Mystery Murder Dinner

Today’s recipe is: Carrot Roulade/Swiss Roll
When (my darling) Em and Pikey first invited us to a murder mystery dinner, I had no idea what to expect. That no-one was to actually die, seemed fairly logical, but what then? We each received our own personal invite with the character you were to play. I was Angel Roni, the beautiful (thank you, Em!) young daughter of the deceased, and Joerg was Rocco Scarfazzi, a slightly dodgy Italian businessman. We dressed as our roles required – me in a short black dress with fishnet stockings/nylons and Joerg with his head almost shaved and in a dark suit – and hoped the whole way to their house that we wouldn’t be stopped as we looked like a hooker and her pimp!

murder dinner at Pikes

What a fun way to spend an evening! The host has the most work (as always) and has to keep track of the proceedings. In case you haven’t been to such a dinner, I’ll explain a little. Everyone gets a booklet as per their character and you read a section at a time. Everyone has a spot at which they have to read something out loud to make the others suspect them, or reject them, as the killer. Fortunately it is not expected for someone to play the dead person, as that might be a tad of a boring way to spend an evening! There is also a tape/dvd which gets played until the voice says ‘switch me off now’, and which also gives you information in your quest to find the killer.

We all took our roles very seriously – hey, Anita, he’s really my husband and NOT your fiancé, so watch it girl! We also had John as the soccer crazy Marco Roni, Tara the vivacious fiancé, Bo Jalais, alias David, the wine maker (and my/Angel’s love interest) and the grieving widow played by Em (who removed the black scarf and fake tears for the photo!). You eat between curtain calls and Em had even themed the food to the dinner – she’s a clever girl and a stunning cook too. It’s a while back since the dinner, but I have kept a food diary for the past 15 years so I know exactly what we had to eat. (I am a little strange to say the very least.)

We had bruschetta with 3 different types of toppings for starters/appetizer, then a delicious salmon lasagne with salad for the main course and a meringue and ice cream cake for dessert (I ascertain that Em is the best dessert maker in our department/state). All very wise choices as a) they fitted in with the Italian theme and b) they could be prepared in advance so as to have more time to spend with your murderous guests. Turns out Angels’ fathers murderer was Bo Jalais, my secret love interest – you just don’t know who to trust these days.

You might be thinking, ooh, I’m looking forward to one of the above recipes…wrong. I (currently) don’t have them, so you are getting one of Margaret’s many other great recipes. This will not be the last time you get an Em recipe as I have loads of recipes from her that I would love to share with you. And we see them quite regularly so there will be lots of tales to tell. Today’s recipe is for a Carrot Roulade / Swiss roll which I have made on several occasions and for which the recipe is always asked. Don’t be put off if you have never made a Roulade / Swiss roll / jelly roll (and these are only some of the English words!), it’s much easier than you might think.

(Serves 4-6)

450g carrots, grated
50g butter
4 eggs, separated
2 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro/coriander (optional)
175g garlic and herb soft cheese, e.g. Boursin (See note at end)
2-3 tbsp crème fraiche or sour cream or cream cheese
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F. Line a 30.5x20.5cm (12x8inch) Swiss-roll tin with non-stick parchment paper. (Any flat baking tray will do should you not have a Swiss-roll tin.)

2. Melt the butter in a pan, add the carrots and cook gently for 5 minutes or until slightly coloured. Transfer to a bowl, allow to cool slightly, then beat in the egg yolks, 1 tbsp cilantro (if you are using it) and salt and pepper. Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks and then carefully fold into the carrot mixture with a metal spoon.

3. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared tin and bake 10-15 minutes or until risen and firm to the touch. Turn out, cooked side down, on to another sheet of parchment paper and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to cool.

4. Beat together the soft cheese, remaining 1 tbsp cilantro (if using) and enough crème fraiche or other cream to form a smooth spreading consistency. Season to taste. Remove the cloth from the roulade, spread with the filling, leaving a 1cm (2.5inch) border all round, and carefully roll it up from a short side, using the paper to help. Cut into slices and serve with salad leaves.

NOTE: I often make my own filling if I don’t have Boursin in the house. I mix Fromage Blanc (low fat cream cheese) with a clove of crushed garlic, a handful of chopped chives, salt and pepper, and a dash of Maggi. Let your imagination flow and add things like red pepper, chilli, or whatever takes your fancy.

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