Jenine has challenged me to write a Stress Free Dinner Party with Leftovers. There are two kinds of leftovers; planned and incidental. Planned are the kind where you make extra to eat for lunch or freeze for another day. Incidental are the ones that happen because you cooked too much. I’m more of the former than the latter, but reading between the lines, I think Jenine could be looking for what to do with incidental leftovers.
Happily for me, she didn’t specify only leftovers (mwa ha ha haaa), so I’ll be using pantry staples as well.
Right now, in terms of incidental leftovers, I have some mashed potato, chicken, bacon, crème fraîche, cheese (cheddar, brie, and parmesan) half a bottle of rose, and assorted jars of pickles and condiments
We always have a few bottles of wine, beer and cider about the place, as well as partly used spirits.
Ambiance • Dress Code
I’m not exactly sure whether Jenine is looking for a poverty meal, or an impromptu kind of meal, so let’s just say neat and clean.
As always, six guests invited to arrive 6.30 for 7.00 pm.
6:30 Apéritif: Chips and Champagne
The ever reliable plain potato chips with Champagne.
7.00 Entrée: Salmon Croquettes with more Champagne
Mash a tin of salmon with the mashed potatoes. Add some chopped spring (green) onions, and some salt and pepper. You could also add flavours like garlic and chilli to taste, as well as any green herbs you like (e.g., parsley, chives, tarragon, or coriander). Or even cheese! Separate into individual serves, then dip in flour, then beaten egg, then breadcrumbs. Lightly fry in butter for a couple of minutes each side. Serve on a bed of chopped lettuce, with a dollop of tomato salsa, chutney, or sauce on top.
8.00 Main: Chicken and Bacon Pasta with Sauvignon Blanc
Put the pasta on to cook according to the packet directions. I like spirals because the chunky sauce gets caught in them, but you can use whatever you prefer.
Meanwhile, fry chopped bacon in olive oil with some chopped onion and garlic. When the onion is nice and golden, add a slosh of wine and when the steam clears add chopped chicken and heat through. Take the pan off the heat, and add the cooked pasta and crème fraîche, then stir to combine. Serve topped with chopped parsley, grated parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.
9.00 Dessert: Fruit Pavlova with Muscat
In summer I often have shop bought meringue shells because I use them to make Eton mess (crushed meringue with Chantilly cream and fruit) but not at the moment so we might as well make pavlova.
Preheat your oven to 120° C (250° F). Line an oven tray with foil, then brush melted butter and a dusting of cornflour in a circle in the centre.
Whisk 6 egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks appear (easiest with an electric mixer), then whisk in 270 g (9 ½ oz) caster sugar one spoon at a time until it dissolves into the egg. Add 2 teaspoons of cornflour, one of white vinegar and half of vanilla extract, stirring until just combined. Turn out onto the foil and bake for 1½ hours until the outer edges dry out. Leave in the oven until it cools (so it doesn’t break or fall).
When cool, slather with whipped cream (you can sweeten it with icing sugar and vanilla extract if you like) and fruit. Depending on your season, that might be fresh, or preserved. When my poor dear mother was young, fresh fruit was prohibitively expensive so she always kept a tin or two of fruit in her pantry. My favourite was two fruits (peach and pear).
10.00 Cheese with Coffee and Liqueur
Whatever cheese you have with whateverliqueur you have.
You’d be best off making the pavlova base the day before; decorate it in the morning and leave in the fridge.
Also prepare the croquettes in the morning and leave them in the fridge to harden up before frying them just before you serve.
6.00 chop your pasta and entrée ingredients ready to go
6.30 guests arrive!
6.50 fry the croquettes and serve
7.50 cook pasta and sauce then serve
9.00 serve the pavlova
10.00 serve coffee