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Posts Tagged ‘Starter’

Bandari fishcakes

These Persian fishcakes are full of herbs and make a delicious starter or light lunch. They can be made up in advance and cooked when you need them.

Wine Suggestion: the only option here is a youthful, light, off-dry Riesling where the aromatics, herbs, date and tamarind all play with each other. Tonight we drank the Dr Loosen Estate Riesling, his entry level wine made with his own fruit in the Mosel and it was an excellent match. Along with the Mosel we’d recommend the fruity styles (Kabinett & Spätlese) from other German regions such as the Nahe and Rheingau. Further afield the Aussie Rieslings tend to be too dry for a dish like this but there are some excellent NZ examples, Forrest Estate and Felton Rd spring to mind.

Bandari fishcakes with a tamarind and date sauce (Kuku-ye mahi) – serves 4

  • 300g potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
  • 200g white fish fillets e.g. cod/haddock
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • 50g coriander, finely chopped
  • 25g parsley, finely chopped – plus extra to garnish
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaf (menthi)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 medium egg
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or olive oil

FOR THE TAMARIND & DATE SAUCE:

  • 50g tamarind pulp soaked in 100ml just boiled water for 10 minutes
  • 75g Iranian or Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 150ml hot water

Put the potatoes into a large pan and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil, then simmer until tender. Drain, mash the potatoes, and put into a large mixing bowl.

Add the fish to the potatoes. Dry fry the cumin seeds in a small frying pan for a minute or until fragrant. Grind the seeds with a pestle and mortar, then add to the bowl along with the fresh herbs, fenugreek leaf, garlic, cayenne, turmeric, lemon zest, egg, 1¼ tsp of salt and ¼ tsp of pepper.

Mix well with your hands, then shape into eight round patties. Dust with a little flour and place on a plate, cover with cling film and chill.

To make the sauce, put the tamarind and its soaking liquid, the dates, brown sugar, cayenne, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Add the hot water and cook for 10 minutes over a low heat until the dates are very soft.

Take the sauce off the heat and sieve into a bowl, use the back of a spoon to rub as much through as possible.

To finish the fishcakes, heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the cakes on a medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes, turning every few minutes, until golden brown and crusted. Garnish with parsley and serve with the sauce.

(Original recipe from The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury, 2016.)

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Smoked Mackerel Loaded Leaves

This is the kind of nibble we like before dinner. Really tasty but light so it won’t spoil your appetite. Radicchio and/or chicory leaves are preferable but if you can’t find these you can substitute Little Gem lettuce – as we did.

Wine Suggestion: Your choice of bubbles, whether it’s Prosecco, Cremant, Cava or Champagne

Smoked Mackerel Loaded Leaves – serves 4-8

  • 200g smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed and flaked
  • 4 tbsp crème fraîche
  • juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • small bunch of chives, snipped
  • small handful of dill, chopped
  • 1 small radicchio, separated into leaves
  • 1-2 chicory heads separated into leaves

Gently mix the mackerel with the crème fraîche, lemon juice, half the herbs and some pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

Spoon generous amounts of the mackerel mixture into each leaf and arrange on a plates or a platter. Sprinkle over the remaining herbs and the lemon zest.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Smoked salmon & crab timbales with cucumber parpadelle

This luxurious starter of smoked salmon timbales filled with creamy crab can be made up to a day ahead. You do need to find big slices of smoked salmon as you need to completely line the moulds to stop the filling leaking out.

Wine Suggestion: as befits the occasion these go great with bubbly. We love good Champagne, but have recently been sampling various Cremants from around France and enjoying the variation and character each brings. With this we served the Manciat Poncet Cremant de Bourgogne which our friend brought along to dinner.

Smoked salmon timbales with cucumber pappardelle – serves 8

  • 12 large slices of smoked salmon
  • 225g full-fat soft cheese
  • 100-150ml sour cream
  • 100g white crab meat
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh dill, plus some sprigs to garnish
  • lemon wedges, to garnish

FOR THE CUCUMBER PAPPARDELLE:

  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 150ml olive oil
  • a few black peppercorns
  • 1-2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 large cucumber peeled

Line eight 100ml ramekins with the smoked salmon making sure there are not gaps and hanging it well over the sides.

Beat the cheese to soften and mix in 100ml soured cream – loosen with a little more cream if still too firm to spoon.

