These are the recipes which were featured in my ‘Perfect Dinner Party’ Episode on YouTube. All three recipes are so simple - you can prepare everything in advance so that all you need to focus on is entertaining your guests.
Starter – Twice-Baked Goat’s Cheese Soufflés
I love a classic cheese soufflé but I would never normally make one for a dinner party as they usually require a lot of last minute preparation and there is always the risk of them collapsing if you don’t give them your full attention. However, these “twice-baked” soufflés are the perfect dinner party starter as you can do the first bake the day before your party, store them in the fridge overnight and then do the final bake shortly before your guests arrive These robust little soufflés can then be kept warm in a low oven until you are ready to garnish and serve them. This recipe makes 6-8 soufflés, depending on the size of your ramekin dishes. Any extras can be reheated the following day or even frozen, after the first bake, for up to a month.
For the Soufflé:
100g /3.5oz unsalted butter
100g/3.5oz plain (all purpose) flour
600ml/20 fluid oz full-fat milk, warmed
2 tbs grated Parmesan
1 tbs Dijon mustard
2 tbs chopped thyme leaves
4 large eggs, separated plus 1 large egg white
(save the yolk for the parmesan glaze below)
175g/6oz rindless goat’s cheese
Heat the oven to 180C/350F and butter your ramekin dishes.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook the roux for 5 mins stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and slowly add the warm milk using a hand whisk as you pour until you have a smooth paste. Stir in the parmesan, mustard and thyme then set aside to cool a little. Now you can beat in the eggs, fold in the crumbled goat’s cheese, season with salt and pepper and then transfer into a large bowl.
Next, whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they just start to hold peaks. Use a metal spoon to gently fold them into the cheese mixture, in 3 additions.
Spoon your soufflé mixture into the prepared ramekins and place them in a deep sided roasting tin or baking tray. You now need to add boiling water into the tray until it reaches half way up the side of the ramekin dishes. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until your soufflés are golden and risen. Remove from oven and carefully lift the soufflés out of the water filled baking tray. After ten minutes, once the ramekin dishes are cool enough to handle, run a knife around the edge of the soufflés and turn them out onto a clean baking tray. With the first bake complete they can now be covered and stored overnight in the fridge.
For the Parmesan Glaze:
50ml/2 fluid oz double (heavy) cream
25g/1oz grated Parmesan
The egg yolk saved from the soufflé recipe
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Remove your soufflés from the fridge and uncover.
Whisk the egg yolk, parmesan and cream together and spoon over the top of each soufflé.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until they are warmed through and then place under the grill for a just a couple of minutes until the tops are golden brown. Keep them warm in a warming tray or a very low oven until you are ready to plate and serve them.
For the Salad Garnish:
A handful of rocket leaves dressed at the last minute with a little lemon and olive oil
Red skinned apple cut into matchsticks (you can cut the apple in advance and mix the matchsticks with a little lemon juice to stop it from browning)
3-4 tbs roughly chopped walnut pieces
3-4 tbs pomegranate seeds
Microgreens or sprigs of fresh thyme to decorate the top of each soufflé.
To Serve: Place the individual soufflés in the centre of each plate and then scatter the leaves, apple, walnut and pomegranate seeds around it. Top with a sprig of fresh thyme or microgreens and serve.
(Recipe found on BBC Good Food Website)
Main Course – Ottolenghi’s Salmon with Pine Nut Salsa
Ottolenghi has long been one of my favourite chefs and food writers. Although not a vegetarian himself, vegetables are the star of many of his dishes which suits my predominately plant based diet. Many of his recipes have a middle eastern slant, incorporating spices and flavours that I grew to love in my time living in Dubai. His book “Simple” is full of vibrant and delicious recipes which, as its name suggests are relatively easy to prepare. My dinner guests for this evening are not vegetarians so I have selected this summery recipe using responsibly sourced Scottish salmon.
For the Pine Nut Salsa
60ml/2 fluid oz olive oil
4 celery sticks, cut into 1cm dice
30g/1oz pine nuts, roughly chopped
2 tbs brine from jar of capers
40g pitted green olives, cut into 1cm dice
¼ tsp saffron threads, mixed with 1 tsp hot water
20g parsley, roughly chopped
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
Put the currants in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 20 minutes while you prepare the salsa.
Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the celery and pine nuts and stir fry for 4-5 minutes until the nuts begin to brown and the celery has softened a little.
Remove from the heat and stir in the capers, the brine, the olives, the saffron with its water and a pinch of salt.
Tip into a bowl.
Drain the currants and add them to the mixture along with the parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice. The salsa is now ready and can be covered and left at room temperature if you are serving it later that day or stored overnight in the fridge if you are making it the day before your dinner.
For the Salmon
4 salmon fillets
1 tbs olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the salmon fillets on a lightly oiled baking tray and season with salt and pepper.
Roast at 180C/350F for 10 minutes
Place each piece of salmon on a dinner plate and carefully spoon the salsa onto the top of the fish leaving some to balance there while the rest tumbles onto the plate.
I served my salmon with a bundle of steamed green beans tied together with two chive stalks placed on each plate.
You do have the option to either pan fry or roast the salmon. I chose to roast the salmon as I didn’t want to be in the kitchen frying fish when I could be at the table with my guests. After I had reheated my soufflés, I left the oven on at 180C/350F. Once I had served my soufflés and just before I rejoined my guests I popped the salmon in the oven and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the salmon was cooked I removed it from the oven and covered it in tin foil while we finished our starter.
Dessert – Flourless Chocolate Cake
For me, when it comes to the final course of a special dinner, there is no better combination than dark chocolate and raspberries. Not overly sweet, but deliciously fudgy and rich, this flourless chocolate cake is easy to make and like the other selections in my dinner menu can be mostly prepared a day, or in this case even two, before your party.
For the Cake:
150g/5.5oz caster sugar
6 large eggs
300g/10.5oz good quality dark chocolate (I used Green & Black 85% cocoa)
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g/2oz cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F
Grease a springform cake pan with butter and line the base with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl placed over a pan of boiling water then set aside to cool a little.
Beat the sugar and eggs together until pale and fluffy.
With the mixer still running, pour the cooled, melted butter and chocolate into the beaten egg and sugar mixture until they are combined.
Sift the cocoa powder and salt over the batter and fold it gently in.
Pour the batter into the tin and place in the oven.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake has risen and feels firm to the touch.
Set cake aside to cool. Don’t remove it from the tin until it is completely cool.
For the Garnish:
Whipped cream or Crème Fraiche
A sprinkle of icing sugar
To Serve: Place a small slice of cake on each plate. Top with one raspberry and make a little pyramid of raspberries next to the cake. Add a neat dollop of cream to the plate and sprinkle the whole dessert with a dusting of icing sugar.
(Recipe found on Simply Delicious website)