There’s a certain irony to this post. Given that my efforts at entertaining have often been the stuff of disaster reflected on with horror for years afterwards.
Check out this Facebook conversation with my friend Petrina (who gets the award for the longest-serving flatmate I ever had, a woman of incredible patience) after she read Happy Birthday Hippie Child.
Petrina: So the cooking at your place is still fraught with danger then? I still have a giggle when I recall your hand made fetticini dinner. Trying so hard to impress your new boyfriend/ Couldn’t see the walls for smoke – But still tried to save it. The serving spoon sticking upright in the cement like pasta. Boyfriend’s comment? Wot a winna! Everyone knew it was the start of something beautiful. Happy Valentine’s. xx
Janine: Yes Janice still refers to that dinner too – nothing like making an impression.
Janine: Thinking last night you might have got two disasters mixed up. The smoke was the chicken and almonds night the fettucini just went to Glag glue didn’t it? Or did I generate smoke as well?
Petrina: Memory is a funny thing… I like to tell it with plenty of character. You’re probably right and love that you’ve owned up to another disaster without any help whatsoever… Good onya Jeannie.
Janine:Just here to entertain. When are you coming to Port so I can cook for you again?
Petrina: Ummm : )
And yet here I am sharing with an audience my five favourite recipes for entertaining. Petrina will be amused. Look and learn people.
I have discovered a love for my oven when entertaining – bung it in – enjoy a wine – just don’t forget to set the timer.
Are you getting the sense I like big plates of food that everyone serves for themselves? Presentation less of a worry then.
I am also very partial to Gwyneth’s brussel sprouts (don’t laugh she actually makes them taste good) as a side dish.
Then an old faithful dish beloved by the children is the aforementioned chicken and almonds dish – yes the very first meal I cooked for the boyfriend which involved fire, a smoke filled ambience and a tendency toward charcoal flavour. However, when you don’t burn the oil it works out quite nicely. BTW he went on to marry me – and still complains I can’t cook – it’s not like he wasn’t warned!
The dish goes something like this – throw some white wine in a pan, sprinkle in a chicken stock cube, boil until slightly reduced, add in some cream and a dash of wholegrain mustard, boil again until it thickens up a little. Meanwhile crumb chicken breasts and fry in a little oil. Serve chicken with sauce and some flaked almonds sprinkled on top. To really tempt your taste buds here’s a really bad photo of the dish, with sauce a bit too runny and no almonds because I didn’t have any that night.
It was my staple entertaining dish in the late 80’s and early 90’s – and I’m still serving it – can you tell I’m a creature of habit? Or perhaps my reportoire is limited so now I’ve got the hang of it (sort of) I don’t like to deviate from the tried and true.
What do you like to cook when guests come over?