Monday, 28 January 2008

Farewell feasting

Last weekend was Jane's final one in Dundee before she heads off to warmer climes, so we had lots of people over for Sunday lunch. We'd been over to see Jean earlier in the week to admire the HUGE amount of pyrex cookware she won by entering a competition on tv. She very kindly gave me a lot of really useful dishes, many of which were called into service on Sunday. It was quite an interesting logistical challenge to get enough food for 20 people cooked and into suitable dishes! I didn't get as much time as I would have liked to chat to people as they arrived, but the event went very smoothly and we managed to get the food out at a reasonable time.

Before we get on to the serious business of the food, I also wanted to show off my DIY skills, and my new favourite corner of the kitchen. Thanks to Jean's very professional looking spirit level, I was able to put up a couple of shelves which have become home to my cookbooks.
They are now safe from the previous threat of getting wet because they were living on the worksurface right next to the draining board. A nice little space underneath has been liberated for the whisky collection and the glass jars.
You can also see in the picture a few shiny new utensils that Jane bought recently. The potato ricer is fantastic! I never realised what a difference it made, but it makes perfect mash. I feel a gnocci-making session coming on.

The greenery in the vase that you can see is a bit of a clue for the food. We took a covert trip down the road under the cover of darkness, scissors at the ready, and acquired large amounts of rosemary to go with the roast shoulder of lamb. 2 shoulders in fact, both of them weighing 4 kilos. Jamie Oliver did a programme about lamb the other day, and Jane got given the book of the series as a leaving present so we thought it would be a good time to give it a try. Here they are being prepared for the roasting...

The things in the other photo are polenta canapes that I made to nibble on in case we got behind schedule with the lunch. Diane also made some yummy crostini with broadbeans, pear and pecorino cheese. For dessert we had lemon mousse from Jean, crumble from Laura, pancakes from Iva and a tasty French dessert from Laurence with pears in a kind of custard batter. I'm really looking forward to finishing it off for my tea tonight. Sorry Laurence, I'm not sure how to write the name so I'll leave it to you!

Polenta squares with red onion marmalade and goat's cheese

Once again apologies for the slightly cowboy measurements, I was going freestyle!
Finely slice 3 red onions, cover and cook gently with a little oil until completely soft. Remove the lid, increase the heat a bit and add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar. Cook until most of the juices have evaporated and the sugar is starting to caramelise. Add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to taste, and maybe some thyme. Allow to cool.
Bring 1L of salted water to the boil, and add 250g quick cook polenta, beating vigorously. Cook for about 5 minutes until it's quite firm, stir in 2-3 handfulls of grated parmesan, season, then spread out to a thickness of about 0.5 - 1cm on an oiled baking sheet. Allow to cool and set firm, then cut into squares.
Place a teaspoon of the onion marmalade onto each polenta square and top with some crumbled goats cheese.


Manoute said...

Flognarde (don't worry, it is a problem, even for french people ;0)). I'll put the recipe on my blog soon. What a shame, I am the only one not looking at the camera on the picture !

Manoute said...

OOops, I forgot: Thanks a lot for the Sunday lunch, it was delicious.

Jane said...

Great write-up Louise! It was a great day, I couldn't have thought of anything better for my last weekend. I'm just about to start the last leg of my trip... sun here I come! Thanks for everything. Hi to Barry and Dilly (and Olga).
PS. I bought yarn! Lovely, lovely yarn. Am making a beanie (why? I don't know, but it's lovely alpaca). Also going to attempt a lace project. :)