Three Course Dinner for One

There is something rather liberating about cooking for yourself. It’s a bit like going to the cinema or out to lunch on your own. It means no one is there to see the mistakes you make; you have the confidence to experiment more knowing that the only feedback you’ll get at the end of the night is your own. I have been known to stay in on a Saturday night and cook a three course meal for myself, drinking a bottle of wine – and I rather love it. Tonight is one of those nights (although it’s a Friday). Mr F is out and I have to work tomorrow. Having survived for the last two days off cereal, beetroot soup (actually delicious) and reheated pizza (no jokes) I am craving a proper dinner.

The starter is a triumph, the main a disaster and the pud is in the oven so I’ll let you know later.

Before I tell you about the starter I must tell you about the wine I’m drinking. It is called Mitius La di Motte and was given to me as a present by a totally charming wine producer in Italy earlier this year. I think it is produced on the Botter estate in the Veneto region of Italy (just in case you’re interested) but I doubt very much if it is available to buy in the UK. Almost opaque ruby red, the nose is pretty closed not giving anything away. This makes the palate all the more surprising; chalky tannins but lush, sweet, port-like red fruit to go with it. Although a bit clumsily put together it has a rusticity and softness which makes it totally delicious.

My starter was a bit of an experiment and something I’ve been meaning to try for years. The inspiration comes from a restaurant I went to a couple of times when I was living in Seville. The recipe below uses quails eggs but I couldn’t find the bloody things this evening so ended up frying a chicken egg and cutting out the yolk (jolly rich but works brilliantly). This would be great as a fancy starter or an even fancier canapé…

  • sourdough bread
  • quails eggs
  • 1 very ripe tomato
  • pancetta (or jamón ibérico if you can find it)
  • half a clove of garlic

Blanch the tomato in boiling water for 1minute; then drain immediately and soak in cold water for a further minute. Peel the skin off the tomato and chop in half. Remove the seeds and core. Blend thoroughly in a food processor with the garlic until it is a smooth paste.

Fry a couple of rashers of pancetta in a frying pan until crispy; if you are using jamón ibérico it is fine as it is. Toast a slice of sourdough and allow to cool. You can now begin to assemble everything – drizzle a little olive oil on top of the toast, then spread a spoonful of tomato paste and finally lay the pancetta (or ham) on top. Fry a quails egg in the frying pan (be careful not to break the yolk). And this goes on top of everything else. Season with a little salt and pepper.

It is very decadent but very very good.

As I said my main course was disappointing (my Béarnaise sauce curdled – I don’t want to talk about it).

Having just had my pud it was good but is not going to set the world on fire. Ready rolled puff pastry cut into individual circles and topped with thin slices of Cox’s apples and sprinkled with a little soft brown sugar and cinnamon. Then baked in the oven at 180 for 25 mins. I was going for individual apple tarts and they are fine, if not a little dry, definitely need tweaking.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to finish my bottle of wine on the soft in front of a movie. Hurray for Friday nights in!!