My style of cooking for our dinner parties is fairly basic, but tasty (I hope) and easy to. The hardest part is to think up different menus, so I don’t repeat anything, and also when you are hosting, it is nice to prepare and cook as much as you can in advance, or dishes that do not need to be cooked when your guests are ensconced, so you spend most of the time with your guests rather than being in the kitchen. You can read about my style of cooking here
Dinner Party Menu Idea for 4 People
|Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup
|Braised Lamb Shoulder with Boulangerie Potatoes and Asparagus
|Key Lime Pie
STARTER: Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup
3 Red Peppers, halved and de-seeded
1 onion, unpeeled and halved
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
2 sticks of celery, sliced and chopped
500g plum tomatoes
900 ml vegetable stock
2tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp sundried tomato paste
1 tsp flaked chillies
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Pre heat the oven to 200 centigrade. Place peppers, onions (cut side down) tomatoe & cloves into a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes until the vegs are roasted and tender.
Melt butter in a large pan and cook the chopped celery over a medium heat for 4 – 5 minutes, making sure not to burn the butter.
Make up the stock adding the tomato puree, sundried tomato paste and chilli flakes. Mix well and then add to the celery.
When the vegs are cooked, remove the peel from the onion and garlic which comes away very easily. Roughly chop and then add to the celery pan with the celery and the stock. Heat on a low to medium heat and blend using a hand blender until smooth. Season to taste and serve with crusty bread. I drizzled a little truffle oil over the top, or a swirl of single cream but this is not necessary
MAIN COURSE: Braised Lamb Shoulder with Boulangerie Potatoes (or you could serve with potatoes of your choice eg sautéed Jersey Royals), Asparagus & Carrots (although again you could do vegetables of your choice)
Ingredients (Serves 4/5)
2.2kg shoulder of lamb
1 tbsp olive oil
12 banana shallots (Echalions) peeled
10 sprigs of fresh thyme plus 1 tbsp chopped leaves
24 cloves of garlic (about 2 bulbs) peeled
100ml sherry vinegar
400ml red wine (Merlot is good)
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 200 centigrade.
Rub lamb with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
Place in a heavy based roasting dish with the shallots and roast for 30 minutes
Take the lamb out and add the thyme sprigs and the garlic and a little of the red wine. Cover tightly with foil. Reduce the temperature down to 130 centigrade and cook for 41/2 hours.
Remove from the oven and pour over the remaining red wine and vinegar then continue covered for a further hour.
Remove the lamb, garlic and shallots to a warm serving dish and cover to rest
Place the roasting juices into a saucepan over a high heat, stir in the chopped thyme and season.
Slice the lamb on the individual plates (although it should just fall off the bone) so it might be difficult and pour the gravy over the top, or leave on a serving plate with the shallots and garlic covering with the gravy for guests to help themselves.
Boulangerie Potatoes or potoates of your choice
Vegs of your choice but I used asparagus and julienne carrots
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small onions chopped
½ pint milk
½ pint veg stock
Salt and pepper
Place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of a dish, sprinkle some chopped onion season with salt and pepper. Place another layer of potatoes, onions and salt and pepper, and continue layering until the last layer of potoatoes and season
Mix the milk and stock and pour over. Cut the butter into little pieces and fleck over the top. Cook for about an hour at 180 – 200 centigrade until soft.
Just snap off woody part so left with the heads, place in a dish and drizzle with olive oil and season. Cook either in the oven for about 10 minutes or use a hot griddle pan or non stick frying pan turning them until tender.
DESSERT: Key Lime Pie (Mary Berry,s Recipe)
300ml (1/2 pint) double cream
1 x 400g (13oz) can sweetened condensed milk
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
Lime slices to decorate (although I did grate some white and dark chocolate sprinkled over the top)
500g Shortcrust pastry (either make it yourself or use ready done pastry (like I did).
You will need a 9 inch fluted loose bottomed flan dish, or you could do individual ones
Line the flan dish and prick over with a fork. Line with a piece of greaseproof or foil, allowing it to come high above the rim so that it can be lifted out easily after baking. Fill with ceramic baking beans, or pulses or uncooked rice and bake in a pre heated oven 190 centigrade for about 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and return the shell to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Whip the cream to soft peaks in a large bowl and mix with the condensed milk. Slowly stir in the lime zest and juice until the mixture thickens
Pour the mixture into the shell and smooth the top or create a pattern with a palette knife. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or until the filling is set firm.
Serve the pie chilled, decorated with lime slices or sprinkle chocolate over the top