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Issue 60 - Winter Party Food

Scotland Magazine Issue 60
December 2011


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Winter Party Food

Sue Lawrence gives us some recipes to keep your guests happy.

During the winter months, there are many occasions for big parties. And though drinks parties have their place, sometimes it is nice to feed your guests more substantial fare, either from a buffet table or sit-down if you have room for more than the usual six or eight round your table.

When you are feeding a crowd, I would do away with formal starters. Instead, just prepare some delicious canapés that can be handed round as people enjoy a welcome drink. Then serve some sort of casserole as this can be served with bread, mashed potatoes or a massive dish of potato dauphinoise. A Moroccan style tagine is ideal, flavoured with gentle spices and dried apricots, honey and saffron. A hearty curry is also good, made with beef, chicken or lamb and served with basmati rice.

But a classic stew of venison, lamb, pork or beef is my choice for big parties as everyone likes them.

And since they are not usually wither too spicy or hot, even the fussy kids will tuck in. Serve with big green salads that only require last minute tossing.

As for dessert, something comforting and delicious such as a big fruit crumble, steamed pudding or boozy trifle are good. Or a huge apple pie , served in high wedges and with a dollop of cinnamon spiked crème fraiche.

If this is a party for family or close friends, there’s every chance you will have offers of “Can I bring a pudding?”. If so, never refuse anything to make life easier.

Beef and Porcini Casserole

4 garlic cloves, peeled, whole
4 stalks of rosemary 50ml /2 fl oz olive oil + extra
350ml / 12 fl oz port
1kg / 2 lb 4 oz braising steak, cubed
50g / 1¾oz dried porcini mushrooms
250g / 9 oz pancetta cubed
1 onion, peeled, chopped
2 large carrots diced
2 stalks celery diced
2 rounded tbsp flour
350ml / 12 fl oz beef stock
350g / 12 oz chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced

In a large bowl, mix the garlic, rosemary and little black pepper (no salt) stir in the oil and 50ml / 2 fl oz port. Toss in the beef, mix everything together well, cover and marinade the beef overnight in the fridge.

The next day, soak the porcini in hot water, just enough to cover.

Leave for 20 minutes or so. Remove the beef and marinade from the fridge. Remove and discard the garlic ; remove and retain the rosemary for now.

Heat a large casserole over the heat and add a smear of oil. Brown the beef - in batches - then remove from the pan and add the pancetta and the vegetables. Cook for 10 minutes then add the flour, cook for a couple of minutes, stirring.

Return the beef and rosemary to the pan with the stock, remaining port, porcini plus their liquid (about 150 m / 5 fl oz) and bring to boil. Add salt and some more black pepper.

Cover and place in a preheated oven (150C / 300F / Gas2) for 1 hour then remove, add the fresh mushrooms, stir then cook for a further hour then check seasoning and serve with mashed potatoes or potatoes dauphinoise and a decent green salad.

Big Apple Pie

350g / 12 oz plain flour
50g / 1¾ oz caster sugar
225g / 8 oz butter, diced
1 medium free-range egg
1 medium free-range egg yolk ( retain white for glaze)

2.5 kg / 5 lb 8 oz bramley cooking apples
250g / 9 oz caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
the grated zest of 1 lemon
3 dessertspoons plain flour

For the pastry, make by hand by softening the butter and cream with the caster sugar then beating in the egg and egg yolk then mixing in flour. (Or in a food processor by whizzing the flour, sugar and butter then the eggs while the machine is running.) Bind with your hands.

Wrap in cling film and chill in fridge for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, core and peel apples and slice. Lay the slices out on 2 – 3 large trays lined with kitchen paper.

Leave the apples for about 45 minutes: they will go brown so don’t panic. This dries them out and intensifies the flavour.

Roll out the pastry and line your buttered, deep 23cm cake tin – base and sides.

Roll out the rest for the lid.

Put the sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest and flour in a bowl and mix. Blot the apples dry with kitchen paper and tip into the bowl. Mixing everything thoroughly. Tip into the pastry-lined tin, squashing down the apples. Don’t worry, they will all go in, if a little bulgy!

Dampen the edges of the pastry in the tin with water.

Top with the pastry lid and press the edges together, trimming off any extra pastry.

Whisk the egg white lightly with a fork then brush over top. Sprinkle with caster sugar. Put two slits in the top and place in a preheated oven (180C / 350F / Gas 4) for about an hour, covering loosely with foil after half an hour or so to prevent the top burning.

Chipolatas with Lea and Perrins Glaze

olive oil
16 - 20 quality chipolata sausages
1 clove garlic, peeled, crushed
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Lea and Perrins
few shakes of Tabasco sauce

Add a few drops olive oil to a good non stick pan and heat gently. Fry the chipolatas in the oil slowly so that they are cooked through.

Remove them from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Place the chipolatas back in the pan and add the other ingredients. Cook over a low heat so the liquid reduces slowly as this imparts more flavour.

When the liquid is syrupy and the chipolatas are coated in the glaze, they are ready to serve.


We have three signed copies of Sue’s new book to give away. Simply answer this question: What are the traditional three ingredients for Cullen Skink?

Answers to:
Eating IN, Scotland Magazine, St Faith’s House, Mountergate, Norwich, Norfolk, NR11PY, UK.
Competition closes on Feb 1st 2012