(From The Scotsman) The secret to enjoying the party you throw is to pre-load. Do as much in advance as you can.
Foodwise, the trick to a successful dinner party is to keep the cooking simple and do as much in advance as possible.
You can show off a little with the main course but after that you'll want to relax and join the party so forget about the soufflés and baked Alaska. All that remains now is to dig out that vile holiday liqueur you've wanted to get rid of for the last two years.
Smoked fish terrine with red "caviar" dressing (serves ten)
1 kg smoked salmon 700 g smoked trout 700 g smoked halibut 250 g butter
20 g fresh chives, chopped Juice and zest from 1 lemon 2 lemons, cut into wedges
200 ml olive oil Juice from 1 lemon 10 g fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp white wine vinegar 50 g red lumpfish roe
Grease the inside of a one-litre terrine tin and line with cling film, leaving enough overlapping to seal the top. Soften butter then add lemon juice, zest, dill and chives. Season. Line the terrine completely with all of the smoked salmon, again leaving enough overlapping. Brush the salmon liberally with the butter mixture and press a layer of smoked halibut on top. Brush again and press a layer of smoked trout. Continue brushing and layering until you have used all the fish. Brush the top layer with butter then fold over the salmon, and cling film. Chill for at least six hours.
Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar. Add the roe. Season to taste.
To serve, turn out the terrine and slice into portions, garnishing with the lemon wedges. Drizzle with dressing.
Pan-fried duck breast with Thai flavoured noodles and mixed greens (serves ten)
10 duck breast fillets, 200-250g each 750 g medium egg noodles 1 bunch spring onions, washed and chopped 100 g shallots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped 5 medium chillies, seeded and chopped 30 g fresh coriander, chopped 400 g fresh bean sprouts
Juice from 1 lime Olive oil 250 g sugar snap peas 250 g green beans, trimmed
Preheat oven to 200C and soak the noodles in boiling water for 25 to 30 minutes before using. Season duck breasts generously with salt and black pepper, scoring the fatty side twice through to the flesh. Pan fry the breasts on each side with a little olive oil then place in oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile heat the peanut oil in a wok or large pan until very hot then add shallots, chilli, spring onion, garlic and onion. Cook for one minute. Add the drained noodles, soy sauce, rice wine or sherry and lime juice. Stir fry for two minutes, then add bean sprouts and coriander. Season and keep warm. Blanche the sugar snap peas and beans for one minute in boiling water then drain and keep warm.
Remove the duck breasts from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes. Slice and serve on top of the noodles and garnish with the green veg.
Dark chocolate and Amaretto tart (serves ten)
For the pastry:
300 g plain flour, sieved 100 g butter, softened 100 g icing sugar
2 eggs 1 tsp lemon juice
For the filling:
800 g dark chocolate 700 ml double cream 6 eggs, whisked 100 ml amaretto
Preheat oven to 150C. Mix icing sugar with the flour then rub in softened butter. Add eggs and lemon juice and knead until firm. Press into a greased, high-sided, circular baking tin and blind bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place a bowl over a pan of boiling water and pour in the cream, chocolate and amaretto. Stir until chocolate has melted then whisk in the eggs until smooth. Pour into the pastry case and bake for a further 25 minutes. Cool. Serve with cream.