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Archive for the ‘Party Food’ Category

Crab crostini

Just when you think it’s all over and you’ve eaten enough to persuade you to try just about any diet… comes New Year. More food, more drinks, late night – resistance is futile. If you’re in charge of the first course for a New Year’s party then you can’t go wrong with these delicious crab crostini. You can toast the bread and make up the crab mixture early but don’t combine until you’re ready to serve.

Wine Suggestion: Everyone has their favourite sparkling wine which for NYE is a must; we like vibrant bubbles with a creamy mousse. For this we opened the Bouvet-Ladubay “Saphir” Sparkling Saumur which is brilliant value for money and properly sophisticated. We’ve also tried the Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Blanc which we agree with Jancis Robinson, “is really joyful, happy and upbeat, with real vivaciousness yet quite a bit of serious undertow too.”

Crab Crostini – makes 15

  • 100g white crabmeat
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp small capers
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 15 slices from a skinny baguette, toasted

Mix the crab with the lemon juice, shallot, parsley, chilli, capers & mayonnaise. Pile the crab mix onto the baguette slices and serve.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe for  BBC Olive Magazine, December 2011.)

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Preserved peppers with goats cheese & pine nuts

These are delicious and super easy to put together in advance. They will come to no harm in the fridge for a few hours but take them out about 30 minutes before you serve them so they’re not fridge cold. They look pretty piled into a bowl too.

Wine Suggestion: the hot peppers makes some wines, especially reds, taste a bit metallic. Sauvignon Blanc and Gruner Veltliner are the obvious match for the ingredients in this dish. However, as it’s Christmas and we’re in a celebratory mood we opened a Sparking Saumur and found that good bubbly makes a superb match too.

Preserved Peppers Stuffed with Goats’ Cheese & Pine Nuts – makes lots

  • 400g jar Peppadew peppers (or other preserved mini red peppers)
  • 300-400g soft goats’ cheese
  • finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 1 heaped tsp of dried mint
  • 30g of mint, leaves finely chopped
  • 75g toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped

Drain the peppers and pat them dry with kitchen paper – be nice and gentle so they don’t tear.

Put the goats’ cheese, lemon zest, dried and fresh mint and chopped pine nuts into a bowl, season generously with black pepper and mix together with a fork.

Take a small plastic food bag and snip one of the bottom corners off with scissors. Spoon the cheese mixture into the bag (it’s easier if you do it a bit at a time) and use to pipe the mixture into the peppers.

Serve straight away or keep in the fridge until later.

(Original recipe from Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2017.)

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Beef Bourguignon Pie whole

Beef Bourguignon Pie whole

One of Jules’ classic dishes that combines Beef Bourguignon with a mash potato top. Old-fashioned in many ways but a great crowd pleaser and you can prep it all in advance. Some veg on the side is all you need for a hearty dinner.

A red Burgundy is not necessary for cooking, rather look for a juicy and easy red. Make sure it is decent though as it will still contribute to the flavours and quality of the dish. Having trialled relatively expensive Burgundy (to really find out!) in dishes like this though, we think it makes the dish unnecessarily expensive without adding anything extra over a decent, juicy, but cheaper red.

Wine Suggestion: If tempted to drink a red Burgundy with this dish, and want to impress, pick a fulsome appellation from the Cote d’Or if you can. Even if you pick a Bourgogne rouge make sure it has class and character as very easy, commercial examples are just a bit bland for the dish. This time we chose a northern Rhône, the J-M Gerin Côte Rôtie Champin de Seigneur which rivals good Burgundy for price but also matches it for aromatic thrill and velvety, earthy core with the same medium weight and great freshness.

Beef Bourguignon Cottage Pie – serves 6

FOR THE BOURGUIGNON BASE:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil/veg oil
  • 200g pack bacon lardons
  • 900g braising steak, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 225g button mushrooms
  • 225g button onions or small shallots, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 600ml red wine
  • 400g tin beef consommé or 400ml of beef stock
  • 1 to 2 tbsp cornflour, loosened with 1-2 tbsp red wine or water

FOR THE MASH TOPPING:

  • 1.5 kg floury potatoes e.g. Maris Piper
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 100ml milk

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the bacon lardons over a high heat until well browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Season the beef, then fry in the bacon fat until coloured. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the cornflour and bacon, and bring to a simmer. Partly cover the pan with a lid and cook for 2-2½ hours or until the beef is tender.

