Monday, November 8, 2010
I had four of my favourite friends over for dinner on Thursday night. Combined with the flatmates four, we had a perfectly formed table for eight. I finished work early, dropped a hundred bucks at Moore Wilson's, came home and smacked out three courses. I live for these evenings - good friends, beautiful food and ridiculous laughter. And getting called offensive nicknames and getting mocked about well, anything really. Afterwards it was funny, I felt like I hadn't really had a proper catch up with the guest of honour, over from Melbourne for one night only, but it was just like she lived down the road and had never left so it didn't matter at all.
I decided to keep the menu simple, and as a shout out to our friend Theo taking up a job with the man himself in Birmingham, we began with Jamie Oliver's Aubergine and Mint Bruschette. I served it with extra flat leaf parsley as a garnish, and a round of the best goat's cheese I could afford on top. I enjoy vegetarian starters, and this was ideal in that all it required was a bit of assembly, rather than perfectly timed heating.
Monkfish is a fleshy white fish which holds it shape well when cooked, and so it was the main. I made up a marinade type drizzle, with lemon juice and zest, chopped dill and flat leaf parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper and some chilli flakes. I mixed it up with a fork and placed the eight 200g chunks of fish in a roasting tray. I poured over the oil mixture and rubbed it in a little before leaving it in the fridge until required. Once in the oven, it only needed about 20-25 minutes, and because of all the liquid it stayed moist. I usually sit down to a meal and apologise for something not being perfect, but I do have to say it was beautifully cooked fish (even if the asparagus was slightly overcooked and the new baby potatoes could have done with further roasting, or even steaming or boiling come to think of it). I served the whole thing with an extremely easy and effective caper and dill butter sauce. I melted some butter in a cast iron fry pan, added capers and chopped dill, and let it bubble away while I plated up.
Now dessert was crepe cake. I had decided on something chocolatey, and I was keen to get in on some new season strawberry action before we get too close to christmas and strawberries get pricey. This crepe cake graced the cover of a Delicious magazine I bought probably some time around the end of 2006. The guests of honour and I have ogled this cake since about then, but I had never made it. It was one of those things I sort of intended to make but it just never happened, until Thursday.
Essentially it is just a pile of crepes with chocolate sauce to sandwich them together, and then warmed through and served with cream. But it was satisfying because I'd never made proper crepes, and the chocolate sauce wasn't just chocolate sauce. It was a king sized block of Whittaker's Dark Ghana, melted in a bowl over a simmering pot of water, with full fat milk, cream, sugar, butter and espresso. It was luscious, but I think without the strawberries only half as good. But that's just me. I'm a fruit fan, and dark chocolate and strawberries just gets me excited. Anyway, here's the recipe, and again you can check out why I'm not a professional photographer. You get the idea though, right?!
The best bit was, after a day or so in the fridge, the leftover chocolate sauce turned into a soft, truffle-like mousse and was probably the most incredible thing ever. Lucky I didn't know about this when I was more heartbroken than now, because wow, I would have just whipped up batches and now I'd probably look like a whale. A happy, contented, chocolate filled whale.
That's a lie. The best bit was popping the champagne cork off a bottle of Veuve Clicquot off our balcony. Or maybe it was smelling the same Veuve Clicquot seeping from my skin at the gym the next morning after 5 and a half hours sleep. Also a lie. The best bit was friends + food. It really is all you need. Oh, and love x.
(will be back to bitter and cynical next time, I promise).