After-work dinner for eight

Mid-week, post-work, long-planned dinner party. Argh. In the door at half 7 (late already thanks to the newsdesk), guests at half 8, two course dinner for six meat-eaters plus two veggies ready for 9. Ish.

Already had a giant butternut squash, plus some duck legs in the freezer – which is the excuse I’ll give for making for a second time the only disappointing Nigel Slater dish I’ve ever attempted. Duck legs on the hob with squash and thyme for three-quarters of an hour did wonders for the vegetable, but gave me flabby, greyish limbs of meat – neither meltingly, confit-soft nor crunchily crisp-skinned. Sorry Nigel. Feel like I’ve let you down.

But on to pudding. Nigella’s chocolate pots! For the second time in a week! A bit Come Dine With Me perhaps but they’re delicious and pretty and a massive crowd-pleaser, which I suppose is all that counts.

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Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Pots

– so easy I already know the recipe by heart

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Serves eight (really does)
150ml double cream
100ml whole milk
150g chocolate (best dark, obvs)
1/2tsp vanilla extract
An egg

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Bring the milk and cream just about to the boil. Meanwhile, blitz the chocolate in a blender (to “smithereens” I think are the goddess’s commands). Add vanilla to the hot liquid and pour it into the blender over the chocolate. Leave to stand for 30 secs (I imagine this is so the chocolate melts). Blitz for 30 secs. Crack the egg in. Blitz for 45 secs. Pour into little cups (I think she says “or ramekins” but I think maybe that would be taking the late nineties thing too far) and put in fridge for six hours to set (though I put mine in the freezer for an hour and a half and they were just fine). Remove 20mins before serving so they soften up a bit.

Oh, and the vegetarians had Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s butternut squash stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts, which I think everyone else secretly wished they were having too.

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