Friday, November 19, 2010

With the help of Friends

Having David working away has been a hindrance with the gardening project, but some wonderful friends helped me transport and plant the lawn mentioned in my last blog.

It was huge effort, and with that in mind I invited them to dinner the next night as a thank you.

The menu was fairly simple, the main meal one that I have served on many occasions, but always enjoyed.

We started off with an antipasto platter followed by The Proper Chicken Caesar Salad from Jamie Oliver and ending with a Lemon pavlova roll served with marinated berries and orange cream.

The Proper Chicken Caesar Salad.
Serves 4 - 6

4 whole chicken legs ( I did use more as mine were small )
1 loaf of ciabatta bread torn into thumb size pieces.
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary leaves roughly chopped.
Extra virgin olive oil.
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
12 thin slices of pancetta.
1 clove of garlic.
4 anchovy fillets in olive oil - drained.
75g freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
1 heaped tablespoon creme fraiche.
Juice of one lemon.
Extra olive oil.
2 - 3 cos lettuce.

Preheat the oven to 200cel.
Place the chicken in a snug fitting roasting tray with the pieces of torn up bread.
Sprinkle with the rosemary, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Mix with hands to make sure it is all well coated, then lift the chicken legs up to the top, so they sit above the bread. This way the bread soaks up all the lovely juices and you end up with the best croutons.

Cook the chicken for about 45 minutes until nicely cooked. Take out and drape the chicken and croutons with the pancetta and cook for a further 15 minutes until nice and crispy. When cooked remove from the oven and cool slightly.

While cooking you can make the dressing. I use a small kitchen whiz to make the dressing.
Whiz the garlic and anchovies first, then add Parmesan cheese and the creme fraiche, lemon juice and three times as much olive oil as lemon juice. Add extra olive oil if the dressing is too thick, it should be pourable.

Wash and tear the cos lettuce. Pull the meat off the chicken bones and toss with the lettuce, pancetta, croutons and the yummy cheesy dressing.

I serve it on a large oval platter which makes it easy for serving.

It's always a winner.

The dessert was one I often made a long time ago so I have revisited it.

The Lemon Pavlova Roll with Marinated Berries and Orange Cream.

4 egg whites.
3/4 cup Castor sugar.
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.
1 teaspoon to white vinegar.
1 teaspoon of cornflour.
Extra Castor sugar.
1/4 cup of lemon butter.

Marinated Berries.

2 cups frozen or fresh mixed berries.
2 tablespoons of orange flavoured liqueur. (I used cointreau.)
1/4 icing sugar.

Orange Cream.
1 300ml carton thickened cream.
2 tablespoons icing sugar.
1 teaspoon of grated orange rind.
1 tablespoon of orange flavoured liqueur.

Grease and line a 25 x 30 cm Swiss roll tin.
Beat egg white until soft peaks form. Add Castor sugar one spoon at a time till all dissolved. Fold in essence, vinegar and cornflour. Spread into prepared tin and cook in a slow oven 150cel for about 20min or until slightly brown and firm to touch.

Cover a wire rack with baking paper, sprinkled with Castor sugar. Turn meringue onto paper removing the lining paper. Spread with lemon butter while warm and let cool.

Marinated Berries - Combine all ingredients and let stand for 30 minutes.

Orange Cream - Beat all ingredients in a bowl till soft peaks form.

Using paper as a guide roll meringue from long side. Cut into pieces and serve with the berries and cream.
It was "to die for".

It was a lovely casual night, washed down with a couple of good bottles of wine.

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