Today was a very entertaining day.
I had some of my lovely neighbours coming over for supper but was out for most of the day so I prepared what I could ahead of time.
I began with dessert. In a neglected part of the garden grows a very large rhubarb plant. It doesn’t look very inspiring does it? Or even very edible?
Gigantic rhubarb leaves. Once the leaves were cut off and the stalks were washed and cut, it looked more edible. I cooked it with some orange juice and sugar and set it aside to make in to a rhubarb fool in the evening. This recipe comes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘The River Cottage Family Cookbook’
Ingredients (serves 4 – 6)
- 350g rhubarb stalks (no leaves)
- Juice from 1 orange
- 40 g caster sugar
- 227ml double cream
- 15 g icing sugar
- Trim the ends off the rhubarb and cut in to half finger lengths
- Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with the orange juice and sugar
- Gradually bring the fruit to a gentle simmer
- Check regularly to ensure it does not turn to a much. It is cooked when it is all soft
- Set aside to cool
- Place the cream and icing sugar in a bowl and whisk until thick
- Stir in the rhubarb and mix gently together
The Family Cookbook recommends serving this with shortbread so I made some of that too. I made a double quantity and cooked it in a foil lined shallow baking tray which measured 34cm x 23 cm. The ingredients below are for the double quantity.
Ingredients (makes 20 pieces)
- 250 g plain flour
- 60 g rice flour
- pinch of salt
- 200g unsalted butter
- 100 g caster sugar plus 2 tsp caster sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 160 ° C
- Sieve the flours and salt in to a large bowl
- Cut the butter in to cubes and add to flour with the sugar
- The recipe says to rub together until resembling breadcrumbs. It is actually much easier to tip it all into a food processor and use the S blade until it resembles breadcrumbs which just takes a few seconds.
- Line the baking tray with foil, leaving some foil over the edges (to make removal easier) and tip the breadcrumb like mixture in to the tin.
- Press with your hand until all the crumbs are firmed down. Be quite vigilant round the corners and edges
- Place the tin in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the shortbread begins to take on the faintest trace of colour
- Remove from the oven
- Leave the shortbread in the tin for 10 minutes to harden up
- Using the foil edges, remove the shortbread from the tin and place on a large carving board
- Sprinkle the shortbread with the remaining caster sugar and cut in to squares
- Allow the shortbread to cool completely so it becomes firm
We were going out for a BBQ and I assumed our neighbours would have eaten a substantial lunch so would therefore not be expecting a huge evening meal. I prepared as much as I could of a light supper before going out. Using Hugh’s ‘Veg everyday!’ cookbook, I chose a couple of “hearty salads”.
Couscous Salad with Herbs and Walnuts
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 4 – 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 200g ‘giant’ couscous
- Bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 75 g walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
- salt and pepper
- Cook the couscous according to the packet instructions and set aside
- Put the cumin and fennel seeds in a dry frying pan and toast over a medium heat, shaking the pan often, until fragrant (2-4 minutes)
- Tip in to a mortar and when cool, grind to a powder
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in the frying pan and sauté the onion, celery, fennel and garlic over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and add the ground spices, lemon zest, lemon juice, herbs, walnuts and salt and pepper
- Mix together with the cooked couscous
- Just before serving, add more olive oil and lemon juice according to taste
Having prepared lunch we set off for Dad’s and he cooked us all a BBQ which was lovely. I have many happy memories of sitting in the garden and eating one of Dad’s BBQs. I had a steak with potato salad and salad plus bread and butter. Delicious. Followed by apricot tart and cream. There is always cream in Dad’s fridge! Having been entertained and fed so splendidly, we were entertained some more buy watching the Murray match together. What an exciting afternoon that was!
After the match we hopped back in our cars and set off back for home and arrived just before our neighbours did. Luckily, most of supper was sitting in tupperware boxes in the fridge so they just needed to be served.
This was also from ‘Veg everyday!’ and is called ‘New Potato Salad Tartare’ and is new potatoes, boiled then mixed with capers, gherkins, spring onions, parsley, salt and pepper and boiled eggs. Couscous Salad with Herbs and Walnuts A kind of Greek Salad, made with tomatoes, red onion, cooked and cooled green and yellow beans, sundried tomatoes and Feta cheese. I serve the cucumber separately as James hates it but the rest of us like it. This was an interesting mix of flavours and textures. I enjoyed it very much and am pleased there is just enough leftover to take to work tomorrow for lunch. Bon Appetit! It was still warm enough to sit outside. We sat outside until nearly 10 pm. The rhubarb fool and shortbread were good too. Top tip though – if you ask your child to whip the cream while you get the rest of dessert ready, either check them regularly or tell them you want a just thickly whipped consistency. Or you may end up with butter!
We had a lovely day today. We were entertained by Dad and then Murray during the day and in the evening we were able to entertain David and Annette. Good entertainment.