Last Saturday night we had a little dinner party at the flat with dear friends Claire and Matthew. Claire and I are *relatively* good these days at finding time to catch up over a Guiseppe’s, but the boys often miss out in favour of a ‘girls only’ night of gossip and giggling. So this weekend, Adam and I decided to cook for us all at home.
Adam, who is currently sporting a moustache for Movember, had been lucky enough to receive a lovely gift of a set of ‘moustache clips’ from Claire the week prior, as a good luck wish for his facial hair growing and fundraising. And so Adam, keen to get using them, had the idea to make them into place cards. So as the beginnings of our meal were bubbling away on the stove by mid-morning, I began to fashion little name cards from the clips and folds of card. Oh, and a matching menu card too.
Supper was to be relatively casual, we’d decided, so the menu looked like this….
Warm Green Salad, Chorizo, Pecorino
“All Day” Cottage Pie
Sherry Trifle Wally Ladd
The starter was super simple…..a toasted ciabatta (half each), rubbed with a clove of garlic, drizzled with olive oil…then on top, blanched and buttered asparagus and long stem broccoli, with some shavings of pecorino, chorizo and a drizzle of balsamic.
For the cottage pie we used a recipe from BBC Good Food which has served us rather well. We love the Duchy Originals range at Waitrose, and so the beef came from there. Claire was surprised to see the pie topped with cheese, but as I said, that’s the only thing that makes a cottage pie better than a shepherds pie. We spent the whole day cooking the filling very slowly on the hob, so the flat was filled with the most fabulous wine/thyme/gravy smell!
The pudding preparation was an all day event too, and the smell of the black cherry jam simmering with sherry did for a while take over the kitchen. We followed (mainly) a Marco Pierre White recipe from his Great British Feast book for the Sherry Trifle Wally Ladd. We adapted a little to make the mixture fit into our new (although vintage), gorgeous pudding glasses, just pouring the cream over rather than whipping it and piping it in. The end result was absolutely delicious, and took us right to the other side of full.
The real triumph of the evening though was our newly readied Hertfordshire Foraged Sloe Gin. We’d been out picking the berries back in September, painfully pricked every last one, and then added them to two litres of gin and sugar…..oh and much like disturbing a Champagne to encourage the bubbles, Adam had to shake the bottles every day for several weeks. But boy, was it all worth it! The sticky, purple nectar is deliciously sweet and boozey, and rather too easy to drink down fast. Neat too.
Fresh coffee and petits fours (fruit jellies on this occasion) finished us up for the night though, after plenty of wine of course. And so with the marvelous company and great fun of having guests, I think perhaps the only downside is having to share ones Sloe Gin.