No I can't remember what it was. And in return he made me promise to write the recipe for the Dalmatian inspired meat and polenta bake which he had four helpings of. So here goes:
Clare's Dalmatian Bake (serves 4 - 6)
In the meantime, take the 8 pale green peppers that you were actually going to stuff with the mince mixture. Realise one of them is dodgy, 2 are too small, and the other one went in a salad so decide to chargrill them instead. Heat the grill. Deseed, rinse and dry, and cut into quarters. Place on a tray skin-side up and drizzle with olive oil and place under the heat. Shut the oven door and proceed to forget about them until smoke is pouring out. Turn them over. Once they are fairly black but deliciously soft, leave to cool slightly and gently peel off the crispy skin.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Polenta is still a bit of an alchemical process - I blame the wine, bay leaves and golden colour. I googled it wanting the ultimate recipe and found a hysterically precious blog on the perfect polenta. Apparently forget everything you ever believed about it being a quick dish and start making it the night before.
I poured about 250g of sunny loveliness into a pan, added an amount of cold water and milk, with a sprig of rosemary, salt, and more bay leaves. Stir and abandon til it starts to get warm and demanding. Stir more. Boil the kettle and add more hot water as and when it looks a bit firm. Eventually - about 35 mins - it is a smooth, thick paste. Taste, add more seasoning, a load of grated cheese and some crème fraiche and Dijon mustard. Stir and it should be the consistency of a good soft mash. Remove rosemary and bay if you remember.
Then panic that your glass dish is too large and ask the opinion of the chef. His sceptical face says it all. Panic some more and have a glass of wine.
Pour the meat into the tray and spread out - it was about 2 inches deep in the end. Spread out the peppers across the meat. Top with the polenta mix and spread out evenly. Top with more cheese, breadcrumbs, paprika and pop in in the oven until the polenta is soufflé-like and ragu underneath bubbly. If you can wrest some basil from the naughty cricket, tear some leaves over it as you bring to the table; serve with a salad you forgot to make, what's left of the red wine.
It's pretty good.
The other recipe I tried today was very successful. My cake making is definitely improving but only because I'm not limiting myself to the usual butter, sugar, flour and eggs with which my gran used to miraculously conjure into fluffy sponges. Mine are always disastrously greasy and crunchy .
Mediterranean Upside Down Fruit Cake
Slice a ripe peach and arrange on the base of your oiled baking dish. Sprinkle over a sachet of vanilla sugar. Again, I would add flaked toasted almonds for extra crunch. Pour over the batter and place in the pre heated to 160 degree oven. Bake for about 50mins - a skewer will come out clean. Turn out so the peaches decorate the top. The texture is incredibly light, moist yet robust.
Who's coming here next?!