Thursday, 26 February 2009

Dinner 3 - Leonie's Menu

We are all eagerly awaiting the third installment in our eating odyssey, Leonie's evening!
She has handed over her menu, here it is for your delectation as well as some of her discerning guests' first reactions...

Strawberry, watercress and goats cheese salad

Cheese fondue with bread and veg

Rhubarb, apple and blackberry crumble

Gabriela sounds keen: "This menu sounds like a dream. A dream of joy! Apple crumble of any kind is the way to my heart. And cheese. Especially goat's cheese. Yum yum.
My only sadness about this menu is the fact that I cannot eat myself into oblivion. Why? Because I have to wear a white leotard the next day for a film - I'm playing a ghost, but I'd rather be playing a cheese fondue pot. Maybe I'll make a suggestion to the filmmakers..."

And Philippa's pleased too: "Starter sounds exciting and I LOVE rhubarb so pudding will be just my sort of thing.
I had a bad experience with cheese fondue in my youth but will put that out of my mind for Leonie’s dinner party and give her the chance to impress me and help me put my bad memories behind me!"

And last time's host Rhydian is happy the heat is off him! "SOOoooo looking forward to this. Leonie's menu sounds amazing!
I've never had strawberry, watercress and goats cheese together before. Sounds really exciting!
Main - Always love a good fondue (hope there's a load of white wine in there)!
Dessert - A good home made crumble is my favorite (drowning in cream, obvs!)

What do you make of this menu? We'll be posting the full report next week!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Rhydian's recipes - Pancakes!

Happy Pancake Day everybody!!!

As you will have seen below, our second host Rhydian got his guests to toss their own pancakes for dessert, (some more successfully than others) and has now supplied us with a foolproof Pancake Batter recipe so you can join in the fun!

Pancake Batter
(makes 8-10 medium sized, thin pancakes)

125g plain white or wholemeal flour
300mls milk
1 beaten egg
oil or butter for frying

1. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and make a small well in the middle. Add the beaten egg then, whilst constantly stirring, slowly start adding half the milk, bit by bit. Add the rest of the milk and beat thoroughly, until the mixture is smooth. No Lumps allowed!

2. Heat a medium sized frying pan and coat lightly with oil. Pour a small ladleful of your pancake mixture into the pan, tilting the pan to make sure it covers the pan evenly.

3. Cook for around 1-2 minutes, or until bubbles start appearing and the underside turns golden. Loosen the edges of the pancake with a spatula, then toss it over and cook the other side for another 1-2 minutes, or until it turns golden. This is a good opportunity for a tossing contest at home.

4. Eat immediately topped with your favourite sweet or savoury toppings; our favourites were classic lemon juice and sugar, blueberries and ice cream or maple syrup. Yum!

Hooray for pancake day!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Rhydian's Dinner Party!

So our intrepid eaters gather once more, this time at the home of Rhydian, ready to uncover the mysterious 'Interactive Feast'. Rumours had been doing the rounds; would we be ordering from Deliverance? would we have to bring our own picnic fixings? But Leonie correctly guessed...

Guests are topping their own pizzas and tossing their own pancakes!

Genius! Rhydian's thinking is that if you don't like it, you made it, it's your fault, you can't mark me down! Risky strategy maybe, but sounds like a lot of fun all the same! Let's see...

Refreshed by perfectly chilled Cava on arrival, and after some nosing around, the contestents crammed into the cute little kitchen, where Rhydian was rustling up their toppings...

...and it was quite a spread: Venison sausages, parma ham, griddled asparagus, mozzarella, goats cheese, mushrooms with balsamic, caramelised red onions, fresh rocket and smoked salmon. All with a base of smooth red pepper sauce. Wow!

Trepidation, excitement, wondering and bemusal were just a few of the emotions our diners were feeling before tackling the toppings head on!

Leonie gamely goes first, creating a veggie feast, heavy on the cheese with a distinctive triangle of asparagus.

Philippa, when asked what she was going for, replied simply "Everything!".

Gabriela went for another meat free one, leaving more sausages etc for everyone else, but a squabble was kicking off over the balsamic mushrooms so Rhydian quickly whipped up some extra servings.

Nadia looked highly satisfied with her handiwork, and by this point Rhydian was left with just enough to top his own base with. He was also sharing his with a poorly housemate, what a sweetheart!

