Thursday, 29 January 2009

First Book Club of the Year

Where do I begin to sum up what was, quite frankly, one of the coolest evenings I've had in a long time?

Maybe we should start with the changes we've made this year...
Instead of our usual "hostess picks a restaurant and everyone meets there on the first Wednesday of the month", we've decided to try hosting book club at our homes. And to start things off, we held the first book club of this year at my place...

The new rules:
Everyone brings R50 and whatever they're drinking to the hostess' place and she provides a simple dinner and buys as many books as she'd like to throw in that month.
Those who choose not to host at home can do the restaurant thing, but they then don't receive the R50 per person from the others, seeing as everyone will be paying for their dinners at the restaurant. Easy!

As far as sticking to the budget: I would say I was pretty much bang on. I did go over by about R100, but there were a few ingredients that I'll use up later on my own, like the bottle of mayo that I didn't use in its entirety. Things like that... Also, being the first one of the year, I wanted to be a little extravagant and make it special. MY choice!
So girls as the Guinea Pig for this new format, I would say that it CAN be done on R400 (R50 per person)! Easy.
Also, if you consider that as the hostess you'll only be spending FIFTY RAND A MONTH for the next SEVEN MONTHS (when the others take their turn to cook), I was HAPPY to splurge a little. I used to spend anything between R300 to R500 a month before. This way is MUCH cheaper.

As far as effort goes: I did it all in a couple of hours! I'm sure we all know a simple, mainly vegetarian, cost cutting week-day dish that everyone will devour after a long day at work. If you're tired and don't feel like cooking, just order R400 worth of pizza! If you don't want to make a starter, a chip 'n dip would be fine!
I'm a real Nigella-Wannabe who loves cooking so that's what I did... YOU don't have to! It's completely up to you.

Well, on the morning... I was so excited about cooking dinner for everyone and seeing the gang that I was up at 4.30am, tidying up my place and doing a little food prep. I wanted everything to be fresh, so I didn't do too much that morning. I decided to rather come home from work an hour earlier and get things done then.

The menu

Potato Wedges
Chili mayo dip

Wraps filled with...
Chicken strips
Oven roasted veggies
Sour Cream
Grated Cheese
Shredded Lettuce

Banana Tart Tartin
Hazelnut Ice-cream

And that's what the main course looked like... The pic doesn't do it any justice! My crappy cell phone camera made everything yellow! But anyway:

The potato wedges and dessert weren't around long enough to be photographed... :P

The STUNNING Russel Hobbs hand held blender that the girls got me as a house-warming gift made short work of the hummus. The 2 cans of chickpeas were blitzed in less than 5 minutes... SERIOUSLY!
Thanks, girls. (xox)
When you have the right tools, cooking is EASY! Blunt knives and not enough mixing bowls will put ANYONE off...

Everyone made it except for Sach... :(
We really missed you, Sach, and I hope little Brogan gets better soon.

The big boozers of the evening were:

The non-boozers of the evening were:

And the new boozer of the evening was:


Apart from a stack of dishes and the straightening up of a few chairs, I'd say my place got off dead easy! And even though there were lots of little elements that had to be made in order to create our own wraps, it was very VERY easy throwing the evening together! I'm looking forward to my next dinner party with the girls already. I don't think I'm going to wait the 8 months until it's my turn to host again. I won't last that long! I have a ton of recipes I want to try on you chickies!

And seeing as it was such a hit, I've decided to share the recipe for my dessert. When you guys see how easy it is, you'll want to make it when you're entertaining too! It's an easy Old Faithful that I depend on for something yum but simple when people come over.
I also really like the hot-cold combination in desserts so this one is right up my alley!
Here goes...

Bananas About Book Club

(8 Dainty Servings)
- A couple of hours before, take a roll of store bought puff pastry out the freezer to thaw.
- About 45mins before you want to serve dessert, turn the oven onto 220C.
- An a (±A4 sized) dish, place about 4TBSP of butter and half a cup of golden syrup. Melt in the oven for a couple of minutes.
- While the syrup/butter are melting, slice 6 medium bananas into long vertical strips. (I got 3 strips per banana.)
- Take the dish out the oven place the bananas in (rolling them in the syrup), sprinkle over a pinch of cinnamon.
- Return the dish to the oven and bake for ±15 minutes. (The bananas should START to go golden brown.)
- Take the dish out the oven, cover the bananas with the sheet of puff pastry and return to the oven for ±15-20minutes. It's done when the puff pastry is golden and the bananas have caramelised.
- Slice into portions and serve HOT with a scoop of your favourite ice cream.

FIVE ingredients and not even 5 minutes prep time... Perfect for the Busy Domestic Goddess!

Enjoy girls!
Lor, you're next. Can't wait!