Half Scottish, Half Japanese. Tempura Mars bar?

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I began writing this blog in October 2010 as a new father documenting food in his family. Before I knew it, I was in the final of MasterChef 2012. Now cooking is no longer just a hobby.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

A good dinner party

It was with mixed emotion that Hector moved out of his Moses basket and into his own cot. We are glad that he is growing but moving into the cot also meant that he had to move out of our room. It was nice to look back at photos of him during the early weeks when there was space in the Moses basket for him and a teddy bear.

Hector's first night in his cot, aged 12 weeks

Fortunately he has inherited his mother's ability to fall sleep anywhere and he is pretty reliable in sleeping between 7pm and 10pm, allowing us to enjoy our evenings. Last night we took him to the Lawson's for a dinner party. He slept in his pram while we enjoyed Alex and Claudia's hospitality. The food at their dinner parties is always very good, very satisfying but also interesting an unusual. They never serve hackneyed dinner party dishes that are easily prepared in advance nor home versions of dishes that are familiar on restaurant menus.

To start, we had Bloody Mary soup, served hot, with a good bit of chilli heat, cracked black pepper and chopped celery leaves, which gave a nice aromatic lift. Next came an Italian chicken dish, served with rice and green beans. It was bit like a chicken cacciatore, but lighter and served with gremolata (lemon zest, garlic and parsley) which gave the dish a lovely fragrance. Cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian and refers to the way a hunter might make a stew out of chicken or rabbit - with onions, tomatoes, red peppers, herbs and often some white wine.

I tend to prefer the savoury dishes, perhaps because for years I was allergic to eggs, which ruled out most desserts. Dessert consisted of caramelised, baked bananas, served with thick double cream and ground amarreti biscuits. It was delicious, although Claudia and I thought the texture would be even better if the biscuits were hand crushed rather than blended. I would like to try a version where you cross banana tarte tatin with the crunchiness of a creme brulee. Perhaps it can be my new strumble, but I don't know what to name it. Suggestions in the comments box below, please!