Thursday, 3 January 2013

Why foodie NYE parties for two are the best sort of parties

A New Year's Eve foodie party for two
Christmas 2012 will forever go down in Becs-Ash history as the Christmas of kitchen stuff.

Father Christmas clearly felt that our kitchen needed restocking with a plethora of gadgets to make our 2013 taste wonderful.  From a giant pepper mill and a cheese making kit, numerous cookery books and a blow torch, to a pasta maker and a Kenwood mini chopper, the festive season left our cupboards full to burst with new kitchen paraphernalia to try out. When we returned to Leeds for New Year after visiting family in Essex, I spent the train journey figuring out new recipes to try on New Year's Eve.

Now I don't know about you, but New Year's Eve has always been a bit of a let down. Don't get me wrong, I've had a couple of good ones (most notably NYE '08/'09: an evening which was defined by Ash and his brother Lewis leaving their tickets at home by accident and having to make a mad dash from the tube station, our friend Sandwell getting very lost in a pretty small club, drinking too many £2 JDs and coke and Lewis getting chatted up by a bloke in the toilets - all to the soundtrack of Noah and the Whale...) but all in all, they're more often than not a bit of a let down. And I'm old now Father William (well, 25 anyway) and I've got better things to spend my money on than an average night out.

This year, Ash and I decided to do something a bit different - namely, spend the evening in and make a three course meal completely from scratch out of as many of our new kitchen gadgets as was humanly possible. As I've fallen head over heels in love with my mini chopper (seriously, they're amazing - they're so little and I'm yet to find a thing it doesn't chop, including my fingers), a secondary aim was added to our evening's quest - to find recipes where there was a lot to chop.

I'm pleased to say that I think we succeeded in this quest.

Our first course of buttery chilli prawns ticked the box for a lot of stuff to chop, so I was happy. Initially we'd planned on making Mussels Provencal from a MasterChef recipe - but could we find fresh mussels anywhere in Leeds on New Year's Eve? Could we hell. The buttery chilli prawns tasted pretty good anyway - perhaps a bit too much lemon juice for my liking, but after 3/4 of a bottle of wine they did the trick.

Homemade Ricotta- panic not, it's meant to look like this
Next up, the pasta maker and the cheese making set got a turn with Gino D'Acampo's Ravioli Con Chorizo Piccante (or spicy chorizo and ricotta stuffed ravioli in layman's terms). We'd made the ricotta earlier in the day using The Big Cheese company's kit. Instructions were really easy (citric acid, whole milk and a bit of waiting around) and we were mightily impressed with the outcome.  Ash has an amazing amount of patience - which is definitely required when making ravioli - so I left him to it whilst I chopped (hurrah) the chorizo and the chillis. The whole dish was extremely simple to make, and very very tasty when accompanied by a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. I'd seriously recommend Gino's Pasta - Everything You Need to Cook the Italian Way to anyone who received a pasta maker from Santa this year.

Hello Ravioli Con Chorizo Piccante

Finally came the kitchen gadget that I was most looking forward to using - the blowtorch.  The blowtorch's first outing came in the form of this simple, and very effective, recipe for ultimate crème brûlées. We substituted the uber expensive vanilla pod for Taylor and Colledge's Vanilla Bean Paste (which was half the price of a vanilla pod at our local Waitrose) and worked a treat. Dessert was delicious - light, creamy and fun to make. The crème brûlée experience confirmed that along with reading more, writing more and worrying less, 2013 is going to be my year of the blowtorch. I'm going to make it my mission to blowtorch as much stuff as I possibly can (without harming others, of course).

My favourite new toy

So, there we have it. Accompanied by some more wine and a drop of Processco or two, our New Year's Eve party for two was really rather wonderful. It finished with me 'filling the floor' to 4Music's NYE floor fillers: proof that all you really need for a good time is a Kenwood mini chopper, a cheese making kit, a pasta maker and a blowtorch. Oh, and some wine.

No comments:

Post a Comment