A three-course menu for your first dinner party

Turn any evening meal into a fancy feast with these tried-and-tested recipes, writes Hannah Twiggs

Saturday 22 May 2021 11:00
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<p>There’ll be no leftovers from this decadent dessert</p>

There’ll be no leftovers from this decadent dessert

The next phase in the easing of lockdown restrictions has begun. For the first time in months, indoor socialising is back on the agenda. From 17 May, we’ll be able to enjoy pints, meals, movies, exercise classes and more, indoors – can anyone even remember what that’s like?!

But, perhaps most importantly, we can have our friends, family and loved ones back over for dinner. Many of us will have missed the simple joy of grabbing a bottle of wine from the offie, heading over to our mate’s place, and catching up over a delicious plate of food – let alone hugging it out when we get there, and even sleeping over.

Well, whatever you have planned, IndyEats has you covered. Let’s start with the humble – or extravagant – dinner party.

Here’s a three-course menu from the brains behind Stork and Bertolli you should definitely try out this week.

Starters

A simple starter, lunch, or anytime snack

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 5 mins

Ingredients

8 slices ciabatta (about 20g each)

1 clove garlic, cut in half

40g Bertolli Original Spread

250g mini plum tomatoes

1 orange

½ small red onion

Small handful fresh mint leaves

Extra virgin olive oil to serve

Method

1. Preheat the grill, griddle or barbecue. Toast the ciabatta on both sides until golden and slightly charred. Remove from the grill and keep warm. Mix the garlic and Bertolli spread together.

2. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into quarters. Using a zester, remove the zest from the orange and place it into a bowl. Pour over just enough boiling water to cover and leave to blanch for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

3. Remove the orange skin and pith with a sharp knife and throw it away. Chop the orange segments into 1cm cubes, and peel and finely dice the onion. Shred the mint leaves finely. Mix with the tomatoes, zest and olive oil and season to taste.

4. Spread the garlic Bertolli spread over the ciabatta slices and spoon over the tomato mix onto the warm ciabatta. Serve immediately with a little olive oil to drizzle over. The tomato mixture will keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours, but always serve at room temperature to make the most of its flavour. A rich Italian red wine is a perfect accompaniment to this simple recipe.

For a traditional Italian delicacy, it’s difficult to find one as simple and satisfying as arancini

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 20 mins | Cooking time: 40 mins

Ingredients

Small bunch of spring onions

20g Bertolli Original Spread

250g arborio rice

800ml chicken stock, boiled

15g parmesan grated

Large bunch parsley

1 garlic clove, crushed

50g toasted almonds

Virgin olive oil (add to required consistency)

60g mozzarella, chopped into cubes

1 egg

170g plain flour

Water

Panko breadcrumbs

Oil to fry

Method

1. Place the Bertolli spread in a large saucepan over the heat. Once it’s melted fry the spring onions until translucent.

2. Add the rice, and fry until each grain is covered in oil.

3. Slowly add hot stock, spoonful by spoonful until it’s all absorbed.

4. Stir in the grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

5. Place in a flat bowl and cool quickly in the fridge.

6. Whilst it is cooling, make the pesto.

7. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until they are a paste.

8. Add enough olive oil so the paste is glossy and smooth (roughly 2tbsp).

9. Prepare the batter by mixing the flour and egg in a bowl. Add enough water to make the solution less doughy and more like pancake batter.

10. Pour out the breadcrumbs onto a large plate.

11. Once the rice is cooled, stir in the mozzarella.

12. Take a handful of rice, roll into a loose ball and spoon some pesto into the middle. Fold the ball around it a little and plug the gap with a little more rice.

13. Place each ball in the batter, roll it in the breadcrumbs and put on a clean plate.

14. Fill a large pan ⅓ high with vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot – test by seeing if it sizzles when you throw a breadcrumb in it – add a batch of the arancini. Fry till golden and place on a paper towel, and repeat with the next batch.

