Aunty Flo’s Dinner for two by candlelight
My young nephew Patrick tells me that many of your readers are broke and can’t cook. He also tells me that many of you will not have access to a decent kitchen so I have tailored my suggested meal to be simple – look and taste good and cost as little as possible – so here goes.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
served with buttered new potatoes
& a melange of vegetables
OK. It sounds impossible – way beyond your culinary experience but I promise – everything is easy. Compared with a PhD viva it really is simple. I was once a chemist, so I’ve written it up a bit like a paper.
You will need to find the following apparatus – Gas or electric hob – you will need three rings (under no circumstances use any other heat source e.g. microwave or a laser). 3 saucepans – small (try to avoid enamel ones in fact at least one must be metal). Vegetable preparing knife – sharp carving knife – a whisk (manual or electric) and a roll of Al foil.2 bowls for soup, 3 side plates, 3 dinner plates, something nice to put bread in, 2 large wine glasses and 2 normal size, candlestick and candle, 3 serviettes (paper or linen) – must be pink or red, salt & pepper and cutlery.
And of course, SECLUSION!
The soup course
Buy 1 x packet of ready made mushroom soup. Can be freeze-dried* or liquid, plus 100g of fresh mushrooms. * If freeze-dried buy ― l of milk.
Buy 300g of best beefsteak you can afford, plus a few spare mushrooms from the first course, 1 bundle of spring onions, 1 stock cube, 8 new potatoes each about the size of an egg. Small packet of frozen peas, fresh celery and a small pack of butter.
Buy small pieces of 3 different cheeses. A nice mix is say French Camembert, Italian Dolce Late and perhaps something local. My recommendation would be to offer the King of all cheeses – Farmhouse Traditional Cheddar (not the factory produced rubbish). Hard to get outside the UK of course!
1 x 150g tub of double cream, 1 lemon, 10 white grapes and a small bottle of Muscat dessert wine and sugar.
Wine (at least 2 bottles)
Our French neighbours will murder me if ever I cross the Channel again, but the best value for money comes from the Southern Hemisphere. Buy an Australian, South African or Chilean Red or White. A Hungarian or Moroccan Red would also be a good buy. Cheap French reds can be awful, so unless you can afford it try my suggestions. Oh a decent Italian Chianti should be easy to find. You will need a bottle of red for the second course.
All timings are in minutes unless stated. T = ARRIVAL time of your guest herewith described as THE BELOVED.
Make the dessert. Allow about 30 mins.Dissect and halve the 10 grapes and remove the seeds. Put to one side. Put 50mls of the Muscat wine in a bowl, add 25g of sugar. Quarter the lemon and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Agitate with the whisk for 20 seconds. Add about 120mls of cream and then whisk manually (or gently if using an electric mixer) for about 3 mins.
The mixture should thicken (the viscosity will rise rapidly and the mixture becomes slightly thixotropic) and just keep its shape – it should feel like a puffed up duvet! DON’T overdo it – if you do the mixture will turn into butter! Incorporate the pieces of grape VERY gently and then spoon the whole lot into two glasses.
Put into the fridge and forget until T+65 mins.
Go out and buy 1 stick of French bread preferably still warm.
Lay the table. Don’t put out the bread or cheese yet.
Have a shower and get ready. Open the wine and leave it to warm at the table. Cover the top of the bottle with a piece of Al foil.
Open the cheeses, arrange neatly on one of the dinner plates. Cover loosely with Al foil. Don’t put the cheese in the fridge – it must reach 300K before eating.
Chop approx 60g of the mushrooms into pieces about 6mm on a side. Put in bowl, cover with water and squeeze in about 2mls of lemon juice. You will have plenty of lemon left from the dessert. The lemon juice lowers the ph and stops the mushrooms going black.
Abrade most of the skins off the new potatoes and remove any black specks arrow.gif (76 bytes) Saucepan #1, cover with water and add 1g of salt.Carefully remove the green parts of the spring onions and cut off the roots and about 3mm above. Chop the onions into 2mm slices. Split off 3 pieces of celery – cut off the tops and bottoms and wash. Slice the celery into 10mm wide pieces. Open the bag of frozen peas and remove about 150g. Put all the vegetables – spring onions, celery and peas in Saucepan#2. Cover with water, add 1g of salt. Cover with Al foil.
T-10 You are worried – but RELAX.
Slice the steak into ‘medallion’. Slice across the grain of the meat to produce discs around 70mm diameter and 6-8mm thick. Adjust the thickness and size to produce 8 medallion in total. Cover with a piece of Al foil.
Cut some of the butter into pieces about 10x5x20mm and put on a WET side plate. Cover with foil.
Have a drink – light the candle and wait for the beloved to arrive.
Tą 0 Try not to look worried!
After welcoming the beloved and proffering him or her a glass of wine, excuse your self and start making up the mushroom soup. If you are using ready made liquid soup start heating in Saucepan #3. This must NOT be enamelled. Drain off the water and add the mushroom pieces immediately. *Stir the soup steadily until it boils and then lower the heat and stir gently for about 4 mins.
If you are using freeze-dried powdered soup, put ―l of milk in Saucepan #3 then add the powder, stir and start heating. Add the mushrooms exactly as above*.
Cut the French bread and place it and the butter on the table.
Fill the soup bowls and serve with a flourish.
(1st course and no disasters!)
Again, excuse yourself, pouring The Beloved another glass of wine while you retire to the kitchen area. This next bit is the most stressful, but don’t worry – all with be well.
Start heating the potatoes immediately on maximum energy.
T+24 Potatoes should be boiling. Put the frying pan on low energy.
Frying pan is hot – add 50g of butter and let it melt – increase the heat. Start heating the vegetables on maximum energy.
Add the medallion to the frying pan one by one draping them in the molten butter so that they are well covered with butter. Agitate the medallion and rotate them constantly. They should just brown all over. Do NOT overdo them.
Add the onion to the frying pan and chop in 3 of the mushrooms you still have left. Keep agitating so that the whole lot – steak medallions, onion and mushroom cook together. Reduce the energy to LOW.
Put one serving plate over the potatoes and turn the heat to very low. Repeat this for the vegetables.
Pour a ― cup of wine, break the stock cube into it and add immediately to the frying pan. Agitate the whole lot steadily – it should be boiling briskly almost immediately – if not increase the temperature a little.
Remove the plates from the saucepans – turn off ALL the heat. Decant the water off the potatoes and vegetables, add 25g of butter to each saucepan.
Carefully place the Tournado Rossini onto the hot plates. Add the onion and mushrooms sauce, but not use it all if you feel there is too much.
Agitate the potatoes to ensure good coverage of molten butter over them, sprinkle with a little pepper and carefully put 4 on each plate.
Agitate the vegetables to ensure good coverage of molten butter. Carefully put some on the plates – not too much – leave the excess if you feel you have made too much.
T+40 Bon Appetit
T+55 Serve the cheese. Warm soft cheeses served with French bread are superb and a little sip of wine makes for perfection.
Clear the table and serve dessert directly from the fridge.
Coffee and peppermints etc, we leave to your inspiration. Good luck
Results & Conclusion
By this time you should have winged your way to The Beloved’s heart.
Please note that the management herewith cannot be held responsible for any mishaps within the experimental area, any failure to impress the beloved and/or indeed if the beloved is very impressed for the patter of little spectroscopists feet nine months duration thereafter or henceforth.