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Why is it that even though I own a collection of cookbooks that even I have to deem excessive, my first response to planning a dinner party is to Google new recipes?  When I have squillions of blog links to delicious sounding and looking recipes, an entire folder stuffed with recipes to try ‘one of these days’ and a stack of magazines to flick through for inspiration, why do I head online first?

Part of it is that I don’t want to be left behind. I fear social ostracism for choosing a pie over a platter.  Tapas is so last year, darling.

And then once I’ve given myself a slap, and gotten over myself a little, I start to plan. I love designing food around what other people are going to like. It’s part of the fun for me.  There are friends I can experiment on, and those who love their old favourites. Variety is the spice of life and all that.

Plus, curling up with a cookbook is one of the greatest joys in life. I can’t think of anything nicer than cooking for people I love, and keep their personality and likes / dislikes in mind as I dip in and out.

And I’m fortunate. I have 4 meals to plan over the next couple of weeks which we’ll be sharing with friends and family.  I’m not talking about pasta+pesto+spinach=worknight supper, I mean proper, time to cook, time to be sociable meals. I started on Saturday night, with this little dish of loveliness which I found in a Jamie magazine (one of my best presents ever was a subscription from my fantastic Mother in Law). 

Except me being me, I couldn’t resist tampering with the recipe. So I used 200g of hot chilli sauce salmon, 3 teaspoons of horseradish and 200g of cream cheese. And my recipe for Yorkshire Puds – break 2 eggs into a ramekin. Note the level this comes to, then put the eggs into a mixing bowl. Add the same level of milk in the ramekin, then add to the eggs, and the same level of flour, and then add to the eggs and milk – whisk, rest, whisk, rest, whisk – add to hot oil or lard, pop into a scorching oven and await magic.

It was scrummy, if I do say so myself. 

Pate with Yorkshire Pudding

The photo isn’t the best, but forgive me – I merely grabbed my phone before I picked up my fork. We were eating by candlelight!

And I continued it with lunch the next day for friends. I laid the table properly and everything. I’m sure that led to more enjoyment of the meal. 

I’m hungry just thinking about it. I read somewhere that we attempt less than 10% of recipes from a new cookbook. That’s atrocious! So, whilst I’m not about to attempt the Julie/Julia project (although I may start off by watching it for inspiration) I declare now that I’m setting myself a little challenge. One new recipe, from my stash of magazines, books and inspiring blog posts, per meal with guests. Or one a week, depending on which comes first.

Now, which book to start with… and which guests!