Mains

Escalopes, or scaloppini, are very popular in Italy for a quick and easy meal

Makes: 2 servings

Prep time: 15 mins | Cooking time: 20 mins

Ingredients

Blood orange zest from a small blood orange

1 tbsp plain flour

2 pork escalopes weighing approx 100g each

Salt

Pepper

60g Bertolli Original Spread

1 small leek, trimmed and finely chopped

4 fresh thyme sprigs

Segments of 2 small blood oranges plus extra to serve

50ml white wine

Juice of ½ small blood orange

Method

1. Combine zest, flour, some salt and black pepper and set aside.

2. On a board, flatten the pork escalopes and coat with the flour mixture, shake off the excess and set aside.

3. On a medium heat, melt 30g of Bertolli spread in a frying pan, add leeks and sweat for a minute, remove and set aside.

4. In the same pan, melt the remaining Bertolli spread on a medium to low heat, add thyme and leave to infuse for a minute. Increase the heat, add the meat slices and seal well on both sides. Keep moving the meat around the pan to avoid burning.

5. Pour wine, increase the heat and allow to evaporate by about half. Return leeks to the pan, add orange segments, orange juice, a knob of Bertolli spread, and cook for a minute or so until the sauce begins to thicken slightly.

6. Remove the meat, place on a serving dish and pour over the sauce. Serve immediately with fresh blood-red orange segments.

Forget stacks of washing up – this meatball dish involves little cleaning up

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 20 mins

Ingredients

1 tbsp Bertolli Original Spread

12 fresh beef meatballs

1 onion, peeled and diced

2 celery sticks, trimmed

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

400g tinned chopped tomatoes

200g dried spaghetti

Fresh parmesan

Dressed green salad

Method

1. Warm the Bertolli margarine spread in a large pan over a high heat. Add the meatballs and cook for 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until well browned all over.

2. Add the onion, celery and garlic, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft.

3. Stir in the rosemary, tomatoes and puree, then bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 5 minutes, until thickened slightly.

4. Pour over 750ml of boiling water and bring to the boil. Break the spaghetti in half and add it to the pan. Stir well then leave to simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender.

5. Remove the rosemary and season to taste. Serve with plenty of grated parmesan and a dressed green salad.

Sides

A delicious savoury bake which is perfect for a meal with friends

Makes: 8 servings

Prep time: 30 mins | Cooking time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

450g strong white flour

1 tsp caster sugar

2 tsp fast action yeast

1 tsp salt

20g Stork Original Baking Spread

225ml milk, lukewarm

For the filling:

75g Stork Original Baking Spread

3 tsp garlic puree, or 3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

80g grated mozzarella

Method

1. In a large bowl combine the strong white flour, caster sugar, fast action yeast and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the lukewarm milk and melted Stork spread.

2. Work together to form a rough dough.

3. Knead by hand for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to a clean bowl, adding a little oil to grease. Cover with cling film and allow to prove in a warm, draught-free position for 1½ hours or until doubled in size.

4. When the dough is risen, remove from the bowl and knead lightly. Shape the dough into a bloomer shape and set onto a greased baking tray.

5. Cover lightly with cling film and allow to prove for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

6. Slash the top of the loaf diagonally with a sharp knife and bake in the oven (200C/180C fan/gas mark 6) for 35 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

7. Once fully cooled, take a sharp serrated bread knife and cut through the loaf almost to the base, vertically and diagonally, to create the “tear and share” pieces. Make sure not to cut through the base of the loaf so it stays together as a whole loaf.

