Charity Dinner: The meal & recipes

A few months ago we were asked if we’d like to attend a charity pub quiz & auction to support an Alzheimer’s charity. We went along and had a great time, towards the end of the night there was an auction for various prizes; 4 cinema tickets, water sport lessons etc. I felt that the auction could do with an extra lot, so decide to nominate myself as a prize: A 3 course dinner for 4, cooked at your home by me & served by my lovely wife.

The bidding process was fairly quick off the mark & it became clear that there were two very interested parties, eventually one out bid the other and we exchanged details. Eventually we found a date that suited us both and the date was set.

The Menu


The starters

Risotto Milanese with lemon jellies, pickled samphire, salad



  • 1½L Chicken stock
  • 130g Butter
  • 2 Banana shallots, finely diced
  • 1 Clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 Sprig of Thyme
  • 350g Aborio rice
  • 130ml White wine
  • 1 Tsp Saffron strands
  • 150g Fresh parmesan, grated
  • Seasoning

In a large, thick bottomed pan, melt half the butter & sweat the shallots & garlic on a low heat until soft.

Add the rice and coat with the onion / butter mix and continue to cook for 10mins, but don’t colour the mixture.

Add the wine & half the saffron, raise the heat to about one third power and continue to stir. Once all the wine has been absorbed, start to gradually add the stock, about 200ml at a time. Each time you add some, continue to stir and only add the next 200ml when the previous stock has been absorbed. This will take at least 20mins. It is the agitation of the rice which releases the starch from the rice & gives the risotto the creaminess you’re looking for.

Soften the remaining saffron in a bowl with some boiling water, about 2 tablespoons should be enough.

Check that the rice is cooked, & season as required.

Add the parmesan & the remaining butter and stir in. Cover for 5 mins before serving.

Heat resistant Lemon jelly:

  • 2 Lemons
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 can of lemonade
  • 1.6g Agar agar
  • 1 Tsp of Stevia

Combine the juice of the fruit and top up with lemonade to make 400ml. Sweeten with the stevia.

Strain into a pan and add the agar agar. Gradually bring to the boil whilst continually whisking.

Pour into a glass or ceramic tray to reach a depth of about 3-4mm

Leave to set & cool to room temperature, before transferring to the fridge.


Portion the risotto into the four bowls, top with a large sheet of jelly (use a wide solid fish slice for this), then the pickled samphire & finish with the lemon oil dressed salad leaves.

 The Mains

Devon Beef with roasted carrot, fondant potato, broccoli, onion purée.

Devon beef

Braised Devon beef

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1.5kg Beef shin
  • 2 Carrots, peeled & halved lengthways
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 750ml Red wine
  • 500ml Brown chicken stock
  • Sprigs of thyme, rosemary & parsley
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 head garlic, halved across the middle
  • 100ml Sherry vinegar

In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil. Season the beef shin and colour until golden.

Remove from the pan and add the carrots, garlic and onion, colour for 3-4 minutes before removing from the pan and setting aside.

To the pan, add the wine, chicken stock, herbs,  peppercorns, and beef.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook slowly on a low medium heat for 5-5½ hours until the meat flakes. Remove the beef from the pan and pass the stock before setting aside.

Flake the meat from the shin into a bowl and season with salt, pepper and four tablespoons of stock.

Reduce the stock to the required consistency.

Clingfilm the work surface with slightly over lapping layers each time. 3 lengths of 12 inch roll across several times. this should give you an area 30inches by 24inches of 3layers thick of clingfilm. Rub all the air bubbles out of it.

Place the meat on clingfilm in a rectangle (4inches by 14inches), place strips of the carrots down the middle and roll into a ballotine (sausage shape) about 3-4in long. Tie very tightly and place in a fridge, leaving to cool for 24 hours.

Onion purée

  • 500g Onions
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • 15g butter
  • Bouquet garni
  • Seasoning
  • 25ml Double cream

Chop the onion into 1cm dice
Sweat in the butter with a little salt and pepper. Add the bouquet garni and the garlic with a lid on until soft (DO NOT COLOUR)
Drain in to a colander and reserve the juice.
Purée the onions for 5-8 mins in a liquidiser
Boil the cream, season and add to the onion purée
Pass through a chinois and correct the seasoning


Cut beef into desired sizes and ‘seal’ in a wide pan, once coloured add the sauce, reduce the heat and cover with a lid. In the mean time, heat up the onion purée, previously cooked carrots, potato & broccoli. When the beef is hot plate as required.

The pre-dessert

‘The best part of breakfast cereal’

pre dessert

As much as I’d like to take credit for this, I was shown this dish by Shane Hughes from his time working with Paul Kitching at Juniper in Cheshire. 12years after first seeing it, & serving it to guests, it still gets a great reception.

Crunchy Nut Cornflake Milk

  • 1 Pint Semi shimmed milk
  • 120g Crunchy nut cornflakes
  • Stevia to taste

Combine the milk & cereal and steep for about an hour.

Strain and sweeten to taste, you should be looking for a slightly sweeter than usual taste.

Before serving chill the milk in the freezer till just before it starts to freeze.

Strain into frozen shot glasses & serve immediately.

The Dessert

Chocolate: Chilled fondant, espuma, brownie, raspberries, crème fraÏch.


The recipes for the chilled fondant & brownie already appear on the site, please help yourselves:

The espuma recipe is based on Mark Jordan’s, from his excellent book Ocean voyage, which I’ve tweaked to suit my purposes.

Chocolate espuma

Makes enough for a 1L cream whipper

  • 650ml Water
  • 120ml White rum
  • 130g Cocoa powder
  • 250g Caster sugar
  • 6 leaves of bronze gelatine

In a pan, heat the rum & flame off the alcohol.

Soften the gelatine in some cold water.

Add the sugar, cocoa, gelatine & 150ml of water to the rum, remove from the heat & whisk until you have a smooth mix.

Add the remaining water & strain the mix into the cream whipper.

Charge with 2 Nitrous oxide charges.

Chill over night.

The Cause

There’s an obvious big thank you to Diane, Caroline & their husbands, for bidding on my services. I’m pretty sure that their contribution to the chosen charity will be well received.

Mel & Rose have a ‘Just giving’ page if you’d like to support their effort in walking up Ben Nevis for the Alzheimer’s Society, all donations will be very much welcomed:

Just giving

Just giving page

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