This is the year of the 60th. In previous years we have been very wedding focused and since having children it has been all about weddings, to the point that our eldest daughter is being a bridesmaid for the fifth time this year. The succession of 60th birthdays is not due to our age but our parents and their contemporaries. This week was the turn of my father-in-law. After a very successful party of pork, elderflower cocktails and great music, I followed with a subdued dinner for 10 on his actual birthday. It is usually my privilege to cook this summer dinner ideally eaten outside.
This year the weather let us down and as I prepared the food I thought Elizabeth was going to too. I had a topside joint of veal (I have 19 more veal recipes to complete), left soaking in a brine of lemons, onions, white wine vinegar, salt and salt petre for four days. This was then boiled slowly to produce the tenderest of meat. Veal is a delicious tasty tender light meat, a hit with the kids. I then used the strained broth to make a beetroot consomme by reboiling it with raw beetroot in.
We started the proceedings with homemade elderflower champagne, this lot didn't fizz over like the last bottle: disappointing. I then found the perfect accompaniment better than some salted peanuts, fresh home grown podded broad beans raw just sprinkled with sea salt. Our starter was the beetroot consomme served with small bits of diced beetroot in and a dribble of cream. I then served the veal with a cucumber salad, minus the nasturtiums I searched Nailsworth for and new potatoes. In true french style we had a garden green salad and cheese. All of this was served with the perfect loaf, a shepherds loaf. For pudding I triumphed with the Elizabeth Classic St Emillion de Chocolat and apricot ice cream.
The evaluation of the meal concluded in a pretty good michelin starred meal straight from the 1970’s.
Before the three 60th birthday parties in July I have my birthday, to start the celebrations I have just shared half a suckling pig with friends. I can therefore tell you that next weeks article will be telling you mainly what to do with another half of a suckling pig, the veal chapter will have to go on hold for another week.