lunch with the girls

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!


to start

pea and pecorino crostini

  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/3 bunch mint, leaves picked
  • ½ cup pecorino, grated
  • 1 clove garlic
  • S&P
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • I day old baguette, sliced

instructions

  1. In a food processor, add all the ingredients except the bread. Process till combined. Check for correct seasoning.
  2. Drizzle oil over the sliced bread and toast the slices in the oven under the grill.
  3. Spread the slices on a platter and top each piece with a generous amount of pea mixture and serve.

 

entree

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

instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Add the currants, feta and mint and toss to combine.
  3. 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

instructions

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.

gratinated scallops

  • 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

instructions

  1. Preheat grill or oven to high heat.
  2. In a food processor, add the butter, parsley, garlic and capers and whizz till combined
  3. 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.
  4. Place in the oven for 5-7 minutes until just done and the butter is bubbling.
  5. Serve immediately.

 


 

main

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
  • S&P

instructions

  1. Put a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil.
  2. 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.
  3. In a large pan, add some olive oil and garlic. When the garlic starts to soften add the chilli then the cherry tomatoes.
  4. At this stage add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to the packet instructions.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

dessert

This dessert is pure heaven and perfecting this easy custard will make you the perfect hostess!

créme brulee

  • 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

instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.