A tenuous Italian menu

The weekend just gone we had the in-laws up for Dinner. I use occasions like this to try out new things and give a good account of my skills in the kitchen although a combination of bad time management and alcohol usually conspire to make me look like a total fraud. This one went pretty well, although there were a couple of moments when I was standing in the kitchen utterly unable to remember what I was supposed to be doing, and I also lost a bag of rocket that I got out of the fridge to decorate a plate with, turned around to get the plates and when I turned back the rocket was gone! Just vanished, like into thin air or something. Also another thing I’ve noticed, that is obvious to anyone who comes to our flat is that the kitchen is too small for me. My tendency for complicated cooking and an inability to clear up after myself leads to a complete lack of work surface very quickly, I suppose it could be argued that a neater approach to cuisine might be a place to start, but I’ve tried it and I just don’t get on with it.

I originally wanted to do an autumnal british menu, but I was looking on Jamie’s website and I came across “leg of lamb stuffed with olives, bread, pinenuts and herbs” which looked brilliant so I decided to do an Italian menu, but it’s connection to Italy was tenous at best. I dug around on the internet for ideas and came up with:

Crab Salad

Jamie’s Leg of Lamb

Chocolate Mascarpone Cheescake

The original recipes are on the links above, I am going to reproduce what I did as I made some substitutions along the way. Mostly when I couldn’t get hold of an ingredient. After the recipes I’ll talk a bit about timing as I planned this quite well. Here we go:

Crab Salad

Serves 4

You will need cooking rings like these these are the only ones I’ve got and they’re 7 x 6cm – the recipe says 5x6cm, so just don’t fill em right to the top! Also, I have 2 of these and it’s fine to do them 2 at a time, but I think in a hot kitchen you would be in danger of collapse if you left them too long. I put them on the windowsill with the windows open to dress the plates and it worked ok.

For the tarragon vinaigrette
• 1 tsp lemon juice
• 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
• 1 small pinch caster sugar
• 125ml olive oil
• 1/2 clove garlic, peeled and halved
• 1 sprig tarragon

For the salad
• 2 x Pots of White Crab Meat
• 2 x Pots dark crab meat
• 100ml mayonnaise
• 2 tsp tomato ketchup
• a few drops Worcestershire sauce
• a few drops tabasco
• 2 tsp cognac
• 1/2 lemon, juice only, plus extra for seasoning
• 1 avocado
• 1 apple
• 4 spring onions
• 1 pink grapefruit, peeled and segmented
• 1 handful Basil – Tenuous Italy link
• 6-10 cherry tomatoes, halved


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