After selling 150 Christmas trees for the Scouts I came home to get ready for a dinner party. I do like to host at least one dinner party every Christmas.
We had three couples coming for dinner, my friend Jen and her husband who do a lot of entertaining, Mr Competitive and his wife, and you might remember my friends Rich and Deb who married a few months ago. All people who are lots of fun as well as a little challenging as amongst the mix there are two seafood allergies, one coeliac and one gluten-free.
After setting the table with bon bons and Christmas napkins and lots of candles, we started the meal with a glass of celebratory champagne and a platter of vegetarian antipasto. That suited everyone.
For the main course I brined two turkey breasts that then had a herb and garlic butter rubbed under the skin and were then wrapped in prosciutto and roasted for an hour. I had a situ buying the breasts as had phoned the butcher to ask if he had any and he confirmed he did so I beetled over to his shop only to be told there had been a mistake and all the turkey breasts had to be set aside for orders. ‘Never fear’, he said, and then cut me up an entire turkey giving me the breasts and everything else so I also roasted the legs and thighs. It was just as well as non-seafood eaters, the gluten-free and the coeliacs turn out to be very big eaters and there was nothing leftover.
When the turkey came out of the oven, the crispy prosciutto was supposed to be drizzled with a little maple syrup and then covered with foil to rest. I totally forgot about the maple syrup and everyone else was blissfully unaware. I served the turkey with my homemade cranberry sauce and I might have mentioned more than once that the cranberry sauce was homemade.
We also had duck-fat potatoes that were lovely and crunchy and then a salad of baby spinach leaves, grilled haloumi and heirloom tomatoes. There was a situ with the haloumi. Drew asked if there was something he could do to help so I said he could pan-fry the haloumi. That was my first mistake. I knew we were in trouble when he flooded the pan with the very expensive and extremely good quality olive oil Tanya gave me that is strictly for salad dressings but alas, it was too late.
Then he struggled to get the temperature of the element right and spent so much time fiddling with it he didn’t seem to notice the haloumi charring in front of him. All moisture was erased from it and it was dry, like chewing on a piece of chalk. But don’t tell Drew I said that because he likes to think he helps me enormously. Anyway, I got so worked up over the state of the haloumi that I forgot to add the basil to the salad.
Just before everyone arrived I went around the house lighting candles and turning on the fairy lights and the lights on the tree and thought I had everything sorted. It was only after everyone had gone home that I realised I’d forgotten to put the Christmasy paper hand towels in the bathroom that I’d bought for the occasion. They must have dried their hands on their trousers!
For dessert I made individual lime tarts topped with a slice of mango and meringue that you then blow torch. Love getting my hands on a blow torch – interesting how everyone immediately takes a step back! I used GF flour for the pastry and once the tart shells were cooked I found them to be very powdery and was wondering if they were going to come out of the tins okay but Praise the Lord, they were all fine and I was greatly relieved.
The filling was basically eggs, lime juice and cream and for the dairy-free bloke I switched it to coconut cream and it worked very well and the lime, coconut and mango flavours were perfect for a summer’s evening. A finishing touch was some finely sliced kaffir lime leaves that were sprinkled around the plates. When Mr Competitive saw the desserts arriving on the table he said, ‘Oh these won’t be gluten-free’ and I was so pleased to be able to tell him that they were and that he didn’t have to miss out.
My photos are horrendous as all were taken ‘on the fly’ so I will make the turkey recipe and the tart recipe in the New Year, do a better job with the photos and share the recipes with you – they’re keepers!
Each couple went home with a Christmas cake and yes, they were all gluten-free.
It was a fantastic night shared with wonderful friends and I was so relieved the food was very well received.