Monday, October 18, 2010

Not Just Another Sunday Lunch

Ossobuco with risotto alla Milanese
(Photograph - Courtesy of Jeanette Yeo)
At some point in time, the earnest home cook will gain enough confidence to invite people over for a homemade 3-course meal. This overly-earnest home cook had been brash enough to have invited people on a number of occasions and I would say there had been hits and misses. This past weekend, however, was designated a no-misses-tolerated weekend because I had invited a former colleague (I'll call her "Yogi" in this post) and a mutual friend over to my place to celebrate Yogi's birthday.

Roasted tomato soup
(Photograph - Courtesy of Jeanette Yeo)
I have always considered myself fortunate to have met, worked with and befriended Yogi. She is the willing and able mentor to anyone who cares about his or her job, the well-meaning confidante who will unhesitatingly tell you in your face that being overly judgmental will make you unhappy or that escapism is never a satisfactory solution, and the rare enlightened soul who appreciates that people are different and genuinely accepts everyone for who he or she is. And she just so happens to be a no-nonsense boss who takes it upon herself to look after and groom as many people as Yogi-ly possible. I recall that whenever I had permitted jadedness and cynicism to rear their ugly heads at work, this unfortunate duo almost always got snuffed out by Yogi's endless store of optimism for mankind and enthusiasm for her work.  Her generosity is nearly as legendary as her capacity for compassion. In short, to know Yogi personally is to know that the world is (or can be) a better place.

Broccoli and mushroom bread
(Photograph - Courtesy of Jeanette Yeo)

Planning this 3-course meal for Yogi and our mutual friend took me some time because I naturally wanted to deliver the absolutely best 3-course meal that I could confidently execute, taking my current level of cooking (in)competency into consideration. Choice of dessert was straightforward. It would be the chocolate eclairs which are my husband's current favourite in my limited dessert repertoire. As for the starter, well, I recently picked up a copy of Marcus Wareing's cookbook after having dined at his eponymous 2-Michelin-star restaurant in London and when I first tried making his roasted tomato soup, that soup immediately claimed the best-soup-I-have-ever-made spot. That decision wasn't too difficult either. But the main course - it was a toss-up between pizza and ossobuco with risotto alla Milanese. I'm really the baking sort with an inexplicable fondness for making risottos. I had to chew on this decision for about 2 days and as you can see from the main picture above, ossobuco with risotto alla Milanese won out.

Chocolate eclairs
(Photograph - Courtesy of Jeanette Yeo)
Thankfully, the culinary gods were kind to me and all 3 courses turned out pretty much the way I intended. And from what I can discern, my two guests enjoyed themselves and that was my sweet reward for one and a half days of preparatory work. (Dang, I need to work more efficiently!)