Saturday, November 05, 2011


As I've been doing for the last couple of years, I've devoted every Friday night in November to my Serendipity Dinners. It's based on a philosophy of abandoning control freakdom and passing the difficult mechanics of the dinner party into the hands of Fate. I have no control over which people come, or how many of those people, and I challenge myself to new dishes for every course.

And weirdly enough, it generally works.

The first dinner was last night, with a dinner for four - the first Serendipity Dinner is always the smallest. This was actually a plus, because I'd forgotten how much preparation needs to go into these things, and I only arrived home from work an hour before I was expecting the first guest.

We started with cocktails and canapes: gin & tonics and blinis with marscapone and lemon chutney.

Entree was grilled haloumi with lemon, garlic and chilli. I made the faux pas of taking a bite and blurting, "Man, this is fantastic!", which is pretty much the equivalent of calling out your own name during sex. But everyone else seemed to like it too.

Main course was a roast poussin recipe that I adapted for ease of preparation: chicken breasts slit into envelopes and stuffed with pistachios, cranberries and sour cherries, dusted with finely sliced chillis, ground coriander seeds and allspice, then roasted, and served with a green salad.

Dessert was "mangomisu", a mango-based reinterpretation of the classic tiramisu: layers of sponge fingers soaked in orange juice and vodka, slices of mango, and a whipped blend of cream, egg, sugar and marscapone. True to the paradigm of happy accidents that is fundamental to the Serendipity Dinners, the recipe produced far too much for a single mangomisu, so I am able to take a second one to lunch tomorrow and wow a completely new batch of people with my culinary brilliance.


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