Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Christmas Party Which Wasn't

We were going to have a Christmas party this evening.

I was going to bake mince pies, mull wine, and get a fire going. It would have been beautiful, and then I would have taken a few photos of my baking and blogged about how lovely it all was.

Unfortunately, life doesn't always work out as you plan it, and so my husband has driven across to be with his mum today, and I'm getting the train across tomorrow.

You see, there's a problem with the way we host parties. We have quite a lot of gatherings at our house, usually informal affairs, where there's just plenty of food & wine to go around and we don't bother too much about RSVPs. We invite everyone to everything, we know people will be able to get to some of our parties and not others, and it's always lovely to see whoever does turn up. It's never seemed like a problem until last night, when we suddenly realised that we needed to cancel. It's harder to do that when you're not sure who's coming.

I sent messages to everyone I could, but I knew it wasn't reliable. And we live in the middle of nowhere - didn't want friends turning up to find the house was empty! So I stayed at home, with a couple of dear friends to keep me company, just in case anyone didn't get the message in time.

Instead of mince pies and mulled wine for many, I made pasta for three.

Some variation on tonight's dish is one of my staple dishes in the category of 'really really easy'. Mushrooms & courgettes, flavoured with lemon, chilli & black pepper, then tossed with pasta and topped with parmesan & toasted almond flakes. I would usually put in garlic but I didn't have any (I was shocked by this revelation, too).

This is usually a summertime dish in our house, but as it happens, it fitted very well with what I had left in the fridge. Should you be in need of a quick & easy pasta dish, I can heartily recommend doing 'something a bit like this'. This amount served three of us quite happily.

1 courgette
~150g mushrooms
handful of frozen peas (fresh would also work)
25g butter (or olive oil)
juice of 1/2 lemon (or more if you like it really lemony)
black pepper & chilli flakes to taste (I have grinders for both, and use about a dozen twists of each)
~250g spaghetti

to garnish: grated parmesan & toasted flaked almonds

  1. Check all your friends like mushrooms (and courgettes & peas if you think it might be an issue). I forgot this critical stage which resulted in an extra pan to cook the mushrooms separately... not advisable!

  2. Boil the kettle ready for the spaghetti (and enough extra for a cup of coffee, if you're anything like me).

  3. If you need to toast your almonds, tip flaked almonds onto a baking tray and pop in the oven for about 10 minutes at 200°C. This will make your kitchen smell heavenly while you work.

  4. Boil the spaghetti according to pack instructions - mine takes 10 minutes. Pop the peas in with the pasta to heat through.
    • If you have quick-cook spaghetti (or have made fresh pasta, which would turn this into an all-day exercise rather than a ten-minute meal), do all of step 4 before cooking the pasta, because the courgettes & mushrooms can stay warm for ages.

  5. Meanwhile, thinly slice courgettes & mushrooms. Heat butter in a frying pan, and fry courgette & mushrooms until soft (about 8 minutes). Add lemon juice, black pepper & chilli flakes according to your tastes, and leave over a low heat until the spaghetti is cooked.

  6. Drain the spaghetti, stir in the courgette & mushroom mixture, and serve topped with parmesan & toasted almonds.

  7. Open a bottle of wine, sit back, and enjoy!

~~~ I will be on scheduled posts only for the next couple of days as I am following my husband to the Land of No Internet. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas. ~~~


Johanna said...

life doesn't always work to plan, does it! sorry to hear your party didn't happen - the tree looks lovely - hope things go ok with your family over Christmas

Jeanne said...

Just stopping by -- sorry about the party.

Rachel Cotterill said...

There will always be more parties - I'm just thankful that I managed to get the message out to everyone in time.

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