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Archive for the ‘Party Food’ Category

Rosemary and cheese straws 1

Who knew cheese straws could be so tasty? These are a great freezer standby to pull out and bake as needed and they work perfectly with pre-dinner drinks. They are definitely best served warm so don’t bake until your guests have arrived and have drinks in hands.

Wine Suggestion: Champagne and if not in your budget, a really good sparkling with a bit of time on the lees. We don’t know anyone who refuses this combination!

Rosemary & Cheese Straws – makes 36

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 375g pack of ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary, plus a bit extra
  • 100g gruyère or emmental, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
  • sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.

Mix 1 egg yolk with the mustard and stir until smooth, then set aside.

Lightly flour a work surface and open out the pastry, then prick all over with a fork. Brush the egg and mustard mixture over the pastry.

Sprinkle the rosemary over the pastry, followed by the cheeses and lightly press into the pastry. Cut the pastry sheet in half lengthways, then cut each length widthways into 2cm wide strips. Twist the strips gently.

Put the straws onto two large non-stick baking trays or trays lined with parchment. Press the ends of each twist onto the tray. Beat the remaining egg yolk with a teaspoon of water and brush over the twists, then sprinkle with the additional rosemary and sea salt. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little but serve while still warm.

To Freeze: Make the straws up to the point of twisting, then arrange on a large baking tray and freeze, uncovered, until solid, then pack into a freezer-proof box. To serve, remove from the freezer and glaze with the egg yolk (as above) and bake from frozen for 12 to 15 minutes.

(Original recipe by Henry Harris in BBC Good Food Magazine, November, 2001.)

Rosemary and cheese straws 2

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Orzo & tomato salad

A characterful and bright salad that tastes great with barbecued lamb. Easily halved.

Orzo & Tomato Salad with Capers & Kalamata Olives – serves 6 to 8

  • 350g orzo pasta
  • 2 x 290g deli packs of sunblush tomatoes, drained & cut into strips – reserve the oil
  • 400g green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 200g pitted Kalamata olives, roughly halved
  • 50g flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stems finely chopped
  • 400g feta cheese, crumbled into small chunks
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 240g capers in brine, drained

Cook the orzo according to the pack. Rinse well in cold water and leave to drain in a sieve for 10 minutes.

Put the drained orzo into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 tbsp of oil from the tomatoes and mix well.

Cook the green beans in boiling water for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender, then drain and put into a bowl of cold water to stop them cooking. Drain well.

Add the green beans to the orzo along with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Add some more of the tomato oil and season generously with salt and black pepper.

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

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Feta & Cucumber Bites

We served these on New Year’s Day with other canapés but by the time we’d typed up the recipe we thought everyone might be a bit partied out. So we’ve saved this post for summertime when these tasty bites would be delicious served outside with cool drinks before dinner.

Feta & Cucumber Bites – makes 24

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200g feta
  • 100g ricotta
  • 4 tbsp chopped dill, plus extra fronds, to garnish
  • 1 large cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds scooped out and discarded

Whizz the garlic, feta, ricotta and dill in a food processor until smooth but thick.

Fill the scooped out cucumber with the cheese mixture and smooth over. Cut into 3-cm thick slices. Grind over some black pepper and garnish with some more dill.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food.)

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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
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 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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