Today was a happy day - Sunday lunch with two of my best friends and the boy.
My Mum always used to make a gorgeous, creamy watercress soup when I was little, but almost all of the recipes online or in my cookery books include potato, which is far too heavy if it's for a starter. I finally managed to find something uploaded by an American on allrecipes.com - great for all sorts of things. Melt 60g of butter in a large pan, and whisk in 55g plain flour to a roux base. Then slowly add 945ml chicken stock (I didn't have any in, and used those new jelly stock things by Knorr - ok, but slightly too salty - definitely stick with homemade if you have it) then 340g (four supermarket bags) of chopped watercress. Simmer for 20 minutes, then add 475 ml half-and-half. (For English cooks, that's a mix of single cream and milk - slightly heavier on the milk). Warm through and serve with a sprig of watercress on top.
This was almost exactly what Mum used to make and created three calls for seconds.
Then roast chicken. I've started making much more of where my food is sourced from, and how it's looked after for the meat option - mainly as a result of watching a documentary on More 4 called The End of the Line about the complete loss of fish stocks, which then made me think much more about everything else I eat. So this was an organic, corn fed, free range bird and was absolutely gorgeous. I tried a Nigel Slater tip or two: inside the bird, half a lemon and a chunk of butter; the skin outside rubbed with a mix of chopped tarragon, chopped thyme, three cloves of garlic and lots of butter. The other half of the lemon was squeezed over the top and kept in the roasting tin, then plenty of salt and pepper. The result was gorgeous; made even nicer by gravy made in the roasting dish with a glass of white wine and a glug of vermouth. Mmmm. Trying this one again.
To finish I made a self-saucing pudding from the Australian Women's Weekly cookbook, the recipe for which I won't post until I've got it right - it was nice, but the sponge top was far too doughy and the sauce wasn't really chocolatey enough. Still, by this time, the drinkers were several glasses of wine to the good and the non-drinker was on a caffeine high so no complaints!
A three and a half hour lunch = lovely afternoon.