When the beef is cooked, tip the contents of the pan into a colander set over another pan to catch the sauce. Tip the contents of the colander into a large pie or casserole dish along with the reserved bacon. Boil the sauce and season to taste. Thicken with the loosened cornflour until you have a sauce that coats the back of a spoon. Spoon enough of the sauce over the beef to barely cover and loosen it (don’t be tempted to add too much), then stir. You can freeze or refrigerate the sauce and offer it on the side when you serve the pie.

Boil the potatoes until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and replace the lid, then give the pan a good shake to break them up a bit. Add the butter and milk gradually as you mash, then season well.

Spoon the potatoes over the meat and use a knife or spoon to mark a pattern over the top. You can cool the pie at this stage and freeze if you like before baking as below.

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

Bake the pie for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until golden. Increase the heat to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for the final 10 minutes to get it nicely browned on top.

(Original recipe by Gary Rhodes for BBC Good Food Magazine, November 2005.)

Beef Bourguignon Pie

Beef Bourguignon Pie

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Moussaka

A rich, show-stopper version of a favourite dish. We remain torn between the richness of this version by Neil Perry and the fresh elegance of this Moussaka by Tamasin Day-Lewis. We love both.

Wine Suggestion: As this is a rich dish we looked for a similarly rich, but not too heavy wine and liked the Insoglio del Cinghiale, a Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot blend from Bolgheri. It was nice and lifted with dark fruit, blackberries, plums and hints of spice. The key was the medium weight with a youthful freshness, fine rounded tannins and a smooth finish. We suspect a nice earthy and voluptuous red Burgundy would also do very or a top quality Chianti.

Moussaka – serves 4 (generously)

  • 2 large aubergines, cut into 5 mm slices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit extra for brushing the slices of aubergine
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 90g tomato purée
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 40g grated Parmesan cheese

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

  • 50g butter
  • 50g flour
  • 500ml warmed milk
  • 80g finely grated parmesan

Salt the aubergine slices on both sides and leave aside for an hour. Rinse the slices under running water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Brush lightly with olive oil and cook in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side or until golden. Set the aubergine slices aside and wipe out the pan with some kitchen paper.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in the frying pan and cook the onions over a low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until the onions have softened. Add the lamb, then turn up the heat and stir-fry until browned. Season with salt, then add the tomato purée and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, the cinnamon stick and the sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduced the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for a few more minutes to thicken slightly if needed. Remove the cinnamon stick and fold through the chopped parsley.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir over a low heat for a few minutes or until the mixture is bubbling.Gradually pour in the warm milk, stirring continuously, and cook until the sauce starts to boil and thicken. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt and freshly grated white pepper if you have it.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

Layer the lamb and fried aubergine slices two or three times in a large ovenproof dish, starting and finishing with a layer of aubergine if you can manage it. Spread the béchamel over the top and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until hot through and golden brown on top. Leave to settle for 5 to 10 minutes before serving with a green salad.

(Original recipe from Neil Perry’s Good Cooking, Murdoch Books, 2016.)

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Tomato and sugar snap pea pasta salad

We’ve really embraced salads recently, especially as this Irish summer has been quite nice and sunny. This works as a main dish or as a side and will feed a large crowd. It’s nice to find a pasta salad that doesn’t rely on heaps of mayonnaise!

Tomato & Sugar Snap Pea Pasta Salad – serves 6

  • 9 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 x 5 cm strips of orange zest
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into tiny matchsticks
  • 600 g cherry tomatoes
  • 6 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 60 ml olive oil plus 2 tbsp (and a bit extra for drizzling at the end)
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt plus extra
  • 200 g scallions
  • 200 g sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved
  • 350 g pasta e.g. penne, casarecche or fusilli
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • a large bunch of basil, leaves picked and shredded
  • a large bunch of mint, leaves picked and shredded

Preheat the oven to 160ºC.

Put the garlic, thyme, orange zest, ginger, tomatoes, orange juice, 60 ml olive oil, brown sugar, salt and a pinch of black pepper into baking dish and toss with your hands. Place in the oven to roast for 50-60 minutes, tossing every 20 minutes or so. Discard the thyme and orange zest when the cooking time is up.

