JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Birthday celebrations

A gathering of some of Lucius's longest-standing and closest friends demands something good to eat, something a little more than the everyday. On the other hand, Lucius likes best the food he always eats, so it's a dilemma. Or, perhaps, a compromise. Mostly it was good things we occasionally eat, plus one or two new ideas.

So, with our drinks we ate smoked salmon on brown bread, dusted with a little grated lemon zest as well as juice. We sat down to Elizabeth David's Prawn Paste, which sounds unappetizing but is a lovely delicately-flavoured light starter to eat with toast. Then we had fillet of beef, adapted from Nigella in How to Eat, which is a forgiving dish in terms of timing, and therefore worth knowing about - you get lovely rare beef even if you sit down half an hour later than planned. This we ate with little boiled potatoes and a huge green salad from the greenhouse. Then a very runny, not entirely successful but tasty Tiramisu from the Prue Leith Bible, because Lucius amazed us all by announcing that it was his favourite pudding. And good English cheeses from Riverford - Green's cheddar, double gloucester, and stilton. Followed by coffee with chocolates from Gorvett & Stone - a choice of either chilli (REALLY good, and with a serious kick) or mint.

Next morning, hot home-made bread with honeycomb given to Lucius by Andrew Ritchie, and this year's marmalade. Also lots of coffee.

Lunch was mass catering, with the arrival of lots more people, mostly family. We were 34 in the end (we'd been 14 for dinner). But all home-cooked - it's what we do to look after ourselves, so it's the least we can do when we invite people over. Chicken pieces, some cooked in honey and mustard (a huge favourite with the children), some in lemon juice and honey. Sausages (I didn't come over all Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, I bought them in Waitrose, so ignore the boast above). Vicky made a salad with the leftover potatoes and some leaves from the greenhouse as there was no parsley in the house. I cooked carrot slices in orange juice, which sounds horrid but is a revelation once you've boiled the orange juice down to a sticky clinging sauce. There was another green salad (which I forgot to put the avocado into, so that we've got an avo mountain to get through this week!). Also boiled potatoes, because Lucius likes them hot at every opportunity. Puy lentils dressed in vinaigrette. Bread, cheeses.

Puddings were Pavlova dressed with very runny strawberry jam and yoghurt, pears in red wine, Claudia Roden's orange cake - and the blood orange jelly which I forgot and which is still sitting in my fridge! And then Huntswood birthday cake - three times the size of last week's, and with a lot more candles.


mrsnesbitt said...

I cook fillet of beef as our special meal...I cook it in the oven..mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

janelle said...


Hey, just found your site and wanted to say RIGHT ON to your blog description/tag line. I am pretty jazzed about cutting out the saturated this and processed that... our whole family is evolving together along those lines. Keep up the great work!