Dinner Parties: 21st-27th April

posted May 1, 2012, 12:38 PM by Dinner Lady   [ updated May 10, 2012, 1:46 AM ]
Perhaps it is something to do with the seasons, literally "Springing" out of our winter's hibernation. Maybe it is because after a couple of weeks of being allowed to sleep uninterrupted for eight hours a night we feel rejuvenated.  Or maybe Mrs Doubtfire and I are just plain bored with our own company.  What ever the reason, we finally felt ready to light a few candles, remove the wipe down oil table cloth and fling open our front door to host a proper dinner party, the first since Princess Baby's arrival.  

Friday involved sifting flour, blending soup and stuffing cannelloni in a great flurry of excitement and anticipation. The Naughty Knight enjoyed helping fill the Tarte au Citron pastry case and then made a few little "taster" tarts that he tried after lunch.  As the boys ate their rather basic supper, looking enviously at the tarte and cannelloni sitting on the side board, I promised to leave them a few titbits to enjoy the next day.  As a child I remember watching keenly as my mother created sumptuous food for her dinner parties, the likes of which I had often not experienced, and wondering how anyone could be so sophisticated to eat it.  I remember peering down through the banisters as my parents' friends arrived, and then lying in bed listening to the chinking of glass, the laughter and the never ending chatter. A symphony of crescendos.  And then finally falling into a deep sleep as the last of the guests rolled home.   And my mother was always careful to save a little something for we children to enjoy the next day, pretending to be all grown up, eating posh grown up nosh.  
Before the Four and a half bellies challenge, I would have bought some juicy meat to serve to our guests, wanting to offer a treat to friends. I think people tend to assume that if the cook and the guests are omnivores, the main meal at a dinner party is likely to contain meat.  But our challenge stipulates sticking within budget (which I have not) and reducing our meat intake to 1-2 times a week (which we had already consumed). I debated the pros and cons of sticking to or flouting the rules in the event of a special evening. In the end, as someone who respects authority and generally thinks rules are there to be obeyed, I stuck.  And so I wondered whether one can serve up an exciting and sumptuous vegetarian feast on a budget, from a relatively empty fridge. The answer, I am pleased to announce, is a resounding yes.  For the only shopping I had to do in addition to what we already had in the house were two tubs of ricotta cheese, one large pot of cream and two lemons (and the crisps and dips Mrs Doubtfire arrived home with).   And yet we dined on a three course feast, the subtle caraway aromas, generous helpings of cheese to top the cannelloni and extra butter in the pastry, transforming what could have been dull into something a little more special. 

rotten or gone off - 1 orange, 1 1/2 satsumas, half apple (Mrs Doubtfire saw it on side and threw it away!!!!)

left on our plates - a few crusts of pizza, 2 tbsp PB's cereal

left overs I have forgotten to use up - a couple of pints gammon stock - to my absolute horror and shame, having forgotten to put in the fridge, and thinking it is too warm now to take a chance

This has not been a good week for waste, and shameful after last week's Rage, not waste promises.  Will turn over a new leaf for May.


Local supermarket      £ 6ish
Butcher                £ 19.98
Vegetable box          £19.40
Supermarket            £42.10
Local grocer           £10.95
Total this week        £98.43

Nearly £30 over budget, but think I was under last week, so I hope this has evened it out a little.