January was shaping up to be a busy month. I did not have a free weekend. Last weekend I was hauling myself and my camera equipment around Kerry. This weekend would still be busy but in a very different way.
It was my turn to host our book club. As I've explained before it is not like most book clubs, This one is all female, most mums of young children. I've been there done that and bought the tee-shirt four times, I'm like the granny of the group. We meet once a month, taking turns to host it in each others houses, for a full three course (four if you include the coffee) meal. After the meal we discuss the book.... maybe. It is a wonderful social evening and sometimes it even introduces us to good books.
Of course, being me, having everyone to dinner would be too simple. The date was arranged as it was the only Saturday evening I had free in January. It just happened that my Turkish class in Dublin was that morning, a 200km round trip.
I love to cook but usually just stick to the same old things, time contraints and a family with unadventurous taste buds. With this in mind I had decided to give reign to my inner chef and prepare a feast.
My starters would be a spread of Turkish meze. I had spent weeks looking through my cookery books and trawling the internet for recipes. I eventually came up with a spicy tomato salsa, cheese rolls, beetroot with yogurt and garlic, kisir salad made with fine Bulgur wheat, haydarı which is the Turkish version of Greek tzatziki, made wıth yogurt, cucumber mint and garlic, roasted red onions with sour pomegranite sauce and roasted peppers with olive oil and garlic. Yes, the Turks love their garlic. Some of these I had never prepared before, but then I always love a challenge.
Main course would be my signature dish, Chicken with Plum Ginger and Soya. It comes from the Avoca Cookery book. Once you have eaten this in my house you can't be invited for a meal again as I do not have a follow up dish. I had thought of cooking a Turkish main course, again not tried it before but decided to play it safe because of time constraints.
Last but not least would be Pavlova with fresh fruit salad and homemade raspberry ice-cream. This would probably take the most preparation time. Cutting up all that fruit into small pieces. But it is tasty. I don't use a sugar syrup, I use fresh orange and lemon juice.
I got up at eight, headed for Dublin and arrived in time for my 10.00 a.m class. The first part of the class was conversation so it was a nice way to catch up with my classmates. There are just four of us and it makes the three hour session intense but we are learning. I just have to remember to learn how to say the time before the next class. It keeps slipping my mind and I keep getting asked.
I got home at 4pm to continue preparing the meal, having stopped at the Avoca Shop in Kilmacanogue for their lovely cheese bread. I was also hoping for some gluten free bread as one of my guests is Coeliac, another has a nut allergy. No luck, they were out. I would just have to use the gluten free rolls I had got the previous day.
I had done a lot of the preparation in advance. Hubbie and No.1 daughter had cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, the only parts of the house my guests will see. So, in spite of the trip to Dublin, the prep went smoothly. Hubbie was surprised that I was so relaxed. But I was doing what I loved.....cooking for others.
8.30 arrived and so did my guests. They were complimentary of my directions....I had measured the distances the previous week....turn left drive 2.3km. etc. I really am going to have to learn to be brief.
Fee had brought a new member. We looked at each other in instant recognition. She is also a primary school teacher. I met her doing a course last year.
The meal? What can I say, my Turkish meze went down a treat. They want to have my next turn at hosting in Bodrum. No problem as far as I'm concerned. Main course was also a hit but paled into insignificance when the homemade ice-cream hit the table. Next time Aldi gets in a supply of ice cream makers there will be a queue outside to buy.
The book? Julian Barnes "Sense of an Ending" It won the Man Booker Prize. It was an easier read than many of the other Booker prize winners but there was only one winner this night......my food.
I'll post some of the recipes later in the week.