On Friday night two friends were arriving in from Cambridge in time for a late supper. They didn’t arrive until after 9pm, fortunately, as the previous night at Mackerel and an after-work engagement party ensured that I didn’t get home until around half seven. Walking home from town I nipped into Spiceland to pick up some pita breads and a tin of dolmades (rice stuffed vine leaves) and together with a few house basics – potatoes, carrots, chorizo, eggs – decided on a simple tapas-style meal with a Mediterranean flavour.
Category: Food for Friends
In the summertime I love to cook quiches and tarts – although I do have to admit that I often cheat and use ready-made frozen pastry. When I’ve time to actually make the pastry as well as the quiche (all too often it becomes a trade-off), I use Susan Loomis‘ short, sumptuous and food processor-friendly recipe but, last Friday, with our Scottish ex-NZ Housemates coming round for dinner, there simply wasn’t time. I ditched the idea of making the pastry but, while talking to our guests from the kitchen and getting some salad together, I did manage to give the onions enough cooking time so that they were meltingly sweet and a really good base for the rest of the flavours – pungent smoked bacon and sharp mature cheddar cheese.
The Tax Advisor had decided to have another bring-a-course dinner party and, because the Boyfriend and I have plenty of space in our current Dublin flat – as well as small but useful items such as cooking utensils, crockery, chairs and a table – I volunteered us as hosts. Although there were to be eight for dinner, we decided to avoid having as many courses as last time, and limited it to just an opener, mains plus salads, and deserts. There were still the usual “who’s cooking what ” emails doing the rounds and, only being just back from our travels, I decided to make something Moroccan.
The Boyfriend and I are about to head off to Morocco in a week’s time so I thought I should use up my last year’s supply of Moroccan spice blend Ras al hanout on a meal for the Writer – who brought me my first taste of spices from Morocco – and her husband. I decided to make my favourite Moroccan Lamb Tagine and, to accompany it, thought that I’d jazz up my usual plain couscous a little.
Nothing strikes more terror into the heart of a cook than being told that a guest is allergic or intolerant to certain foods. I find that it tends to concentrate the mind, not – as you may think – on what you can cook but, rather, what you can’t. Told that I need to avoid spicy foods, my brain invariably starts wandering through all my Indian and Moroccan favourites. For vegetarians, I start musing over soups with meat bases or, perhaps, Mexican Beans – cooked with bacon!
Ever since I’ve discovered the glories of butternut squash, there’s rarely a week goes by without it being added to a dish or several. As with pumpkin, I tend to use more Middle Eastern or Indian flavours in my squash dishes – cumin and coriander seeds are particular favourites – but, as it’s been a while since we’ve had a curry, I turned to the January edition of delicious. magazine for a recipe with more Asian leanings.
I have become a cast iron convert. A Thursday night dash into a post-Christmas sale at Kitchen Compliments on Chatham Street in Dublin led to me becoming the proud owner of an oval “Racing Green” enamelled cast iron Chasseur casserole dish (the Chasseur range is like Le Creuset but a little cheaper). Well, I started off being proud until I realised how heavy it was and that I had to drag it – with the Boyfriend’s help – to an opening at an art gallery, all the way round the (very large) exhibition, to the after-opening drinks in a local pub, and into a bad Mexican take-away on its way home to my kitchen. It survived its eventful night out in Dublin and, since then, has been put to use on many occasions, some of which have, again, involved trips across town.
There are seven members of the Bibliofemme bookclub and, every month, one of us hosts a meeting where we discuss the book distributed at the previous meeting. As I had picked the last book – Witi Ihimaera’s The Whale Rider – all the Femmes were coming round to mine on Saturday and, in a change from our normal night-time get-together, we were meeting at 12pm. Normally we just have nibbles and wine – having taken a vow when the club started not to have anyone slaving over a hot stove – but I couldn’t resist the chance to try out some brunch recipes. Although, having carelessly tossed off an invitation to brunch to six people (normally seven but the Artist couldn’t make it back from London), those recipes seemed to be rather difficult to come by.