It was a select gathering, featuring some of The Daily(ish) Millbrook's favourite characters. Here are Shazzerooneypoos, Cousin Dave and Penny Potter as they prepare to chomp into their Lemon Fourré (Dong's uppermost summit is just visible as well, behind my shining pate):
Mains consisted of a Millbrookian Goulash. I was going to do a cassoulet, but remembered just in time that Cousin Dave doesn't really do beans.
Penny Potter has requested the recipe - so it's below. Jolly yummy it was, too. Puds was a Lemon chiffon so I didn't have to waste the inners of the lemons that I'd hollowed out for the starter - now there's sensible home economics for difficult financial times.
Come coffee time, Cousin Dave demonstrated his unerring ability to do something unusual with almost anything including cream:After din-dins, we settled into a gentle round of talking bollocks around the coffee table with everyone being at least one sheet to the wind, and some of us being rather more.
Dong kindly shared with me his story of how a knee injury sustained by falling over on New Year's Eve has interrupted some of his more amorous activities. Really, you'd have thought that he'd have learnt by now not to let me have intimate details - they only get published here. He was also delighted to note that our recent guest Gwyn had described him as looking quite good for seventy. It's the word "quite" that I liked best. (For the record - Dong isn't yet sixty).
You know the form by now - we drank plenty of decent wine; Dong kindly donated a bottle of his very scrummy Gran Reserva Rioja which complemented the goulash extremely well. The night wore on and eventually Shazzerooneypoos and Dong stumbled off into the dark Millbrookian night to wobble their way to one house or the other and explore wounded-knee-friendly gymnastics. Or something.
Cousin Dave and Penny Potter stayed over and, as I write this, are probably just about arriving back at Cousin Dave's abode in the uncivilized wasteland of Plymouth before the lovely PP has to return to Exeter to do some work, leaving Cousin Dave to pine the week away. Thanks for coming over, guys, we really need to see more of you.
Right that'll do. For Penny Potter's education, here's how to make Millbrookian Goulash:
You'll need -
a spot of oil or butter
a couple of onions
a couple of crushed garlic cloves
half a kilo of braising steak and/or beef skirt chopped into bite sized chunks
four rashers of streaky bacon chopped up
half a dozen tomatoes roughly chopped
a handful of sliced mushrooms
a big chopped up green pepper
a teaspoon of whole caraway seeds
a teaspoon each of dried basil, dried oregano and dried sage
a couple of dried bay leaves
2 BIG tablespoons of paprika
a beef stock cube
about 150 ml of water
a tub of crème fraîche (about 200ml or a spot more)
plenty of freshly ground black pepper
some chopped fresh parsley to garnish.
In a casserole dish lightly fry the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes.
Brown the meat and plonk it into the onion and garlic mix.
Add all the other ingredients except the crème fraîche and parsley. Mix well.
Bring the whole lot to simmering point on the hob.
Cover the pot, stick it in the oven at gas 3 - 4 (175-200C) for 2 hours (or more, it's one of those dishes that doesn't go off if it's cooked for longer than strictly necessary). Take it out of the oven and give it a good stir after about an hour - add more liquid if necessary.
Just before serving, dollop the crème fraîche into the pot and stir well. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top to make it look pretty.
Sit back and listen to your guests make slurping noises and demanding second helpings as they do lots of guzzling.