Sunday 20 July 2014

The very long, very hot, July weekend

Storm clouds behind an apple tree on Sunday afternoon.
I'm knackered. I'll keep this short.

Long: Thursday (10 guests), Friday (7), Saturday (8). Hannah, Jane, Sonya. We'll get to them.
Hot: around 30°C. More when stood in front of the hob or oven.

He's called Otto. And we have two of him
Many things to report, none of them important. My IQ is inversely proportional to the temperature. The heat affects ingredients as well as people. My goats cheese soufflés rose well and then sank even weller. Butter was either fridge rock or sun cream. Rhubarb sorbet didn't set. Two birthdays were celebrated. I did a day's storylining on Jekyll & Hyde. I met a French woman with the most unbelievably perfect English accent and a lady from Luxembourg.  A man turned up with a guitar and sang. It was the hottest day of the year. It pissed with rain. Our dishwasher packed up on Thursday night (beyond repair. Bloody marvellous). And the whole kitchen is now fan assisted, not just the ovens. Cracking bargains from CostCo.

And so to the group shots.

Hannah (middle, radiant in pink), or as she's more commonly known, Hannah LYDS, celebrated her birthday.

Jane and James (either end) and friends enjoyed food, much wine and James' repartee.

Sonya (take a guess) also had a birthday. And a dance. And a headache, after some unplanned pillar interfacing during said dancing.

Thankfully there was much overlap of the menus or this run of three might have been close to unmanageable. Everyone had the herb crusted rack of lamb and there were no vegetarians. My lamb is damn fine now. I have it to a 'T'. Hannah told me it was the best she'd ever eaten (and yes, she's had it before). I made a glorious port gravy using over a kilo of roast lamb mince in the stock. Gravies are still my favourite thing to get right. No idea why. It thrills me.

Lamb served medium pink with a crust of breadcrumbs, parmesan, mint, coriander, parsley and basil.
Turns out that 30°C is too hot to make soufflés and sorbet. My soufflé roux was too slick. I should have chilled it but it didn't occur to me. Some post hoc Googling reveals this to be an old trick. It meant the soufflés rose wonderfully, more than tripling in height, only to sink faster than the price of Rolf Harris' paintings. Chocolate truffles succumbed too. Even at 10.30pm and straight out of the fridge, they maintained their dignity for no more than ten minutes.

Sorbet just wouldn't set. Even with the freezer on super setting all my efforts were rewarded with a chewy, chilly sludge. I offered up raspberry and rose as a replacement. I'll do this again as rhubarb seems to be entirely green now. Rhubarb doesn't really have season so I'm not sure why this is. Were it a vibrant green I'd be happy but the sorbet once churned is more like the colour of discarded chewing gum. Raspberry comes out a very satisfying scarlet.

The upside of the heat was long, sultry sessions on the decking after dinner.

Rock and Roll (from Tommy)

Was it something James said?

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