Last year I volunteered to host a Christmas dinner for our troupe of bellringers at Daybrook St Paul’s. We all agreed that while it would be a Christmassy meal, it would be much too difficult and expensive to get it in our diaries for December, so decided to try for January instead. And rather than go out for a meal, I volunteered to host.
I’ve been getting excited about it for months. I initially thought it would be an interesting way of having a second go at mass catering in my house after a friend’s vegan supper club over five years ago. I bought a spare table and thought I could sit 14 and started to think about the logistics of cooking so much. I bought tablecloths that turned out to be way way too big and ended up using my old but lovely ones. I used the day to day charity shop crockery and a bit of the tea set for desserts. I bought new tart moulds to be able to make a lot of cheesecake and not fill the fridge up too much.
In the end we had a much more manageable 8, the core team of ringers, and we could sit around one table and use the new trestle as a buffet table again.
There were aspects of the food where my mind was still on a larger number, so I massively overcatered and there are a lot of leftovers.
We had young people and drivers represented, as well as vegetarians so there were some menu challenges, but quite quickly I settled on…
Oven roasted apples – deglaze the pan on the hob to get the natural caramel flavour out.
Crudités and hummus (no caramelised onion hummus when I shopped, natch 😦
Bit unseasonal here.
Bruschetta of sorts – Aldi’s jars of antipasti, one each of sundried tomatoes and roasted peppers, blitzed to make a pâté and spread on toasted baguette slices with an additional whole piece of pepper or tomato as a garnish.
Main was jacket potatoes with a variety of toppings – beans, cheese, sausages, vegetarian sausages, coleslaw, carottes râpées.
I have not used the food processor so much in ages! Grated carrots, cabbage and cheese in huge quantities. There is no need to make a whole cabbage of coleslaw for only 8 people, there is so much surplus! The recipe was cabbage, carrots, 2 apples, 1 onion with a dressing of mayo, Dijon mustard and a little cider vinegar, salt, pepper, dried Italian herbs. The carrot salad was carrots, sultanas, sunflower seeds with a lemon juice / olive oil dressing.
For dessert I used the rectangular tart moulds from Lakeland to make two cheesecakes. A slight wasted opportunity here – I could have made two different flavours – but the one was easier. Simple lemon cheesecake with four ingredients – 2 packets of Speculoos biscuits blended in the food processor, 160gr butter melted, and the base packed into the frame
Chill for at least an hour, then mix 500gr mascarpone with a whole jar of lemon curd (411gr!) and spread on the top.
With the old Queer Eye for the Straight Guy maxim, “if it’s not garnished, it’s not finished” I liberally decorated with monstrously unseasonal berries and served on an Ikea bread board:
More mascarpone ideas.
Coffees and chocolates – a box of Aldi Choceur Mint Selection, which I really enjoyed but don’t seem to have been eaten much by others.
I got my 10,000 steps wandering around my house cleaning and tidying and cooking, but really enjoyed putting a meal together for friends. I must do this more often 🙂
I also injured myself hanging fairy lights. They were in my front window for Christmas and I really like the warm glow they provided, so I decided not to put them away but hang them more permanently in my living room.
Unfortunately to hang them I decided to stand on a chipboard desk that couldn’t support my weight, so I fell through it. I have a huge graze and bruise on the back of my thigh, and the wrist I landed on is quite painful and I can’t lift anything with it. This came on top of falling over hard on slippery mud in the garden one morning this week as I went down in the dark to feed the chickens before dawn. Add in a minor car accident as well and everything hurts!
Still, the fairy lights look lovely!