Leonie and Philippa's came out of the oven first, looking done to perfection as guests could choose how well done they liked theirs (passing the blame again Rhydian!). Condiments and crushed black pepper were provided and people were making a dent in tonight's red wine haul.

Nadia and Gabriela's up next.

It looked like the less formal approach was paying off, everybody was enjoying themselves and somehow Rhydian had managed to keep his kitchen completely clean (he admitted to being a bit OCD).

Next, our tireless host whips up the batter for dessert. A couple of weeks before Shrove Tuesday he gives his guests an opportunity to perfect their tossing technique! See a video of Gabriela having a go here!

Philippa managed a full 360! Extreme!

And there were the sweet toppings to get stuck in to too! Maple syrup, blueberries, strawberries, Haagan Dazs and of course, lemon and sugar!

Then to round off the meal, Rhydian came over all George Clooney and revved up the Nespresso machine, offering his guests a choice of coffee capsules from his wooden display tray. How suave!

That kept him busy while the guests were whisked off one by one to give their scores. Will Rydian be in the lead after a fantastic interactive feast? Or will guests mark down for the lack of starter and having to lift a finger? All will be revealed once we've enjoyed our other hosts efforts. Next up is Leonie, her menu will be posted next week! Watch this space!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Dinner 2 - Rhydian's Night

Our second host is Rhydian, who has professed his lack of cooking skills, but will he be shown to be bluffing? Or will our guests overlook culinary disasters as long as everybody has a ball?

Here is Rhydian's menu, given to the guests before the evening, and a few of their reactions to it...

Rhydian's Interactive Feast

Main Course


Philippa says -
I think he's very ambitious making pizza for five people - and pancakes too! I wouldn't do it! But I think it's going to be a really fun one - interactive dining.

Leonie -
Pizza and pancakes - I like both, but it doesn't sound too exciting - maybe he's playing it safe and doing something simple, but something simple really, really well (that old chestnut!)
What's gonna be with the pancakes? Fingers crossed for sugar and lemon. Mmm...

and Gabriela responds - Interactive feast? Does this mean we'll be cooking our own meals?!
I think we'll have to rename this session of Fun Dine With Me, and change it to :Please Don't Let Rhydian Make Me Ill Dine With Me.

So what will Rhydian turn out for our demanding contestants? Will everyone drink as much wine as at Philippa's? Does the guests nosing around know no bounds? Answers to these questions and more when we reveal Rhydian's dinner here soooooooon!

Philippa's Recipes - Lamb Tagine

Here is Philippa's main course, easily adapted for Vegetarians (er, leave out the Lamb) and wolfed down by all our guests. This dish can be prepared in advance meaning no stress once your dinner party is underway!

Lamb Tagine

50g Sun Dried Apricots, halved
2tbsp olive oil
about 600g diced leg of lamb
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cinnamon
400g tin Cherry Tomatoes
150ml Lamb Stock
Pinch saffron threads
Salt to taste
2 tbsp Waitrose Ground Almonds
2 large courgettes, cut into large pieces
1/2 butternut squash, weighing approximately 500g, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, skinned and quartered
1tsp Harissa
1tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1. Place the apricots in a bowl and cover with 100ml boiling water. Leave to soak for 2 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat 1tbsp of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole and brown the lamb in batches then set aside. Add the remaining oil and the onion and cook gently for 10 minutes until soft and golden. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a further 2 minutes then return the lamb to the casserole.
3. Add the apricots and their soaking liquid, the canned tomatoes and stock. Stir in the saffron, salt and ground almonds. Heat to simmering point, cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour.
4. Add the courgettes, squash, tomatoes and harissa with a little extra water if necessary and cook in the oven for a further 45 minutes.
5. Season to taste adding extra harissa if desired, then stir in the parsley and serve with couscous.
(For the vegetarian version, replace the meat with sweet potato, aubergine and extra butternut squash)

Friday, 13 February 2009

Philippa's Recipes - Mushroom Pate

Philippa's beautifully presented starter was a winner with the meat-eaters as well as our vegetarians. You can give it a go at home as she has kindly given us the recipe for you to pass off as your own!

Mushroom Pate
(p.s. Does anyone know how to type the accent on the e?)

