There are those occasions when you just know that perhaps the food might not live up to the billing. To be fair, you are the one cooking the food so generally, if you are me, you are going to be slightly on the wary side about what it’ll turn out like!
I said that this year, each month, I would cover a particular cooking skill or technique. Well, today I’d like to talk about the skill of making the atmosphere in the dining room (or wherever you are eating) overcome any potential disasters with the food…
Burns’ Night. (I know some of my kind blog readers are not from the UK so here is a little background about Robbie Burns and Burn’s Night.)
Being half Scottish I eat haggis whenever I can – I don’t wait for Burns’ Night to do it. But we had friends round for Burns’ Night so I thought I’d do a Burns’ Night supper. The haggis (and the superb 5 year old mutton) came from the Black Face Meat Company. Potatoes via our local milk man. Turnips from a local vegetable shop.
I knew that cooking the Mutton would be easy – slow and low is the technique. Mashed potato even I can do. Haggis is easy – steam it, bake it or microwave it.
The Cranachan looked lovely in the pretty glasses.
It was the turnips I worried about. I didn’t have time to do anything particularly special with them so decided to roast them. I never understand how the glorious colour of turnips completely disappears when you cook them.
It was the end of a long and busy Saturday. I decided the mood needed to be right. Light the fire, arrange plenty of candles, think about the floral decorations, choose the sparkliest glasses, pick the finest of our old cutlery sets, crockery to match the occasion etc.
Our dining room lends itself to beautiful dark nights as the colour of the room and the (newly cleaned) lampshades reflect candlelight beautifully.
So – I set the scene. The beauty of the room was remarked upon by our guests. They also loved the tenderness of the mutton, the creaminess of the potatoes, the spice of the haggis and… nobody noticed the turnips!
Even one of the dogs was relaxed by the atmosphere – and she is the one who is never still!
So – just occasionally, setting a scene can detract from any less-than-perfect food – especially turnips.
All easy, quick, turnip recipes gratefully received…