Trish Deseine gets us into A party moOd with this fresh, summery, non-labour intensive menu …
To celebrate our freedom, and gently ease you into entertaining mode, I have invented a fresh, summery, non-labour intensive menu with big flavours and interesting textures. It’s all easy to serve and eat, and should keep your guests happy and satisfied while allowing you to make the most of them. For pudding, keep the mood generous but faff-less. Make a fresh strawberry, peach and raspberry sauce, offer a huge bowl of Irish strawberries, raspberries and bananas, another of fresh cream, add meringues and let everyone construct their own Eton Mess. Then bring out some good chocolates and, as the inevitable evening chill falls, coffee and plaids for everyone and that special bottle of whiskey or Armagnac you’ve been saving for a “special occasion”. After more than a year’s wait, it doesn’t get much more special than this. Retro bitter liqueurs are in vogue and here the most retro of all, Suze, a pleasingly bitter French apéritif made from the gentian root, is combined with gin, elderflower and champagne in a refreshing herbal cocktail to start the party. I have optimistically christened this, with fingers crossed, The Sunny. For one, take one shot gin, one shot Suze, a dash of elderflower cordial, and champagne for topping up. Shake the gin, Suze and elderflower in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Pour and top with equally icy champagne. Garnish with dill or cucumber.
SMOKED DUCK BRIOCHES
10 slider brioche buns, cut in half
20 slices smoked duck breast
200g baba ghanoush
20–25 baby spinach leaves
2 or 3 nectarines, not too ripe, cut into slivers
Olive oil for grilling or frying
Salt and pepper
Purple and green basil for garnish.
Toast the half buns and reserve. Spread the baba ghanoush on the flat surface, set a spinach leaf or two onto it. Roll the slivers of fruits in the slices of smoked duck and place on the spinach. Garnish with basil and serve.
FENNEL & LEEK VOL AUX VENTS
20 minutes preparation
10 minutes cooking
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
300ml full fat milk
1 tsp of English mustard
Salt and pepper
2 tbsps good Irish cheddar, grated
1 small leek, finely chopped
About 1/2 a medium fennel bulb, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
Butter for frying
12–18 small ready made vol au vent pastry cases
1. In a non-stick saucepan, melt the butter. When it begins to bubble slightly, add the flour and stir in. On low heat, let the roux cook gently for 3 or 4 minutes while stirring with a wooden spoon. Pour in some milk and whisk to smooth the flour. Continue adding the milk, whisking all the while. Add the mustard, then the cheese and let it melt into the sauce. Take the pan off the heat and reserve. If you are making the vol au vents well in advance, keep the sauce in the fridge until you are ready to heat them up.
2. Melt the butter in another pan and sweat the leeks, fennel and garlic together until soft but without caramelising. Once everything is soft, add to the cheese béchamel and stir through. Season and cover with plastic film to stop a skin forming on top.
3. 10 minutes before serving, heat the oven to 180C. Fill the vol au vent cases with the béchamel and top with a little cheese. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is beginning to brown. Garnish with wispy fennel fronds and leave to cool slightly before serving as the insides will be molten.
BANG BANG CHICKEN
35 minutes preparation
1–2 hours chilling
4–5 tbsps light soy sauce
2 tbsps sweet soy sauce
2 tbsps smooth peanut butter
1 tbsps chilli oil or Sriracha
1/2 tbsps rice wine vinegar
1 tsp chilli pepper flakes
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsps toasted sesame seeds
about 750g chicken breasts
1 tsp salt
4 or 5 handfuls egg or glass noodles
Scallions, fresh mint and radishes for garnish.
1. Whisk together all the sauce ingredients until smooth and reserve.
2. Poach the chicken breasts in chicken or vegetable stock for about 12–15 minutes, until the juice comes out clear.
3. Cook the noodles and refresh them under cold water, adding a little oil to prevent them from sticking. Reserve and chill well.
4. Rinse chicken in cold water to cool it down, then finely shred it into small, thin pieces.
5. Half-peel the cucumber longways, in strips, slice it on the bias, then julienne the slices into 1/2 cm-thick sticks.
6. Mix the chicken and the cucumber into the sauce and leave to chill well.
7. To serve, lay the noodles on a flat dish, top with the chicken and cucumber and garnish with finely chopped scallions, mint and radishes.
KATSU VELVET CLOUD DIP
If you don’t have any wonderful Velvet Cloud yogurt to hand, use any good yogurt, Skyr or fromage frais. It’s delicious with crispbread, croutons and of course all sorts of raw fruit and veg.
3 minutes preparation
150g Velvet Cloud sheep’s yoghurt (or fromage frais or Greek yoghurt)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tbsps Katsu sauce
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
Salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients together, spoon into a bowl and keep well chilled until ready to serve.
‘THE SUNNY’ COCKTAIL
For one, take one shot gin, one shot Suze, a dash of elderflower cordial, and champagne for topping up. Shake the gin, Suze and elderflower in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Pour and top with equally icy champagne. Garnish with dill or cucumber.
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