Monday, June 28, 2010

World cup party

Every so often my husband and I will have a competition to see who was the more friendless and freakish teenager, who had the least loyal friends and the worst summers, who felt loneliest and most outsiderish and who is subsequently the more damaged and weird as an adult.

I always win. My husband might have been brooding and shy and crazy about comics, living in Cricklewood - but at least he was sporty. "You were on the cricket team!" I counter. "And weren't you on the football team as well? Give me a freaking break. Your parents had a house in the South of France! They bought you a car! Try being a ginger protestant called Esther living in the middle of Hampstead Garden Suburb with no car and no sporting prowess whatsoever."

Here, he almost always admits defeat. And, as an adult, he shows again and again what a sociable fellow he clearly really is, making new friends and hosting parties at the drop of a hat, whereas I am sometimes nervous of calling my own mother because I reckon she's probably got stuff on and doesn't really have time to talk to me. My husband's phone bill is regularly £200. Mine is £37.50, almost on the nose, pretty much every month.

Anyway, so my husband thought it would be jolly to host a World Cup party this weekend and rounded up about15 people at short notice to celebrate England being beaten 4-1 by Germany - although he obviously didn't know this defeat in advance, or he'd have put a bigger bet on.

He was mostly excited about barbequing the shit out of everything and I directed him towards "jamie at home" (sic), which is concerned mostly with cooking stuff over coals.

He did a fantastic butterflied leg of lamb, in the most astonishingly marvellous barbeque sauce ever, which goes like this:

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
5 cloves
salt and pepper
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh rosemary
zest and juice of one orange
1 bulb garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
4 heaped tsps paprika
150ml ketchup
8tbsp olive oil
10 bay leaves
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

This looks like a lot of ingredients but most of them are pretty commonplace. I think he missed out the fennel seeds, but it was great anyway. He shoved it in the oven at 180C for 1 hour and then finished it off on the barbeque (but I think if he was going to do it again he'd do it in the oven for slightly less long).

He also did some chicken, which I brined for him. Brining chicken for a barbeque is a great way to get a lot of flavour into the chicken and also keep it from turning into a gritty husk on the grill. For a brine you need:

1 large pot of water
5 bay leaves
1 bulb of garlic, cut acrosss the equator
1 small bunch thyme
1 small bunch parsley
8 tbsp salt
10 or so black peppercorns
4 lemons, halved

Put all this together in the pot and heat until the salt has dissolved. Leave to cool completely and then drop in your chicken for 12 hours. After that time, rinse and pat dry if using immediately. I recommend using a tea towel if you're drying them off and then whack the towel in the washing machine, because kitchen paper just sticks and turns into spitballs.

Giles cooked all this on the barbeque for about 25 minutes.

The "ironic" Union Jack singlet did not win us the match - and it DOESN'T make him an NF loony, ok?

As well as all that, we had a potato salad, made with a half-mayo, half-yoghurt dressing - he added some torn up bits of sorrel, which worked really well but you could also use mint, or nothing at all - and some chopped shallot. Although on reflection, he thinks he ought to have used chopped spring onions. There was also a tomato salad, made in the usual way.

On top of this magnificent feast, Becky B - she of the gift of the Global knives, brought these round:

Which were absolutely out of this world. I haven't emailed her for the recipe yet because I've been too busy sinking the leftovers with a nice cold glass of milk. Nnnnhhh.

Then I had to run off because I had a date with a young man:

Also known as Edward, nephew #3. I've got high hopes for training him up to make me gin and tonics when his motor skills improve so I've got to start grooming him now. Nephews #1 and #2 and nieces #1 and #2 just don't seem interested.

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