An Easy Dinner Party for Four
If your weekends get so busy you find it hard to catch up with friends, this menu might help you. It's possible to complete this meal within an hour of arriving home from work if you follow the suggested time scale. You will need to be in the kitchen for about 10 minutes after your guests arrive, so this menu is best for a relatively casual post-work dinner rather than a formal occasion. The dishes are easy but always seem to impress.
Chilli/Garlic Edamame (Soy Bean Pods)
Savoury Mint Lamb Cutlets with Rosemary Roast Vegetables
The Day Before:
Make the Chocolate Cream.
150ml cream or light cream
100g dark chocolate
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon alcohol (try Cointreau, hazelnut or coffee liqueur, or whisky & vanilla essence)
10g unsalted butter (optional)
Heat cream very gently in a saucepan. Break in chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Beat egg yolk lightly with alcohol. Pour into slightly cooled chocolate mixture and stir until combined. Add butter if desired and stir until all ingredients are well combined and smooth. Divide chocolate cream evenly between four small, decorative bowls or glasses (espresso cups, cocktail glasses, or Chinese or Japanese tea cups are ideal). Cover with clingwrap and refridgerate. (The portions might look small, but it is very rich.)
On the day:
1) Marinate the Lamb Cutlets.
Savoury Mint Lamb Cutlets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground black pepper
8-12 lamb cutlets
Trim fat from lamb cutlets. Combine remaining ingredients. Rub into cutlets and leave to stand.
2) Prepare Rosemary Roast Vegetables
8 cups vegetables, cut into rough chunks (pumpkin, zucchini, red capsicum, eggplant & mushrooms go well with lamb)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary
Toss vegetables in a baking tray with garlic, oil and rosemary.
3) Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
4) Put pot of water to boil on stove for edamame.
5) Dice some garlic and chilli and fry in hot oil until fragrant. Leave on stove.
6) Don't forget to set the table!
7) When your guests arrive, throw one packet of edamame into the boiling water. Leave one minute while you pour your guests a glass of wine, then drain and throw through the chilli/garlic mix. Pour onto a plate and serve with a side bowl for the edamame pods.
Put the vegetables in the oven.
9) Catch up with your friends for half an hour. You may need to catch up with them for longer if you've included potato in your vegetables, unless you parboil the potato first.
10) Fry or grill the cutlets for 4 minutes on each side.
11) Plate up with roast vegetables; garnish with fresh sprigs of mint if desired.
12) Enjoy the main course.
13) To serve dessert, place the chocolate cream container on a small side plate. Surround with a selection of dried fruit (apricots and peaches are good), fresh fruit (strawberries, crisp slices of apple) or small, crisp biscuits (i.e. gingernuts or macaroons). Guests can dip their fruit or biscuits in the cream. Make sure they are equipped with a spoon to finish off any leftover chocolate, or in case they don't wish to dunk!
Note on edamame: these are uncooked, unprocessed soy bean pods. You can usually find them in the freezer section of Asian groceries. To eat, pick up a pod and squeeze gently to pop the soy beans out into your mouth. Don't eat the pod. This is action food, so again, not appropriate for a more formal dinner party.