Sunday, 1 May 2011

Ready, Steady, Cook !

It was our anniversary (16 very full years) and Maintenance Man and I had arranged to go out for a very posh meal with our best friends next door, Lady List and Music Man. Their anniversary falls 9 days after ours (2 years for them now  -- yes ok they are much younger than us) and we planned to celebrate together. Last year we went to London together for the weekend which was amazing, but they have just had their first, very gorgeous baby, so this year was going to be at home.
Anyway, life can be a little cruel at times and their car decided to fail its MOT (talk about bad timing for them), and so we decided that going out and spending money needlessly was silly.
So, what were our options? chinese takeaway? hmmm not really; someone cook? hmmm ok, could do; then it was suggested that we do Ready, Steady, Cook.
For those that don't know or cant remember, this was a TV show where the contestant is given a sum of money and told to bring any 5 items of food to the TV chef who will then create a magnificent meal using these and a few store cupboard ingredients.
Now Maintenance Man makes a mean spaghetti bolognaise and great porridge (if you like eating concrete, which he does), but does not profess to be a chef, and I can cook family meals, but again I am certainly no chef. On the other hand, Music Man is a very good cook and Lady List has obviously cooked with some strange and wonderful ingredients as she is vegetarian. So it was decided the 2 teams would be boys V girls and Lady List and I would buy the ingredients for the main dish to be cooked by the boys, they would buy the desert ingredients to be cooked by the girls.
Budget - £10 per bag, all ingredients to remain top secret until the moment of cooking.
I must admit I was a little nervous to begin with, I mean what if it all goes horribly wrong? What if, what if? After a small chat with myself, and the reminder that we are with our best friends so it would even matter, (the phone muber for the chinese takeaway is readily available), I was looking forward to doing something different and exciting.

Bags on kitchen counter, music and stopwatch at the ready, what's in the first bag for the boys to create their masterpiece?

Avocado; haloumi cheese; Stilton cheese; pine nuts; filo pastry; tin of pears; mushrooms; asparagus.
After much discussion between the boys and choosing the staple store cupboard additions they needed,  they decided on their menu and set to work. Maintenance Man was doing very well, chopping, greasing, making dressing, and Music Man had his serious face on while focusing on the transformation that was to unfold in the kitchen. Trying to ignore the silly remarks being made by us girls (now having had plenty of liquid refreshment) and the random photo taking, they worked their magic. And magic it was ! Not only did they provide us with a wonderful main dish but they went one better and managed a starter as well. (Show -offs.)
 Maintenance Man showing off his chopping skills - and not a tear was shed with those onions.

 Asparagus preparation by Music Man - note the precision lining up of the spears before trimming !

 Wonderful starter of sliced pear and avocado with boiled egg and salad leaves, topped with toasted pine
  nuts and drizzled with Maintenenace Man's secret dressing.

The secret (very delicious) dressing.

Main course - Filo pastry filled with Stilton and mushroom, accompanied by asparagus spears gently nestled under a blanket of grilled haloumi cheese and a cheese sauce, with boiled rice.

I am not even joking when I say this was absolutely so delicious and how they did all that in 45 mins is beyond me.

Anyway, we ate the first 2 courses and then it was time to reveal the ingredients for us girls to conjour up something for dessert. Not forgetting that we had by this time, had 1 or 2 (or a little more) glasses of wine.

The ingredients in our bag were:
Chocolate; ginger nut biscuits; cream; Drambuie; ice cream; strawberries and a pomegranate.

Well, the biscuits led the way to a cheesecake base, with a layer of strawberries which we then coated with the whipped cream, melted chocolate and Drambuie mix and topped it all with the remaining strawberries and the pomegranate flesh.
 Ice cream - yummy at least we don't have to make that.

 Are you sure we should put ALL this Drambuie in?  Lady List looking slightly worried.

A wee dram of Passion-berry Pie.

I know not nearly as inspiring as the boys, but we were very full, a little tiddly and anyway we only had 30 minutes (well that's my excuse anyway).

We had the best evening, we laughed, we had wonderful food in fantastic company and we ate dishes not tried before and all for £20. Where else can you do that?

Everyone should try a Ready, Steady, Cook party -- I am looking forward to doing it again .xxxxxxxxxxx

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