Thursday, 12 July 2007

Friends for Dinner

Well, last night was great fun. Our friends came over at about 6.30pm, so they had some time to see the boys before they went to bed. Unwillingly of course, as they suspected they would be missing out on something. Quite rightly, I suppose. After they were in bed, I tipped the chicken and its marinade into a roasting tin and cooked it for 45 minutes at 200°c. While that was in the oven I assembled some little toasts as a sort of 'nibbly' first course to have with a much-needed glass of wine.

Cut a baguette into thin slices; spread both sides sparingly with soft butter, or brush with a little olive oil, then place on baking sheets and bake at 200°c for about 8 minutes, turning them over halfway through, until golden and crisp. I normally do this earlier in the day, or even the day before, and keep the toasts in a plastic box until I need them. Top them with whatever you like. I made a selection last night, as I normally do when I make these; these are two of our favourite toppings.

Mushroom Topping

mushrooms, chopped finely
zest of 1/2 lemon, roughly chopped
cream cheese

fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Fry the mushrooms in a drop of oil or a knob of butter until soft. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest and allow the mixture to cool slightly. Stir in enough cream cheese to bind the mixture, add the parsley and mix thoroughly. You can set this aside for a while if you don’t want to eat straight away, or leave it in the fridge in a covered bowl overnight, which is what I usually do.

Goat's Cheese & Caramelised Onion

onion relish
goats cheese (preferably the soft, ‘log’ type with rind on).

Spread each toast with a little onion relish and top with a small piece of goats cheese. Flash under the grill to melt slightly, if you like. I also make an English Ploughman’s version of this with small-chunk Branston pickle and sharp cheddar cheese, but you do need to melt the cheese for these to be really good.

You need to leave the final assembly of any of the toasts until the last minute to avoid any sogginess. When you want to eat them, just top each little toast, put them on a large plate (or two), take them to the table and let everyone help themselves.

The chicken followed, with couscous, some salad and a bowl of Lemon Crème Fraîche Sauce. Then the cheesecake, which looked great with its topping of chocolate curls (which I did find time to make). We sat around gossiping and polishing off the wine until late. Bliss!

Hubby decided that he wanted to cook dinner tonight, so he got a nice piece of salmon, which he just fried in a little butter. We had baked potatoes with it and some lovely broad beans, just podded and blanched in boiling water for 1 minute before being skinned and turned in hot butter with a little black pepper to finish them off.

We had the rest of last night's cheesecake for pudding, too. Yum!

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