Great beginnings and happy endings

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It’s well known in literary circles that if you have a good start and strong finish it does not mater too much as to what happens in between.

There is of course a culinary parallel about to be made here!

We started with bruschetta and drinks. I like informal starts to entertaining where everyone gathers around the main hub – usually the kitchen island. I take the inside position where I can deal with still to be attended to main course cooking matters and everyone else spills to the outside positions of the island, where they can watch & converse and unwind from the day that has preceded. . . the atmosphere begins!

I used italian pane de casa bread rolls brushed with a mixture of olive oil, butter, garlic and lemon juice lightly oven grilled until golden. Tomatoes were particularly flavoursome this week and I always enjoy making oven roasted tomatoes as they are so versatile – on bruschetta, pasta or as an accompaniment to schnitzel or meat dishes, oven roasted tomatoes make an easy but high impact statement to a meal. These roma tomatoes have been halved and placed on baking paper with a splash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and few grinds of rock salt(diced shallots are optional). They are then roasted in a slow oven for about 30 mins or until they start to look soft & caramelised. The mushrooms are cooked at a high heat in a cast iron pan(cast iron is my favourite for pan cooking)with a little olive oil. I wait until they are almost cooked and then add some rock salt, squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice and a small handful of lemon thyme from the herb pot. The trick is to slightly squash the tomato onto the bruschetta just before eating so it doesn’t all fall off as you put into your mouth, as well as strategically placing the mushroom pieces so they look good.

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The desert is a coconut rum granita that is based on a recipe from the  food dept blog but I have added some mango juice to the mixture. My husband arranged a tropical fruit platter with papaya, pineapple, longans, peaches(okay, not so tropical) all squeezed over with lime & mint.

The main course – the ‘non-event’, was a barbeque with marinated meats so this dessert was welcomingly refreshing and sweet. . . the perfect happy ending.

The downside. Well, there were three . . .concern of the bacardi to the non-drinkers, the sugar to the diabetics, the cold night that left everyone shivering after their icy indulgences! But then. . . as long as the cook likes it, all is well.

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