Relax and catch up with family and friends without the cost and hassle of eating out. It’s easier than you think – the secret is to keep things simple and focus on a few details.
1) Risotto with truffles
The rice and other ingredients are not expensive, but this gives you the chance to splurge a little on a large spoonful of a luxurious topping that guests can stir into their risotto – a sprinkling of shaved black truffle or a few grilled fine asparagus tips.
Recipe step by step
2 ounces olive oil
1 cup minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
4 tablespoons butter
2 ounces black truffles
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over a medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sweat for 3 minutes until vegetables are translucent and aromatic. Add rice and lightly toast in oil for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Add liquid 1/3rd at a time stirring until each additional 1/3rd is absorbed. Once all liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and stir in Parmesan, parsley, and butter.
Divide into 6 servings and top with shaved truffles.
2) Gnocchi Al Forno
Trade up your usual weekday pasta dish by switching it for a good gnocchi. A glistening, light & cheese sauce will look more special than a comfort-food Bolognese spaghetti!
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
400g can chopped tomatoes
500g pack gnocchi
Handful basil leaves, torn
Half a 125g ball mozzarella, torn into chunks
Heat grill to high. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then soften the onion and pepper for 5 min. Stir in the garlic, fry for 1 min, tip in the tomatoes and gnocchi, then bring to a simmer. Bubble for 10-15 min, stirring occasionally, until the gnocchi is soft and the sauce has thickened. Season, stir through the basil, then transfer to a large ovenproof dish.
Scatter with the mozzarella, then grill for 5-6 min until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
1) Salmon with chili and ginger
If you’ve just come in from work, and you need something tasty but healthy at the same time, stunning and quick - fish is perfect! Grill or poach salmon and add a dash of the exotic by making a dressing with eastern flavors.
Here’s a quick step by step:
Sprinkle salmon steaks with finely sliced chilli, grated ginger and a splash of soy sauce or lemon or lime juice then wrap in foil and bake for 10 minutes. Rice can be an unpredictable to cook for guests, so serve with good quality new potatoes or steamed broccolis!
Don’t forget the details
Keep other courses simple – homemade soup or smoked salmon with lemon to start, then interesting cheeses or a quick pudding like strawberries and cream for dessert (mix your cream and strawberries with broken pieces of meringue so there’s no time-consuming presentation to be done).
Give your table cloth and napkins a pristine finish – wash them one day before for a bright and fresh smelling welcome that lasts and lasts, without waste.
Keep your dining space clear. If you’re eating in the kitchen, tidy off messy notes from the fridge door; in your lounge, clear away magazines and other daily mess. If you can’t avoid clutter, draw your guests’ focus onto the table with a great centerpiece and low lighting such as candles.