Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dinner with friends

Last night I hosted my first dinner at home for 2010 and I decided that I wanted something with big flavours that would be good for sharing around my living room table. Although I do have a small dining room (a converted second bedroom that I figured would get more use as a place to dine) I often serve dinner around my oversized coffee table. It makes for a much more chilled out atmosphere and we can all just lounge around without the formality of a dining room. The menu I put together for my guests was heavily influenced by spanish cuisine, starting with a whole selection of tapas style dishes that were served with warm crusty bread and plenty of wine. I followed this with a big bowl of fresh local mussels, a grilled vegetable salad and the chicken dish I cooked earlier in the week (I told you that it freezes well!) For dessert, I took advantage of the beautiful white peaches that are in season right now, and poached them in a vanilla and orange blossom water syrup. I served them with some double cream and topped them with some Pomona glace oranges.

I tried something new last night - I have seen various kinds of stuffed chillies served as part of a tapas selection and also in mexican and asian menus and I always like the idea of them. I made up my own recipe, which comprised of chorizo, breadcrumbs, garlic,and a touch of passata to moisten the mixture. I whizzed this all in the food processor and then split and de-seeded the chillies and filled them with the mixture. They were then put in a hot oven drizzled with olive oil for about half an hour. They were spectacularly good - smoky and melty and sexy. I swear I could eat a huge plate of them without stopping, they were so moreish. Perfect as a snack with beer but also great as a tapas/antipasto option. My only regret was not making a lot of them! I will be featuring these in many a menu in the future I think.

Here are some pretty pictures of what was on offer at Casa Gourmet Goddess last night.....

Warm mixed marinated olives, Green Sicilian olives, Chorizo stuffed chillies

From left: Grilled haloumi with lemon, Mixed chorizo (chicken and pork),
cheese stuffed peppers, red figs with proscuitto

Paprika crusted squid with aioli

Grilled vegetable salad with pomegranate balsamic dressing

Chicken with capers and olives

Steamed mussels with rich tomato and garlic butter sauce

Poached white peaches with orange blossom water and vanilla syrup

PS: Before I sign off, I have to thank Justin and Marek for treating us to a couple of bottles of my favourite fizz, Veuve Clicquot to kick off the evening in fine style. Thanks boys XX


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