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Friday, 10 April 2015

Tra-Dish-onally

 Traditions – those time honoured rituals that can put a big smile on your face and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, or conversely scowl and fume with obligation. They can have been around for thousands of years or just a nice recent habit that kept going. On the whole, I love A Tradition – something that you often get to do only once a year, which reminds you of the fun times you had doing it in previous years. Some are outdated, some don’t correspond to our hemisphere and some we’ve just adapted for the obscurest of reasons, and some are just, well, Tradition.

 It was Easter the weekend just passed; four days with lots of traditions (some more strictly adhered to than others)

Tradition: we catch up with friends (Mr and Mrs Frenchman) for dinner.
 This lovely tradition has been happening since the early Getting-to-Know-You days of our friendship; in fact I think it was our third or fourth dinner together that we caught up on Good Friday, because I happened to mention that I cooked homemade Hot CrossBuns. Which became that dinner’s dessert. And I think we've caught up every Easter since; 4 days off means 3 nights to catch up, plus there is usually a baby sitter or two available. So it was our turn to host this time. But what to serve?
  I do love the planning stage of dinners. You can start in one cuisine and end up totally in another. I usually start with a dish or a theme in mind and go from there, but this time I had Nothing. Nada. Not even a half inkling. Maybe is the working-full-time thing, where I am cooking less during the week plus being a Bit Worn Out, but I hadn’t the vaguest flash of inspiration. I thought maybe something pork? but that was only because I had seen a few recipes using it recently. Plus it was a white meat…

Tradition: don’t eat red meat on Good Friday.
 Ahhh That religious tradition. This was one I strictly adhered to throughout my childhood – you would always have fish fingers or I & J fish fillets for dinner on Good Friday. As I got older and realized where the tradition came from, I took great joy in eating hamburgers, or spaghetti bolognaise or steak on Good Friday. But this year, it seemed like a good source of inspiration (or madness).

 I would make Fish Tacos. Again.

 Whenever I have a recipe fail (read here if you need a reminder), I always feel I need to go back and Get It Right. Prove that I am the Domestic Goddess that I like to think that I am. So this one had been bugging me for a while, and if Good Friday wasn’t a good day to cook fish then I didn’t know when was!
 Right – so Tacos. Which makes me think of Mexican. And the Tapas Feast that wasn’t. I had the same dinner guests which meant they would have a chance to try the dishes they missed out on (except the pulled pork tacos), such as sherry glazed chorizo and chickpeas and patatas bravas. And now we had a Theme (sort of)

 Dessert is always tricky in Mexican meals, so I decided to ignore that and just cook something yummy. The latest Delicious Mag had a chocolate dessert sections so I had a short list of about 5 to choose from. But I ended up going with the Baked Doughnuts (with whiskey chocolate glaze). Possibly because all the proving and rising of the dough reminded me of hot cross buns, possibly because of the chocolate whiskey glaze (so Easter but so Adult), possibly because I figured I could make non-glazed ones for the kiddies to munch on. But mainly because I had this picture staring at me from benchtops for a week or two
You want to eat them, don't you?!?
 Plus, being doughnuts, this was a dessert that was more …..hol(e)y 

 And I was interested in making Baked doughnuts, as one of the reasons I am reluctant to make traditional doughnuts more often is the whole Frying in a Large Pot of Boiling Oil thing. Which I really should get over as I have about 4 or 5 yummy looking recipes to try.

 Right so mains and dessert sorted, just appetisers/nibbles to organise. Well, that was easy.

Tradition: we start our dinners with bubbles and cheese.
Champagne is a no-brainer. I think most of my celebrations and parties officially start when the cork is popped. Cheese is a Let’s-Be-French tradition that we have heartily adopted (though our hearts probably don’t appreciate too much d’aphinois).
So menu sorted, ingredients purchased and a day off to get it all sorted.

Tradition: I will forget at least one ingredient.
  So this time, it wasn’t a Forgetting, rather than an Assuming – that the ice cream we had in the freezer was vanilla, when in fact it was Cookies and Cream, which is quite yummy but might just be a bit too much chocolate for some. But where to buy ice cream on Good Friday when all the supermarkets are closed? I had hope my local petrol station/mini-supermarket would have some small tubs but alas they didn’t so we switched to cream for dessert. No biggie.
 The chickpeas were another story. Now in my defence they were on the shopping list, just put it down to shopping on the Thursday Before Good-Friday (when people at supermarkets are mental!!) by Mr DG (the artist formerly known as Hubby). Luckily I had two small tins in the cupboard for use in salads, so it just meant a smaller batch, but as it was a Side dish that was ok.
 Not sure what happened to the fresh coriander, I think that was me. But luckily the dried stuff worked ok.

Tradition: The new recipe I try will be almost perfect (but not quite).
 Common hostessing lore suggests you never cook a new recipe when throwing a dinner party. I use dinner parties to try out new recipes! Which as readers will know, usually turns out ok. But more often than not there is something that could be improved. The doughnuts were going along swimmingly, rising and proving. I didn’t have a 3.5cm cookie cutter for cutting out the holes so had to freehand it. The glaze was all made and I was preparing to dip them. However I don’t think I let the glaze cool quite enough as it was still a bit runny, which mean they weren’t as picture perfect as the cover. Still tasted quite yummy, if anything it meant there was more glaze to dip your doughnut in (which is never a bad thing).
 
"Mmmmmm ... double glazed.."
 So all things pre-prepared as much as possible, guests arrived,, champagne popped and cheese munched on while I cooked the dinner. Learning from my mistake, I had the frypan in med-LOW (not med-high) for cooking the fish and had plenty of olive oil in the Good Frypan (the one whose non-stick base hasn’t been scratched and worn away). And the tacos turned out great! My only Point of Improvement would be to not “flour” them until just before cooking (the recipe calls for throwing your pieces of fish into a mix of flour ad spices to coat them). The flour did become a bit like a paste on some pieces, which thankfully didn’t increase their sticking to the pan-ness.
 So with nicely cooked fish, some yummy salsa and sour cream, and tapas side dishes, out Mexican feast was ready to consume.

Front-back: Fish, tortillas, salsa, lettuce, sour cream, patatas bravas
(& sauce) and sherry glazed chickpeas
 Followed up by yummy doughnuts (for those that still had room), it marked another delicious Easter feast....
Not as pretty as the picture but still yum

... even if the glaze slid off and it was cream not ice cream on the side.

What traditions do you like to follow (or ignore)?

2 comments:

  1. Excellent traditions All! And the donuts didn't need the ice cream... they were just right on their own :)

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    Replies
    1. See - we learn more each time :)

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