In a rare moment of feeling hospitable recently I decided to invite some friends over for dinner. We haven’t had a dinner party for aaaaaaaages. Then I decided to invite another couple over as well because I thought they’d get on well with the first couple as they had a lot in common. Well, all the girlies had something in common anyway. We are all, or have been, photographers and all have dogs. All the two chaps have in common is that they have been lucky enough to bag themselves beautiful and clever wives many years their juniors.
Both lovely couples, I was looking forward to it not least because it gave me chance to flex my culinary muscles and do some proper cooking for a change. Tricky finding meal that everyone will eat with a picky, picky, picky eater like Boofuls, a fat fighter like me and a vegetarian to cater for. I didn’t want her to feel like she was difficult by serving her something totally different.
So. I made a roasted tomato, red pepper and garlic soup. That fit the bill for everyone. It was rich and unctuous and contained not a single calorie or ounce of flesh. Then I decided to have beef wellington for the main course. I’d love to say I made them but I didn’t, they were on offer in the supermarket and I was still searching for inspiration so I bought them. I did however make the mushroom and chestnut wellingtons with a red wine jus for me and the vegetarian guest, they were deeeeelishus! Then the important bit. Pudding.
I had two massive pineapples at my disposal so I got googling. Memories of schooldays came flooding back to me when image after image of pineapple upside down cake floated across my screen. Nonononono!! I don’t want a schoolgirl pudding. Pineapple carpaccio? Nah. Not very exciting. Pineapple in a caramel rum sauce? Oh yes!
Good old Anthony Worrall Thompson came up trumps with the best pineapple recipe. I put the sugar in the pan to make the caramel. Swirl it round the pan, he said. I swirled and watched in delight as the sugar melted and became liquid. Pour in the rum and stir he said, be careful, it might spit. I poured and prepared to stir. unfortunately, the sugar in the pan decided to set solid as soon as the liquid touched it. I ended up waving round a spoon with half a pound of solidified sugar attached to it. I bet that never happens to Wozza!
Eventually, after half an hour of stirring a sugar loaded spoon round the solid sugar melted down and I got the sweet and sticky run sauce I was after. I lured it over the pineapple and put it all in a slow oven to warm through. It was gorgeous served with vanilla ice cream. Any other flavour would have been a travesty.
The guests arrived, and as I suspected got on like a house on fire. I love it when a plan comes together. The evening passed in a haze of relaxed chatter and good humour. paying careful attention to which friends to put together paid off as everyone got on really well. I’d forgotten how much I like dinner parties. It’s by far my favourite way of spending an evening.
Now that summer and it’s long, warm, balmy evenings have gone for a few months I think we might be whiling away the winter months by doing a lot more entertaining.