4 tbsp. Madeira or Port
20g Dried Porcini Mushrooms, crumbled
150ml boiling water
40g butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
450g various mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
175g ricotta cheese
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp. chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

1. Put the Porcini mushrooms in a bowl with the boiling water and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes.
2. Melt the butter and fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook for a further 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Porcini mushrooms and their soaking liquid, bring to the boil and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated. Cool.
3. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a food processor and process with the ricotta cheese, vinegar and madeira to a rough paste. Add parsley and plenty of seasoning. Chill until ready to use.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Philippa's Dinner Party!

So at 7.30 on Sunday evening, Philipa had everything under control. She whipped up a quick batter for some after dinner cakes and showed me her impressive collection of cake tins. The tagines were stewing slowly on the hob and cocktail glasses awaited the guests arrival...

I had done my best to keep all the contestants secret from each other, which was quite a task what with my big mouth and having 4 of them all in the same club the night before. Rhydian and Nadia had found out they were both in, so arrived together (and completely covered in snow). Then Leonie, kindly brandishing a bottle (as was everybody else, oh dear!). Shortly followed by Gabriela.

Everybody was greeted with a delightful glass of Prosecco with Pomegranate juice and we all got acquainted. Some guests already know each other but others are meeting for the first time. Such fun!

After the obligatory snooping around a la Come Dine, the group sat down at Philippa's beautifully laid table. Set with her Grandparent's silverware and with a simple white cloth it was an elegant setting for the first course...

Homemade mushroom pate with toasted ciabatta and green salad.

What do you think?

Next up...

The main course of Vegetable Tagine or Lamb Tagine (below) served with herb and pomegranate cous cous.

As guests listened to the cool disco-y soundtrack, discussed Giles Coren and opened bottle after bottle of wine. Phillipa plated up her dessert...

Baked Cheesecake!

I can personally assure you it was sublimely creamy and delicious.

Then a little after dinner extra, the vanilla flavoured little cakes (whose proper name I can't remember but a recipe will follow soon!)

As if we weren't all fit to burst by then, we broke open the boxes of Ferrero Rocher and luscious Thorntons chocolates that Nadia and Rhydian had brought for our host.

Secret voting was taking place in the kitchen but we kept Philippa distracted with the chocolates!

Then all the guests departed into the snowy london streets and via snowball fights with strangers, snow angels and slipping over, finally made it home. Philippa has certainly set the bar high and all other contestants are seriously considering their menus, trying for top marks!

Scores will be revealed as soon as all 5 dinners are done, but until then, what do you rate the meal?

Also, keep an eye out for Philippa's recipes, they'll be up soon too...

Sunday, 8 February 2009


..our first batch of Fun Diners!

First to host is Philippa, she's a sophisticated lady who works for a TV Channel and has renowned musical taste. She has only watched the real CDWM a handful of times but is confident in the kitchen and has a well stocked cupboard of baking paraphernalia. She's sure to set the bar high.

Next is our only male specimen, Rhydian, who confesses to not being the best cook but is always the life of the party (not to mention the afterparty) and so hopes atmosphere and entertainment will pull him through.

Leonie is a talented freelance journalist and has a well documented love for cheese in all it's forms. Being a vegetarian she has the mostly meat-eating group cooking outside their comfort zones. Another legendary party person, will her night come out tops even for the carnivores?

Nadia is our next guest; one of London's top DJs and a well known Sunday roast enthusiast, Nadia can throw a banging party but what about a dinner party where conversation comes before choons? She is in it to win it as well as for a good time.

And bringing up the rear is Gabriela, an aspiring actress and theatre lover, this native New Yorker is a pesky pescatarian, eating fish and seafood but no meat. Will her stateside-style portion sizes have her guests beaten?

Follow the five evenings right here as the contestants take it in turns to throw the most imaginative and entertaining dinner party, impress all the guests and get top marks becoming the first Fun Dine With Me champion!

The scores won't be posted until all the dinners are over to keep our hosts in suspense but feel free to comment and share your views on the menus and the reports as they are posted over the next few weeks!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Ready, Steady... DINE!

The first Fun Dine With Me run is underway! We have 5 brave diners signed up to deliver dinners in February. The full accounts, recipes, and of course, scores will follow here shortly.

In the meantime if you are interested in being part of our next batch please email your:

and availability over the next 2 months to:


Bon appetite!