friends I would never normally dream of putting together. I started off doing this for a maximum of 12 people but somehow, this time, I was up to 18 – I really do need to have a word with myself…
This month I decided to do a vegetarian menu. I have lots of veggie friends and I really wanted them to experience the restaurant.
I’m not a vegetarian but I love to eat good vegetarian food from time to time but I get really tired of boring vegetarian menus in pubs and restaurants. So I decided to stretch myself and piece together a 5 course menu pitched towards the fine dining end of the spectrum. Now, I’m not talking Michelin stars here just elegant, tasty home cooking. At least, I hope that’s what I achieved; there was nothing elegant about watching me muddle through the multiple processes involved!
The weather here in Cornwall is all over the place at the moment, mild and sunny one day then wild and windy the next so I devised a menu that traversed the journey from summer through to autumn. That’s a pretentious way of saying I did 2 cold courses because it was easier!
The meal started with a dish I have blogged before – chilled pea soup with parmesan crisps and parmesan ice cream – the ice cream caused quite a stir and was generally thought to be nicer than it sounded. I love this recipe because the pea soup just tastes so much of pea – I know that’s a daft thing to say but it also happens to be true – try it and see. This time, because I was cooking for vegetarians, I made the soup with vegetable bouillon not chicken stock and, because I was serving 5 courses, I presented it in small tea cups rather than bowls.
The second course was courgette rolls, filled with lemony ricotta cheese and served on a red pepper coulis, drizzled with basil oil. Simple, tasty and most of the work done in advance. Just what you need with a challenging menu.
A short pause and we moved on to dessert. I had spent a lot of time picking blackberries and wanted them to be the main feature. Blackberry and apple crumble is a bit of a staple at this time of year but I wanted to give it a bit of a twist. I’m not a great fan of “deconstructing” pudding for no real purpose but I guess that’s what I did.
I served a roasted Royal Gala apple on a spiced Bramley apple puree with blackberry sorbet and blackberry jelly. I created a crumble from crushed oat cookies and toasted hazelnuts and sprinkled it on top. I can honestly say I have never baked biscuits before just to crush them up as soon as they were cool – I’m glad I kept a few though they were delicious.
By this point most of my guests were stuffed (I guess the dishes weren’t quite elegant enough) but there was one last course to go. I served up a chunk of mature cheddar with some homemade crackers and a slice of the Damson Cheese that I made last month.
I hope everybody enjoyed it – I certainly got some lovely feedback from my guests – now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to lie down in a darkened room for a little while…
You can find all the recipes here: