Summer Celebrations

Two great chocolate mousse recipes feature in my world tour cookbook and I used the simplest (just chocolate and eggs) for this summer party.

Friends were with me to celebrate two very mature birthdays and at least four wedding anniversaries (from 4 to 57 years!), all falling within a few days of each other. Rather than be over ambitious, I cooked up a feast of familiar favourites to serve 17 of us. With a bit of careful planning and the odd helping hand, a little time preparing and cooking over a few days made it possible – even for a blind person.

Musical friends (Dave and Alan) played their guitar and ukulele accompanied by somewhat over-enthusiastic singing guests to the undoubted alarm of the neighbours! An adequate volume of various wines may have contributed to the hilarity.


Here’s the menu with links to the recipes and demonstrations:


Pimms and canapes (Smoked salmon, smoked mackerel and duck pate created by neighbour Ursula).

Chilled gazpacho soup with bread rolls.

Individual pork pies with apple, date and walnut chutney

Cold chicken with coronation dressing (to remember the Jubilee).

Rice salad with sweetcorn, red pepper and French beans dressed with vinaigrette.

Mixed salad served with vinaigrette and mayonnaise.

A selection of Devon cheeses (courtesy of guests Paul and Jane from Tavistock).

A quartet of desserts per person: chocolate brownie square; individual chocolate mousse; orange ice-cream; strawberries Cordon Bleu

Coffee and chocolates.

Birthday/anniversary cake

(Even the beans, cucumbers and tomatoes were home-grown)

The next free cooking demo (1030 Monday 12September) features the gluten-free raspberry frangipane dessert from another summer lunch that goes so well with the no-churn raspberry ice-cream (   Register for free to join us at:

Hear about the prizewinning international cooking tour, swap tips and discover some useful kitchen equipment at 1415 on Wednesday 28 September at the free Open Sight Eye Contact exhibition.

The exhibition will be open 1000-1600 at St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton. Free parking at the stadium or book free transit from the station. Pre-register for the event at:

© 2024 - Penny Melville-Brown
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