Although I am known for grand dinner parties like the one I blogged about a few weeks ago (http://blog.theaperitifguy.co.uk/2020/01/bringing-it-all-together.html), 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.
|Layers of joconde sponge, crème bavarois and crème chiboust, topped with candied fruit and coffee beans|
|Caneton à la presse|
On another occasion, more recently, I was able to serve pommes dauphines, not the similarly-named baked dish we all love, but little clouds of puffed mashed potato that have to be fried on the last minute. To make them, you have to work choux pastry batter through finely puréed potato, then drop small balls of the mix into hot fat to fry. I don't have a mechanical mixer, and working a large quantity of the mix by hand would be too much for my weak arms. Making dinner for four was a perfect opportunity to show off a little and delight my guests with something they had never had before.
A generous friend was coming to dinner not so long ago. He presented me with 50g of caviar when he arrived, so the menu was immediately adjusted to incorporate the delicacy, with a glass of chilled Lakes Distillery vodka on the side. What luxury it was to be able to eat a decent quantity of caviar, split between the four of us!
I don't think I'll ever stop hosting dinner parties for larger numbers, but more intimate dinners can be both a special treat and a necessary chance to practice. Who knows what might come out of the next one?
Next time: simple, delicious soups