Monday, March 1, 2010

Friday Fun!

 Friday night dinner ...always think of The Gilmore Girls when I say that...was really lovely.   The company was excellent of course and the chat, great fun!   The food was cooked without any stress or complication although we never did get to the cheese....
 
Anne's card summed up the night perfectly....
 The table was set mid afternoon, allowing me to get on with last minute preparations; the secret to a great, stress free dinner is organisation and preparation-there is no substitute.   I've done the headless chicken or spend-most-of-the-night-in-the-kitchen part sobbing into the duck, getting drunk and neither works well for anyone.   I've learned my lesson!

 Table flowers vased....

 
...cake at the ready.
 
My friends arrived with wine, flowers, gifts and even choccies and biccies for the kids!   Too, too kind.   We chatted over French Martinis and canapes of pate, smoked salmon and cream cheese, parma bundles, served juggled by the kids; Brian topped up our glasses a few times before taking the children and heading for them there hills!  

 
French Martinis waiting to be drunk!

 Cooking commences...first course.

We settled at the table with the butternut squash soup; it was different than the first time I made it-thinner and a bit saltier...partly the stock and the ripeness of the butternut squash...but still lovely.   The squash is cooked in butter with garlic and onions before simmering in stock.   A tablespoon of cream is added and nothing else; definitely a case of less is more.   The scallops, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned and when cooked, shown a lemon for a moment, were small but delicious...thank you, good fishmonger man....and the mushrooms sauteed in butter, thyme and garlic, fine.   

 The soup, mushrooms and scallops being cooked simultaneously

It was all topped with some good, thin slices of Parmesan and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, served with a mini homemade seeded loaf.   This is and will remain, I'm sure, one of the simplest, tastiest dishes I've ever had.


We opened the champagne and moved on to the main course of chicken and pesto roulade with accompaniments; this is a dish that, although simple comfort food, dressed up, can go wrong as everything has to remain warm whilst dealing with lots of plates and hot fat.   This is when preparation comes in very handy; the leeks, carrots and courgettes were mandolined to within an inch of their life and bagged up, ready for frying.   The white wine sauce was prepared without the mustard, with the jar sitting close by ready to be added once it was reheated and seasoned.   

The chicken had been pre-prepared and wrapped in foil, ready to be placed in the oven.   The chicken was battered flat, seasoned, layered with parma ham, basil leaves and pesto, rolled up tightly from the long end and wrapped tightly in cling film or foil and placed in the fridge so that it would hold it's shape.   Once cooked, it was sliced and three or four 'roulades' were placed on top of the mash.


The chicken was good although there is a fine line between overcooking and undercooking this dish.   It worked out ok but I think I will definitely poach it next time as I had to take it out of the oven once or twice to check.   The mashed potato rounds had been cooked an hour earlier and were placed on a tray, ready to be put into a hot oven.   Pesto was dotted over the plates in preparation for plating up; it all went swimmingly.

 Chicken pesto roulade on a bed of mashed potato rounds, crispy courgettes, 
leeks and carrots served with a white wine mustard sauce.

The dessert and cheese were already cooked so my job was done, cooking wise; I settled in happily with some more champagne before bringing the chocolate marquis recipe to follow out for devouring thank you Gordon Ramsay, this was a treat.   
 
 Chocolate Marquis

It was served with plain, extra thick double cream and washed down with coffee and wee home made chocolate and coconut covered mints again, recipe to follow...very simple, you'll like this

 
Cooking over, making coffee...

 Homemade mints with chocolate and sweetened dessicated coconut

The cheese remains pecaned and caramelised in the fridge as the gabbing and laughter put paid to us remembering about it.   I think we were all a wee bit full anyway.

Brian ran everyone home around 1am with much hilarity.   You know it was a good night when you find yourself still chuckling once everyone has gone home.   A good night indeed.   Thank you Anne, Karen, Val and Shona...you girls are the best!
___________
Hot, cinnamony, sugary little balls of sweet dough, ripped apart and eaten warm or smothered in Nutella for breakfast; you know life is good when you smell them apples.....buns...I mean buns....first thing in the morning with the sun glowing through the window and the scent of spring in the air.

We made these HellyKellys on Sunday night with Heather and Kelly's help and reheated them for breakfast this morning.....

HellyKellys

It is a sweet bread dough, made into dough balls and dipped in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.....

Doughballs thrown into a greased, deep cake tin.

They are then left to prove for around 1 hour; the topping begins to crack......

Doughballs during proving

Then you bake them for 25 minutes, covering the top after 10 minutes so that it doesn't brown too much; the top is crunchy with sugar but the sticky part has oozed downwards, coating the outside and bottom of these sweet little buns with lovely syrup. 

 HellyKellys smell divine!

Highly recommended!

14 comments:

obladi oblada said...

Everything looks so fantastic. Especially those HellyKellys!

Virginia Mom said...

Sigh.... you know how to throw a dinner party, lady! Can't wait to see the recipe for the Chocolate Marquis... anything involving chocolate has gotta be wonderful! :) The "HellyKelly" recipe sounds a bit like something I make that's called "Monkey Bread"- if you're in a hurry you can cheat and use refrigerated biscuit dough. Paula Deen has another version in her cookbooks that's called "Gorilla Bread"- you wrap a dollop of cream cheese inside each piece of dough and continue rolling in the sugar mixture and baking. Mmmmm...!!!

mise said...

Oh my goodness, Helen. I'm just here booking my flights for your next dinner-party. Would you photoshop me into that photo of your friends so that they get used to having me around?

Vesper... said...

Awww, Girls Night Out....So fun....I'm due for one myself! :)

Helen McGinn said...

obladi, thank you lass!

Virginia Mom, I'll post it soon! There is actually cream cheese within the HellyKellys; not wrapped around it nut in the dough recipe. I bet it's a variation. Love the monkey dough name. :O)

mise, you're not that far, you could pop over quite easily once a month; I'm photoshopping you in, gal!

Vesper, when it happens, enjoy!! x

Edie said...

What a nice dinner party! The food looks so gourmet-y. I agree with the other commenters -- I could go for some HellyKelly's just about now!

Unknown Mami said...

Are you trying to make me jealous?

aladdinsane12 said...

mmmmmmmmm anything with coconut and i'm there! i want those little chocolate coconutty mints!

jaboopee said...

oooooh this is better than an episode of come dine with me, i want to come tooooooo

Janice said...

How lovely to see some pictures of you and your friends as well as the lovely food. Looks like you had a good time. I'm off out to Sarti's in Renfield Street tomorrow after work with a couple of girlfriends, hope our evening is as much fun as yours!

~Melody @ 6 Feet Over~ said...

I need to message you my address so I can receive an invite to the next Girls Night!! This looks SO fantastic!!! WOW! You had me at French Martinis and then I nearly fell over when the HellyKellys entered the picture! lol

~melody~

ER said...

French martinis? Oh my, this just might make me forget those frozen daiquiris in future! Helen, everything looks so incredibly delicious, i wouldn't know where to begin. It's also nice to see photos of you and your friends here. And what lovely lassies you are, too! Thanks for sharing your wonderful evening with us. :) Lizzy

Shelle said...

ooh Helen, that looks deliciously scrumptuous....all of it. Can't wait to try that soup...even with the scallops that i'm not particular too.

Shelle said...

oh and i forgot to mention....you can make some of those words a small as possible...we can still see them;););)