Separate the green and white parts of the scallions. Cut the green parts in half lengthwise and then across into 5 cm lengths. Slice the white parts into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat and add 1 tbsp of oil. Add the sugar snap peas and spread out into a single slayer. Cook, turning once, until charred on both sides, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.

Heat another 1 tbsp of oil in the same pan. Add the green and white parts of the scallions and spread out in a single layer. Cook these in the same way as the peas, until charred. Transfer to the bowl with the sugar snap peas and season with salt.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool. Toss it occasionally to prevent it sticking together.

Add the tomato mixture, the sugar snap peas and onion, the lemon juice, most of the basil and most of the mint, to the pasta. Toss gently with your hands to combine without breaking up the tomatoes too much. Season with salt and pepper and a bit more lemon juice if necessary.

Serve with the remaining herbs scattered over the top and drizzle with olive oil.

(Original recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi on bon appétit.)

 

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Coronation Chicken

This is great for when you’re asked to bring a dish to a garden or other party. It feeds lots of people and is easy to transport and serve cold when you get there. Coronation Chicken might seem a bit old fashioned but watch it disappear – a favourite of adults and kids alike and well worth a bit of effort earlier in the day. Only perfectly ripe mangoes will do!

Wine Suggestion: There are a few options to match with this dish but our favourites are a good, but fruity Beaujolais, slightly chilled; Domaine Rochette’s Brouilly comes to mind. Alternately we also like a good, youthful Viognier and we’ve been enjoying Jean-Michel Gerin’s le Champine Viognier from the Northern Rhone where the exuberant fruit is balanced with texture and a fresh joie-de-vivre.

Coronation Chicken with Mango & Roasted Cashews – serves 8-10

  • 1.3kg chicken breasts
  • 1.2 litres chicken stock (home-made preferably for this dish)
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 175g celery, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 125ml natural yoghurt
  • 125ml mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 150g roasted cashew nuts
  • 2 tbsp coriander, chopped

Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and simmer gently in the hot stock for 5-7 minutes, depending on how big they are. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and allow the chicken to cool in the liquid. When cooled, remove with a slotted spoon and cut the chicken into small dice.

Mix the chicken with the lemon juice in a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Add the mango, celery and scallions.

Whisk the yoghurt and mayonnaise together.

Toast the cumin seeds in a hot frying pan for a few seconds, add the curry powder and cook for another couple of seconds. Grind, cool and add to the yoghurt and mayonnaise. Pour the sauce over the other ingredients and toss gently. Taste and season if necessary.

Just before serving, add the roasted cashew nuts, scatter with coriander and serve.

(Original recipe from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2001.)

 

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Veal Cannelloni

This is a delicious party dish from Croatia where the cooking has lots of Italian influences. Most veal these days is ethical rose veal (even in Italy, where they’re adamant it’s the traditional production methods) so don’t write off veal too quickly … it’s definitely worth trying.

Wine Suggestion: definitely drink a Croatian white if you can find one but failing that try a white from Eastern Italy, like a good Verdicchio or Pecorino.

Veal Cannelloni – serves 6

  • 250g dried cannelloni tubes
  • 300ml tomato sauce (see recipe below)

For the filling: 

  • 650g veal mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 45ml olive oil
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 15 turns black pepper
  • 300g fresh spinach, wilted over a medium heat, drained and chopped
  • 15 rasps of nutmeg
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, grated

For the béchamel sauce: 

  • 75g butter
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50g Parmesan/Pecorino

Make the filling by combining the veal, onion and garlic in a food processor and pulsing briefly to make a coarse paste.

Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the veal and cook until browned. Add the white wine, tomato puree, salt and pepper and keep cooking, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Stir in the spinach, nutmeg & Parmesan.

Next make the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then add the flour to make a roux. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and slowly add the milk, whisking to avoid lumps. Return to the pan, add the bay leaf and stir until thickened. Add half the Parmesan/Pecorino and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4.

Spoon a ladle of the béchamel over the base of a large greased rectangular baking dish. Spoon some of the veal into each of the cannelloni tubes (use both ends of a teaspoon to do this).

Arrange the filled tubes in a single layer in the dish and pour the tomato sauce over. Cover with the remaining béchamel, top with the remaining cheese and bake for about 40 minutes. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Venice to Istanbul, Penguin 2015.)

 

 

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