Planning a dinner party for pesco-vegetarian guests was a bit of a treat. We probably don't eat enough fish in this household so this was a perfect excuse to do something about it. Fire was to play a part too as it looked like we were in for some dry (relief!) and mild weather for a change. Having had the wettest April since records began, May hadn't been much better, so we were determined to make the most of it.
During the previous manic working week, I had been thinking about the meal in the background but it wasn't until the Saturday morning, the day of the dinner party, that I was able to plan it properly. I started by grabbing a dozen or so of my favourite cookbooks and sat in bed checking all the indexes for fish recipies ideal for the barbecue. It wasn't too long before I was seduced by a photograph in Jamies Kitchen of some gorgeous looking fish kebabs. I checked out the recipe and it got even better. Marinated in ginger, lemon, chilli, mint, yogurt, garlic and turmeric, these were guaranteed to be a winner.
|Grinding the herbs and spices in the yogurt|
Jamie's kebabs also had boiled new potatoes and were skewered onto sprigs of rosemary. I omitted the potatoes as I was already serving roasted chipped potatoes with the main course. The rosemary sprigs were very pretty in the photo, but at the end of the day they'd just get burnt to a cinder, so I thought my rosemary was best left on the bush, and I used stainless steel skewers instead. I was also particularly taken by the shaved zucchini 'zig-zags' in the photo. A nice bit of colour and creative presentation I thought.
|The zucchini 'zig zags' were made with a veggie peeler|
Monkfish is one of the few fish that is firm enough to be skewered and barbecued. Unlike most fish, it doesn't flake apart when cooked. Jamie's recipe (and the seductive photo) is available on line as I found later when I Googled 'monkfish kebabs' before writing this article, just to see what else was out there. Lo and behold, Jaimie's recipe came up at position no. 1.
|I had some frozen king prawns in the freezer, so they went on the barbecue too|
Once the menu was decided I made a frantic call to my local Waitrose to make sure I could actually get hold of some Monkfish. Luckily they had some and put about 800g aside for me. Had they not, I'd have had to make a trip into Oxford for it. And that I would have done.
|These little pots worked a treat|
My 'Go Anywhere Weber' came out of the garage as it was the perfect size to grill the kebabs without wasting too much fuel. I used fast burning English charcoal as these things would only take about 5-10 minutes to cook.
The first course I've been doing fairly frequently lately since my sister-in-law prepared it for us on a recent visit. Little pots with smoked trout, horseradish, cream cheese and chives served with mini hot Yorkshire puddings. It's great because the pots can be prepared in advance leaving just the Yorkies to be baked before serving. This one also came from a Jamie Oliver book: Jamie's Great Britain.
|Our lovely guests, Jo and David|
For desert there was home made pavlova, and I even made fresh custard with the left over egg yolks (in the past I've been struggling to think of what to do with them, but from now on it's sorted).
We had a fabulous evening with Jo and David. After the main course, I used the coals left over from the barbecue to start a proper fire with some of my treasured foraged oak branches. We were blessed with a cool, still, dry evening and spent hours chatting around the fire and gazing into the embers.
|...chatting around the fire...|
|... and gazing into the embers.|