On Saturday night, we had some friends round to ours for supper. About 7 years ago, this would have meant a lovely quiet evening, some candles, nice wine, linen table cloth and napkins. I would have thought through a menu with a plated starter, a main course that consists of different complimentary elements, a pudding that was lovingly crafted (ok, maybe by M&S but still….!), followed by coffee, liqueurs, and possibly some delicious chocolates.
This was not our Saturday night.
At 5:30pm, our friends and their 2 boys (aged 6 and 3) arrived with a clang and a shout through the letter slot. They traipsed in, coats and shoes flying (by the 6 and 3 year-olds), and a murmur of apology from the parents. Our 6 year old came clomping from his bedroom upstairs, jumped onto the banister and slid down (his new favourite mode of transport – stairs are “so” last week!), almost taking out 2 of the adults in the process. Not to mention, introducing the 2 visiting boys a new way of potentially killing themselves while visiting our home.
Instead of the menu plan that I described above, the plan for Saturday night was more about making sure that little people had enough to eat of as many of the main food groups as possible with the minimum amount of arguing, tears, bribery, and food-flingage.
We started with crisps… yes, our starter was crisps. They were the snazzy kettle-cooked ones, but they were still crisps. For the adults, I really went all out with some shop-bought hummus.
After a lot of discussion and rearranging (imagine, if you will, something like human tetris around a dining room table!) we finally sat down and I served big platters of pasta (with just a bit of butter, just to be on the safe side!), chicken cacciatore with lovely chunks of roasted red peppers, onions, olives all swimming in a delicious tomato-ey sauce, garlic bread, a big crunchy salad, and a big bowl of cucumber (because when all else fails with kids, give them cucumber!).
Generally speaking, it was a success! For my son, who hates when different foods touch on his plate, he successfully kept the pasta, the cucumber, the bread and the pieces of chicken sufficiently separated. For the other 6 year-old, I got an ‘almost thumbs up’ for the chicken and the garlic bread who told me that the garlic bread was”not nearly as good as they serve at school, but it’s pretty ok”… I’m taking that at the highest praise possible from a 6 year-old boy!
And the 3 year old only climbed on the table once, and fell sideways off his chair twice – neither time a result of trying to avoid an incoming mouthful.
As for the grown-ups, seconds and thirds were had by all.
But the real winner of the evening was pudding. These days, I’m all about making the minimal amount of effort… there just isn’t enough time anymore to slave over recipes that require a multitude of steps or close monitoring.
So I chose a recipe I have used a number of times before with great success… Nigella’s Instant Chocolate Mousse. But I gave it a little something extra – Couva style! I added some instant espresso coffee powder that I diluted in a teaspoon of water. The result was out of this world! The coffee lifted the flavour of the chocolate, intensifying the richness. So delicious!
The ingredients might put some people off, but really, all the bits come together in a deliciously gorgeous mixture that will please anyone. I really urge you to try it!
Let’s just say, that it was the only time all of Saturday evening that all 3 boys sat still and quietly for longer than 5 minutes!
1/4 cup (60 ml) hot water
1/2 to 1 tsp instant coffee (use more or less depending how much you want to taste the coffee)1 1/2 cups (150 grams) mini marshmallows (you can use big marshmallows, but cut them into small pieces)
1/2 stick (50 grams) soft butter
9 oz good dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup (284 ml) double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Mix the instant coffee into the hot water.
- Put the marshmallows, butter, chocolate, and coffee-water mix in a saucepan.
- Place the pan over low-medium heat, to melt all the ingredients together. Give it a stir every now and then to help to melt everything evenly. Once its all melted into a smooth glossy mixture, take it off the heat to let it cool.
- In a separate bowl, whip the cream with the vanilla extract until it’s thick.
- Once the chocolate mixture has cooled slightly, fold in the whipped cream, mixing it until you have a lovely smooth mixture.
- Pour the chocolate cream mixture into glasses, small pots (about 1/2-3/4 cup for each), or into one large bowl. Put it in the fridge to set until you’re ready to enjoy it!
When you’re ready to serve it, you could add an extra dollop of whipped cream,some chocolate curls, a sprinkle of coffee powder, or even a few chocolate covered coffee beans.Enjoy!