Friday, May 11, 2012

Easy does it - Dinner Party the easy way

We had friends over last Sunday but with Manchester United and Cork playing, timing was off an essence. Anita & Andrea were expected at 6:30 and the matches were both at can imagine the precise planning necessary to be able to watch the matches and to present a nice dinner at 6:30.

Soup is always a great staple to prepare in advance - I opted for Butternut Squash soup with a chili kick and sour cream. I love the richness and silkiness of the soup. Roasting brings out the flavour and natural sweetness of the squash. With the soup out of the way, the thoughts were occupied by the main course....Anita & Andrea have been over quite a few times so it it getting harder to find something they haven't been served already - so I opted for veal. Of course, I went back to O'Flynn's butchers who prepared the meat nicely for me. Veal escalopes stuffed with mushrooms, panchetta, herbs and parmesan. Rolled up nicely and wrapped tightly in clingfilm, it was happy to wait its turn. Just make sure you don't overcook the meat - at these prices you want to make sure that you get the best flavour. Potato mash and broccoli with hazelnuts were also easy to make. The dessert was a bit of a novelty for me as I have never made a dessert with savoury flavours and it was my first time cooking with Polenta.... Lemon Polenta cake with Rosemary Syrup. Saw a similar recipe in one of the food magazines a few years back and it stuck in my mind as I wanted to try the rosemary syrup. One word of advise - keep an eye on the cake, it gets dense very quickly. The polenta gave the cake a new texture and the syrup went well against the lemon. Served the cake with Greek Yogurt and Vanilla ice cream.

Here is the recipe for the Veal - the rest will follow a bit later:

You will need:
  • 4 thin veal escalopes
  • 100g butter
  • 2 tbsp mix of onion, garlic, celery & panchetta (all finely chopped)
  • 100g dried mushrooms (soaked in warm water for about 30 mins)
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 200g grated parmesan
  • 250ml dry white wine

Melt half of the butter in a pan over low heat. Slow roast the mix of onion, garlic, celery & panchetta until soft. Add the drained and chopped mushrooms and cook until the sauce becomes quite dry. Leave to cool, then add the egg, herbs, breadcrumbs and cheese. Mix well and season (be careful with the salt as the parmesan is already salty).

If your butcher hasn't done it already for you, pound the veal slices until thin - careful not to tear the meat. Spread the filling onto each slice and roll them up, securing with kitchen string or cocktail stick. Set aside until needed.

Heat the rest of the butter in a pan and add the meat rolls, cooking them until they are browned and the cheese filling is starting to melt. Transfer onto a plate and keep warm while making the sauce. Add the wine to the pan and let reduce, scraping up all the bits and bobs from the bottom of the pan. Once reduced to the required consistency, pour over meat and serve.

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