While a Stress Free Dinner Party when you’re not hungry seems like a contradiction, it does sometimes happen that for one reason or another you lose your appetite. I find that when I’m not hungry, small snacks are easier to face than big meals, so for that reason, we’re going to use the principles of Nouvelle Cuisine.
Nouvelle Cuisine was popular in the 1980s, often mocked by comments such as “three things on a plate for 30 bucks”, mostly by those of us who couldn’t afford it. What made it expensive was that it was a new way of eating; fresh ingredients, cooking simply to preserve the natural flavours, served with light garnishes of fresh herbs, melted butter, vinegar or lemon juice. And then piled together in interesting and artistic formations that probably took longer to plate than to cook!
Light, fresh ingredients
Similarly, light and refreshing drinks
Relaxed casual. Maybe a summery kind of white or lime theme.
As always, six guests invited to arrive at 6.30 for 7.00 pm.
6:30 Apéritif: Crudité and Champagne
Crudité: peel and cut hard vegetables (e.g. carrots, beans, radishes, daikon) into sticks.
Dip: First make some cottage cheese by heating a litre (33 oz) of milk with ½ teaspoon of salt over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then add the juice of a lemon. Leave to separate; depending on the freshness of the milk and lemon; this could be just a few minutes or as long as an hour (fresher is quicker). Strain through cheesecloth – squeeze to drain as much whey as possible (save it for a protein drink later if you like). Then chops some fresh herbs (e.g., chives, basil, dill, parsley), finely grate a small clove of garlic and add to the cheese. Leave to infuse for at least an hour.
7.00 Entrée: Apple, Pear and Fennel Salad with Sauvignon Blanc
Salad: Finely slice two apples, two pears and two fennel bulbs – drop into some iced acidulated water until you are ready to serve. When you’re ready to serve, stack in alternating layers and drizzle with the dressing.
Dressing: whisk two tablespoons of lemon juice and a little freshly ground pepper into six tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Acidulated Water: add a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every 500 ml (17 oz) of water.
8.00 Main: Gingered Pork with Riesling
Trim 675 g (24 oz) of pork fillet of fat and sinew, and cut into 1 cm (½”) slices. Add to a bowl and stir in five teaspoons of grated ginger.
Scrub 750 g (27 oz) of potatoes and cut into 1 cm (½”) slices. Boil for 10 – 12 minutes until tender.
Dry fry six teaspoons of sesame seeds and leave to cool. Beat three eggs with a little salt and pepper, then add the sesame seeds and fry like a pancake. When done, roll it up and slice it thinly.
Combine 1½ teaspoons of cornflour with 7½ tablespoons of water, then add 9 tablespoons of dry sherry and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce.
Fry the pork slices for a couple of minutes on both sides, then set aside, but keep warm.
Heat the sauce in the pan over medium heat until it thickens, then add the pork and any juices back in.
To serve; arrange the potato slices on the plates. Top with a handful of washed watercress and the pork slices. Pour the sauce over, then sprinkle the egg on top.
9.00 Dessert: Blueberry Friands with Muscat
I know I did these for the Summer Fruits Dinner Party, but they are lovely, light and delicious little treats. If you don’t want blueberries, you can swap these out for almost any kind of fruit.
Preheat oven to 190 °C (375 °F) and put the oven rack in the middle. Grease a six-hole friand pan.
Melt 100g (3½ oz) butter and then allow to cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, whisk four egg whites in a large bowl until foamy but not firm. Sift ¼ cup plain flour, 1 cup icing sugar and 2/3 cup lightly pressed almond meal into the bowl. Stir until just combined, then add the butter and stir until just combined. Divide mixture into the friand pan and drop about five blueberries on the top. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the friands are a light golden colour and spring back when lightly pressed.
Allow them to stand in the pan for five minutes before running a knife around each to loosen it before turning them out. Place on a wire rack to cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or Greek yoghurt with some fresh blueberries and a dusting of icing sugar.
10.00 Brie with Coffee and more Muscat
For some reason, people always pick at soft cheeses more than hard, so just a nice big lump of brie with some grapes, a baguette, some almond or fruit bread, and crackers.
4.00 Make the friands
5.00 Prepare the cottage cheese, vegetables and sauces ready to cook.
6.30 Guests arrive!
6.45 Plate up the salad and serve
7.40 Cook the potatoes and pork, and plate up.
9.00 Serve the friands
10.00 Serve coffee