Entree was a tomato, orange and white bean soup with coriander and garlic olive oil. Main course was orange and ginger chicken, served with roasted potatoes and a complementary salad of rocket, orange slices, black olives, marinated feta and red onion. Dessert was a panettone bread and butter pudding.
Apart from the chicken taking half an hour longer to cook than advertised, everything went smoothly and every course was remarkably delicious. The soup was based on a Matt Preston recipe which unexpectedly uses baked beans as the base. However when I tested it I didn't like it much, so I made a few changes and improved it. The chicken made up for taking forever to cook by being wonderfully tender, and it was beautifully complimented by the salad. And I never liked bread and butter pudding when my mother made it, but then she used ordinary white bread rather than rich Italian pannetone... and she didn't soak it in sherry and brandy either.
As I mentioned earlier I was initially disappointed with the baked bean-based soup, which, when I tested it earlier in the week, tasted like a tomato themed milkshake - there was far too much dairy. I replaced the milk with orange juice, then added fresh coriander and garlic olive oil to offset the fairly basic flavours of the beans, tomato and orange. As such, I think I can publish the recipe without breaching copyright.
Tomato, Orange and White Bean Soup
Take a 440g can of best quality baked beans and heat it to a simmer in a saucepan, then take a stick blender and whiz them into a chunky paste. Add 50mls of cream and 150mls of orange juice and stir through, then heat back up to a simmer. Serve with a scattering of fresh coriander and a swirl of garlic-infused olive oil.