Come Dine with Me

Basting Seared Scallops

Come Dine with Me

Stephen Doran chef Every other weekend, three of my closest friends and I, will take in turns to dine at each others homes. For fun, we will then mark our enjoyment of the evening out of ten, just like the television program “Come Dine with Me”.

Although we end up drink a little to much wine, and not bothering about the taxi home. A little “geeky” I know, but it has been a hell of a lot of fun and a good excuse to get us altogether in one place.

It was week three, that was my week. Now I was only too willing to cook for my friends, Christopher, Amy and Claire, but I live in a broom-cupboard inNorth London, no exaggeration, the place is tiny, I don’t have enough space to swing my arms, never mind a cat. So I proposed to hold my evening at Christopher’s house.

“No way! You have to have the evening at your place or it just wouldn’t be like the program” whinged Amy.

“Ok, I’ll have it at mine, but on one condition” I said.

“What’s that?”

“Everyone has to bring their own chair, I just don’t have enough…or any at the moment”


And there it was, the following Saturday evening my friends gathered at Archway station with chairs in hand and made their way across Holloway road towards my flat, what a sight!

We managed to make it work, it was very cramped, but it was cosy, especially with me perched on the edge of my bed when we ate, brilliant.The evening started off well with a delicious bottle of sauvignon blanc, which was a perfect partner for the starter.

Scallops fried in garlic butter

Scallops served in the shell with garlic butter and lemon.


  • 4 scallops
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Small pinch chopped parsley,
  • 1 lemon


  • Mix the butter, garlic and parsley into a paste and set aside.
  • Put a large frying pan on to a high heat. When hot add the scallops shell side down. Drizzle a little oil onto the scallops and season.
  • Once the scallops have firmed up a little. Add a scoop of paste to each scallop and stick the pan under a hot grill. When the scallops are cooked through, serve in the shell on a plate with a quarter of lemon for those who want it.

Only a small starter but smells wonderful and also it’s a nice little piece of theatre to server scallops in their shell. But I wanted my friends to have enough space for the main event, The Shank!

Port-braised lamb shanks

Lamb Shank


  • 4 x 350 lamb shanks
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 large red onions finely slice.
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 400g chopped toms
  • 250g button mushrooms
  • 250 ml lamb stock
  • 20 ml Balsamic vinegar
  • 125ml good red wine


  • Pre heat the oven to 160C. Brown the meat all over in a large frying pan, then set a side. In a large casserole dish, brown the onions, garlic and mushrooms.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste. Add the shanks, place a lid on top and cook in the oven for about 2 and a half hours or until the meat is about to drop off the bone.
  • Serve with mash and green beans.

The meat just dropped away from the bone, it really couldn’t have been timed any better even if I do say so myself. Just a little tip with mash, once you’ve mashed it, it’s a good idea to work it over a little heat, stir it and keep stirring it with a large wooden spoon. Add a little butter and milk and the more you work it, the more solid it will become, I like my mash to be firm and silky smooth.

After the main it was time for the desert. I wanted something rich and extremely naughty to go with the whole indulgence theme of the evening, and of cause for indulgence there is only one ingredient…chocolate.

Insides - Chocolate Fondant with Jones' Vanilla Bean Ice-Cream - baked to order - Jones The Grocer, Chadstone AUD10

Chocolate fondants


  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g dark chocolate (80% cocoa solid)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • Cocoa powder


  • Preheat over to about 160C. Smudge butter on the inside of four large ramekins and dust with the cocoa powder.
  • Place a heat proof bowl over the top of a saucepan of water; make sure the liquid is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Slowly melt the butter and chocolate in the bowl. Stir and leave to rest for a few minutes.
  • Using an electric whisk, blitz the eggs and the sugar until thick. Then fold in the chocolate.
  • Sift in the flour and again fold into the mixture.
  • Divide between the ramekins and bake for 13 minutes.
  • Turn the fondants out on plates, dust with a little cocoa and serve.

The Chocolate fondants were a mischievous treat to finish off the meal and thankfully still soft and gooey inside. I’m sure I caught Amy licking her plate.

By this point the booze had been flowing freely and the scoring for the evening had gone out the window. But I’m sure I would have scored nicely for the food, even though the seating arrangement had a lot to be desired. I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve had cooking for friends. So “Come Dine with Me” people, grab a few friends and take turns to cook for each other. It can be incredibly funny to see how competitive people can become when showing off their cookery skills are concerned.

Also by Stephen A Romantic Dinner for Two

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