This topic of conversation came up recently with friends. They were staying overnight at our humble abode, and needless to say dinner was required. I happened to mention the meal that I enjoyed when they last cooked, and was advised it was the only time it had been attempted and hadn’t been attempted again. Yet it was a beautiful Pork fillet, cooked to perfection.
I then confessed that when I have guests I stick to the tried and true. Boring – yes. At least I can relax, safe in the knowledge that my meal is edible. My friend advised that he is the exact opposite. He sticks to the tried and true for everyday meals, but when cooking for guests, the opposite applies. The recipe books come out and with a flourish and a flick of an apron and a whisk of an egg, wooden spoon or what have you, a new culinary dish is attempted.
I really have to try and dip my toes into unknown waters where guests are concerned. If it is just us, I have no qualms and will devise concoctions of my own. Leading my dear husband to ask, is this an Irene recipe? If it is, can you please save it and remember what you did, so we can have it again.
Possibly my reluctance to test a new recipe with guests harkens back to my young, flatting days (ie last month. OK I confess a couple of decades ago!). I was in a new country and attempting to make new friends. The dinner invitation went out to acquaintances. We sat down with our new friends to feast on the roast vegetables, the obligatory greens, and Corned Brisket – which I had roasted! Ha, can you imagine the chew fest that evolved. How was I to know that nice looking piece of beef had to be boiled? Fortunately we were flatting in the inner city. KFC made people salivate and they were conveniently located across the road – to where my partner was promptly dispensed to purchase some edible chicken. The embarrassment of that may have unknowingly scarred me for life, and hence my reluctance to treat guests with an untried recipe.
Although not only us culinary scaredy-cats get it wrong. I happened to spy a recipe for a Risotto in a current popular woman’s magazine. The recipe calls for 750g of rice – to serve four people. Now I may be bottle blonde and I am no Nigella in the kitchen. Even I know that raw rice once cooked, triples in size. Imagine feeding dinner guests 2.25kgs of rice. Divide that by four, and you would require platters and not plates for the servings.
It then occurred to me. Imagine if I attempted that recipe back in my young, innocent days.
Maybe it is safer to stick to the tried and true? What do you do when cooking for guests at home, and I am not talking BBQs or finger food here. I mean a sit down meal. Will you attempt a new recipe or play it safe?
In case you were wondering. For that recent meal with our overnight guests, I decided to stick with an Italian theme. My lasagna, which I am a dab hand at. A green salad. Tiramisu (authentic recipe from scratch given to me by a lovely Italian friend) for dessert, washed down with Chianti. Background music provided by a mix of Dean Martin and Pavarotti for added intensity.