15 August 2012

potluck soirée invite

I often hear about bloggers who eat out at the homes of their neighbours, and entertain regularly themselves.  Creating food bonds that go beyond friendship.

Although this strikes me as engaging, it has never been a part of my life.

Well, we've been invited to our first dinner party in about 10 years, and more importantly, accepted.
Our habit isn't to go house to house, we keep to ourselves usually.
The offer came out of the blue from a couple my husband knows from morning swimming in the Lido.  And I returned home at the weekend to the following brief:  cook and bring finger food for a potluck garden party on Tuesday. 

I asked some food friends for advice and got excellent suggestions - but couldn't cook it all, much as I wanted to.

So, simply, here are the foods prepared in my little kitchen.  It looks a lot, and, for my inexperience, it was too much.
But in reality, I took a sensible 2 x platters of nibbles. 

sourdough focaccia

Shipton Mill ciabatta flour gives the focaccia an excellent soft airy crumb

Clive's artichoke hummus and Joan's Lyonnaise cervelle de canut/ herby creamed cheese
pesto pinwheels
a simple potato tortilla
with parmesan cheese topping
20g mini-pittas the size of a biscuit

baking nicely
ready to be griddled and filled
apple sponge
with Spanish vanilla custard


pinchitos de pollo con salsa de menta
sourdough mini-pittas with spicy chicken and a mint dressing
As the pittas were the star of the evening, here's my recipe and method

pinchitos de pollo con salsa de menta

cumin, oregano, pimentón, thyme, saffron, a little curry powder, crushed garlic, salt and lemon juice
chicken, chopped
mango relish
salt and pepper

marinade the skewer-sized chicken pieces in the above dry ingredients for an hour or more
brush with olive oil and bake for 10 - 15 mins at 180, or grill
mix up the yoghurt mint and mango relish dressing, and pour it over the cooked chicken pieces
gently grill your pittas, slice in half through the middle, and fill with the pinchito pieces, dressing with the remainder of the sauce

skewer with cocktail sticks for ease of handling. 

sourdough focaccia bread - print recipe here

560g Shipton Mill ciabatta flour (roughly ground to promote air pockets) or T65 or white bread flour
200g/150g white leaven @100% hydration
350g water
4g salt (you'll add sea salt later)
a dash of olive oil
sea salt and rosemary to garnish

@200g leaven, knead the dough ingredients well, and cover and rest it overnight in the fridge
or @150g leaven, rest it covered on your counter for 6-8hrs 
press the dough into a rectangular shape 1 inch deep and lift it onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment (not greaseproof paper)
cover and rest for 1hr30mins till nicely puffed and risen

oil your fingers and hands and sprinkle chopped rosemary over the surface, pressing it lightly in
push holes into the dough using your finger tips (rather like a pianist)
dribble evoo over the surface of the focaccia
sprinkle over sea salt 
place a little water bowl into an oven heated to 200deg to preserve the softness of the loaf, and bake for 30 - 35mins
turn the oven off and allow it to cool for 5mins in the oven, before removing the loaf and cooling it on wire rack.

serve with a dip of your choice