We tend to do things unconventionally in our house. It’s part of our attraction to each other and yet also what makes us fume dragon-sized fire balls in frustration as to why we both seem to “tick” so weirdly. We won’t air our laundry here, but rest assured that when we recently invited friends over for an impromptu dinner and the guests arrived before the food and the chef, I was secretly fuming.
How long does it take a chef to shop in a regular supermarket for a dinner? Let’s just not go there. As a seasoned TV producer/presenter and Marcomms executive, I tend not to panic when Murphy’s Law exerts itself but that doesn’t mean I don’t get angry! Any person who works on TV sets understands just how irate directors and can get. How can I host with no food? I can only serve cocktails for so long before disaster strikes!
Two nights before we left Dubai, we had two friends over for dinner. Since it was before our impending departure, we were short of basic perishables, though our pantry -as always- was well stocked. They were close friends- Bev a ‘long time’ friend who we share and her former colleague, Hannah who became an instant friend when she came with Bev to nurse me when I was ill recently. Bev was about to wrap up her four years in Dubai and we not going to let that go without celebration. The good thing about entertaining good friends is that you can be relaxed and enjoy the experience (forget the reference to dragons fuming above). Contrary to what many believe, a dinner party doesn’t have to be formal to be good. And it certainly shouldn’t be if you want it to be really fun!
So while we waited for the groceries to arrive, we sipped our cocktails and we played music and showed each other some cool dance moves. By the time Chef Ljj came, I quickly whipped up our Tomato Salsa in about 7 minutes and served them with chips. The ladies were amazed at how quick and simple it was and they actually enjoyed seeing it done. By the time they tasted it, they were sold. Not a drop of the delicious healthy freshness was left behind. The light appetiser made way for the pies de resistance- fresh homemade gnocchi. Now, that got them really excited.
It was a communal affair and we all danced to reggae music and pitched in. I cracked an egg, Hannah poured the flour and Bev poured the olive oil. It was so good, I scarcely got pics. I was shooting for the first time with my brand new Nikon D800, which I haven’t done just with these photos shot in a hurry in low light without a tripod and while dancing but I love the authenticity of the moment. Still we we wanted to share a tutorial on how to make gnocchi, so when we had a darling couple over- fine food lover Stephen and his lovely wife Gillian- we both agreed that we would serve gnocchi for lunch. So here is one recipe that anchors two events bringing friends together. There is nothing like good friends and good food, especially all at once.
CHEF’S NOTE: The lady doth do me an injustice. Supermarkets are hard for chefs. We hotel chefs get all our food from purveyors and suppliers through a pretty straightforward ordering system. Supermarkets in the UAE are big mazes that defy logic. Did you know that cream and butter and other dairy may not even be in the same aisle? Plus yes, I had to drive to two supermarkets to get the cream I wanted. Yes, it was absolutely, life-changingly critical. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it.
See our homemade gnocchi tutorial here!