Food: Executive Relief, February 2002
Easy posh dinners for people who value their time. This menu from Para Mullan.
This month’s menu is from Para Mullan in London. She says: ‘This is an evening meal for four. Scallops to start with, followed by roasted wood pigeons and fresh fruit salad to finish the meal. The recipe for the sauce is from Michel Roux’s sauces for fish and shellfish.‘
‘The main course can be cooked the night before you need it and warmed in the oven for half an hour before eating. The starter needs to be eaten as soon as it is cooked, but it only takes a few minutes to prepare. Dessert could not be simpler and is just right to follow two very rich courses.’
Scallops with butter sauce and wild rocket
12 scallops with roe; 1 packet wild rocket; 60ml of sweet cider; 50ml cider vinegar; 1 dessert apple, peeled and finely grated; 150g butter, diced; salt and pepper; 3 shallots, finely chopped
Cook the vinegar and shallots over a low heat until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the cider and the apple and cook gently to reduce the liquid again by one third. Continue to cook over low heat. Mix the diced butter into the liquid, using a whisk. Do not let the butter sauce boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Best to serve immediately, but if needs be, keep it warm until the scallops have been grilled.
Place the scallops under a hot grill (200C) for a 1.5 minutes each side. Do not overcook.
Serve with sauce over the scallops and a few twigs of wild rocket.
Wine suggestion – any good dry white Australian Chardonnay
Roasted wood pigeons in red wine
4 wood pigeons; 1 small onion, roughly chopped; 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped; 140g of pancetta, cut into small pieces; 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds; red wine to cover the birds (170ml); 55g of shitake mushrooms, chopped in small pieces; small tin of plum tomatoes in their own juices; 1 tbspn cranberry jelly; 1 tbspn of olive oil; salt and fresh pepper
Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas mark 7. It is best to use a deep-based casserole with a lid. Heat the oil, and when it is hot, baste the pigeons until they are browned all over. Remove from oil.
Fry the onions and pancetta in the oil, and when soft add the garlic and mushrooms. Add the cumin seeds after 5 minutes, and cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the wine, cranberry jelly and tomatoes and bring to the boil. Add the pigeons. Ensure that the wine is covering the birds – add more wine if needed. Cover and bake for 2 hours. Season to taste.
Serve with roast potatoes and broccoli or any green vegetables.
Wine suggestion – a lively red – Chianti Classico or California Pinot Noir
Salad of Exotic Fruits
‘For the fruit salad, you may use the fruits of the season or, like me, you might like to experiment with the following: lychees, mangoes, clementines, chinese pears.’
Cut the fruit into small but chunky pieces and serve with vanilla ice cream or double cream.
Wine suggestion – sweet, sparkling wine such as Asti or Moscato d’Asti
12 scallops with roe
1 packet of wild rocket
60ml of sweet cider
50ml cider vinegar
1 dessert apple
Salt and pepper
4 wood pigeons
1 small onion
3 garlic cloves
140g of pancetta
Extra red wine to cover the birds (170ml)
55g of shitake mushrooms
1 small tin of plum tomatoes
1 tbspn of cranberry jelly
1 tbspn of olive oil
Salt and fresh pepper
Potatoes and broccoli or any green vegetables
Fresh fruit – lychees, mangoes, clementines, chinese pear
Vanilla ice cream or double cream
Chianti Classico or California Pinot Noir
Dry white Australian Chardonnay
Asti or Moscato d’Asti
Executive Relief: The rules
If you love good food and entertaining, but have better things to do than pore over recipe books, make lists, and then spend half a day in the kitchen with cooker, children, and smoke alarm competing for your attention, then you might be in need of Executive Relief.
Executive Relief features dinner party menus, with simple recipes designed to take minimal time and effort – while reaching the standard you would expect from a good restaurant.
You are invited to share your dinner menus with spiked readers. The recipes do not have to be original – they just have to be good. The best, as judged by my dinner guests, will get a bottle of champagne. Simply follow the rules below, and send your recipes to: email@example.com.
1) There should be at least three courses, only one of which needs to be cooked on the day of the dinner.
2) It should not be too fiddly or difficult – nothing that requires balloons, spun sugar or blowtorches.
3) You should suggest a wine for each course.
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