I had meant to take a photograph of the laid table but forgot! Here’s my centrepiece – flowers (freesias, roses, Gypsophila, greenery and an unknown purple one) on short stems in a small goldfish bowl. We are six ladies of a certain age. One of us knew the rest of us and, thinking that we’d all hit it off, invited us all to dinner. Each of us knew a couple of the others. That was around six or seven years ago and we’ve been hitting it off every three months or so ever since, always over food and always for several hours. Dinner has turned into lunch or high tea and we take it in turns (it’s a very loose arrangement and some occasions are more formal than others) to entertain the others or sometimes we visit a local pub which offers decent food for a good price.
Two are retired, one works full time and the remaining three part time, and we’ve come from a variety of working backgrounds: a solicitor, an artist, a retail manager, recruitment advisor, accounts clerk and me, a HR Advisor. The conversation flows easily and there’s always some remembered work anecdote, family news, holiday talk, discussion about a recent TV drama or a recommendation for a good book.
The kitchen was a whirl of activity from 9am and by 10.30 I had produced pumpkin seed soda bread, a cherry & almond sponge (to be served with cream or vanilla ice cream) and a cake made to the same recipe but iced (for husband as I knew form experience the other one would be devoured in its entirety). I put a thin layer of icing on the cake and sprinkled the almonds on top whereas the square sponge was baked with the almonds on (ok, you guessed – I forgot to sprinkle them on the cake before baking and if they are added after, they need some icing to stick them on)!
In an unspoken agreement we tend not to offer starters, preferring to have a post-dessert cheeseboard. Four courses is one to many at most times, but especially for a casual lunch!
I prepared a lasagne and a chicken dish (both shown before cooking) made with peppers and onions which were drizzled with lemon flavoured olive oil and sprinkled with a mixture of smoked paprika, lemon zest and sumac. You may remember my post about how disappointingly mild I found the latter, but added to the paprika, it’s quite tangy – and I need to use it up somehow. Two lemons cut into quarters added flavour but were removed before serving. I served Lightly roasted baby new potatoes, petit pois and a side salad.
To supplement the cherry & almond sponge, I also made a favourite dessert of mine – a Slimming World friendly raspberry roulade (no fat, no flour, no sugar and filled with 0% Greek yogurt) and a fruit platter.
My guests arrived at 1pm kindly bearing wine, chocolate and some beautiful flowers. I love Iris and these are so vibrant.
You’d imagine that there might have been some leftovers – well, there were, but not a great deal – just enough for husband’s evening meal! I didn’t need to eat in the evening and I doubt the others did either. I have said before how lucky I am to have some wonderful friends and afternoons such as this reinforce that thought many times over.