Saturday night saw the beginning of the marathon run of winter dinner parties for the Stamford version of Come Dine With Me. I spent the entire of Saturday wrapped in my pinny and slaving over the cooker (well actually that's a lie - I managed to squeeze in a bacon sandwich at Beans first - the best bacon sandwiches in Stamford - heartily recommended by myself and Mr Jones, go on try one).
Despite preparation earlier in the week it still took longer than I thought. Had I been watching myself on television I would be smuggly cursing me from the comfort of my sofa for being a "stupid cow" and not planning things properly and laughing as I stabbed myself in the eye with a mascara wand five minutes before my guests arrived. Anyhoo - I was not watching myself and it was not amusing.
My guests arrived on time (points for you Medds) and were served Lemon Drop Martinis. I had planned to photograph each course but I never quite got round to it. So I have the next best thing - pics of the recipe books. Mine of course looked much, much better!
We started with caramelised balsamic onion and goat's cheese crostini with a rocket salad (sorry no pic - I made this recipe up). Thanks to the super grill the crostini ended up a little bit crisp. I whisked the slightly blackened one onto my plate and served the least charred to everyone else!
Next came Spicy Pork and Chilli Pepper Goulash with rice, soured cream and fresh crusty bread a la Mr Oliver. This was met with slight consternation by Mrs Swift who has opted to cook the same main course in episode six (of all the cookery books in all of the world - we had to use the same one). Much discussion was entered into as to whether she should be allowed to change her menu. I am certainly more than willing to eat it again - it was lovely.
And the pièce de résistance - homemade sticky toffee pudding with homemade vanilla ice cream. Which was so popular with Mr Swift that he ate his and half of mine and some of Mrs Swifts too. The ice cream (due to its very nature) was my one piece of advance prepartion - and it was worth it. I still have half a tub should you wish to try it - it won't last long though.
A pot of fresh mint tea and some homemade biscotti filled us to the brim - although the boys still managed to squeeze in a couple of large gins on top of the three bottles of wine and cocktails. The video taped scores should be amusing - Mr Jones was struggling to speak and Mr Swift and Mr Medd were struggling to stand.
At the risk of seeming ungracious I began handing out coats at half past midnight when Mr Jones fell onto the sitting room floor and said he was going to bed, and Mr Swift began looking like he was taking root on the sofa. I packed them off with biscotti for the road and hoped they'd all had a good night.