There’s been a murrdur!

Last weekend we held a murder mystery party, I’d never done one before and wasn’t exactly sure how it would turn out, but it was great fun! The 1950s Hollywood themed game was given to my by a friend for a birthday a few years ago and I had actually completely forgotten about it until finding it lurking in the back of our very large very cluttered dining room cupboard (one of my favourite features of Victorian terraces! Especially when they have some retro wallpaper on the shelves!) a few months ago. So the friends were invited, the costumes were planned and the food was prepared. The Red Rose Murders included such characters as Marilyn Mansfield – the blonde bombshell whose flamboyant life both on and off screen has delighted the gossip columnists for years, Madame Velda -clairvoyant to the stars and Rock Houston – rugged, rough and rowdy, the biggest male film star of them all who is now talking about running for Presidency. My character was Mae Vest – author, actress and activist, Miss Vest is seldom seen without a devoted young man on her arm, a quip on her lips and a glass of champagne in hand! I like the sound of that!

We donned our various outfits and props including strings of pearls, massive (fake!) diamond rings, faux fur stoles, silk gloves, feathered fans and crystal balls and I delegated tasks to some of my friends. My friend Marilyn Mansfield was put in charge of cocktails and plumped for a French Martini

Somehow, we failed to take a picture of these once there was actually anything in the glasses…. After three of these (hey, the glasses are small!) before we’d even served the starter (woops!) we were all fully in character and ready to go!

To make these you will need;

  • Vodka
  • Raspberry liqueur (we used Chambord, darling) (around a quarter of the amount of vodka you’re using)
  • Pineapple juice
  • Fresh blackberries

Shake together the vodka, raspberry liqueur, pineapple juice and ice, strain and serve. Pop a blackberry into each glass before serving. Yummy!

My friends Madame Velda and Marlon Mean were tasked with the starter, and served us a delicious Italian platter made up of tomato and mozzarella salad, rocket and parmesan salad, parma ham, delicious tomato and onion and rosemary focaccias and balsamic syrup. We were spoiled! ­čÖé

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For mains, Wayne Fonda and myself prepared a large vat of spicy, tomatoey beef chilli, left to simmer and develop for several hours, a smoky shredded chicken stew in a tomato and paprika based sauce and all the usual sides including rice, toasted pittas, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, salad and cheese.

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It was a lot of food and we were all rather full by the end! However, a little rest and accusation of murder later, we were ready for Princess Kelly of Ruritainia’s desert! My friend is rather a star baker having delighted us over the years with tasty cakes whenever the occasion calls and this was no exception. She had made margaritas cupcakes (with homemade lime curd, natch!) and coffee cupcakes (coffee cake is one of my all time favourites! mmmm!) both were scrumptious!

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It was a great night, really fun to get dressed up and do something different and I would highly recommend a murder mystery night for you and your friends if you ever get the chance


Bacon & Cannellini Bean Stew

This is an adaptation of a recipe that my friend Laura first made for me when I was visiting her when she lived in Venice a few years ago. Yes, I know, lucky thing! We had so much delicious food in that long weekend, I practically┬ásalivate┬ájust thinking about it… I may have to post a retrospective blog on the tasty delights of the trip at somepoint!

Anyway, this wasn’t as tasty as when she first made it for me. Partly because I wasn’t eating it in her small but charming Italian kitchen, partly because I didn’t have any pancetta and so had to substitute for bacon, and partly I imagine because it wasn’t made using lovely fresh Italian produce!

Still, it makes for a satisfying and yummy mid week meal with the added bonus of only using one pot! Which is always a good thing in my book!

This is what you’ll need to make enough for two;

  • A couple of rashers of streaky bacon (or pancetta if you have some!)
  • 1 tin of cannellini beans
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 small to medium carrots or 1 bigger one
  • 1 stalk celery
  • half a red pepper
  • half an orange pepper
  • tin of chopped tomatoes
  • squeeze of tomato puree
  • black pepper
  • pinch of oregano
  • Little splash Lea & Perrins

Heat some oil in a pan and fry the chopped onion and crushed garlic. Toss in the roughly chopped bacon. Cook for a few minutes then add the chopped carrots, celery and peppers. Add the tinned tomatoes. You could also add a glug of red wine at this stage if you had any on the go. Simmer for around 5 minutes then add the rinsed beans, a good squeeze of tomato puree, a pinch of oregano and a small splash of Lea & Perrins and season. Turn the hob right down and cover the pan, simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes.

This would ideally be served with a good hunk of crusty bead to mop up the juices, however we are trying to be good at the moment so just had it as is!