Day in the Life of a Madwoman
Today, I'm having a semi-formal dinner party for 8 plus myself. I started cleaning a while back (as you know) and I started making a few things ahead of time:
Thursday I made a brandied chicken liver pate. I'm a little disappointed in the flavor (still tastes like liver, folks) but it's made, so I'll put it out so people can try it and throw the rest away.
Friday I made a Grand Marnier Crepe Cake (see above). Essentially, it's orange-flavored crepes layered with orange-flavored whip cream. It looks so yummy! I also made dough for Spring Onion Flatbread and let it rise overnight.
I thought I might do a play by play of today, so here it goes:
9:00 am -- Got up at 7:00, took a shower, got dressed, cleaned the bathroom, fed the cats, started a load of laundry in the washer, updated blog ;)
10:45 am -- took the cats outside to play and eat grass while I swept the deck, went to Costco for some minor items, bought tulips for the table, "arranged" them (I use the term loosely, since my flower arranging abilities are functional at best.)
1:15 pm -- made the Spring Onion Flatbreads with the panini pan that came with my new pots (it made wonderful grill marks!), made a White Bean Dip and an Artichoke and Cumin Dip, both with the food processor I bought a few months ago. It occurs to me that four of the recipes I'm making for today use the food processor. I didn't intend it that way, but that's the way it turned out. Interesting, eh?
2:30 pm -- made Roasted Almonds with Rosemary and Cayenne and "took a break" to put laundry in the dryer, another load in the washer, make my bed, and dust furniture. Helpful note: light colored wood furniture doesn't show dust as much!
9:40 pm -- my sous chef, Susan, arrived at 3:00 pm, after which I was whirring on all cylinders until the party.
Here's what we did:
- Susan made pasta dough and put it in the fridge while I was putting together the fennel and potato mixture to cook. Susan finished the dough before I was finished and made the Greek Salad (she has an excellent eye for how much salad to make for 9!).
- We were also cleaning up after each recipe, so we finished cleaning around the same time and tackled rolling out pasta together. I had planned to borrow a pasta machine from a friend, but she was out of town and forgot to leave the machine on the porch like she said she would. No matter, I know that pasta can be rolled out with a rolling pin. I just got a silicone baking mat and it was very helpful, by the way.
- So, we figured out how to get the size pieces we needed and got a great upper body workout rolling those suckers out (some were beautifully thin, some only average). That took a while, but we were still doing well for time.
- Susan started pre-cooking the rectangles of pasta (about 4" x 6") and I took on the fennel and potatoes, which had finished cooking some time before and had already been drained. I pureed them together with a little marscapone and mint and it was as yummy as the first time I'd made it.
- Meanwhile, Susan had finished with the pasta and had moved on to the filling, first roasting the spices a little before crushing them with a mortar and pestle (I'd like a spice mill, but they didn't have any and I didn't feel in the mood to make do with a coffee mill). Then, she mixed the spices with the ground lamb, goat's cheese, and cilantro that I had already put in a bowl. The filling mixed, she started the task of putting a line of filling at the short end of the pasta rectangles and rolling them into Cannolli. (did I mention the main dish was Lamb and Goat Cheese filled Cannolli? I forgot to take pictures of them.)
- When I finished the puree, I helped her finish them. They were put in a baking dish, to be finished immediately before dinner.
(Whew! You can see how I didn't have a moment to blog...)
It was shortly after finishing the cannolli, while we were tidying up, that the first guests (besides Susan herself) began to arrive, four minutes early, at 5:26 pm. For those in the know, the guests were Gabe and Krissy, followed immediately by Max, Jenn, and Dave. We cleared the table of any remaining food prep items and put out the appetizers. I think everything was well liked (someone put a small dent in the chicken liver, so even that was liked) and after I got everyone drinks, I was able to stop and chat for a while. Aileen and Brian arrived later, but still significantly before dinner. It really worked out well.
After a good long appetizer period, I started the cannolli baking and Gabe cooked some of his famous pesto ravioli (he had made a huge batch recently and offered to bring some). It was all very tasty, and everyone had exactly enough to fill themselves up. The ravioli were heavenly, as usual. It's so worth Gabe's fascist instructions about how to prepare and eat them ;) The cannolli were yummy. I find lamb to sometimes be overpowering, but in this case, the ratio of lamb to pasta really mellowed out the lamb. Next time I'll put more cheese on top!
After a brief pause, Susan made french-press coffee. Max offered to make it, but when Jenn revealed that Max has questionable coffee making practices, we "pressed" the expert, Susan, into service. I made tea and brought out the cake. It cut beautifully and was deliciously light and airy. Krissy remarked on the texture given by the many layers of crepe. I've only got a 1/4 of the cake left.
Gabe and Dave told some great stories and Brian did a hilarious impression of a girl getting out of a speeding ticket by flashing some cleavage. I think it's safe to say a good time was had by all. Krissy, bless her heart, helped clean up the dessert dishes, so I was able to just turn on the dishwasher and not worry about it.
I've got some suitable leftovers for tomorrow and will probably have to make some brownies or something, since there's so little cake left.
Yes, there's more tomorrow, but much lower key than this. I'll cook a little, bake a little, and hopefully put the finishing touches on cleaning/tidying (there was a little shoving things in drawers -- not much, but some).
Maybe I'll even start packing. :D
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Your "still tastes like liver" made me smugly look at Nathan from across the midwest... :)
(Your creation looks awesome, by the way...)
Love the blow by blow description. Keep it up!
Oooh! Grand Mariner cake!
Make sure to taunt us with how well it turns out!
Oh, I will... I assure you, I will. ;)
Sounds like you're getting heaploads done today. :) As for me, I'd be lucky if I just managed to get laundry all the way done...
Okay, the cake was divine!! I can't even describe it - it was creamy and fluffy and . . . sigh . . . divine. :)
I'm so glad you liked it. I originally got the recipe from Susan's Gourmet magazine, but I found the same one on Epicurious (which puts Gourmet recipes online) and have linked to the recipe in the post.
It would be SO easy to adapt for other flavors! I'd love to try one with lemon curd in addition to the whipped cream. Or chocolate ganache. Or Nutella. [swoon]
Now I bow to your cooking skills.
That is... amazing.
What a wonderful time it was. The food was exquisite and the company was even better.
Thank you Anne!
WOW. I sure wish you lived near me!
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