Saturday, 7 September 2013

Birthday Dinner at Gastro Dharmus

Yeah I know I'm late and I'm slacking on this blog but it's not easy finding the time. Anyway, August 10th 2013 was The Lovely Wife's birthday. The day coincided with the wedding of one of my cousins so we couldnt celebrate her birthday. Fortunately, the preceding Thursday and Friday were Public Holidays due to Hari Raya so we decided we would celebrate TLW's birthday on Friday night instead.

Initially I had planned on taking TLW and the kids out for a fancy dinner. Then I thought why not make her a fancy dinner at home instead. After all, unless I took her out to a really swanky restaurant, I would only end up humming and hawing about the food and especially the dessert. By cooking at home, I would save everyone from listening to my hums and haws...

The plan was to make TLW a seafood dish. TLW likes cod and I had grandiose plans of Grilled Cod with Prawns. I would serve it with a side of Pumpkin mash and a citrus honey salad. That was the plans but sometimes the best laid plans go awry.

On Friday morning, the kids and I went shopping for groceries. TLW had some errands she needed to run so that fit us just perfectly. When we reached the market in Bangsar, we ran into the first problem. Being the second day of Hari Raya, the usually active morning market wasnt at its full service. The fishmonger was sorely missing so that meant no Cod. Aaargh! There was no Cod in TMC (the nearby Supermarket) and Village Grocer (another Super) was closed as well. Things were not looking too good. Fortunately the flower lady was around and we bought a whole bunch of flowers for The Lovely Wife. We bumped into my father while buying the flowers and he insisted on paying for them.

We headed back home and stopped at Mercato, the supermarket near our house. They didnt have cod either but there was some lovely Lemon Sole as well as Prawns. I had a peek into the frozen seafood section and decided to indulge and buy some Scallops as well. Both the kids were delighted with my choice of seafood - especially the scallops. I also bought some Jarrahdale pumpkin and a few slices of Bacon. The plan was starting to come together. The Lovely Wife loves my Tiramisu and so I got the ingredients for that as well.

The kids and I went for a quick breakfast and then headed back home. As we were putting the gorceries into the fridge, my son mentioned that he got a bad smell from the packet of fish. I sniffed at the Lemon Sole and didnt notice anything. The kids went up to play while I trimmed the flowers and put them into two vases.

One vase with roses and another vase with Lillies and Chrysanthemums - Lillies being TLWs favourite flower. I placed the vases around the hall and then started on the Tiramisu.

I've modified my Tiramisu recipe a little and add in grated chocolate as well as top it off with Caramelised Almonds - just like the Tiramisu cake at Alexis that TLW adores. I've also reduced some of the alcohol and now make it in a wider pyrex dish that we got from our last trip to Langkawi. This yields a slightly larger and less thick Tiramisu which to me is just about perfect!

Once the Tiramisu was in the fridge, I decided I would start to season the prawns in some lemon juice. As I opened the pack of prawns, I was overwhelmed by a bad, bad smell! The prawns were certainly smelling odd. I rinsed them out and they were still stinking so I wrapped them in newspaper and threw them in the bin. I was not a happy camper at that point and neither were my kids when I told them that the prawns had gone bad.

My son suggested that I take the prawns back and return them but I told him I had already dumped them in the bin as they smelled really bad. It was at that point that The Lovely Wife came home and noticed the flowers. She asked what I was doing in the kitchen and I told her that she wouldnt walk into a restaurant kitchen and ask the chef what he was making. You can imagine TLW rolling her eyes skyward at this point.

I started to cut up the Jarrahdale Pumpkin and it was at this point that I decided I would need to go buy some bread. I knew our usual Bakery, Aroma at Sri Hartamas Shopping Centre, would be closed so I thought I'd try The Bakery, just round the corner. My little princess came along with me for the ride and when we found it was closed, we decided to pop round to Mercato once again. Since we were going back, I decided to complain about the prawns. They were rather helpful and when the supervisor accompanied me to the fish counter, we found that all the packets of prawns were off. Not good. The supervisor was very apologetic and asked the fish counter man to give me something else as compensation. Mr Fishcounter was adamant that I produce a receipt before I could get any replacement eventhough Mr Supervisor told him that he remembered me purchasing the prawns earlier and it was their fault as all the prawns were spoiled.

