Everyone loves a comeback. Unless it’s Cliff Richard or one of the boy bands that wasn’t N’Sync. Actually scratch that, the only comeback I want to see from a boy band is in an X-box game called “Shoot All Boy Bands.”
You see, I’ve been going through a particularly horrendous cooking patch. Nothing particularly fun, nothing particularly inventive – it was all rather beginning to feel like the third season of one of those shows that originally started off full of bright promise and pretty starlets and punchy dialogue, but by the third year it’s all getting tired and flabby and the writers couldn’t really be bothered, which is why most episodes are 85% montage sequences cut to stoopid pop music and 15% excuses for product placement. I call it Josh Schwartzitis (come back to us Gossip Girl, just one good episode and all will be forgiven).
Then this happened.
And it felt like the moment when someone finally musters the energy to lift themselves out from under the mountain of salt ‘n vinegar chip packets, wade through the empty tubs of ‘mucho mexicano monster dip’, lift their fringe off their face long enough to see where they’re going and switch the VH1 ‘So 80s!’ marathon off.
It was unexpected and, amazingly, there were witnesses. My viciously talented friend Dale captured the whole evening here in between eating the hell out of it
So, hallelujah, this was possibly the most delicious and aesthetically pleasing thing I’ve ever made, and I was totally poised to write some fairly self-congratulatory stuff about it. Which means it was entirely possible that most of the people who somehow still read this blog would immediately consign me to a box in their heads marked “insufferable cocksmoker”. This would have been okay by me because none of those people had managed to make a Madagascan curry prawn starter on sweet potato roti with minted yoghurt. So there.
But then something else happened, something that made a pretty little seafood dish seem totally insignificant (when it rains, it clearly pours).
Quite nervously, over a dinner of sushi and red wine (not Technically Correct I know, but screw it, it’s getting colder down this neck of the woods and white wine is getting less fun by the day), some dear friends of mine asked me to cater their wedding for them.
Now let me explain something here. I have fairly large balls when it comes to Impossible Ventures That Are Certain To End In Failure (Trevor and Justine don’t read this bit, I’m sure your wedding will turn out just fine). What I mean to say is that I’m too stupid to know when to say no. Plus, I really like these two and cooking for 80 people on Their Special Day seems like more fun than having to make making small talk with Auntie Merle in the queue for the champagne cocktails (“No I’m not gay. Yes I’m sure. Well I can’t explain why no girls want to talk to me. I understand it was different in your day. I’m sure your niece is a lovely girl, but maybe now isn’t the best time. Okay fine. Here’s my number. Tell her she can call any time.”) Which are all factors that contributed towards me saying “yes!!!” before even pausing for a moment to run through a list of the things I should have been thinking about when considering their request.
a) 80 people is a lot. It’s more people that can fit my apartment. It’s more people than I’m likely to sleep with in my life. It’s more people than know the actual answer to the question, “What is the proof to Fermat’s Last Theorem?”
b) 80 people is a lot. It’s more people than I can buy pizza for. It’s like inviting Jacob Zuma and his extended family for lunch.
c) 80 people is a lot.
So. For the next little bit I’m going to be using this blog as a virtual pillow in which to scream into. Whenever the idea of what I’ve taken on board here gets too much, I will turn to the Great Big Nothingness of the internet for either reassurance, or people telling me I’m a nutjob and what the hell was I thinking.
So. By my reckoning there are approximately 212 (ish) days left until their wedding. I have, in this time, got to figure out a 3-course menu that I can conceivably put together for the money they have, in the time they have, and for the amount of people they’ve invited. I’m thinking of calling it: Help Me To Not Fuck Up Trevor And Justine’s Wedding.
And (sort of) the process has already begun. A recent cold and rainy day saw me invite the happily engaged couple for Sunday Lunch – mostly as an excuse to spend a day drinking wine, but also because I wanted to start feeling them out as to what they were eager to eat on the day they look each other in the eye and say ‘I do’.
So as an opening salvo for a starter, I offer:
Crispy-fried Risotto Balls with Rocket and Plum Chutney.
This is very simple.
Follow the risotto recipe previously offered on this site, which is here (or alternately any risotto recipe you fancy).
Then, put the finished risotto in a sealable container and place in the freezer for about 45 minutes – you need this to get quite solid.
After that, use your hands to shape the risotto into golf-ball sized balls, then roll them in flour.
Meanwhile, get a pot of sunflower oil (about four fingers deep – enough to totally cover your risotto) nice and hot. You can test it by dropping a crumb of bread into the oil, if it starts to bubble and spit, it’s hot enough.
Carefully drop the risotto balls into the oil and fry until golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and pat dry with some paper towel.
Serve with fresh rocket leaves and plum chutney (I did not make mine from scratch, I sourced this amazing chutney).
So? Good enough for a wedding?
As a footnote. If anyone’s interested in what I’m actually doing during the long gaps between posts on this blog, all that’s needed is to click here and go to Jono Hall on the left hand side.