Be a Dinner Party Pro
3 cosy autumnal recipes, from Michelin Star, Masterchef and Bake Off winning super-chefs
It’s dinner party season and I’m guessing you’ll be hosting at least one this side of Christmas. If not, you’re bound to be called upon to bring a pud.
To help you tap into your inner Delia (she’s in there somewhere), I have a trio of tasty autumnal recipes to inspire you, offered up three stellar chefs. Michael Caines, Thomasina Miers and Frances Quinn are all supporting the Shine for ShelterBox campaign, helping to save lives in disaster zones this winter.
ShelterBox provides essential relief to people left without shelter during wars and disasters. Their Shine campaign is all about feasting and fundraising (no marathon running required!). You can lend your support by booking a table for one of the special Shine for ShelterBox events, coming up at restaurants around the UK or plan a supper of your own. We’ve even got the menu sorted for you…
Starter – Michael Caines’ Curried Carrot Soup
A lovely autumnal starter from Michelin Star chef, Michael Caines MBE, who is chef /patron at Lympstone Manor in Devon. This one’s equally good for a mid-week warmer.
150g onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
500g carrots, peeled and chopped small
150g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
A large pinch of Madras curry powder
300ml chicken stock
1 bouquet garni (parsley stalks, coriander stalks, thyme, bay leaf, celery and leek, tied with string)
Fresh coriander leaves
Cook the onion, garlic and carrots gently in a saucepan with the butter and a pinch of salt, without colouring, for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan. Add the toasted cumin and Madras curry powder to the vegetables and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, water and bouquet garni. Bring to the boil and add a little salt, then reduce to a simmer and leave to cook slowly for 30 minutes.
Transfer to a blender and blend to a fine purée and return it to a clean pan. Check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with freshly chopped coriander leaves.
Main – Thomasina Miers’ Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
A lovely twist on a family classic from Masterchef winner and Wahaca founder, Thomasina Miers. This is from her latest book, ‘Home Cook’. She says, “I came up with this recipe when we were putting on our first Day of the Dead festival at Wahaca. It looks sumptuous with its golden topping and the Mexican-inspired raisin and cinnamon-studded meaty filling is sweet and warming when the weather turns colder.”
Serves 6-10 (depending on age and appetite)
3 large sweet potatoes (about 800g), peeled and cut into chunks
40g butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp vegetable oil
750g minced lamb
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
14 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 x 400g can plum tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
Put the sweet potatoes in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Cook until tender, then drain. Mash to a smooth purée with 30g of butter. Season with salt and pepper and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large, deep casserole dish over a high heat and, when hot, add the raisins and cook for a few minutes until just puffing up and changing colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Heat another 1 tbsp of oil in the same pan and add the meat, stirring well to break it up and brown all over (about 5 minutes). Add another splash of oil, reduce the heat to medium and stir in the onion, carrot, celery and spices, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Fry for 10 minutes to cook out the raw onion flavour before adding the raisins, plum tomatoes, tomato purée and 500ml of water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5.
Spoon the mince into a deep oven dish and spread the mash on top. Melt the remaining butter and use to brush the top, then bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden and crisp. Remove from the oven, leave to sit for 5 minutes and serve.
Dessert – Frances Quinn’s Banoffee Tumbler Trifle
A delicious fusion of banoffee pie and trifle from Great British Bake Off winner, Frances Quinn. Banoffee pie and trifle are two classic, crowd-pleasing English creations, and these little puds raise a glass to both of them – quite literally. Presented in tumblers, you can see all the layers, from the banana cake through to the caramel.
You’ll need: a 6- or 12-hole muffin tin, 4 paper muffin cases, 4 35ml glass ‘barrel’ tumblers
200ml fresh vanilla custard
175g shop-bought dulce de leche
For the cakes:
50g butter, softened
50g light muscovado sugar
50g very ripe banana flesh (about ½ a medium banana)
1 egg (at room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g self-raising flour
50g pecans, toasted and chopped
50g hard banana chips
50ml dark rum
300ml double cream
4 small, medium/ripe bananas
50g butterscotch chips
Cocoa powder, to dust
To make the cakes. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Put the four muffin cases into the muffin tin.
Using a hand-held electric whisk (it’s tricky to beat this small quantity in a free-standing mixer), beat the butter and sugar together for 5–10 minutes or until the mix is light and creamy and takes on a pale café-au-lait shade. Mash the banana. Break the egg into a mug, add the vanilla and beat together with a fork. Gradually add the egg to the creamed butter and sugar, beating well after each addition. If the mixture looks like it’s starting to curdle, add a spoonful of flour. Sift the flour into the mixture and fold it in until just combined. Finally, stir through the puréed banana and chopped pecans.
Spoon the cake mixture into your four cases, dividing it equally, and bake for 15–20 minutes or until the cakes have risen and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then transfer, still in the paper cases, to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cakes and caramel have cooled, you can assemble your trifles. Set aside four of the best-looking banana chips and break the remainder into small pieces, with a sharp knife or your fingers.
Remove the banana cakes from their paper cases and cut or crumble them into bite-sized pieces. You will use one cake per tumbler: put the cake pieces in the base of the tumbler and sprinkle with a tablespoon of rum. Press the cake down with a spoon and set aside to soak.
Meanwhile, use a hand-held electric whisk to whip the double cream to soft-to-medium peaks; set aside. Cover the cake in the tumblers with the dulce de leche, dividing it evenly. Scatter the broken banana chips over the caramel.
Cut the fresh bananas into 5mm slices – you will be using one banana per trifle, so you might find it easier to work on one trifle at a time. Arrange some of the banana slices around the inside of each tumbler, pressing the slices up against the side so the whole of the slice is visible. Put the remaining slices within this ring of upright banana.
Next cover the bananas with the custard, dividing it equally among the four tumblers. Use a spoon or small palette knife to smooth the surface of the custard. Keep back a few butterscotch chips to decorate the trifles; scatter the remainder over the custard. Top with the softly whipped cream, using a palette knife to smooth it out a bit but still keeping a slightly rustic finish. Sift a little cocoa powder over the centre of each trifle and decorate with a dried banana chip and the left-over butterscotch pieces.
If you want to show off and make the custard and caramel from scratch, find out how here.