Our much loved friend from South Africa has been intermittently staying with us and so we thought "what better excuse to have a party?" The work on our garden, already delayed by a week or so, was due to be completed that day and so an al fresco evening appeared to be a super June idea. The gardeners' (Bish, Bash and Bosh) perceptions of deadlines were rather at odds with ours however and so they were power washing the patio and hastily packing up (only to return again - twice) as the first guests arrived. M was wiping down chairs, J was frantically lighting the braai whilst I was hoovering up detruis from dust sheets.
"Glass of wine anyone?" Hell yes.
The mozzarella and tomato canapes were out, the chicken had been marinating all day, J's lamb burgers were good to go and I had a made a petit pois and cheese quiche and a blueberry cake to boot (J's favourite fruit so I couldn't resist), so let the eating commence!
Tomato, Honey and Mustard Madness (a marinade for 1kg of chicken pieces)
8 (yes 8!) tbsp tomato ketchup (only Heinz will do)
4 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Mix everything together, season to taste and pour over the chicken pieces. Roll the chicken around with abandon and leave to marinade for as long as you dare.
(I have never heard so many "hmmmms" of pleasure elicited from a marinade. J's dictum that ketchup is the secret ingredient in the recipe of happiness is once more proven to be true).
Petit Pois and Crumbly Cheese Tart (requires a 23cm round, 4cm deep flan dish)
8oz plain flour, sifted
4oz chilled unsalted butter, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium egg, beaten
Filling; (and yes, it is!)
3oz petit pois, either fresh or defrosted frozen peas
6oz crumbly cheese (e.g. Lancashire or Wendsleydale)
200ml tub creme fraiche
2 medium eggs
bunch of chives, chopped plus two whole chive leaves
For the pastry;
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Tip the flour, butter and salt into a food processor and whiz briefly. Add the egg and blitz until small clumps form. Remove, form into a ball and wrap in clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for at least 30mins.
Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to fit the flan dish. Prick the base and chill for another 30mins.
Bake the pastry case blind for 15mins (i.e. pop some foil and baking beans/rice into the dish). Remove the foil and beans and bake for a further 5mins. Cool slightly and reduce the oven to 190C/gas 5.
Scatter the peas over the pastry case and crumble the cheese on top. Whisk together the eggs, creme fraiche, milk, chopped chives and season. Pour over the peas and cheese and top with the remainding two chives (or more if you're feeling artistic). Bake for 30-35mins until the filling has puffed up and has a golden brown colour.
Blueberry and Almond Cake
(requires an 18-20cm round, loose-bottomed cake tin, greased and lined for ease of removal)
125g self-raising flour
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs, separated
1tsp almond extract
125g ground almonds
golf-sized ball of marzipan
Preheat oven to 180C.gas 4. Rinse the blueberries, pat dry and dredge in 1tsp of the flour.
Cream the butter and 175g of the sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks (as ever, alternating with a spoon of flour to avoid curdling) and the almond extract. Gently stir in the flour.
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually whisk in the remainding 25g sugar. Stir in the ground almonds.
Use a metal spoon to fold in a quarter of the whisked mixture into the creamed mixture then fold in the rest. Break the marzipan up and roll into little balls. Drop into the cake mixture and gently fold in. Spoon into the cake tin and level the surface.
Scatter the floured blueberries over the top and bake in the oven for approx 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre, emerges clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins and then turn out.
Serve with cream and a smile.