The Man is normally more than willing to play guinea pig for any number of dishes but alas, it was not to be the gastronomic affair that I had hoped for. When I arrived it became apparent that Man was on his deathbed with a mortal throat infection and I, of course, fittingly donned my Florence Nightingale outfit. Within a couple of minutes of arrival, I had produced the first of many, Hot Lemon and Honey drinks which were to become a staple of the week.
This obviously put a slight spanner in my 'planned' works but to every cloud there is always a silver lining. And this came from two directions; firstly in that I was able to pull out some lovely 'easy-to-swallow' recipes for Man including a beautiful Chicken Tagine and a wonderfully tasty Scallop, Mussel & Prawn Spaghetti with ginger & chilli sauce. And then the phone call came which gave me the opportunity to put my Florance outfit back in the cupboard and head back to London to cater for 4 ladies and a straggler husband, who wanted a light lunch served at home.
The brief was to produce a lovely light lunch for 3 friends who'd known each other for many years; meeting at secretary school and at the school gates during the 1970's; a daughter and a husband -- who probably would have preferred to be on the golf course. With so many a palette to cater for and knowing one of the women, chocolate in some form was definitely a necessity for the menu, I wasn't sure where to begin. There were a few discussions about likes and dislikes of certain fish (and specifically the husband wanting a little more 'meat'), so we plumbed for a lovely light starter of Baked Asparagus wrapped in Parma Ham with Quails Eggs, followed by Lemon Seabass on Grape & Lemon Couscous and then a heavenly Chocolate Pot to finish (see recipe here). The white fish was complemented (and to give the plate some colour) with some roasted mini plum tomatoes and sweet peppers and fresh mange tout.
What the client loved about the menu was that not only could she get up from the table without feeling she was going to explode from over indulgence but being at her own home and not in a 'noisy restaurant, where hearing each other over the music, other dinners' chatter and the constant clinking of cutlery was far harder now they were a little older'. It also meant that they could retire with a glass of wine and a cup of coffee to the sitting room and not feel rushed by a waiter to pay the bill. My client is lovely and slightly eccentric and I really loved her view that hosting a lunch party at home was a necessity, simply because she got to close the front door after everyone had gone and settle down to an afternoon snooze on a contentedly full tummy.
Of the lovely Chocolate Pots, I made one too many for my client to have as a treat later in the evening, however, I was utterly delighted to be told by her that I should take it home as a mid-week treat. I don't need to be asked twice when it comes to chocolate!