Friday, 3 December 2010


It's a while since I catered a special meal and there were seven of us. Not too many. I chose my menu and recipes carefully to keep the preparation simple. I wanted to serve simple food beautifully and I pretty much succeeded but it certainly wasn't Master Chef standards. Everyone enjoyed, I wasn't stretched out and exhausted and the company was great. Even my timing worked and I didn't overdo things as I'm prone to.


Baked glazed ham served with little potatoes, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage and beetroot salad.

Fresh strawberries and whipped cream flavoured with a dash of brandy, vanilla essence, and icing, (powdered sugar. No pavlova and no cake and everyone was happy except the candles which had nowhere to go so are being saved until someone turns 57... since the oldest in the next generation is 46 that's a while to go.

My niece or her M-I-L brought a packet of frozen mini chocolate eclairs, They went well with the strawberries too.

The ham was so easy. I skinned it, put it in baking dish and poured can of lager over then popped it in the oven at 150'C for 1 hour, basting every 10 minutes. Removed from oven and covered with paste of mustard, horseradish, brown sugar and ground cloves not too spicy, and back in the oven at 200'C for 15 minutes until the glaze nice and golden and bubbly.

I bought small waxy potatoes that only needed rinsing and boiling, (skin on), and tossed them in chopped parsley, mint and butter and added a few black olives. Green would possibly be better. Microwaved the asparagus to perfect al dente, boiled beans the same and used a frozen mix of broccoli and cauliflower but only because the broccoli in the shop was off, so stale it was smelly. I served the veggies with a drizzle of melted butter. A good olive oil would have been nicer but most of family prefer butter. A sprinkle of lightly toasted flaked almonds go well too.

The most complicated was the beetroot and red cabbage salad. Finely slice cabbage, grate raw beetroot, finely dice red onion, toss in toasted walnuts, (I used pecans because walnuts are too often rancid here), and dried cranberries. Dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, I used Paul Newman light dressing. The hardest part was getting it to taste right because the cabbage was rather strong. I think this needs to be made well ahead and left to marinate. We have some left over for today so I will be able to see how much difference that makes. I was pleased though because everyone seemed to like it.

My nephew-in-law bought a big stack of mussel fritters still hot from the pan, one of his specialties. I was not sure how they would fit as they are very tasty and a little too substantial for a starter so I put them on the table with the main course and people sorted their own choices out. I don't eat much sea food and definitely not mussel fritters but decided to try one and found myself eating the whole thing, liking it more with each bite. Of course I used a generous squeeze of lemon.

We served beer, sparkling wine, Bunderburg diet lemon lime and bitters and cups of tea or coffee etc as people requested.

I didn't make a pavlova and amazingly there were strawberries left over not to mention cream. I bought far too much so maybe there will be some ice cream making in the next day or two.

The worst part for us was loading the car at the end of the evening, coming home and putting all away. I overdid the ham and we have such a big piece left I'm thinking it should be cut in half and frozen. We were all finished about 10.30 pm. Too late for us. I knew there was a reason we prefer lunchtime parties but with Jay working this was our best shot. Still it was a good evening and we enjoyed it.

Guess what? No photos!

I took the camera. In fact I had everything I needed on my lists and nothing was overlooked. With seeing to the meal and serving it the way I wanted, then enjoying the company as I relaxed after, I forgot to get it out. Mum's house looks so pretty with a string of lights across her windows and the Christmas tree in place. Her cats love the tree but are really quite good about it now.

It's amazing how pretty a single string of tiny coloured lights can be. When you walk on the beach at night it's so pretty and does not look pathetic even when our neighbours put up their amazing decorations. In a couple of weeks, their home, Whitianga's Christmas House will be ready for public display. Gordon and Diana do it for the love of it and it brings pleasure to so many.

Altogether a good day and I'm proud of what I achieved.
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