So, I really don’t know what came over me. I arranged for our neighbours to come over for dinner on Saturday and when Nick told me he wouldn’t be able to cook as he was out that afternoon, I said “ok, I’ll do it then.” And when we stopped laughing I took myself outside and gave myself a good talking to.
I know, I know, I’m as shocked as you are, believe me. (Although maybe not as shocked as my neighbour was when I told her; the look of horror on her face needed no explanation.) Nick is an awesome cook, to the point where our friends are almost embarrassed to invite us around in case their food doesn’t match up to his. Whereas I… well, I just don’t cook. You know, why keep a dog etc.?
But despite my (and others’) misgivings, part of me was looking forward to it as a challenge; I mean, it’s only cooking, after all. I prepared my menu well in advance, worked out a timetable and made sure I had all the ingredients in the house ready for the day. How hard could it be?
This was my menu:
Appetiser – marinated tortellini, sun dried tomato and basil skewers
Starter – baked camembert with roasted garlic and salt and pepper breadsticks
Main – beef fillet with parma wrapped green beans and roast Jersey Royal new potatoes
Dessert – chocolate mousse
All recipes except for the appetiser are from the Baking Made Easy book that Nick gave me for my birthday (another first: me, owning a cookbook). I marinated the tortellini and made the chocolate mousse Friday night – easy peasy, no time pressure, two courses practically finished already.
Saturday afternoon I started with the breadsticks, which were really more like dough sticks; imagine mini baguettes. Considering I’ve never made bread before in my life, they turned out pretty well. Slightly more cooked than they should have been, due to my autistic tendency to follow recipes to the letter and cook things for EXACTLY the time it says, then be completely surprised when they’re either raw or burned after the allotted time.
Oh, and did I mention I was also making a separate dish for the kids, Jamie’s baked pasta, which I prepared after I’d done the breadsticks, all ready to go in the oven when the guests arrived. Impressed yet? I certainly was – by this time I was definitely feeling all domestic godessy and supermummyish.
The only trouble with my menu was that most of the activity on my timetable occurred after 6pm, to dish up at 7:30, so that while the afternoon was calm almost to the point of being relaxing, once our neighbours turned up things got a little more intense. Especially once I’d had a glass of Cava and a (homemade, of course) strawberry martini, which had the dual effect of sabotaging my logical timetable but ensuring that I didn’t really give a damn.
In fact, it worked out that I was so over-organised, I was actually ready to serve the starter while the others’ were still putting the kids to bed and the main course was cooked by the same time; luckily, I could keep it all warm in the oven. Baking really is the way forward!
So in summary I served my meal to great acclaim, everything was declared wonderful and unfortunately I’m going to have to do it again. The end.
Um. Oh yes. You’ll notice I said nothing about my attempt to make pizza dough Friday night as Nick was running late, which ended abruptly with an impromptu waterfall of yeast and water mixture from the worktop to the floor and my instant dismissal from the kitchen. But that wasn’t on the timetable so totally doesn’t count, right?