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


Anonymous said...

What a fabulous spread you took them Gill! I shall call you when I give a little party. ;)

Thanks for the chicken pinchitos recipe, I look forward to making those.

Elisa xx

Anonymous said...

Absolutely wonderful, Gill and there's enough to feed an army there!

I can see that you've gone to such a lot of trouble to make all this food and I've a feeling that you're going to be very popular with more invites!

I do wish that I was going to that picnic!

Renée xx

Gill the Painter said...

Good evening to you, Renee.

It was fun just the once, when I don't have to worry about doing it again for a long time XXX

Gill the Painter said...

Hi Elisa.
Indeed, give me a tinkle any time, my friend XXX

Unknown said...

A beautiful spread!

I searched your blog to see if you'd previously posted the sourdough focaccia recipe but couldn't find it. Would you mind me asking what recipe you use & whether you would share it at all please?

Gill the Painter said...

Have I not made a post about focaccia. Dear oh dear, I make it often enough.
I'll add it to this entry for you Jessica.

It's one of the easier sourdoughs I find.

Thanks for visiting, have you got a blog yourself?

Unknown said...

Oh yes, that would be wonderful Gill, thank you.

No I don't have a blog, but I very much enjoy reading food blogs. I've made a few of your bread recipes and they've all worked brilliantly so am always keen to try more!

Gill the Painter said...

Oh I'm so pleased to hear that, Jessica.

I've popped the recipe onto the bottom of the post now.
I've also added it as a pdf print file for you for ease, with the pictures on page 2, should you only want to print page 1 with the text on it.

Unknown said...

Thank you Gill, that does look simple! I shall let you know how I get on.

celia said...

Goodness Grilly, did you feed them all? What a lot of food, you are such a star at this sort of thing...

Gill the Painter said...

Why thank you kindly. I did indeed feed all of them. I went a bit mad, as I'd not had a kitchen day for yonks, and had a blast doing so.

All well received. And as there was hardly any other food anyway, it was lucky I did so, Celia.

I'm not sure everyone knew to bring something too.

Joanna @ Zeb Bakes said...

mmmm - they look sooo good. I might have to ask you on Monday how to make a 'simple potato tortilla' I don't think I have ever tried :)

Gill the Painter said...

Dead easy Joanna.
I'll have to make you one when we next stand in a kitchen together! XXX

Choclette said...

My goodness Gill, I should think no other food was required What an incredible feast and it all looks so delicious.

Mamta said...

Wow Gill! I bet they were expecting you to bring one platter of nibbles and here you are catering for their entire party nearly! You could have had one of your own with all this stuff! Everything looks superb and so mouth watering. There is nothing here that is not superbly presented and deliciously tempting. I have added the whole thread to my top tool bar to try later.
I have some of Tom Herbert's starter in the freezer somewhere, I will get it out and have a go at mini pitas later. Pesto pin wheels also look lovely. Do you have a recipe somewhere on your site?
I have been away a lot lately and have not had much computer access. I wonder what else I have missed!

Gill the Painter said...

Hi Choclette.
Thank you - I was thinking of doing the same for family when we visit at the end of December.
It all went down so well.

Gill the Painter said...

Good morning Mamta.

You haven't missed much on my site as I've been absent getting ready for an exhibit at Ludlow Castle.
All over now, so I can take more time here now.

The puff pastry recipe is here minus cheese: http://gillthepainter.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/quark-delicious-days-pogacsa.html

and the pesto was garlic, basil, squeeze of lemon, toasted pinenuts and parmesan.

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