8. In a bowl mash together the Stork spread, garlic puree and chopped parsley.

9. Spread the mixture liberally along the cuts in the loaf and sprinkle in the grated mozzarella.

10. Bake the loaf in the oven for 10-12 minutes just before serving.

Dessert

Be sure to serve with lashings of whipped cream

Makes: 12 servings

Prep time: 45 mins | Cooking time: 40 mins

Ingredients

125g Stork Original Baking Spread

125g soft light brown sugar

4 tbsp maple syrup

2 eggs, large

200g self-raising flour

¾ tsp ground cinnamon

160g apple, peeled, cored and diced

40g pecans, chopped

100g icing sugar

2 tbsps maple syrup

1-2 tsp water

15g pecans, chopped

Instructions

1. Cream together the Stork spread and soft light brown sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the maple syrup.

3. Fold in the flour and ground cinnamon until the mixture is even.

4. Add the diced apple and chopped pecans and stir through the cake mixture.

5. Place the mixture into a greased, base-lined 8” cake tin and bake in the oven at 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4 for 40 minutes until golden and springy to the touch.

6. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

7. Once cooled combine the icing sugar, maple syrup and a little water to make a glaze. Drizzle over the top of the cake and finish by scattering over the chopped pecans. Serve.

Full of endorphin-boosting ingredients, this is truly the world’s happiest cake

Makes: 16 servings

Prep time: 30 mins | Cooking time: 1 hr 10 mins

Ingredients

225g Stork Original Baking Block

325g caster sugar

4 eggs, medium

250g self-raising flour

100g plain flour

Zest of 2 limes

50g dried mango, finely chopped

50g flaked almonds

50g desiccated coconut

Juice of 2 limes

60g caster sugar

For the filling:

55g Stork Original Baking Spread

175g icing sugar

1-2 tsp milk

100g mango puree (fresh or tinned)

100g icing sugar, sieved

25g each of shredded or desiccated coconut and dried mango

15g each sunflower and pumpkin seeds

15g flaked almonds, toasted

Method

1. To make cake, place Stork baking block margarine and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time and fold in the remaining ingredients.

2. Place the mixture in a greased and bottom-lined 23cm deep cake tin.

3. Bake on the middle shelf of a preheated moderate oven at 170C/160C fan oven/gas mark 4 for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

4. Turn out and cool on a wire tray.

5. For the syrup, place sugar and lime juice in a pan over moderate heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and then pour over warm cake.

6. Filling: place Stork margarine, sugar and milk together in a bowl and beat together until smooth. Split cake into 3 and sandwich together with icing and mango puree.

7. To finish the cake, make a glace icing by adding either lime juice or water to the icing sugar until a thick pouring consistency, and spread over the cake. Top with a mix of seeds, mango, coconut and almonds

Too beautiful to eat?

Makes: 12 servings

Prep time: 45 mins | Cooking time: 30 mins

Ingredients

175g self-raising flour

½ level tsp baking powder

175g Stork Original Baking Spread

175g caster sugar

3 medium eggs

1 tbsp elderflower cordial

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon, strained

1 tbsp elderflower cordial

55g caster sugar

115g icing sugar

For the filling:

40g Stork Original Baking Spread

1-2 tsp elderflower cordial

3-4 tbsp lemon curd

55g icing sugar for glace icing

Method

1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, add the remaining cake ingredients and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.

2. Spoon the mixture into 2 greased and base-lined 20cm cake tins.

3. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/160C fan oven/gas mark 4 for 30-40 minutes or until cooked. Turn out on to a wire tray.

4. Put the lemon juice, elderflower and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.

5. Whilst cake is warm, make a few deep holes with a skewer and drizzle the syrup over so that it soaks into the cake.

6. Place the icing sugar, Stork margarine and elderflower in a bowl and mix well until smooth. Split the cakes horizontally in half. Spread the base cake half with ⅓ of the icing and ⅓ lemon curd. Top with the second cake and repeat layers until the icing and curd are used up, finishing with the final layer of cake on top.

7. Decorate with a thin glace icing made with the icing sugar and a little lemon juice and drizzled over the top of the cake. Finish with edible flowers if liked.

For more delicious recipes and inspiration, head to the Stork and Bertolli websites

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