Anna: For the souffle, Peter had to go out on a ramekin hunt in five inches of snow.
Peter: They’re real buggers to shoot!
Zoe: With their little legs — ‘you’ll never take me alive!’
Anna: They must difficult to spot in the snow.
Peter: Not the green ones.
Anna: It was very 70s. I felt like someone in a 70s sitcom, making these. I used to make souffles when I was a teenager. I did that chocolate souffle for a long time. But that was one big souffle. Did you never have that, Kirstin? Tom?
Kirstin and Tom: Er, no.
Anna: It was like a learner pudding, really.
Tom: Was the souffle a fiddle to make?
Anna: It wasn’t that fiddly. Apart from having to make the white sauce, it was very easy. The thing about this menu was that it was very nice, but I had to make a timetable to work out all the oven temperatures and delivery times. And I normally only do that for Christmas dinner. So, to be fair to Rachel O’Rachel, I did choose this menu, so it’s my own fault that I had to work out how I was going to get it all done. But it’s all a bit like that in this book, as far as I can see. I don’t like having to be in the kitchen for 20 minutes finishing stuff off for every course.
Zoe: Did it feel more of a chore?
Anna: I felt like I was neglecting our guests.
The Guests: We were having intelligent conversation, obviously.
Anna: So, I’d like to make the souffles again, but we’d need a bigger kitchen, with a dinner table in there was well, so I can cook without ignoring everyone.
Kirstin: Anyway, that was the best pork I’ve ever had.
Peter: Fnarr, fnarr!
Tom: Tart! Was it a cook it all day recipe?
Anna: It was a cook it for half-a-day recipe. It was quite easy. Rachel O’Rachel gave a good tip. Normally when you have to grind up fennel seeds, it’s a real pain. But she said to toast them first, and then they grind up much more easily in a pestle and mortar.
Kirstin: Anna, you have an amazing wrist action with the pestle and mortar. Without sounding funny.
Anna: What? Where does this come from? It must be the bowing action from playing the violin. You have to have the rotation. And I had to do this rub.
Zoe: What were you rubbing?
Anna: The pork!
Pat: I’ve never heard it called that before.
Anna: You whizz up all this garlic, grind up the fennel seeds and rub it all over. And she asks you to rub it on the skin as well as the flesh. And I had to cheat and put the grill on to do the crackling because it didn’t work the way she suggested. Anyway, everyone seemed to like the pork. I’d definitely do that again. It was better than Nigella’s belly pork recipe.
Tom: The crackling was fantastic!
Anna: Pat, what did you think of the chickpeas?
Pat: They were very nice. Normally when you eat things with chickpeas, they dominate, but in that recipe the squash dominated. It was lovely.
Kirstin: I liked the chickpeas.
Anna: I wasn’t convinced that the chickpeas and the pork went together.
Tom: I thought they did.
Anna: I think it would have gone a lot better with if the chickpeas had been cooked with rosemary instead of coriander and cumin. So, tart?
Kirstin: Well, I cheated. She wanted me to make the pastry. Her recipe for the pastry takes up the whole page. So I bought it. I couldn’t be arsed. I’ve never made pastry that actually worked anyways.
Anna: The caramel is oozing out now.
Kirstin: It’s meant to be a light toffee colour.
Tom: It looks quite clear.
Pat: It was delicious though.
Anna: I could have done with more salt. I like a salty caramel.
Tom: Yes, the salt was surprisingly subtle.
Anna: Would you make this tart again?
Kirstin. No. Well, perhaps. I know how to parallelise some of the operations next time around. I thought there might be a comedy moment in the snow on the way over, with the tart.
Anna: You got Tom to carry it?
Tom: Yes. We failed to meet the vicar, and I failed to trip up, sending the tart splatting into his face. I liked it nevertheless.
Peter: It was a fine tart. I liked it. Yes. Not too sweet, with a nice balanced finish.