A long and lazy Sunday lunch when you have the time is something to be savoured and enjoyed (actually any long lunch should be) and yesterday we had one that certainly fit the bill. Challenged by the inordinate amount of difficulty we encountered when we tried to find a mutually available date, we changed things around with regular dinner party friends of ours and got together for lunch instead. It was either that or booking ourselves in for sometime in 2010.
The plan was to stick to our tried and true method of dividing entrée, main dessert and music between the four of us, and it did start out that way. I drew the Main Course, my beloved got Entrée, Ms Vegetarian selected Dessert and her beloved drew Music. All good. Then on Saturday both beloveds (completely separately and unbeknownst to each other) over indulged just a wee tiny bit and were what one might politely call “fragile” on Sunday morning! So it was girls to the rescue.
Not wanting the beloved to get out of things entirely I sent him off to the bottleshop to get drinks. A somewhat bittersweet task! It left me with time to get on with the cooking.
I always give people something to eat and drink as soon as they arrive at my place so to nibble on whilst I continued pottering in the kitchen we had a broadbean dip. Blanched and refreshed beans, quickly sautéed with a finely chopped onion then blended with goat’s cheese, mint and pistachios. The recipe came from this month’s VE&T. It is very easy to make and really has a fresh good flavour with nothing too dominant. To dip: long wedges of Lebanese cucumber, witlof leaves and homemade cheese crackers.
Our entrée was a roasted field mushroom served atop a slice of toasted brioche generously smeared with a white bean puree that had a hint of garlic. The brioche was nearly a disaster. After the beloved having to traipse around to several stores in search of some, I nearly burnt the lot by I was paying more attention to chatting than the little wafts of smoke coming from the toaster. Got them in time though and with a little scraping there were fine.
With the hair of the dog downed, both beloveds sprang back to life and it became hard to get a word in, so I headed back to the kitchen to pull the main course together. With local asparagus great at the moment I decided on a filo quiche using it combined with some marinated feta. This is my cheat’s quiche because there is no rolling of pastry or blind baking. They take no time at all. I layer 5 sheets of filo pastry, spraying a little evo in between and then cut into 15cm squares using kitchen scissors. The pastry then goes into a greased standard muffin tin very gently so that the edges stick up nicely. They should be about 3-5cm from the top of the tin. Filo dries out very quickly and this will affect its cooking so don’t do this until you have everything else ready to go.
I had prepared one large stalk of asparagus per quiche by slicing on the diagonal (about 5mm) keeping the tip whole for decoration. They were steamed for a few minutes and went into the pastry shells. A bit of crumbled feta in each then some of the egg mix and the asparagus tip on top, then into a 200 degree oven for about 7-10 minutes. The egg mix I make is 6 large free range eggs and roughly 2/3 cup cream. It usually will give you 12 filo quiches but this will depend on the amount of ingredients that you put in each pastry shell.
I also made some smoked salmon quiches with some dill and red onion in the egg mix and some capers on top. To accompany the quiches we had a salad of baby butter lettuce leaves with shredded raw artichoke, roasted hazelnuts and a dressing of walnut oil, lemon juice and pepper, whisked until it emulsified a bit.
Late in the afternoon we had dessert. Ms Vegetarian made beautiful baked pink lady apples with a crunchy ginger and sultana crumble. To lighten the dish and provide a refreshing finish it was served with Maggie Beer Ruby Cabernet sorbet. A strangely pleasing combination.
By this stage twilight was well on its way and we fare welled our friends from yet another gastronomic marathon. It was now time to do the dishes. I drew that straw. The beloved had to head to the airport for a work trip. How he managed to time that I’ll never know!