Family Celebrations: The Joint Birthday Meal

So, as it was with Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, we also have joint birthdays to celebrate in my family today. Foolishly, I offered to cook the meal in my parents’ recently refurbished kitchen. Never, ever do this. It was incredibly stupid: the oven was still untested for something that was going to see the hob in full use, and the grill and both ovens going simultaneously.  Also, I learned that when my dad says he knows where all the stuff is kept, he really doesn’t know where any of the stuff is kept so finding anything took about 10 minutes.  Add to that the two desserts I was doing because neither of them wanted cake and they both made special requests and I really did set myself up for a day of torture.

Menu
Roast chicken with fresh rosemary (largest fresh one I could get plus a couple of quarters to cover all the people – 9 of them)
Roast potatoes (loads: you have only made enough if everyone is stuffed and nobody will eat the last two)
Roast carrots and parsnips
Cauliflower Cheese (a special request)
Peas
Pigs in blankets (family tradition so we end up having them with everything)
Yorkshire Puddings (ditto)
Fresh gravy
Pavlova with Passion Fruit
Crème Brûlée
Summer Berry Sauce to go with vanilla ice cream for the kids

The Plan
1030:     Put chicken on to roast in preheated oven. Peel the veg and put into salted water. Prep the cauliflower. Make the passion fruit syrup for the dessert and allow to cool. Cook a bag of frozen summer berries and stir in some honey to sweeten and allow to cool. Whip cream and vanilla for Pavlova. Cover and refrigerate.
1145:      Add the potatoes and veg to the oven to roast.
1215:      Add the pigs. Cook the cauliflower and make the cheese sauce.
1230:      Remove the chicken and cover. Add cauliflower cheese to oven. Add yorkshire puddings to oven.
1245:      Cook peas
1300:      Serve.

Pause, while everyone eats, then clear plates and assemble Pavlovas in about 5 minutes, stick crème brûlée under grill to melt sugar then serve, with sparklers, because they chose non-candle-bearing desserts.

Reality
Nothing goes to plan when you add family: especially family who are all travelling to be together for the lunch. We served at 2 in the end and the dessert prep bit of the plan went out the window, meaning a rather longer pause as I stuck hot syrup in the freezer all Great British Bake-Off style to cool it fast enough. That meant that it wasn’t the consistency I wanted but it still tasted good. Various people pitched in to help and my daughter did a fantastic job of dealing with my Gordon Ramsey-esque moment when I might have lost it and catapulted two rubbish oven gloves off my wrists and neatly into the laundry bin.  (Why would you sell an oven glove so full of wadding that the cook loses the use of their hands because it’s like wearing boxing gloves? Why?! Madness…)

I didn’t get to take any pictures of the roast: it went down well, though, with hardly anything left over. My sister, however, snapped the desserts while I was plating stuff up. Yes, I cheated and used bought meringue bases: I was going to make it properly but then realised what a terrible idea that was. Ditto, the crème brûlée, although I used to make those a lot, back when they were a thing. I’ll make them both properly another time, perhaps when all I do is bring a dessert rather than do the whole thing.

Pavlova with Passion Fruit sauce. (The grape is purely to hold the sparklers and should be disregarded.)

Pavlova with Passion Fruit sauce. (The grape is purely to hold the sparklers and should be disregarded.)

There were some meringues left over, and some cream, so people then assembled their own, using the summer berry sauce. You will note that the vanilla cream was especially popular.

DIY Pavlova.

DIY Pavlova.

I had better get my act together before this time next year. 🙂

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About SAM2.0

You'll want me on your team for the Zombie Apocalypse.
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