Friday, September 14, 2007

Speedy J

I’ve been planning a little feast for my impending guests this weekend but hadn’t really settled on a menu. MC had called me on Monday whilst I was perusing the shelves in Harvey Nichols with birthday salutations and the opportunity to beg me not to do one of my usual tricks and serve the meal so late that he falls asleep before the main course in on the table. Whoops that did happen last time! So when contemplating the recipes that I planned to conjure up I recalled one of the books that had turned up on Monday – Nigella Express. Surely that would inspire me to inject a little Speedy Gonzales into the event.

So feeling guilty after last time I was determined to be ultra prepared. I scanned Nigella Express, made some notes, made a list – checked it twice and placed an order with Ocado. I was trying to decide whether I should dig the leaf out for my round table and extend it into an ovoid but as much as I like egg-shapes, my Virgoean mind is slightly repulsed by the lack of symmetry this would entail. And anyone E(D) is so tiny I’m sure she wouldn’t take much extra room up around the table, so round it is.

I decide that I want everything to be white and crystal. That’s my crystal candelabra with white candles, crystal napkin rings - diamond ring style for the ‘ladies’ and plain for the ‘men’ and crystal wines and water glasses and crystal little menu holders. I picked up some more large glossy white placemats, I’d intended using my new white linen purchased in Copenhagen but someone has been known to dangerously slosh a little too much red wine around so wipe-clean placemats seemed a wiser choice. But for the linen napkins I had a special unveiling. The wonderful Marcia of Inside Story promised me that as a very special treat she’d embroider a ‘J’ on some destined for Concorde Irish linen napkins and deliver half a dozen in time for my party in September. And they turned up today so just in the nick of time! And they are rather beautiful, thank you Marcia.

The menu seemed simple enough, firstly they’d be canapés of Beef Wellingtons that I’d been meaning to make for ages and an intended canapé for Stephanie’s next blog party. For a starter I turned to page 153 of Nigella Express – Scallops and Chorizo. I knew this would appease the solid little carnivore who was coming and in a similar vein I next flicked to page 40 for the Steak Slice with Lemon and Thyme. For dessert I’d watched Nigella make her Instant Chocolate Mousse (on page 159) earlier this week and had popped to Peter Jones to secure some crystal dishes to serve this in. So a speedy menu is designed it just remains to see how swiftly I can whip it up.

The table is laid and looking sparkly and white. I am on schedule (for once) and start the Beef Wellingtons canapés but as I could have anticipated D, MC, LLcT and E(D) turn up a tad early and I haven’t made as many as I’d like. But what I do have get slammed into the oven and my thoughts turn to Scallops and Chorizo. Nigella declares this to be ready “quicker than the speed of light” and she’s right, it’s very soon I am delivering a platter of glistening chorizo coins, plump succulent scallops, showered with fresh parsley and oozing a fabulous orange paprika tinged oil.

Next I focus on the Steak Slice with Lemon and Thyme. Everyone likes their beef gently mooing apart for E(D) and I do remember to sauté hers twice or three times as long. It is another super quick dish but I think I should have got some thicker rump steak (unfortunately one can’t specify that when ordering from Ocado) so the rare pile wasn’t as rare as I’d liked. But served with some tender stem broccoli with Parmesan shavings it still went down very well. I would have like to heap the beefy bounty up in a platter with the stack of broccoli next to it but really with five people around the table and a plethora of crystal knick knacks, there is no room at the inn for anything else so I plate up everyones instead.
And for the finale I’ve just got to produce the Instant Chocolate Mousse and I’m home dry. Everyone sated, still a reasonable time to be eating and the kitchen just utterly wrecked. Well nothing new there then! It really does only take a few minutes to whip up this mousse so I’m feeling slightly smug and frankly marginally tipsy but there’s one final instruction I haven’t anticipated – the “chill until you want to eat”. I’ve only got a small fridge and it’s already pretty full of various delights for the weekend ahead and there is definitely not the merest room for five crystal dishes to reside. So I just have to hope that it will set of its own volition otherwise it is chocolate soup all round! When Nigella produced these on television the other day, she showered hers with white chocolate dandruff but I prefer raspberries so sink a few in each. They never resembled the chocolate Mr Whippy appearance of Nigella’s but we didn’t want to wait any longer, I feared I could already hear the gently snoring of MC so chocolate mousseline anyone? The dishes were scraped clean so I guess no-one really minded the less than perky appearance and I was almost forgiven.
I think my 'J goes rapido' attempt works, at least I did way better than last time! Just call me Speedy J!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Darling J, a wonderful meal, as ever. I must just point out that we were not early but exactly on time...though I do realise that this would be premature for some! Much love, D xx