Sunday, 27 June 2010

Harrow mess!

There are far too many things that I am not very good at cooking. Very near the top of the list is pavlova. However, being an optimist by nature I am always game for another go when I see a recipe I fancy, and I fancied this week's Waitrose recipe for Strawberry and Vanilla Pavlova from Delia very much indeed.

Despite my best efforts at getting little pointy bits right round the edge the pav came out of the oven looking like a cow pat. In fact looking like every other pavlova base I have ever made. It also stuck fast to the greaseproof paper base which was a new one for me!

The filling tasted absolutey gorgeous but made the base split as I piled it on.

Having a purée of some of the strawberries was a lovely idea and the whole thing went down really well here, after they'd stopped laughing at how it looked.

I still don't know whether I overbeat or underbeat but meringue continues to defeat me. It has been requested again so watch this space. I might just make one that looks as good as it tastes.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

76 trombones

In 2009 the extended Lark family was completely spoilt for family celebrations. We had 18ths, 21sts, a 50th, a 75th and a daughter's wedding. This year seems meagre by comparison. Our 30th wedding anniversary falls on St Cecilia's Day and we are expecting our first grandchild in August. Great causes for rejoicing of course but not really enough for a family who like to meet up a lot and who like their food. So we celebrated Chris's 76th with a Sunday lunch barbecue. All 4 of our kids came, 2 partners, my mum drove down from Northamptonshire (she is 82 in August so that will be another party) and my sister and nieces. None of my family are big drinkers (I have to make up for them all) so we were really thrilled that the eldest son, who works in advertising/marketing, brought us several cases of the new flavours of J2O. These have been designed to work with food instead of red and white wines. The jury is out on this but as they were free we're not complaining!

We had garlic bread, crisps and dips to start and then the usual suspects made it to the grill. Costco burgers and sausages, and chicken thighs marinated in Nando's peri peri sauce. There is no point in doing anything else for my lot at a barbecue. This is what they want, and anyway they're waiting for the puddings! I didn't go mad on the salads either because they tend to hang around for a long time afterwards. But Costco have started selling tubs of those little balls of mozzarella which were lovely with some good tomatoes, tiny Greek basil leaves and olive oil. A big pan of Jersey Royals (an amazing price of £1 a kilo in Tesco), bought coleslaw and various bits of greenery completed the main course. My mum, having just returned from Amalfi, was particularly pleased with the buffalo mozzarella. (And she'd bought me a small bottle of Limoncello too).

And so to the desserts. Nothing I hadn't made before but then why change a successful combination? There was Squidgy Chocolate Torte and Mascarpone and Marmalade ice cream from the BBC Good Food website. For the record I don't think I shall make the ice cream again other than to use up marmalade. It wasn't really worth the faff. It tastes lovely but the mascarpone adds very little.

As promised Anne brought Nigella's Ice-Cream Cake. This is a really big hit with twenty-somethings but is a bit too sweet for me.

And finally Crunchy Lemon Pie, trashy but divine. By Monday evening there was nothing left of any of the puds. By the way, I didn't deviate at all from any of the recipes.

Happy 76th Birthday Chris! Now to find some Limoncello recipes . . .

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Scuppered again!

I do not rate or subscribe to Father's Day, believing it to be an invention of the Americans, from whom all bad stuff usually comes, and the Greetings Card manufacturers, ditto. Every year I get totally scuppered because it falls on or around my husband's birthday. This year the old man is 76 on Monday the 21st so it was inevitable that the children and other rellies started asking if I was "doing anything"on the Sunday (Fathers Day). By "doing anything" they mean feeding and generally entertaining them.

We are decorating, well okay, HE is decorating, any entertaining is a bit fraught at the moment, so instead of the usual roast half a pig/sheep/cow or complete turkey with all the trimmings and more, we shall have a barbecue. The Son-in-Law aka Soon-to-be-Father will do the cooking honours . For 12 at the last count. (Number 2 daughter will be missing as she is organising a netball tournament that day).

The UFO's will be evacuated - we are soon to purchase a new freezer (Way hay!) and boy does this one need emptying. Costco will be visited for the burger-lovers. The endless unopened bottles of Reggae Reggae, Nando's and the like from the larder will also appear.

I am much taken with Nadia Sawalah's book which was gifted to me. It's one of those reads which just makes you want to assemble huge salads and invite half of the street round. I am hoping to have time to make up some new recipes from that.

Anne is donating Nigella's Ice Cream Cake because the kids have voted it their favourite pudding of all time. I am vacillating on others. So many choices, so little time.

And no-one but me will notice what a lot of work goes into an informal meal such as this . . . .

But it had better not rain.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Norfolk - Round 2

I haven't been deliberately tardy in blogging about this, I just found the whole episode very depressing so haven't felt much enthused to write.

I arrived just after lunch on the Saturday before last. Dad had taken himself off for a nap, Anne was packed and ready to go and my aunt and cousin had called in for a cup of tea.

Within 5 minutes we heard loud groans from his makeshift bedroom. He had fallen out of bed. Despite having strict instructions to always barricade himself in bed with chairs he evidently did not think that a nap constituted such measures. We got him up, which says much for our combined strength!!

The result, for the 4 subsequent days I was there, was an awful lot of complaining, coupled with a complete refusal to take further medical advice, and a general short-temperedness on both our parts. His mood didn't improve during Anne's final visit either and we have already discussed whether we may have been disinherited! My stepmother arrived home from Paris late on Saturday and my sister was quite pleased to see the bickering between them on the half hour journey home from the station. She felt it vindicated us!!

We are out of it now. The one good thing was that I managed to get time out to visit Cookie's Crab Shop, my favourite Norfolk smokehouse. I treated myself to a crab sandwich and bought some kippers to take back home to Chris who pronounced them exceptionally good.

But it was the only food treat of the week. With the possible exception of some lamb's liver, onions and bacon which I cooked for dad's Sunday dinner.

But it's true what they say. There's no place like home. *Clicks ruby slippers* And I have something to look forward to this week. Daniel and I are going to Wahaca on Friday.

Can't wait!!