12 November 2012

You’re All Invited

Well known chef and Nose-To-Tail enthusiast, Fergus Henderson has always had a secret weapon, his wife Margot.  While Henderson was out front founding restaurants and promoting offal, Margot Henderson helping out while running a successful catering business and feeding their growing family.  

A New Zealander by birth, Henderson has the central casting look of an Irish cook – pale, ginger-haired, and solid.  She looks for all the world like the one person who could remain calm during a massive kitchen fire, getting the people and pets out safely and grabbing a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a bottle wine in the process.  Form everything that has been written about her, her personality matches her looks.  She likes the word “chaos.”

 “We’re a one-course-and-cheese family.  I like organized chaos when entertaining…and I think people are more relaxed, if things aren’t too formal: relaxed chaos.”

The way to relaxed chaos is careful planning.  Low flowers, the same with candles; a flowered tablecloth, a good drink and familiar food.

There is polenta and pasta and Brussels sprouts.  There is pork belly and lamb shank and roasted bird of every size and shape.  Finish it off with something chocolate, lemony, and fruit tarty… and some cheese.

Truth be told, there is probably not a single recipe in You’re All Invited that you have never heard of.  You have heard of them all, you have probably eaten them all, but gathered together; they are like family – comforting, inviting, and rich in every sense of the word.

This may well be the most “exotic” of Henderson’s recipes due to the inclusion of feijoa, a fig-like fruit often grown New Zealand. 

Feijoa Ice Cream

400g ripe feijoa
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon vodka
1 tablespoon Cointreau
175g caster sugar
250ml double cream
250ml whole cream

Trim the feijoas top and bottom, then halve or quarter them.  Put them in a food processor with the lemon juice, vodka, Cointreau and sugar and whiz into a puree.  Stir in the cream and milk, then put in an ice cream freezer and churn.  Once slightly frozen, transfer to a plastic container and put into the freezer for at least 4 hours.

In the back of the book, Henderson lists a series of events that she has catered and the numbers of people attending.  She then provides the menu for each. You may not have 80 for a gallery opening or 240 for dinner, but the menus offer up the same planned chaos that have made Margot Henderson’s cooking a treasure.

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