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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Saving Your Devastated Dinner Party

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"Lindy, hello. This is X. Sorry I can't make dinner tonight; have to go to Afghanistan. Call you next week."


"Lindy, hello. This is Y. Sorry we can't make dinner tonight; Z and I have to go to Albania for the biff. Back when the war is over."


Well! I don't think my dinner party placement has been quite so devastated since the White House Palaver in '93. Three guests gone for the sake of local slaughters and sagas a little further from home.

Ah well. Luckily for me, the menu this week is entirely based on the gentle and deceptive art of marinade. A movable feast. Prepare it Thursday and serve it Friday or Saturday or any day you have time to assemble the troops.

Fennel Vinaigrette

1/2 cup sunflower oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

12 green peppercorns

1 heaped teaspoon mustard seeds

6 small fennel bulbs

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

In a large saucepan, bring to the boil 1 1/2 cups water with the oil, vinegar, wine, onion, garlic, green peppercorns and mustard seeds.

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, trim the fennel bulbs, but cut off the top fronds and reserve the more attractive ones -- store in a plastic bag in the fridge for the next day. Cut each bulb in half lengthwise. Add the fennel to the simmering liquid and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. Transfer the fennel and cooking liquid to a bowl. Leave to cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bring back to room temperature before serving. To serve, arrange the drained fennel on a serving dish, cut side up, and spoon a little marinade over it. Season with salt and pepper and add a few of the better snipped fennel fronds.

The original recipe for this dish called for a roasting bag. Place all the

marinade and the pork in the bag, turn a few times and then place the whole bag in the oven to keep the pork moist.

If you are without a bag, try covering the exposed tenderloin with strips of bacon to stop the meat from drying out. Turn the pork a few times during the roasting to ensure that it is kept moist.

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Paprika and Orange

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 level tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

1 clove garlic, crushed

Juice of one orange

zest of half an orange

2 tablespoons sherry ginger

800 grams pork tenderloins

6 rashers of bacon

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon butter

Prepare the marinade. Mix together the oil, paprika, cumin, sage, garlic and strips of zest. Stir in the orange juice and sherry vinegar.

Place the pork in the marinade, coat well, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius.

Remove pork from the liquid and place in a baking dish. Cover the pork with the rashers and roast for about 45 minutes. Check to see if it is cooked. It may need a little longer or less.

Let stand for 15 minutes. To make the sauce, add all the marinating liquid to the pan and whisk in the butter.

Remove from the heat. Carve the pork and serve with the sauce.

Marinated Oranges

8 oranges

Juice of 2 medium oranges

1/2 cup superfine sugar

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup Grand Marnier

Thinly pare the zest from one orange and set aside. Over a bowl, peel and slice the orange and the remaining ones. Add the juice from the two extra oranges. Layer the slices in a serving bowl and sprinkle the sugar over them.

Cut the reserved orange zest into thin strips and place in a saucepan. Add a few tablespoons of water, cover, bring to the boil and then simmer for five minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour over the oranges. Pour over the wine and Grand Marnier. Cover, refrigerate overnight and serve at room temperature.