I take great pleasure in cooking for the people I love, so having my girlfriends come for lunch on a beautiful autumn day made for a memorable afternoon of food , laughter and good company.
I chose a menu in which we all could share and eat as much or as little as one pleased. Large sharing platters also make the job of the hostess a lot less stressful and allows more time for chatting and champagne!
pea and pecorino crostini
- 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- 1/3 bunch mint, leaves picked
- ½ cup pecorino, grated
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- I day old baguette, sliced
- In a food processor, add all the ingredients except the bread. Process till combined. Check for correct seasoning.
- Drizzle oil over the sliced bread and toast the slices in the oven under the grill.
- Spread the slices on a platter and top each piece with a generous amount of pea mixture and serve.
A simple and tasty salad I learnt whilst doing a cooking course in Rome. Perfect served by itself or it would make a great light dinner with a grilled chicken breast.
zucchini ribbon salad
- 8 zucchinis, sliced
- ⅓ bunch mint, leaves picked and torn
- ⅓ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1 tbsp black currants
- 80g feta cheese, crumble
- ½ lemon, juice only
- extra virgin olive oil
- Slice the zucchinis with a vegetable peeler or better, a mandolin. Put them into a bowl and season well. Pour over the lemon juice and dress with olive oil.
- Add the currants, feta and mint and toss to combine.
- Just before serving add the pine nuts.
ocean trout with fennel salad
Serve with some creme fraiche with some horseradish stirred through and some crusty bread.
- 400g smoked salmon
- 2 fennel bulbs, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 bunch dill, chopped
- 1/2 lemon, juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Put the sliced fennel, dill, capers, lemon juice and olive oil into a bowl and mix to combine. Arrange the smoked salmon in a single layer on a round serving dish. Pile the fennel salad in the middle and serve.
- 1 tsp capers
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 150g butter
- ½ bunch parsley, chopped
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 100ml white wine
- 2 dozen scallops, on the half shell
- lemon wedges to serve
- Preheat grill or oven to high heat.
- In a food processor, add the butter, parsley, garlic and capers and whizz till combined
- Place the scallops in there shell on a oven tray and splash each with a little white wine. Add some ½ tsp of breadcrumbs to each scallop then a tsp of butter to finish.
- Place in the oven for 5-7 minutes until just done and the butter is bubbling.
- Serve immediately.
paccheri con scampi
- 500g paccheri pasta
- 2 dozen scampi, halved and butterflied
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced finely
- 500g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes, optional
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- extra virgin olive oil
- Put a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil.
- Heat a griddle pan and brush scampi flesh with olive oil. Grill flesh side down until just cooked through. Take the scampi meat from the shells, leaving 8 in tact for serving. Set the meat aside.
- In a large pan, add some olive oil and garlic. When the garlic starts to soften add the chilli then the cherry tomatoes.
- At this stage add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to the packet instructions.
- Add a ladle or two of the pasta water to the tomatoes and squish the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Season the tomatoes and add the scampi meat and parsley.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain and add the sauce, toss the sauce and pasta together and serve on a large platter or individual plates. Finish with the whole scampi and drizzle with oil.
This dessert is pure heaven and perfecting this easy custard will make you the perfect hostess!
- 500ml cream
- 200ml milk
- 125g caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, cut lengthwise
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp rose water, optional
- 100g demerara sugar
- Preheat the oven to 120 degrees. Put the cream, milk and half the caster sugar in a sauce pan with the vanilla pod and bring just to the boil.
- Mix the remaining sugar egg yolks and white in a large bowl. Strain the boiling milk and cream over the egg mixture and whisk well. Stir in the rose water.
- Either use 8 small ramekins or one large shallow oven proof dish. Ladle the custard into the dish or ramekins. Sit the dish or ramekins into a large roasting pan and add enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the custard.
- Cook for 1 ½ hours or until set in the centre, allow to cool and refrigerate. For at least 5 hours. Before serving sprinkle with the demerara sugar and caramelize under a very hot grill or with a blowtorch. Serve immediately.