Tag Archive: dinner party


Last night I had a little gathering at my home to collect blankets and raise money to buy more blankets for cold homeless people in Durban.

It was a wonderful success in many ways – we collected 10 blankets, R1100 to buy more blankets, 1 person landed up under the table giggling and 3 of the guests tried to use  mind power to fly the couch home.

I made 4 soups which everyone enjoyed. There was much conversation about soup strategy and how best to attack the options, about which flavours should be eaten in what order, and about how to make sure you had enough space in your tummy to try all four.

Votes were cast and soups rated

in fourth place was spinach & coconut soup

You need:

2 tsp oil

1 chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, 2 green chillies. I used seeds and all and could have used an extra chilli.

2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp tumeric, 1/2 tsp ground ginger. All of these are rough amounts. When I make the soup again I will use more of each.

600ml stock, 600ml coconut milk, juice of 1/2 lemon. Again I will use more next time.

500g spinach. This is a lot of spinach! More than one bunch – almost all of two.

salt

You do:

Heat the oil. Add onion, garlic and chillies. Cook gently for a while – like 4 minutes or so until the onions are getting soft. Stir in the spices and then add the stock and coconut milk. Bring to the boil and then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Clean and shred the spinach. Add to the liquid and cook for a few minutes until the spinach is wilted. The recipe requires you remove 2/3 of the soup and blend in a food processor and then add to the original soup. What I did was use my wand blender and whizzed the soup up until it was the kind of smooth I like. You will never get all the spinach whizzed up so don’t expect a completely smooth, even coloured and textured soup.

Once the soup is smooth enough for you, add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Heat again if necessary and serve. The recipe called for coconut shavings to serve but I have no idea where you would these from and the soup was fine without them. You could possible use desiccated coconut.

I served the soup with french crusty bread.

This soup may have come 4th out of 4 but it was not a loser. Was very nice – the rest were just better.

Recipes 3, 2 and 1 will follow over the next while. As will pictures of the blankets etc

No photos cos we forgot – and then continued to forget as we drank wine, ate soup and giggled

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Hamster loins

so – last night was Stalk MasterChef dinner at my house. Using last week’s show as inspiration I had to feed my friends. a recap of last week may be useful here – two teams had to feed a bunch of wine farm workers on a two course meal. The Blue team cheated and made three courses. Red team leader picked three people, herself included, to go into the pressure test. the pressure test was lamb loin, lamb rack, babaganoush, pistachio nuts bread crumbs and a jus thingie.

I went to the MasterChef site for the recipe for the lamb and saw that it was only half a recipe really – and even the half was a bit weird. what exactly is 25/64 teaspoons of something anyway? so it was time to be inspired by the show rather than dictated to by it.

 

I decided to do the rack and loin rather than the platter thing of the team competition. i went off to buy the bits and pieces and got what i thought must’ve been the smallest ever lamb loin. I didn’t know that a loin and a rack are the same thing; one with bones, one without. The tiny things I got looked like a hamster loin and rack so I decided, once again to be inspired by the relevant episode of MC – and cheat. I made a starter, the hamster meat and even had dessert. I’d have hated for my guests to leave hungry and since when does 1 course, or 2 courses ever mean that anyway? Pfft to the rules, this is my game after all.

For starters I made an assortment of bruchetta, which is really just fancy stale french bread let’s be honest.

I did start with fresh r bread and did the toasting on one side thing. I made three toppings.

1. chickpeas, flat-leaf parsley, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Food process to your taste

2. peas and mint. cook peas and then blend together with mint, olive oil, salt and pepper

3. blue cheese and honey. slice the cheese, put on bread and drizzle with honey.

Now for the main course

The menu was crusted lamb rack, whole boneless lamb loin, pistachio cous cous, wild mushrooms and green beans and a red wine reduction served with a salad on the side. Impressive huh!

Crusted lamb rack

To prep: I made a spice mix of paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, organum, garlic slices and spring onion. I put this onto the inside of the loin and then wrapped it up and stuck it closed with tooth picks. I rubbed coriander and cumin onto the outside with some salt.

To cook: I seared the loin on all sides in a hot but not smoking pan of oil and then cooked in the oven at 200C for about 25 minutes.

The result: perfectly pink really delicious lamb

Crusted lamb rack

To prepare: The rack probably should have had the bones cleaned but the hamster rack was so small I thought every guest would want ever scrap of meat available. and I don’t know how to do it. I mixed fresh french loaf bread crumbs with salt and pepper and rolled the rack in the crumbs. (I just saw i forgot to smear mustard on the meat first – damn). Anyway, the crumb-coated rack went into the over for much longer than i expected. after about 25 minutes we cut into it and it was till too rare so it went back in for a bit.

The result: really nice lamb chops with a lovely crust – eventually.

Remember to let the lamb rest after cooking before serving. It really does make a difference

The sides

Wild mushrooms and beans.

I soaked dehydrated mushrooms in water and then sautéed them in the oil used for the searing of the lamb loin, and additional butter. The beans i put into boiling water for a while and then ice water. I drained them and sautéed them with the mushrooms.

Red wine reduction

I sautéed chopped onions until soft. Then i added vegetable stock and red wine and a rosemary twig or too and let reduce. I strained the sauce and reheated adding small chunks of butter and whisking them in. Added about a table-spoon of butter in total, in four bits.

Pistachio-mint cous cous

I mixed 3 tablespoons of shelled and roughly chopped nuts with 1/4 cup of mint. 2 1/4 cups of hot water went into 300g of cous cous and left to cook. Once the water was absorbed, i fluffed the cous cous up and added the nuts and mint.

The table:

One plate:

 

The verdict: I got through to the next round of Stalk MasterChef