Wednesday, January 26

Bon Anniversaire Peter Peril!

Mr R has high-tailed it to Berlin for a week. But not before a huge feast was given in honour of our dear friend Peter Peril's* anniversaire. If I’m honest Dear Reader, we were quite unaware of Peter’s special status prior to the poor bloke turning up with his own champagne and cigars. Facebook soon confirmed that he had it right, it was his birthday! And so the celebrations began…

I Forgot To Take Photos But This Captures The General Vibe
The theme was ‘modern barbecue’ and commenced with a yoghurt and chickpea dip accompanied by grissini. It was supposed to be a cannellini bean and artichoke dip but in my haste I picked up the wrong tin at the supermarket and for once instead of flinging the impostor ingredient across the kitchen and sobbing until Mr R offered to go and find a replacement, I made do and mended. A bit of lemon juice, some cumin and fresh coriander soon perked it up and no-one was any the wiser.

The main course consisted of several salads including a cos lettuce, cucumber and feta number and an heirloom tomato and basil mix. The unexpected victor though was a cheeky little beetroot salsa which I prepared by roasting some fresh beetroot then mixing it with mint, coriander, grated red onion and olive oil. Just before serving I added a couple of capfuls of precious rosewater. Sounds like it wouldn’t work, but it did. It did! The carnivores amongst us ate fancy red wine sausages, the herbivores vegetarian sausage delights, and the hypocrites chomped on ocean trout fillets that I had marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, capers and dill. There were chunks of award-winning sour dough with which to mop up the juices and an array of pickles and sauces with which to disguise the taste of anything one didn’t fancy.

The triumph though, the piece de resistance was dessert. Chocolate meringues straight from Annabel Langein’s book Eat Fresh are indeed quite delicious, (and that’s coming from someone who pretends not to like puddings). Chocolate is a raw or processed food produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central and South America, with its earliest documented use around 1100 BC. The presence of theobromine renders chocolate toxic to some animals, especially dogs and cats. Not to these cool cats though, one guest had three (3) helpings!

Chocolate Cats On Sticks
To whip them up I preheated the oven to 160 and lined two baking trays with paper. Then using an electric mixer I beat six egg whites to soft peaks before slowly adding one and a quarter cups of caster sugar. I continued mixing for another ten minutes (until thick and glossy) and then whisked in two teaspoons of cornflour and one teaspoon of white vinegar. Into this I folded 130 grams of melted and cooled dark chocolate (I used the 85% cocoa version) and carefully swirled it through for a marbled effect. Then it was simply a matter of dolloping the mixture onto the trays in even amounts and tidying up any particularly unruly mounds. Into the oven they went for three minutes before it was turned down to 120. They cooked for one hour before I turned the oven off leaving the meringues in there to cool completely, after which time they can be stored in an airtight container for several days. I served them with whipped cream and mixed berries. I think. It was almost midnight by then.

The Closest Resemblence To My Meringues The Interweb Can Come Up With

Back in the day my Dad loved Berlin.  And Mr R is in Berlin.  See they do have something in common!
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent

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