I love nothing more than hosting a small informal gathering; inviting friends to my home to share a home-cooked meal together.
Invariably, I will cook a simple supper; unfussy but considered. I will allow myself time to plan and prepare. For occasions such as these I will bypass the busy supermarket and head to a local greengrocers, fishmongers and bakers to purchase what catches my eye. Having done some research browsing through my cook books, food magazine tear-outs and the internet, I'll usually head to the shops with something in mind; a stew, a robust winter salad or something as vague as some locally caught fish, herbs and good bread or maybe just a determination to track down the first of the blood oranges. I’ll probably pick up some flowers from the florist to – nothing grand, just a few pretty blooms to place in an old jam jar or a small vase #littletouches.
The weekend before last we had some friends come down to stay. These were old friends from where we use to live. With kids, work and busy lives we don't see each other as much as we'd all like, so this was an occasion we were all very much looking forward to. I believe times spent with friends sharing food and conversation is so good for you; there really is nothing quite like reconnecting around the dinner table catching up on each others lives, whilst lingering over a meal and a bottle of wine (or two).
For me every such meal needs to end with a pudding. I often plan my menu from the pudding back. I used this occasion as an excuse to try out a recipe from a new cookbook of mine, Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. The recipe was Set 'Cheesecake' with Plum Compote. It is a deconstructed cheesecake, where the compote, cake and crumble are made and kept separate. Other than the fact I can never resist a cheesecake, I was drawn to the recipe as its components (which were easy to prepare) could be done so 24 hours in advance. Having pudding ticked off the list the day before appeals to my ‘control' streak. Here are a few pictures of the said pudding. It was delicious and there was enough leftover the next day for photographing and eating (again). Click here for a link to a greengage compote version of the same recipe.