My dear fiesta friday friends (FFF): you ever find yourself in the kitchen planning the main course and while chopping think ” oh, this would be SO much more lovely if I served fresh home-made bread with it ? Do you run to the cupboard, grab the bread-maker and make a batch – I use the maker to knead the dough for two reasons 1) if I do it I get flour and stuff all over the kitchen….2I) the heating function that cuddles and coddles the dough to make it rise, reminds me of the cell incubators at the National Cancer institute where I spent some happy years playing in the lab with miscellaneous cool ingredients.
Do you start out in the kitchen and then add courses as you go? Are you hopelessly, helplessly optimistic on timing – I always manage but the whole cooking situation is more like a frantic sprint round the kitchen than a relaxed cooking affair. So this brings me to my promises – whenever I have guests I find that I become a manic kitchen monster – I become chefzilla, I run around whipping up bread, and then biscuits for coffee with gold sugar sprinkles, because they look cute, and then decide on a batch of hummus to go with the fresh bread and oh while we are at it why not serve some rucola pesto as a tiny little course somewhere in there?
The last batch of guests were so overfed by the time they got to the boeuf that they couldn’t eat any…but I have to say they were VERY game 🙂 so this brings me to my promises after I last had lovely guests over on of all days May the 1st, the day of workers, where everyone gets a day off to relax.
After that experience I vow that
- I will NOT plan a 4 course meal on the morning of the event
- I will NOT plan a 4 course meal and then cook it in 2 and half hours, adding courses as I go just because when I got to the shops I found a cool ingredient that I can showcase
- If I invite guests to stay over I will not suddenly realize I need to tidy the guest room and throw stuff into spare cupboards to make it look tidy 2 hours before they arrive
- If I invite someone on a national holiday, I will NOT wait until the morning of that day to plan the menu and then send someone who is not cooking shopping ( in Switzerland this is a real problem as on those days the shops are mostly closed and all that you can find will be the nearest gas station shop, frozen bread and pre-packaged cake mix anyone?)
- I will be kind to my guests and not overfeed them
- I will continue to have lots of great quality champagne at hand
- I will unpack presents when presented (I love presents when they are wrapped, I hate unwrapping them) I love to keep them in their paper for as long as possible -there is so much more promise that way. My lovely guests brought me a beautiful glass vase with a candle inside, I refused to open it as it was so beautifully wrapped, despite their polite beseeching…….I opened it at breakfast and thought – OH what a shame, it would have looked lovely on the table last night
- I will not think that making 10 antipasti from scratch is a brilliant idea and won’t take any time at all
- I will not at 20 minutes to the hour when they are about to arrive discover I forgot to put aside the gourmet magazine from 2006 with my favourite butter-cake recipe in it and then decide to make chocolate cake, but not find any chocolate on hand ( I have stopped hoarding 80% cocoa chocolate just in case I want to make a cake thinking, not unreasonably that I could always plan ahead……apparently my hoarding self knows my scattered self better than my rational self does… and I will try not to call my guests at 10 to the hour they are meant to arrive at and say nonchalantly – you know if you guys come a bit late that is fine….(they stopped in a nearby town and had a coffee for an hour ….)
- However, I will make the cake (Nigella Lawsons Gateau Breton, which she adapted, like so many of her recipes, from books written by others, and she always gives credit too, which is great. Rather like us blogger but more lovely and more famous :))pictured above, and below, again BECAUSE it takes about 10 minutes to put together, you only need about 4 ingredients, when you serve it your guests will demand the recipe and then eat the whole thing at once. It goes beautifully with strawberries and a nice glass of slightly sweet dessert wine if you have a bottle handy….
*I know I may as well not bother to make the promises above as like new years resolutions I have made then all before….
**If you are now wondering what I cooked: 1) homemade foccaccia (is it homemade if the dough was kneaded by the dough maker? I don’t know we could vote…) 2) red and yellow peppers grilled cut into slices with pickled onions as an antipasti 3) various vegetable antipasti 4) salad 5) rucola pesto – my own recipe this: olive oil, rucola, toasted almonds, grana padana and the secret amazing ingredient – grated lemon rind, it is amazing trust me with pasta of course 5) boeuf bourguignon + potato gratin 6) gateau breton. Accompanied by Taittinger, a greco di tufo at some point and a lovely spanish red later on…..
*** as I cannot find Nigella’s recipe published by herself on line – I will not publish for copyright reasons, but google will help you, or else buy the book “the domestic goddess” its worth it just for the title
**** fiesta friday – a happening party over at Angies, it is great because it is virtual, no cleaning no washing, no frantic putting burned hands under the tap while trying to chop more stuff….