Thursday, September 14, 2006

Food, glorious food.

I am looking for suggestions. Next Saturday I am hosting a soirée for eight people.
The Paramour, his brother and his wife, my brother and his wife, Etheline and that Kevin and, then of course, bringing up the rear, moi.
I want to make something that I can do most of the prep work earlier in the day, so that I don't end up hovered over a hot stove while folk are getting nicely sozzled in the sitting room.
I want something I can put together last minutes and keep and eye on, but not sweat about. For desert I am making a rhubarb crumble with custard for I love rhubarb and would lick it from a scabby leg and so do the rest of my clan. For a starter I was thinking a Greek salad with feta cheese and black olives-although depending on the weather I might change that to French Onion soup. But for the main? Any suggestions? I was thinking something solidly meaty like beef, but I like the idea of trying something completly different. All recepies and suggestions would be appreciated.
Off in town for a meeting now for a ridiculously stupid early meeting. At least this not sleeping malarky means I'm up and about with the lark.
Huzzah, sliver linings abound.


Blogger SheBah said...

For eight people, you need something forgiving that will be OK if you get slightly pissed or if the guests are late. I post a receipe the fulfils these criteria!
Can be made in advance and reheated, but nicer if freshly made on the day.

Chicken or Turkey Cassoulet


3 Tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 /3 Large Onions – finely chopped
4 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 chilli pepper, finely chopped (optional)
6 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
2 tablespoons or tomato puree
1 or 2 tins of Plum tomatoes
1 kilo turkey or chicken pieces (chopped in large pieces)
¼ Kilo diced bacon pieces
Couple of glasses dry white wine
½ pint Chicken stock or water
1 Teaspoon Oregano
bunch of thyme, and a few springs of rosemary
2 Tins Cannelini Beans (or fresh soaked overnight if you can be bothered!)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley


1. Heat the oil and gently fry the onions until golden. Add garlic, chilli and herbs, and cook for approx half a minute .
2. Add the chicken or turkey pieces and the bacon bits, cook for 5 minutes, turning the pieces to gently brown all the sides.
3. Add fresh tomato and tomato puree and cook for about a minute, then add the tinned tomatoes and the cannelini beans.

4. Pour in the wine and the stock. Add salt & freshly ground pepper. Bring up to simmering point. At this point you can either continue simmering at a very low heat on the top of the stove, or transfer it to a casserole dish and put it in the oven for about an hour at a lowish to moderate heat - about 160 c depending on your oven.

5. To serve, sprinkle with the parsley and serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce (saves your guests licking their plates!).

P.S. This is delicious served with Horseradish Potatoes, which you can prepare in advance and bung in the oven at the same time as the above dish – will post the recipe later, as the quantities need to be more exact. Ideal when you have more than four guests and don’t want to fiddle around at the last minute. Then you can have two dishes in the oven browning nicely as you concentrate on quaffing with the guests.

12:22 p.m.  
Blogger KnackeredKaz said...

Why not go with shepherd's pie? Easy peasy and can totally be made in advance. And meaty too.

Brown all the meat and veg and stock in a frying pan earlier in the day. Put in a casserole dish. Just before guests arrive, boil potatoes and mash. Then while eating starters, put mash over the meat already in casserole dish and put in oven to brown and reheat meat...say 20 mins or 30 mins.

Bingo, meat, potatoes, veg all in one piping hot from the oven. Serve with crusty bread and lashings of real butter. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!

1:50 p.m.  
Blogger Andraste said...

Well, you can always make a huge lasagna ahead of time, and then just throw it in the oven while you're having those first 'loosening up' drinks, and it'll be ready and bubbly when you finish the salad course.

2:36 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I like Shepherd's pie a lot Miss Kaz-who doesn't, but I make it it at least once a month and this time I wanted to try something completely different.
The cassoulet sounds scrummy, do send me the recipe for the tatties when you get the chance too, Even if I don't make it on Saturday I'll print it out and stick it in my very splattered scrapbook of yummy things to eatand try.

2:38 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Lasagna's good too, but again somethiing I make regularly. God I'd actually love a plate of lasagna now.

2:54 p.m.  
Blogger finn said...

it is rainy and drear drear drear here, but shebah just the idea of your cassoulet cheers me up. and i second FMC's tatties recipe request. craving comfort food.

3:19 p.m.  
Blogger grimsaburger said...

You know, no one bakes a chicken anymore except me. I have no idea why--maybe something about chicken not being fancy enough? But besides baking bread, nothing makes your house smell better than a chicken stuffed with either a quartered onion and rosemary or a quartered lemon, with salt and pepper and olive oil on the skin. I had one in the oven last Halloween and every time I opened the door to hand out candy, the parents did a little lean into my house and asked to stay for dinner. Plus it's pretty hands-off. You fix it up, stick it in a hot oven for an hour or so, no fuss no muss, and it comes out all brown and lovely. You do two for eight people, roast some red potatoes with salt, pepper, and rosemary in the last 30-40 minutes of the chicken time, make a nice green salad, and you're set. No slaving over a stove required.

3:47 p.m.  
Blogger Springfield said...

i don't know how cold it is for you lot over the sea, so you might want to store this away for colder weather, but i'll eat it just about any time!

mulligatawny stew

2 carrots, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1/4 c butter
1 1/2 T flour
1 t curry powder
8 t boullion
1 c rice - cooked
2 potatoes, chopped and boiled
2c chicken, cooked and diced
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t thyme

boil 6 c water while cooking the rice
saute carrots, celery, and onion in butter until tender
stir in flour and curry powder and cook 5 minutes
when water boils, and boullion and veggies and return to boiling.
reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.

