Fresh fruit with everything
Fruit is the theme for this menu. It is my variation on dishes I learned from my grandmother when she came to live with us in the South.
All you need is mango, redcurrants and peaches or nectarines. You can adapt according to season. This meal is really easy and you should be able to prepare the whole thing in about 2 hours. I have put a list of ingredients at the end.
Start with either lambs lettuce or mixed leaf salad, prawns (shelled) or crayfish tails, some smoked salmon, a ripe mango cut into chunky pieces, a vinaigrette of olive oil and wine or balsamic vinegar with a little mustard, a half teaspoon of chilli sauce, juice from half the lime/lemon and chopped parsley. Toss all the ingredients together. Add black ground pepper, arrange on individual plates or bowls and decorate with a slice of remaining lime/lemon cut almost in half and twisted. This goes well with a chilled, crisp white. White Amé will go if you are cooking for a driver.
First, the meat: buy a medium size guinea fowl. This will be ample for four people. They are not really more expensive than good chicken and they taste very different. Put the bird in a roasting pan (preferably one with a lid, but cover with foil if not). Little bit of butter or cream cheese inside (otherwise guinea fowl can be a little dry), sprinkle with thyme and a spoonful of crushed juniper berries. Put a little water in the dish and add a spoon of organic Swiss vegetable bouillon powder. Then add some red wine and mixed peppercorn.
Pop it in a medium oven (about 160) for about an hour and a half – not too cooked, but just falling off the bone works well for me.
Now the sauce: using the juice from the cooked guinea fowl (if the juice has reduced too much add a little water and stir over low heat) add some reduced fat crème fraiche and 3 teaspoons of green peppercorns (the ones you buy in a jar in liquid) and some of the fresh redcurrants (keep some back for decoration). Stir over a low heat. When bubbling, pour it over the guinea fowl and decorate with sprigs of the redcurrants.
Now some vegetables: this is all presentation, but serving veggies in “spaghetti” shape can be fun and different. You will need some carrots say 2 medium size for 4 people), some courgettes and (if you want) some red peppers. You create your spaghetti by slicing these very thinly with a Julienne peeler: I got mine from Lakeland (www.lakelandlimited.co.uk). Stir fry 2 minutes and arrange on a dish or individual plates. You can also add some pre-cooked thin asparagus. Squeeze some lemon juice.
This will go well with a medium Bordeaux/claret.
You just need some ripe peaches or nectarines. You can use both if you want. Halve them and remove the stone. Place in oven dish with the flat-side up. Pour some rum or any liqueur in the hole left by the stone – even sherry will do. Cover it and leave to soak for about 30 minutes. Then put the dish in the oven for about 20 minutes covered with foil.
Then mix up some plain low-fat yoghurt with fig jam (in France you can buy lots of fig ice cream but it is difficult to get hold of in England. This will be the low-fat alternative). Trust me, even if your guests say they have a sweet tooth you do not need additional sugar, as the fig jam will do it. If you can’t get fig jam (St Dalfour does one), try another fruit, but make it as unusual as you can.
Place in the freezer for about 45 minutes – you want to leave it until it starts to solidify.
Get some slivers of almonds and toast them lightly.
Take the fruit out of the oven, place in individual dishes, pour over what is left of the juice from the oven dish and serve with the yoghurt/fig mix. Sprinkle the toasted almonds.
Ingredients (approx for four)