Showing posts from February, 2020

Simply soup

For all my grand entertaining, one of my chief pleasures is a bowl of soup. Soup is infinitely adaptable, economic to make and cheering to the spirit. As I write, I'm watching snow melting outside; the world is cold, wet and miserable, but I have a bowl of wonderfully flavoursome roasted tomato soup to look forward to. It'll warm me up like a blanket around me or a hug from a well-upholstered relative. Tinned consommé, "dollied" with savoury custard shapes Soups can be made to seem very fancy, or even decadent, if you want to put on a show. (Think how often you've seen contestants on Masterchef presenting the judges with a crystal-clear consommé to show off their skills.) They make a perfect starter for dinner parties, because they can be done hours or even days in advance and simply warmed through on the last minute and finished with a flash of chopped herb or a splodge of cream. I once found a recipe for a soup finished with foie gras and marinated c

Smaller Dinners

Although I am known for grand dinner parties like the one I blogged about a few weeks ago ( ), I also love more intimate dinners. Six or eight people around a table is a nice number, because most recipes are given in quantities for six, and a bottle of wine pours six to nine glasses (depending on the size of your glass). However, there are times when you're hankering for something a little more relaxed, or maybe you need to have a serious or more sensitive conversation, or you just want a quieter night. These are the times when dinner for two or four is wonderful. There are a number of recipes I can always rely on. These are things I've been cooking for years, recipes I know by heart and can easily play variations on when I'm entertaining. They're brilliant when I'm cooking for ten, as I often do, because I know they can be done in advance, and the recipes are easily scaled-up without loss

A Night at the Movies

The Beloved and I sat up watching the BAFTAs last evening, and next weekend we can look forward to the glamour and excitement of the Oscar award ceremony. It got me thinking about drinks to celebrate films and film actors. One of my oldest and dearest friends, Kath, is an avid film fan. Avid, as in obsessed and indiscriminate. She seems to know everything there is to know about every obscure film and has an encyclopedic knowledge of Oscar statistics. She’s also a cocktail fan. Over the years, we’ve tried old cocktails together, invented new ones, compared variations and generally done untold damage to a pair of no-longer-young livers. A conversation with Kath gave rise to the following ideas. It's too easy to name the vodka martini as the film cocktail. However, Bond ordered a variation on the martini in Fleming’s original James Bond novel, Casino Royale, something he would never do on film until Daniel Craig took the role. In his variant, Bond calls for a mixture of vodka wit