An Easter dinner party

On April 22, 2014 by battenburgbelle

Easter started with a very enjoyable trip to Wales to visit family and spend a night in lovely hotel in Skenfrith, complete with compulsory hearty walks. Missy B was forced to face her fear of sheep, as we had to go through several fields of them. She has a point – some years ago we were actually charged by a flock of sheep (also in Wales) and it was a fairly terrifying experience. But I assured her that this was highly unusual and that entering a field of frolicking lambs and their mothers was not an actual guarantee of disaster. I did agree with her that a trip through a field of frisky bullocks didn’t appeal, so we gave that walk a miss. Anyway, after all that excitement I was ready to get home and reinstall myself in the kitchen.

Smoked trout

Smoked trout with beetroot relish and horseradish cream

We had our friends Caroline & Peter and David & Andrea over for a vaguely Easter dinner. I did a variation on an old favourite to start. Walter Purkis had run out of mackerel by the time I got there, so I bought some trout and smoked that in my wok. I was a bit worried that the lapsang souchong flavour might be overwhelming for such a delicate fish, but it turned out very tasty indeed.

Stuffed leg of lamb

Stuffed leg of lamb

This was a day of not getting quite what I wanted – the Midhurst butchers had sold out of shoulders of lamb. I supposed that shouldn’t have come as a surprise for this particular weekend. Anyway, undaunted, I authorised Mr B to settle for a leg instead. I filled it with a stuffing of feta, sun dried tomatoes, shallots, green peppercorns, thyme and breadcrumbs. It looked most ungainly, but it was delicious.

There was gravy and also a lovely tomato and mint salsa: a finely chopped shallot, infused in a tablespoon of vinegar and three of olive oil for 10 minutes or so, then mixed with 4 tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped, a crushed clove of garlic, a tablespoon of chopped mint, salt and pepper. This is a case where it is definitely worth fiddling around and doing the tomatoes properly. The salsa gave a lovely contrast to the lamb. I also made a green salad and some new Jersey potatoes, cooked en papillote, i.e. in a big parcel, with some olive oil, a couple of sprigs of rosemary and an unpeeled clove of garlic. Another case of however many potatoes you cook, they will all be eaten.

David and Andrea were treated to a meal served on the beautiful tablecloth they gave me for Christmas and they now know how stressful it is to watch Mr B serve red wine in the vicinity of a white cloth. It’s at the dry cleaners now and I am hoping they work the usual miracle for me. Perhaps I shouldn’t have put Mr B in charge of drinks. I was busy with the food and didn’t notice until too late his light touch approach to the soft drinks…


Water. With a lemon…

Next up: a couple of cheeses (a pecorino from Giocobazzi deli in Hampstead and a bleu d’Auvergne from Spirited Wines in Muswell Hill), served with a fig ball bestowed upon Mr B for his birthday (among other things). The label has disappeared, but as far as I remember this was described as dried figs, compressed into a ball, to be enjoyed with cheese. I’m not sure “enjoyed” was quite the right word, I think we all agreed it was a strange thing.

Pear bourdalue tarts

Pear bourdalue tarts

Finally, in an attempt to soak up some of the wine, we had these little pear tarts – another Bertinet success. The pears are poached and the tarts filled with almond cream. Pears are not my favourite fruit, but they were perfectly ripe Comice and the tarts were great, served with some cinnamon ice cream.

2 Responses to “An Easter dinner party”

  • Nick

    Remind Mr. B that he has a rather useful wine drop catcher that we gave him for his birthday (or was it Christmas?) a couple of years ago!

  • battenburgbelle

    Ah yes – we do sometimes remember to use that!

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