Good Food Blog
Making an effortPosted at 12:39PM, 25 February 2009 by Christine Hayes - Editor, olive magazine
In recent years it's all been about 'effortless entertaining'. Having friends over for a simple roast chicken followed by a stinky Vacherin or an amazing lemon tart has been deemed chicer than slaving away to create three intricate courses. How we sniggered at old-school MasterChef with its quails stuffed with couscous and spun-sugar desserts, while we casually got mates round for nothing more involved than a lamb curry.
But now that so many of us are trying to save money by cooking at home when we'd previously book a smart restaurant (to celebrate a significant birthday, say, or an anniversary) is it time to start making a real effort again? In olive this month, our reporters tried cooking spectacular 3-course menus gleaned from Gordon Ramsay, Tom Aikens and Giorgio Locatelli's cookbooks, and find out if it's worth all the faff.
When I need to show off, I dip into chef Richard Corrigan's The Clatter of Forks and Spoons and make the squid, chorizo and feta dish he serves at his restaurant Bentley's. It requires a special shopping trip to the fishmonger, some cleaning-the-squid-angst and a degree of time management, and that's about as far as I'll go for a dinner party. No foams, no soufflés, no parfaits at my house, and that's final.
So which chefs do you rely on when you want to make something that elicits an 'ooooh', what's your failsafe show-off dish, and what's just a step too far?