Mr Fish refused to budge and I kind of lost my calmness and told him with quite a few choice words that I didnt want anything from him but that his attitude stunk a whole lot more than his prawns did. I told him that I could complain to the Health Ministry about the prawns and this would probably lead to some serious action being taken. Mr Supervisor was even more apologetic and I told him that I wasnt upset with him but at the attitude of Mr Fishcounter.

Mr Supervisor offered me some fruits and I decided on a pack of fresh Blueberries that I had eyed before. Mr Supervisor was gracious enough to give me two packets of a fruit that I have never bought before due to its price. I thanked him profusely and everyone left happy. Everyone except Mr Fishcounter who was probably still seething at me....

My little princess was very thrilled with the blueberries and even more with how her Dads had stood up for his rights. That was the cue for me to teach her about how important it is to speak up and to be firm but fair.

So, armed with a loaf of French Village Bread and two packets of blueberries, we returned home and I started the cooking. I declared the kitchen off limits to The Lovely Wife and she said just as well as she had made plans to meet one of her old school mates, Lillian, who was down from Germany.

Before TLW came back and before serving dinner, I printed out this menu and I gave it to the kids to present to her. It was also their task to get her to sit patiently at the table while I plated up the meal. This is the details of the menu:

served with extra virgin Olive Oil and Balsamico

Pan Seared Lemon Sole in Lemon Beurre Blanc served with Bacon and Scallops on a bed of lightly seasoned Jarrahdale Mash. Accompanied by a Honey Citrus Salad of grilled capsicum, rocket and walnuts

Gastro Dharmus famous Tiramisu.
Layers of Savoiardi Fingers soaked in Coffee, Kahlua and Creme de Cacao covered in a special mixture of cream and cheese, layered with chocolate and covered with cocoa.

Strawberries and Blueberries covered in Callebaut Belgian Dark Couverture (70%)

I had actually planned on just serving the food and letting everyone dish out how much they wanted but my little princess insisted that I plate the meal properly - just like in a restaurant.

So each person had his own plated meal on plates of different sizes and shapes but at least all white!

The dinner turned out really, really well and without a doubt the favourite was dessert.

The kids really loved the Chocolate Dipped Strawberries and blueberries and as usual, no one could do with just one slice of Tiramisu.

The Lovely Wife enjoyed her dinner and she commented with a smile that my salad was very tasty - I hardly ever make salads you see! The fish was tender and moist and the kids absolutely loved the lemon sauce.

The pumpkin mash was a hit with The Lovely Wife as well as the scallops. The kids wished that there were more scallops for them to devour and they could also see how my plans to incorporate the prawns would have made the meal sensational. Yes, pity about those prawns going bad.

Everyone was also rather surprised by how the bacon complemented the whole meal. I think the contrast in flavour and texture of the bacon was what did it.

So all in all a very successful meal and I have to admit that I really enjoyed coming up with the menu for The Lovely Wife's birthday. Who says you need to go out for a fancy schmancy meal?

Best part about the birthday meal was that The Lovely Wife had Tiramisu the very next morning - the actual day of her birthday!

Happy Birthday TLW!!

The recipes are below:

Scallops with Jarrahdale Mash
200g Jarrahdale Pumkin or other sweet pumpkin - chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 Tbsp Butter
Olive Oil

Sautee the oregano and basil and then add in the pumpkin. cook through adding a little water if necessary. Add butter and mash while still hot. Season with salt and Pepper. Set the mash aside. Just before serving, make the scallops. Cook the scallops in a little butter for about 2 minutes each side. Serve with the mash.

Beurre Blanc
1 Tbsp lemon Juice
100g butter
1-2 Tbs Cream

I cheated with my Beurre Blanc. I should have used a reduction of white wine with butter but since I wasn't using wine, I just made a mix of lemon juice with butter and a dash of cream to stabilise it.

Grilled Lemon Sole

4 Lemon Sole Fillets
Juice of 1 lemon
Lemon Thyme
Olive Oil

Lightly season the sole with salt and pepper. Squeeze some lemon over each piece of sole. Cook over a griddle until cooked through, about 3 minutes each side depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Warm Capsicum and Rocket Salad
1 Red Capsicum
1 Yellow Capsicum
1 bag of Rocket (Aragula)
1 Orange

Quarter or slice the capsicum and grill until just soft. Break walnuts up and toast in a hot pan lightly. Toss all ingredients together with rocket and then squeeze an orange over it, allowing some of the pulp to fall into the salad. Add some honey and toss. Season with a little salt and pepper if needed.


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