Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dinner Party

Saturday evening was given over to The Meeting Between the Families. The Berkshire Farmer's son is engaged to a truly wonderful woman, and we had her mother and brother and brother's fiance to dinner. The cooking went the way it always does. The BF's husband's ideal dinner party is one that is completely ready to go at 5:00 with the guests due at 7:00. He aims for that goal when he cooks. He hasn't quite made it yet, but he's able to be out of the shower before the guests arrive.
When the BF ccooks, things are more haphazard. Due to a morning which involved driving 60 miles, giving a talk to a group of volunteers at school and shopping for the dinner party, the actual cooking did not get underway until around 4:00. The BF's husband expressed mild doubt as to whether all could be completed on time. Never fear, said BF.
Orange Water Ice

First I undertook the dessert, since it had to freeze. BF's daughter is on a wheat-gluten-dairy free diet, so some combing through the cookbook was necessary to find a recipe that contained none of those forbidden items. Orange water ice is incredibly simple, and really good. Squeeze two cups of orange juice, boil three cups of water and two cups of sugar, cool the boiled sugar water on a handy snowbank next to the back door, mix together, pour into some cake pans(you want each cake pan to contain only about an inch of orange sugar water, and slam it into the freezer until dinnertime. You have a fabulous, not filling dessert. These frozen desserts are really easy.

Leg of Lamb with Saffron-and-Caper Sauce

Then came the main course. Let us say that I did not exactly read this recipe before I started to make it. I did look at the list of ingredients and buy those we lacked, like a 5 pound boned lag of lamb. but I was somewhat taken aback by the first words in the instructions, "Night before..." It was now 4:30pm. The leg of lamb was supposed to sort of marinate over night after being coated with a mixture of butter, garlic and cayanne pepper. Then, it was supposed to be roasted in tin foil.
I chopped up the garlic, mixed it with 6 tablespoons butter and a tablespoon of cayenne pepper, smeared it on the leg of lamb, wrapped the whole thing in tin foil and dumped it in the oven. It was now 5:20 and BF's son was issuing edicts about how his future mother in law liked meat. (Well done). Whatever marinating needed to be done could be done in the oven.
BF's husband was peeling potatoes for oven roasted potatoes.
Fresh Vegetable Soup
Next up was the soup. This was rather a problem. I had made many of the soups in the 80s, 90s and oughts and the ones that were left tended toward the A. meat based or B. weird. (There are four pages on how to kill a snapping turtle and make soup out of it.) So, about all that was left was this very simple (bland) soup.It called for carrots, peas, string beans, potatoes, water, salt, pepper and flour. The first thing I decided, was all these veg floating around in water broth would be a little too uninspired. So, I substituted vegetable broth for the water and pureed it in the blender.
This operation is always fun. I remember making pumpkin soup back when the kids were young, and painting the kitchen wall a nice pumpkin color. I always overfill the blender and blast a tsunami of hot soup all over the wall and myself. I added a little bit to the collage of soup on the kitchen wall and tasted. Bland, not
as bland, but, still, pretty bland. Worchestershire sauce, a dollop of vegetarian boullion mix, and an array of herbs followed, and it was declared to be "all right."
While timing the vegetables, I contrived to turn off the oven, an act of genius that was not discovered until 6:00 pm. The oven was turned back on and up, and various curses were spouted.
In spite of potential or real disasters, the nicest woman in the world's family had a great time, and so did we. The lamb was just fine for her mother, and okay for us too. The dessert was a triumph and nobody walked out over the soup. My son did demand to know why I had pureed it. I churlishly snapped, "Because I thought it would taste better."

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