With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, most of us are starting to feel jittery thinking about how we’re going to tackle all the festive lunches, dinners, never ending booze and sometimes annoying relatives. Some years I get to escape to a beach in Thailand or a ski resort but usually it’s a family affair with lots of fabulous food. We usually do a dinner and it’s always something comforting, hearty and relatively easy.
The recipes and ingredients are for six people but you can prepare less or more food depending on your company. You can choose to make one or two dishes from this menu but if you want to go all the way, I’m including a handy document with all preparation notes and a shopping list for your convenience. You can down it here.
On the menu:
- Antipasti – liver pate, salami, carrot sticks, sliced radishes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes
- Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
- Macadamia & Parsley Crumbed Rack of Lamb
- Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Sweet Potato & Mushroom Gratin
- Avocado & banana chocolate
- Drinks: Sparkling Shiraz or Champagne to start with followed by a nice Shiraz, Sangiovese or Tempranillo
- 18 asparagus spears
- 9-10 slices of prosciutto
- Some ghee for frying
- 3 racks of lamb (French-trimmed, 4 lamb cutlets per person)
- 1 and a bit cup macadamia nuts
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2/3 tsp sea salt
- A little extra salt and black pepper
- Some ghee for cooking
- Large roasting tray
- 3 branches of cherry tomatoes
- 3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- A good pinch of sea salt
- A little drizzle of olive oil
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 3 cups sliced button mushrooms
- 1 1/2 brown onion, sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 garlic clove chopped
- A pinch of salt
- 200 ml vegetable stock (about 1 cup)
- Pinch of nutmeg
- A couple of bay leaves
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 tbsp butter or ghee
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- A pinch of black pepper
Chilli chocolate mousse
- 1 large, ripe avocado, such as Hass
- 2 ripe bananas
- 6 tbsp raw cacao powder
- 5 tbsp coconut cream (from the top of the can)
- 1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
- 2 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup
- Pinch of sea salt
- 3/4 tsp red chilli flakes
- Optional Dark chocolate flakes, raspberries and chilli flakes for garnish
- 6 ramekins or smal cups
Recommended methods and timings
One day before
Place coconut milk or cream in the fridge.
3-4 hours before guests arrive
1. Prepare the mousse– Cut avocado in half and remove the seed. Scoop out the flesh and add to a food processor or blender together with chopped banana and cacao powder. Whiz up until smooth. Remove contents to a large bowl, add coconut cream, vanilla, your choice of sweetener. Whisk using an electric blender until well combined, fluffy and smooth. Fold in salt and chilli flakes. You can serve right away but it’s best to refrigerate the mousse to set for around 2-3 hour. You can set it in ramekins or small serving glasses. Refrigerate until guests arrive. Prepare some garnish – dark chocolate flakes, raspberries and a little extra sprinkle of chilli flakes and set aside.
2. Wrap asparagus in prosciutto slices – Cut 2 cm off the ends of washed asparagus spears. This step can also be done the day before.
Cut prosciutto strips into two halves, going lengthways, so you end up with 18 strips. Place one prosciutto strip on a chopping board at a 45-degree angle. Place one of the asparagus spears on top of the meat, perpendicular to it. The tip of the asparagus should be lined up with the bottom of the prosciutto strip. Wrap the bottom end of prosciutto over the asparagus and holding the meat tight, start rolling the asparagus up. The prosciutto strip will wrap around the whole length of the spear because it’s on an angle. You can try a different wrapping method but I find this is a very quick to do it. Don’t worry if parts of the asparagus spears are not covered completely. Place in the fridge until cooking time.
2. Roast cherry tomatoes – preheat oven to 170C/335F. Place cherry tomatoes on a roasting tray and drizzle with some virgin olive oil or macadamia oil. Roast in the oven, on the middle shelf, for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven, drizzle with Balsamic vinegar and place back in the oven for a further 15 minutes. Remove the tray and sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt. Set aside.
3. Prepare potato gratin – slice onion and mushrooms. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan to medium but not smoking hot. Saute onion with a generous pinch of salt until soft and golden. Add sliced mushrooms, one tablespoon of butter, chopped garlic and a pinch of black pepper. Cook for a further 5-7 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180 C/355 F. Place a double layer of overlapping potato slices on the bottom of a baking tray. Sprinkle with some seal salt and black pepper. Spread cooked mushroom mix evenly and cover with another layer of sweet potato; sprinkle a little more salt and pepper. Melt another one tablespoon of butter in the same frying pan as mushrooms, add vegetable stock, bay leaves and a pinch of nutmeg. Bring to simmer and cook for two minutes. Pour over the potatoes. Bake in 180 C oven for 45 minutes. Set aside until guests arrive.
1-2 hours before guests arrive
1. Prepare the lamb racks – wash and pat dry racks of lamb, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and set aside to bring to room temperature.
Place macadamia nuts, chopped parsley and garlic clove in a food processor. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Process into a thick, sticky paste.
Heat a teaspoon of ghee in a frying to sizzling hot. Place the lamb racks, standing up, and fry for one minute. Turn the racks flat and fry for additional 30-40 seconds on each side so all three parts are sealed. Remove to a plate and once cooled down, cover the meatier side with 50mm thick layer of macadamia paste, pressing down with your fingers. Place in the fridge to set. Leave the frying pan to prepare red wine sauce.
2. Red wine sauce – add half a cup of red wine to a heated frying pan. Cook on high for 1 minute, letting it bubble away. Add one cup of beef stock, one garlic clove and a pinch of black pepper. Cook on high for 2-3 minutes, letting the liquid reduce. Add a tablespoon of butter and cook for a further 3-4 minutes on high until the liquid is reduced even further. Pour into a bowl or a small saucepan and set aside until ready to reheat just before service.
3. Arrange antipasti on a platter and set the table.
1. Serve antipasti with sparkling Shiraz or Champagne. 30 later perform a ninja exit to finish off the cooking process.
2. Finish asparagus – heat a little ghee to high heat in a flat frying pan or a skillet. Fry asparagus spears in two batches, for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the prosciutto is browned and crispy.
3. Lamb – at the same time pre-heat oven to 200 C/390 F. Place lamb racks in a slightly oiled tray, crust side up, and bake for 13-14 minutes at 200 F. Turn the oven down to 170 C/335 F and roast for a further 8 minutes. Rest out of the oven for 10 minutes before serving. The crust is quite crumbly so be careful when transferring the lamb to a serving platter.
4. Potatoes and tomatoes – half way through cooking the lamb, place sweet potato gratin back in the oven on the bottom shelf to warm up. Add tomatoes if you have room, otherwise warm them up after you take the lamb out. While the lamb is resting, reheat red wine sauce and serve in a little jug.
Serve lamb racks with cherry tomatoes and a handful of fresh parsley, sweet potato gratin and asparagus on the side. You can also make a simple green salad or a side of steamed broccoli with butter and lemon. Wash it all down with a nice bottle or two of Shiraz.