I was nudged away from my usual work duties on Thursday, and left alone in the kitchen all day. My lovely friend, and part-time colleague V came to help me at 6. Together we managed to pull together a dinner for 12 paying guests.
Needless to say, I left most of the nibbles, starter and main course to the end of the day, spending most of the time focusing on pudding. Dan Lepard's chocolate crumble pear tart seemed suitably smart, sexy and showy. I always feel that if you have a good pudding at the end of the meal (as long as the customers have had enough to drink), that will be their last and clearest memory.
I had a minor pastry catastrophe. The baking beads went everywhere. Thankfully I'd had a good yoga class that morning and could return to the deep breathing, avoid any tears, and knock up another batch to save my skin.
The result was a very short shortcrust pastry (making it very difficult to remove from the tin) with no soggy bottom; caramelised, buttery pears; rich chocolate crumble, and a just strong enough brandy and pear syrup poured over the ice-cold crème fraîche. The guests did indeed leave happy, and V and I ate our way through the remains before tidying up and heading home.