Sunday, 24 August 2008

Dinner Party

We had 4 very good friends around for dinner last night. It's ages since we've fed any of them, and it was such a pleasure to be able to do so. We've known them for decades and love them deeply, and they make such relaxing company you can't help but have a wonderful time. We were indulging ourselves as much as showing off our culinary skills!

We started with roasted tomato and mozarella salad. You might call this a Delia dish done à la Jamie. Stick some cherry tomatoes in a roasting pan, drizzle over olive oil and chuck in some crushed garlic, a few finely chopped basil leaves and one or two finely chopped anchovies. Stir them around to make sure they're evenly coated and distributed and roast flat out for about 20 mins until the skins are splitting. Let them cool.

While they're cooling, tear up a mozarella into smallish bits. When the tomatoes are cold, add the cheese to them and some more fresh, chopped basil, then throw some balsamic vinegar at them, stir the lot up to coat everything and serve. It's a combination recipe because Delia does a roasted tomato salad while Jamie does a fresh one with mozarella. We did our version.

Followed by pot roasted haunch of muntjac, (yes, darling baby Bambi!) which Jenny had marinated for a couple of hours with crushed juniper berries, red wine, olive oil, thyme, rosemary and seasoning. She gave it an hour at about 170°C, but we had the meat thermometer in and gave it a bit longer (maybe another 15 mins) until the needle was just entering the 70°C box before taking it out and leaving it to rest. It was pink, but perfect. The fuss is because muntjac is so tender it's really easy to overcook.

I did roast potatoes and we also roasted some butternut squash, as well as fresh runner beans out of the garden.

Pud was Mopsa's clafoutis recipe, with freshly-picked wild blackberries from just up the road, a few black cherries, raspberries plus a few blackcurrants and blueberries. Served with crème fraîche and a scoopful of clementine and Grand Marnier sorbet. That was because we had a few clementines that we needed to use, and the GM seemed a good idea. It was pretty good, but the icecream maker broke halfway through. We had to stick it in the freezer and churn it manually every 20 mins to finish it.

And I have to say, it all went rather well. Truth to tell, even if it had gone badly wrong, these are friends who would forgive almost anything, so we were on pretty safe ground!

Today, having spent much of the morning clearing up, we proceeded to finish off the conservatory. We bought some stuff to glue the skirting boards back and it reduced me to a screaming, quivering wreck in nothing flat.

Called PinkGrip (for professionals only) it is almost completely useless. I ran the required 6mm bead along the skirting board, pressed it up against the carefully cleaned brickwork, and instead of sticking, the pink gloop was just flattened against the back of the skirting board. This is some new sort of glue, I surmise, that's not sticky. Or maybe it detected that I'm not a professional, so refused to stick.

Eventually, with a bead laid on the brickwork and another on the skirting board, I was able to get the 2 lines of "glue" to actually stick to each other. What a joke!

Anyway, fortunately the way the skirting board is laid out, most of the bits wedge each other in place, so glue that really sticks one thing to another is not really required in too many places.

After that we washed the inside and outside of the roof panes, which was no mean feat, and in the process discovered the reason the kitchen had become so gloomy.

So there will be silence for a bit, but all will become clear in due course!


DJ Kirkby said...

Other than the tomatoes (which I don't like the taste of but still can admire their beauty) your meal sounded exquisite.

D-HOR said...

Geeeezzz I am always AMAZED by how fancy and cool you all cook. And make it sound all easy! I've never even seen a currant. Ah well, I guess my mexican pork with salsa verde would be fancy to some folks, all a matter of perspective. Anyhoo, just saying
"Hi!!!" and I dig your meals :P

Sparx said...

You live well, my friend - although I don't fancy your skirtingboard glue much!

Rob Clack said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. I'm rushing to get a new post done, so might have to come back here later.

But I must say a big Hi to d-hor, who seems to have been gone for ever! Welcome back and I hope everything is good with you. I'll visit your blog the minute I get a chance.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Another impressive bit of cooking Rob, sounds great. But that glue..
well, you're a brave man. M xx