Pick over the crab and remove any tiny bits of shell. Stir into the cheese with the chopped dill and season. Spoon into the moulds and fold over the overhanging salmon, then cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 2 hours (you can do this up to a day ahead).

Make the dressing for the cucumber. Put the sugar and 3 tbsp of water int a small saucepan and bring quickly to a simmer. Add the lemon zest and juice, oil and peppercorns, then taste and add 1-2 tsp of vinegar. Season with salt. Return to the boil, then cool (this can also be made up to a day ahead).

Use a swivel peeler to shave long strips of cucumber until you get to the seeds. Discard the centre. Don’t do this any more than 30 minutes beforehand or it will go soggy.

To serve, unwrap and run a knife between the salmon and the ramekins to pop them out onto plates. Strain the dressing through a sieve, mix a few tablespoons with the cucumber and arrange next to the timbales. Garnish with lemon wedges and dill and drizzle over some more dressing.

(Original recipe by Gary Rhodes in BBC Good Food Magazine, December 2004.)

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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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Patatas Bravas

We love these crispy potato cubes with spicy sauce and this version roasts the potatoes in the oven rather than frying them in heaps of oil. Serve as a side dish or just on their own for a snack.

Wine Suggestion: We love a dry sherry with these, but can’t decide between whether we prefer Fino, Amontillado or Oloros – we recommend them all.

Patatas Bravas – serves 4

  • 800g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-4cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley, to serve

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • ½ tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tsp hot paprika, plus extra to serve

Put the potatoes into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, add plenty of salt, and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until starting to soften. Drain gently so they don’t break up too much.

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

Put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a roasting tin and heat in the oven. Add the drained potatoes, toss in the oil, and roast for 40-45 minutes.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and add the garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic has started to soften but not coloured. Add the vinegar and sugar or honey and stir until dissolved. Stir in the sweet and hot paprikas.

Pour the sauce over the crispy potatoes and sprinkle with a little extra paprika and some finely chopped parsley.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers Mediterranean Adventure by Si King and Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017.)

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Spicy Thai Fishcakes with Dipping Sauce

These take literally minutes to make and they make a super tasty starter or snack.

Wine Suggestion: our favourite wine with dishes like this is dry Riesling, with the limey, citrus flavours of wines from the Clare Valley, like those made by Pikes, coming to mind first. They are zesty and thrilling in flavour with the bracing acidity working perfectly with the citrus fruit to make a wine that is both thirst-quenching and hunger inducing at the same time. Aperitivo!

Spicy Thai fishcakes with dipping sauce – serves 2

  • 200g raw peeled prawns
  • 2-3 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • a small bunch of coriander, stalks separated
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped

Put the prawns, curry paste and coriander stalks into a food processor and whizz to a paste. Form 4 to 6 flat cakes.

Heat a non-stick frying pan, heat a drizzle of oil, then fry the cakes for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through.

Mix the vinegar, sugar and chilli together in a small bowl.

Serve the cakes with the coriander leaves and sauce for dipping.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, October 2012.)

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Roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & za'atar

A divine vegetable dish from Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi’s bookJerusalem’ – still one of our absolute favourites. We served this on a platter as a light starter but it would also work really well as a vegetarian/vegan main or as a side with other dishes. There were happy diners at our table!

Wine Suggestion: this worked excellently with Massaya’s le Colombier from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, a very Rhône blend with a touch of  Tempranillo which gives it hints of North African / Eastern spices.

Roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & za’atar – serves 4

  • 1 large butternut squash, cut into wedges (about 2cm x 6cm)
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 3½ tbsp light tahini paste
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp za’atar
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat your oven to 240C/220C fan/Gas 9.

Put the squash and onion wedges into a large mixing bowl and toss with 3 tbsp of oil, 1 tsp of sea salt flakes and some black pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and starting to crisp and brown at the edges, leave to cool.

Make the sauce by putting the tahini into a small bowl with the lemon juice, 2 tbsp of water, the garlic & ¼ tsp of sea salt. Whisk until the sauce is “the consistency of honey”. You may need to add more water or tahini.

Pour the rest of the oil into a small frying pan and warm over a low-medium heat. Add the pine nuts with ½ tsp of sea salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until golden brown. Remove from the heat and pour the nuts and oil into a bowl so that they stop cooking.

Spread the vegetables out on a serving platter and drizzle over the tahini. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and their oil, the za’atar and parsley.

(Original recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2012.)

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