With Valentine’s Day coming up, I know many people will be thinking about booking a restaurant table for a romantic dinner for two. I do know, though, that going out on Valentine’s Day isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Restaurants are extra busy and there’s too much pressure to be ‘romantic’ while everyone’s looking, too! Plus, Mr E and I have been together for about a gazillion years, so I think the need to impress me has long gone. Still, I want to cook a gorgeous dinner for him, and I’ve been looking at the new M&S food to order products, where you can find some interesting cuts of meat that you’d normally have to order from your butcher, plus some great ideas for reluctant cooks, plus of course, delicious desserts.
Sadly, this weekend is the last in the series of the fabulous Sunday Times Ultimate Cookbook. I’ve really enjoyed being given a sneak peek at all the fabulous recipes in the series and trying out cooking some new (and famous) recipes. So far, we’ve had The Sunday Lunch edition, Quick Eats, and Brunch and Baking and this week, going out with a bang (literally – read on), it’s time for the dinner party edition.
I love entertaining, but if you’re attempting a recipe with any kind of wow factor, you need to know that you’re not going to spend the entire evening in the kitchen, missing out on spending time with your guests. The cleverest dinner party recipes are those that look impressive without being too complicated and time consuming. This collection has been cleverly compiled to reflect the very best of that ethos.
Michael Caines’ curried carrot soup makes a delicious starter (and a nice family supper with a big pile of crusty bread too, I would imagine), and gorgeous Nigella’s (#teamNigella) wonderful coca cola baked ham is my go-t0 recipe for our Christmas ham joint. Gordon Ramsay’s cherry clafoutis recipe includes a batter that you can make the day before, meaning you’re ready to pop out to the kitchen, pour the batter and bake, then dash back to your guests.
But wait, just wait until you’ve checked out the lush, velvety fabulousness of The River Café’s Chocolate Nemesis. Not quite a cake, but not really a mousse either, there’s enough whisking and stirring to make you feel like you’ve made an effort, but you serve it cool which means you can make it in advance.
Now for my confession. It was all going so well – eggs whipped to fluffy lightness, chocolate and butter melted, syrup done… mixed and into the oven, baked to perfection and then…
Reader, I dropped it.
Totally my own fault. The recipe clearly says ‘leave to cool in the tin before turning out’ and I just didn’t see it. I tried to balance it on a tin to push the loose base up, realised the base was still bloody hot, fumbled…
And the whole lot fell over. I honestly could have cried.
Still, plopped into a bowl and lavished with cream it was still utterly delicious. Soft and dense and moussey in texture. You live and learn, eh?
Get your copy of The Sunday Times Ultimate Cookbook: Dinner Party this weekend. Featuring a selection of the finest recipes of the celebrity chef era, The Ultimate Cookbook is part of The Incredible Edibles Food Series dedicated to food and dining.
Visit thesundaytimes.co.uk to subscribe and to find out more details about exclusive Times+ chef events, hosted at some of the country’s best restaurants.
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