Friday, March 1, 2013

Summer Entertaining

How fitting that it's one of the most gorgeous summer days today... Possibly it's more noticeable because it's that time of summer when you realize that the days are getting a little cooler and you'd better appreciate every sunny, wind-free day you've got!

This brought me to the thought of outdoor entertaining, something I personally think I've got down to a fine art. I can honestly say that I am at my happiest when I've got a glass of chilled white wine in my hand and I am sitting around a huge table with friends and family eating in a relaxed, alfresco style. Forget courses, just bring everything out at once, sharing across the table from platters.

I have a few 'old faithfuls' when it comes to easy entertaining. This post will have to be a little bit of a series of blog posts, as it includes four great recipes: a quiche, a gallete (shared on the previous post), a classic bunt-style cake and a easy seasonal salad.

Mushroom, asparagus and mince Quiche
(8-10 portions)

155g butter
280g cake flour
45ml water

45 ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
200g tomato paste
10 ml cumin powder
500g lean beef mince
250g white button mushrooms
250g brown mushrooms
1 tin whole tomatoes
a bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
salt and black pepper
3 eggs
300 ml full cream milk
fine greens beans or asparagus

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.

Place the flour and the cold butter in a food processors and buzz until it looks like bread crumbs. Add the water and continue until it all comes together.
Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface and line a buttered 30cm cake tin.
Place the tart case in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.
Prick it with a fork and bake it blind for 10 minutes. Remove the wax paper and bake for a further 10 minutes, until golden brown.

For the filling:

In a big pot, saute the onions and the garlic until translucent.
Add the tomato paste and the cumin and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the mince and brown mushrooms and cook until the mince is cooked through.
Add the parsley and the tinned tomatoes, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Fill the crust with the mince filling and arrange the asparagus and raw button mushrooms on top.
Mix the eggs and the milk, season and pour this over the top of the quiche.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and set.
Allow to cool before serving.
Garnish with fresh parsley leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

Roast butternut, pumpkin seeds and feta Salad

This is such a classic combo, you can't really go wrong with feta and butternut, ever.
This salad doesn't require so much of a recipe as just the right proportions. So for 8-10 people, roast 1 large butternut in the oven until soft and sweet.
I usually use 3 rounds of feta cheese, crumbled or cut in blocks and a handful of pumpkin seeds. A tip, and trust me on this one, toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan just until they begin to pop and allow them to cool, this will make all the difference!

For the dressing, I drizzle the salad with good quality olive oil just before serving and then the secret ingredient is balsamic reduction, this is now available at most supermarkets.
Season well with black pepper and salt and you're good to go!

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