Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Unexpected Company Dinner

Have you ever received that phone call from your significant other at around 5 pm, the one that begins with “Babe, I have a surprise for you?” All these wonderful ideas go floating through your head, a surprise weekend trip? A new gadget for your I-phone? Even reservations for a romantic dinner for two would be a dream. But then reality sets in and you come down to earth to realize the surprise is that your lovely and devoted “Babe” invited five friends over to your house in about three hours time, all whom are expecting to be wined and dined. Panic sets it—what are you going to serve? What’s edible in your kitchen? Well don’t fear we are here to allay your panic and help you throw a fabulous dinner party with these easy-to-make dishes that use ingredients you will likely find in your refrigerator or pantry and still allow you to have that much end of the day celebratory glass of wine you are entitled to for being one savvy multi-tasker. Enjoy!


Patatas Bravas
I used to only think of Patatas Bravas as a necessary side dish to a nice Paella Valencia. But one day a friend suggested it to me as an easy-to-make dinner party starter (that tends to comply with most dietary restrictions), especially when the number of people attending your dinner party is unclear.


500g Potatoes
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp coarse Sea Salt
1 clove Garlic (finley chopped)
1 small Red Chilli (finely chopped)
4 medium Tomatoes (roughly chopped)
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 tbsp fresh Sage (finely shreded)


Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Add cubed potatoes and boil again. Reduce heat and let it simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until tender.

Drain and leave the potatoes ito dry in colander.

Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add garlic and chili fry for a minute.

Now, add chopped tomatoes and paprika and cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are softened.

Season to taste. Add sage and remove from heat.

Sprinkle sea salt over potatoes and transfer them to a warm serving dish.

Top with sauce and serve.

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Indonesian Corn Fritters


2-1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 large egg whites


Cut the kernels off the corn a few rows at a time. Try to preserve the kernels so cut a little deep against the cob. You need about 2 1/2 cups of corn. You can also used sweet canned corn that has been drained.

Beat the egg whites in a large bowl with a whisk. You can also user your stand mixer or hand mixer with a whisk attachment.

You are done beating the eggs whites when you achieve stiff peaks. Just dab your whisk into the white and lift. If the egg white form points that don't doop then you've got stiff peaks. (If they do then it's called soft peaks.)

Lightly beat the egg yolk and mix it into the corn. Then add flour, salt, pepper and sugar and mix using a wooden spoon.

Fold in the egg whites into the corn mixture.

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This is what the final mixture should look like!

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Melt two tablespoons of butter in a nonstick skillet and place tablespoon sized heaps into the hot butter. You can also use oil instead of butter.

Cook on one side until its browned and then flip over and do the same for the other side.

Serve with soya sauce. Enjoy!

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Fettuccine Piccata
For an impromptu dinner party always remember when in doubt - Pasta, Pasta, Pasta! Its easy to make, most people enjoy it and its filling. The worst dinner parties are the ones where your guests go home hungry.


1 (16-ounce) package uncooked fettuccine pasta
1/3 cup olive
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup prepared pesto
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup cottage cheese
Course salt and ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Cook Pasta, drain it and return to pan to keep it warm

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil, capers, white wine, pesto, and garlic for 1 minute or until aromatic.

Stir in black olives, lemon juice, and cottage cheese. Remove from heat and pour over prepared pasta. Toss to coat thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

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Shrimp Scampi
Calling all seafood lovers!


2 pounds shrimp
8 tablespoons butter
4 large cloves garlic
4 tablespoons dry vermouth
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, or dried
2 teaspoons flour
Dash of lemon juice (1/2 of a lemon)
1 pound linguine (or your favorite pasta of choice)
Salt and pepper to taste


Cook linguine according to package directions (al dente).

Rinse, peel, and de-vein the shrimp in cold water. Dry on paper towels.

Sauté garlic and parsley in butter and oil for 1 to 2 minutes.

DO NOT let the garlic turn brown.

Add the vermouth, then shrimp.

Raise heat to medium-high and cook for 3 to 5 minutes stirring frequently.

Do not overcook. Season with salt and pepper.

Add flour to slightly thicken the garlic butter.

Add the lemon juice during the last minute of cooking.

Remove from the heat. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
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Dessert: Dash over to Le 15 Patisserie and pick up a selection of multi-colored macaroons!!! Always the perfect dessert :-)

Posted by Ameesha Mansukhani. Ameesha is a freelance writer who recently moved to Bombay from New York. Her favorite sin? Gluttony of course. :-)


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