Saturday evening brought the next instalment in the endless saga of Safari Suppers, with the mantle of main course providers and theme choosers falling to Mrs The Millbrooker and me.
As the date was the instantly recognisable 04th July, we plumped for an American theme, but to avoid anything too easy or obvious we selected "Westerns and America Before 1900".
The night's over-eating and drinking began on Shazzerooneypoos' decking with early American bar tender, Dong, serving Manhattan cocktails in the sunshine.A Manhattan is made up from: a dash of Angostura bitters, 2 parts bourbon whiskey to 1 part sweet vermouth and (in Dong's version) some cherry juice (rather than kirsch). It was lethal (as well as rather yummy). Those who had more than one obviously have more stamina than me.
Meanwhile, Auntie Shazzerooneypoos was prepping up her starter, a recipe from the Deep South (with a Millbrook twist): smoked cod chowder, served with a "wagon wheel" of bread rolls. Damned fine it was, too.After chowing down on the chowder, 'twas time to go on safari to Millbrooker Towers for mains and soon the Millbrook glitterati were assembled around our garden table (brought into the sitting room and lightly disguised with a table cloth, as usual when catering for more than four).
Our offering was a chicken dish called "American Captain's Chicken", another Deep South thingy with plenty of spices, accompanied with smashed Desirée potatoes and a spinach, radish and orange salad (tastier than it sounds).
Why Desirée potatoes? Because they've got red skins. Boom boom. OK, OK - not very PC, but the westerns that I watched as a kid nearly always had that phrase somewhere in the dialogue. The chicken also doubled up as "Rooster Cogburn" (The Duke's character in True Grit).
The main course, is now traditionally the time for the Safari Supperers' toast to Millbrook's favourite first-cousin-once-removed, Auntie Jean. Here's the moment caught in millions of tiny little pixels. Clockwise from centre front: my glass being raised, Mrs The Millbrooker's hand and glass, Shazzerooneypoos, La Sumpetta, Comb-Over Meeson, Cap'n Sump, Liability and Dong.
After the Millbrooker Towers bit of the evening was done, it was the steep climb past Shazzerooneypoos' place to Comb-Over Cottage high in the mountainous regions of Maker Lane.
Liability was promising (or threatening) us with up to three puddings. And she was as good as her word.
The first was a Liability representation of Blazing Saddles, the Crepe Suzette were scrummy, but resolutely refused to blaze. No matter how hard Cap'n Sump tried to help the alcohol in the pan simply would not ignite.
After slurping the boozy treat and chomping the spirit infused pancakes, Liability brought out her next two puddings together, a baked custard (yes - you've guessed it "Custard's Last Stand") and a marvellous meringue confection made into the Stars and Stripes.
Wow, what an effort. Tell you what, it was bloomin' delicious, too. The stripes are sliced strawberries and the stars are blueberries with a spot of cream on top.
Almost full to bursting, we intrepid safari fans tottered back down to Sump Towers...
...for cheese, biccies and a couple of extraordinarily large Southern Comforts.
The Southern Comforts might have been a mistake; I had to be taken home by the ever attentive Mrs The Millbrooker after the second. Mind you, I lasted a bit longer than some.
As always, huge thanks to everyone who worked hard on their bit of the evening and made such yummy things for us to eat, Mrs The Millbrooker and I had a great time - hope everyone else did, too.
American Captain's Chicken, for anyone interested is made like this:
A good sized lump of chicken per person. (I used breast fillet, but more or less any bit of ex-hen will to the job). A couple of red onions. Two or three green peppers. three or four cloves of garlic. A tin (or two) of chopped tomatoes. Curry powder (self mixed by Mrs The Millbrooker). Some whole coriander seeds. Sultanas (but I forgot to put them in and it tasted fine).
Fry the chicken (skin on) in olive oil until just browning on the outside.
Put chicken to one side.
Fry the onions, peppers, garlic and as much curry powder as your taste allows for about five minutes or so, until the onions are softened, then add the chopped tomatoes and cook on the hob for a few minutes.
Plop about half the sauce that you've just made into a casserole.
Put the chicken parts atop the sauce and then pour the rest of the sauce over the chicken.
Cover the casserole and stick it into the oven (Gas 6 ish) for between 30 and 50 minutes depending on how many you're cooking for, how big the chicken bits are and how long you're at Auntie Sharons' place.