Thursday, October 18, 2012

Second Thoughts

As the rain cleared away and the sun began to shine, decided to spend a couple of hours in the conservatory (whilst the postponed footie match was being played), and sort through my canape recipes.  Believe me, my mind was whizzing around trying to sort out what could be done in advance and what ought to wait - and also how many of each (won't know the final numbers until next Wednesday - unless of course they have already sold all their tickets).

Am still making slight alterations as to presentation, and whether to serve a smaller selection (no point in doing three different versions of smoked salmon if one would do). Also whether to include 'extras' such as Anchovy Palmiers (anything easy to do that fills a gap will ease my load).  But still plenty of time.   Have written down what needs to be done Wed, Thurs, Friday, and Saturday, Friday and Saturday being the busiest time (will probably end up working right through Friday night).  So almost certainly will be taking Friday and Saturday off from writing this blog so that I can keep my mind firmly on the job in hand.

At least have come up with one solution.  As I'd be making the chicken liver pate/parfait in advance and the freezing it, and as the bases can also be frozen in advance, have decided to pipe the freshly made pate on the bases (as ready to serve sans garnish), and then freeze, so that's one job completed. All I need do is then add the garnish when plated up.

Only one comment to reply to, this from Shayna who made a good point about the loo rolls.  Had myself had second thoughts about using the inner cardboard tubes, even though all the cardboard  'protective' rolls would have been covered with either clingfilm or foil before using.  Have now decided to cut up a pack of unused white postcards (who sends postcards these days?), and fasten into rings with sellotape, again covering with clingfilm so it covers one end to make a protective cover.   This way I can adjust the sizes of rings to suit the canape hiding beneath.

Am today going to bake some bread so that it can 'stale' a bit before forming into canape bases (then toasted and then frozen).  Another job done.   While the dough is being made in the machine, will then bring out the drawers from the freezer and sort my meats/fish in an attempt to repack so that at least one drawer is clear to make room to freeze the mini-choux buns, the pate (topped) bases (mentioned above), and my Truffle squares.   When I have a clear drawer, can then start making and freezing.   My aim is to get as much done as possible before the end of this week so that I can then start making those things (Macaroons, Florentines, cheese straws, Palmiers...) as these will keep for at least a week in airtight tins.   Towards the end of the week will then need to get my head down and keep on with the good(e) work.

We did have a Chinese takeaway last night - a treat for me mainly because I didn't have to cook at all yesterday (at least can't remember doing any cooking although now I remember I did make scrambled eggs on toast for my brunch).  I was going to do a platter (or two) of stuffed hardboiled eggs, but again that is a bit of a lengthy process, so might just make up a bowl of egg mayonnaise, and spoon that onto bases (topped with garnish) and into tomato 'cups'.  I'll also be serving chunks of 'tortillas' (a thick omelette cut into cubes - a bit like a quiche filling without the pastry).  So that's the egg 'canapes' sorted. 

Am sure you're all getting very fed up with me continually droning on about canapes.  So what else can I talk about?  
Took a look to see when Jamie Oliver's programme was on, and it said in my TV supplement that the series would be shown on Channel 4 later this month.  From Les's comment I understood he had already begun watching it.  Nothing so far listed for this week in our TV details.

Missed Clarissa Dickson Wright talking about rabbits, and Greg talking about raspberries, but no doubt that will be repeated, not that either subject interests me much at the moment.   Did hear that someone would be talking about how food will never again be as cheap as it was (some years back), but that was on a later news programme and by then had decided to go to bed and have an early night.

Whether it is the extra mental activity this week I don't know, but I'm again having very vivid dreams, most of them pleasant, although a few seem to keep introducing problems that I have to solve (and usually can't).  In one of last night's dreams I was organising a 'mystery' trip for a group of elderly ladies, and the arranged trip was cancelled at the last minute by the coach company. As the ladies were very disappointed,  I then got the company to lay on another coach the following day (for free of course as we'd already paid for the previous one), and this time instead of a 'mystery tour' asked for the coach to take us all to Blackpool so the ladies could see the Illuminations.  They were THRILLED when they knew they were going to see those.  Until we got there, and we then found we had to make our own way from the bus park to the sea-front.  As most of the elderly were not that mobile, I had then to arrange taxis, mobility scooters, and of course (as always in my dream) mislaid my purse, credit card, mobile phone....).  The coach driver said he had to leave at five, and as it was still light, and a meal had been already booked, I decided to pay for the hotel (where we were having said meal) to house us all that night so the ladies could see the lights in their full glory.   Then of course I couldn't find my hotel room, credit card, purse, mobile again, and fortunately the dream then ended for I hadn't even considered how we'd get back home as the coach had left, or how I'd find the money to pay for it!    There are times I'm almost glad I've woken up.  There are other dreams when I wish I hadn't, like one the other night when I dreamt I'd just got married to Sayed - he character in Eastenders - but at my age who cares about little things like that?).

This morning must go down to our local butchers to see if he can do a better deal for me than the one I may have to take up (re buying 'game bird mix' for Game Pie).  He may also be able to make cocktail sized venison sausages for me.  Can only hope.  Otherwise there won't be much change from £100 (total of all the ingredients making canapes/desserts for 50) as even the (cheapest) sparkling wine to make the strawberry jellies amounts to several £££s.  But as ever, it all depends on how many servings of each are needed.  I did email a request to be told - some three days ago - but as yet no reply.   Even for that money, working out at £2 (maximum) a head the guests will be getting some excellent quality gourmet fare.

Many cooks like to make up a Christmas Hamper containing all 'home-mades', so if any of you are this way inclined, here is a seasonal recipe that is best made as close to Christmas as possible as it doesn't need time to allow flavours to develop, best made to serve over Christmas, so would also make a good gift to add to that 'hamper'. 
Christmas Chutney: serves 12 - 15
1 tblsp sunflower oil
2 red onions, halved and sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh root ginger, grated
7 oz (200g) no-soak dried apricots, quartered
5 oz (150g) dried figs, quartered
4 oz (100g) raisins
5 oz (150g) demerara sugar
5 fl oz (150ml) white wine vinegar
good grating fresh nutmeg (approx 1/4 tsp)
1 cinnamon stick
salt and pepper
Put the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions over gentle heat for about 10 minutes until they are very soft. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a couple more minutes, then raise heat slightly and continue frying until the onions begin to brown - stirring constantly.
Add the apricots, figs and raisins, and continue to cook until the fruit is beginning to plump up, then add the sugar, vinegar, spices, 1 tsp salt and plenty of pepper (or to taste).  Stir well to combine flavours, then reduce to low-medium heat and simmer (uncovered) for half an hour, stirring occasionally, and more often towards the end of cooking time to prevent the chutney sticking to the base of the pan and burning.
When the liquid has reduced to 4 tblsp, and the fruit is plump and glossy, remove pan from heat, cover an allow to cool (the fruit will continue to absorb the remaining liquid during this time). Give a final stir before potting up into sterilised jars.  Use vinegar-proof lids if you have them, or cover tops with greaseproof circles before screwing on lids.

As have to scoot off to the butchers now, will have to finish for today.  Hope you can join me tomorrow when I hope I'll have sorted out a few more of my problems.  See you then.