It had been a while since we had people over and the thought of becoming weekend hermits, socialising with only the check out operator at Pak N Save, made me fearful we were getting a bit too comfortable.
Work has been a bit on the shit side lately and I was reminded that I shouldn't let Monday to Friday misery encroach into the weekend. Part of that involved keeping up doing the things I (we) love doing rather than defaulting to another season of Sherlock on the couch. So come Friday afternoon I got a text from Dylan saying we should have people round for dinner the next night; I thought fuck it lets do it.
We decided to keep things small with both the number of guests (four) and the number of plates (also four). It was really nice not stressing over who was talking to who and making sure no one felt left out as we were all friends. We decided to focus on having simple fare with good quality ingredients so that we could spend minimal time in the kitchen while our friends were here.
First thing Saturday morning (aka 10am..) we headed off to the Canterbury Cheesemonger to stock up on delicious cheeses and hand crafted breads. I know the trend is to make huge grazing platters covered in all sorts but there was something really nice keeping it to a couple of well thought out cheeses, some great ciabatta, a handful of oat crackers and the world's most delicious garlic stuffed olives (thanks Sam!).
Plate two was an old favourite of Dylan's to make; thick oven toasted sour dough slices with smashed garlic peas and flaked smoked mackerel. We call smashed peas 'poor man's avocado' but in all honesty I think I prefer it to avocado now, especially served like this or under a runny fried egg (ah so good). I feel like this looked better in person than in the photos here but in case you want to make this unattractive but oh so delicious toast I have posted the recipe here.
The third plate was a green bean, potato and pesto pasta. In the last couple of weeks we have been trying to rein in our meat consumption and so a simple green pasta has featured on the weeknight menu a couple of times now. It consists of blanched green beans and potatoes tossed through spaghetti along with a good few dollops of green pesto, raw garlic slices and olive oil with a pile of parmesan and rocket on top. Yes I know you're thinking rocket on top of everything is very early millennia but what we fail to remember is that a pile of greenery a top a dish hides a multitude of sins including a plate of carbs on carbs. Rocket is about as bad tasting as kale and kale is good for you and so by simple deduction a mounding plate of spaghetti hidden underneath a kale-like leaf is pretty much calorie free. Science I tell you.
Plate number four was inspired by a delicious dinner we had with our friends Gracie and Phil in a glorious Italian place tucked away in a corner of Wellington. We ordered panna cotta for dessert and it came served to us in a great slab. I love the idea that a typically delicate and dainty dessert was turned into a bulk dish and served in an opposite of dainty kind of way. It reminded me of the way a crumble would be served up at school camp. I sit here and eat the unattractive left overs taking spoonfuls in between typing sentences.
During my Pinterest relapse I found a recipe for these beautiful looking honey and rhubarb panna cottas. I made up the custard and then literally searched Christchurch high and low for rhubarb but to no luck. I had to settle for frozen raspberries instead. The base was made with yoghurt instead of milk which lent a delicious tang to the mouthfeel and broke through all of that cream. It was sweetened with honey and flavoured with vanilla bean. I simmered the raspberries with a spoonful of sugar and a good squeeze of lemon to make lively and tart. It was all going to plan until I tried tipping the slab out.. the presentation was not the prettiest but that was kind of the charm of the original panna cotta we drew inspiration from.
So after an evening of cheese on bread on bread on potatoes on pasta on cream washed down with 42.1 standard drinks between the six of us left us all rather immobile and in want of a good sleep. Sending your guests rolling home is the only way to let them leave though so I think a job well done on that front. But seriously it was the people that made the evening marvellous. We could have had tinned spaghetti on toast for all I cared and it still would have been just as fun with the friends that we had.
A++ would trade again.