3:32 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nvan insomniac little mac's been dead for awhile so I haven't been able to lurk on all these blogs of yours and your links... :(

First...for your supper...

a nice roast pork tenderloin can be done and left to finish whle you indulge with your guests...keep it simple, wrap it in fresh rosemary and have cloves of garlic stuffed into it. Rub with olive oil and cover in fresh rosemary leaves after sticking in the garlic cloves as generously as you like...goes well with either soup or greek salad and you can do something simple like steamed new potatoes and some other simple veg like asparagus or something quick and easy.

Second...I am finally making my trip over to Ireland and would welcome any info you may feel like giving about a good, reasonable place to stay in Dublin for a few nights and if you know anything about somewhere to stay in the sligo, mayo, galway areas. This is for October.

A bit of an odd request, but reading your blog over the last couple of months, you sound like someone who'd have an opinion about something that would be similar to mine, so thought, no harm in asking...

sorry, no help with the insomnia, I resort to pills too... : ) though sometimes the warm milk, hot bath, chamomile tea or Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time tea help, and of course, as much physical exertion as possible during the day sometimes does it...nothing new there though.

I'll check back on this blog to see if you have any info or if you'd like an email address to direct any info to I can pass that along too...thanks, nvan kcat

7:11 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Are you talking about a hotel or an bed and breakfast type of place Nvan? I can ask about a friend of mine about Galywa and Sligo for you. Last time I stayed in Galway I stayed in The Great Southern hotel, right in the heart of the city and it was really very nice, but pricey.

8:50 a.m.  
Blogger SheBah said...

Forgot to bring the potato recipe – will definitely post it up later!
If you want to go a bit more gourmet – you could do duck breasts in peppercorn sauce. I know peppercorn sauce has become a bit of a cliché, but if you use pink, green and black peppercorns, you get an upmarket look to your dish, and I everybody likes it. I rarely serve beef to large dinner parties, as some like it blue, some rare, some cremated; it’s very difficult to get beef right to please everybody, and you need a huge piece if you do roast beef, otherwise it shrinks to cannibal head size. I don’t know how pricey beef is in Ireland, but in London it costs an arm and a leg.

This recipe does need on the spot attention, but if you get the paramour to help you slice (men seem to like slicing meat) – it will show the guests what a great team you make!

Sizzle the duck breasts skin side down in a frying pan (with a knob of butter, not oil), very high heat for a very short time (the idea is to get a crispy skin) – you can then put them skin side up in a baking tray and leave these aside til you are ready (just before you serve starter?) and put them in a moderate oven, say 180c depending on your oven, for approx 15 minutes – you get crispy skin on slightly pink duck – for guests who like their duck well done, you can add five more minutes, then with a really sharp knife slice each breast thinly and fan out on the plate, drizzle peppercorn sauce over (not swimming in sauce, just about two tablespoons of sauce for each duck breast, over the centre, with the meat showing). They’ll be impressed!

For the peppercorn sauce, use about 4-5 tablespoons of peppercorns, keep all of the pink peppercorns and some of the green peppercorns whole, and coarsely grind the rest of the green and all the black peppercorns. Melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter in a pan, add 3 cloves of crushed fresh garlic, cook for a minute, add one tablespoon of Dijon mustard, plus a tablespoon of brandy and the peppercorns, cook for less than a minute, then add one large carton of double cream or crème fraiche and cook gently on a low heat for a couple of minutes. Add salt to taste. (You can make this the day before and reheat – it tastes even better as the flavours have expanded).

Hope you have a great evening. I love cooking, it’s a big hobby of mine, but I cook all my high risk stuff for very close friends in small groups – they don’t mind being guinea pigs and are happy to eat the occasional collapsed soufflé!

11:09 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I love duck but that Kevin won't touch the filthy philistine. Do please post the tattie recipe, me and Finn wanna try it out.
I love cooking. When I moved to Dublin frist I lived on a steady diet of coffee, toast and cigarettes, it was only when I moved to Barcelona that my palate really grew and now I'm a fiend for food. I can think of nothing better that poodling about in my kitchen creating something, unhurried, glass of wine in one hand, music iin the background. Love it.

2:29 p.m.  
Blogger SheBah said...

The spud recipe as promised - enjoy!

Horseradish Potatoes

6 large floury potatoes, peeled and finely sliced

200 mls milk

200 mls double cream

2 Garlic cloves, crushed

170g jar creamed Horseradish (use a good quality one – do you have Sainsburys in Dublin?)

40-50 grammes butter

Preheat oven to 190c – Soak potatoes slices in cold water for 5 minutes.
Put the milk cream and garlic into a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and add the creamed horseradish. Taste the mixture and season it well (to work with the bland potatoes, the mixture needs to taste quite pungent at this point) or the flavour of the horseradish will be lost in the finished dish.

Brush an oven proof gratin dish with a little of the butter, drain the potatoes, pat dry with kitchen paper. Spread a layer of potatoes in the dish, season with a little salt and black pepper. Drizzle a little of the creamy horseradish mixture over them, repeat the layering until you have used up all the potatoes. Pour the remaining horseradish mixture over the top and dot with the remaining butter. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Remove foil and cook for a further 10 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown on top and soft all the way through.

This dish is totally delicious – nobody guesses horseradish, and everybody asks you for the recipe!

3:32 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Thank you! That sounds bloody scrummy.

4:45 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi fmc,

in dublin i'd probably like a moderate/middle range small hotel type place, in a good area, maybe some shopping, pubs places nearby, don't know the city at all but want to feel comfortable on my own, walking about in the evenings...(young 40 female : ) ).

will wait for info on galway, sligo...I'm looking for something along the line of a b&b sort of small hotel combo...don't want to be living in someone's house, but also would like to be somewhere to meet up with others, more intimate than a big hotel, know what I mean?

thanks for your help, hope you had a yummy supper! nvan kcat

8:40 a.m.  
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