Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Lovely dinner party

As usual I forgot to take photos, but last night we had some friends over for dinner, which was lovely and something I'd like to do more often.  Next time, once Little Sister settles more consistently in the evening, we're going to invite some of our neighbours over. 

I carefully selected my menu so that I could do as much prep as possible at nap time, leaving me little to do when little people needed feeding and putting to bed.  I also took my guests up on their offer to provide dessert, which was a spectacular pavlova (I'm still drooling just thinking about it!).  Of course, it didn't quite work out as planned.  To start with I was up at 5.30am yesterday feeding Little Sister, so by nap time I definitely needed to lie down for a bit of sleep too - so the food prep was hurriedly completed after nap time, while Little C played and Little Sister watched me, before a hurried walk with  the Waggy-Tailed-One.  Incidentally, no walk in  this village can be hurried - after I'd stopped to chat with neighbours three times before I even got to the bottom of the road I gave up on the idea of Little C having a bath before his tea and just relaxed and enjoyed a stroll punctuated with neighbourly chats. 

Anyway, here are my recipes:

Starter - Salmon and Chorizo fishcakes
These were delicious and I hope that they'll become one of my signature dishes (you know, the ones that people talk about and ask you to make again... so far I only have a signature pudding - chocolate bannoffee pie - mmmmm).

250g peeled chopped potatoes; 250g salmon fillet; 75g chorizo; zest of 1/2 lemon; 4tbsp veg or sunflower oil; 1 egg - beaten; 100g fine breadcrumbs;

  • Boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, and grill the salmon for ten minutes;
  • Chop the chorizo into small pieces (a decent pair of scissors does a treat) and fry until crispy, then drain on kitchen paper.
  • Drain the potatoes, flake the salmon and mix with the chorizo and lemon zest - a food processor mixed it all up much more effectively than I was managing by hand, though obviously involves more washing up.
  • Shape into small fishcakes (it should make about 20), and chill for at least 30 minutes (or as long as required to walk dog).
  • Heat the oil in a pan. Dip each fishcake in egg and then breadcrumbs and fry for 30 seconds to a minute on each side.  If you are doing this ahead of time you can then just reheat in a moderate oven for ten minutes before serving.
  • Make a dip by mixing 6tbsp of Greek yoghurt with a crushed clove of garlic, zest and juice of half a lime and some salt and pepper.  Serve on a bed of salad leaves with the dip on the side and a wedge of lemon or lime.
Main course - Roasted lamb steaks with herbs and garlic
Perfect springtime flavours.  I liked this but the presentation wasn't great.  I served it with roast potatoes and fine beans.

4 boneless lamb leg steaks; 1 bulb garlic, split into cloves but unpeeled; 2 shallots - peeled and finely chopped; 4tbsp chopped herbs - you can use lemon thyme and parsley, but I used lemon balm and golden thyme; a handful of chopped mint; 3 finely chopped anchovies; zest of 1 lemon; 75g pitted kalamata olives; 2 tbsp olive oil;
  • Mix together all the ingredients except the mint, and allow to marinate (while you walk the dog, cook tea for your kiddies and greet your guests).
  • Cook at 200 degrees C for 20 minutes, then cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with mint and serve.

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