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!
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.
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.....
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!