Summer Entertaining with Nina Parker

I am writing this with high hopes for the summer ahead. I’m envisioning joyous July jollies, ample August appetisers and sultry September suppers and all the while when the rain is beating down on my roof. Whether you are in a park, garden or roof top terrace summer entertaining is not complete without some cracking dishes to wow your guests and in the spirit of my new cookbook (NINA Capri) turn up the 60s Italian jazz and opera to get you into the Dolce Vita mood. Here are some of my favourite recipes for a simple but delicious dinner party that will bring a little sunshine to your table.

 

 

Polpette Di Lupo

These are wonderful little bites made from broad and cannellini beans and served with a sweet chilli jam for dipping. They can be prepared in advance and depending on what size you make them they can be bite-size or make a superb veggie option.

serves 4 (makes about 26)

coconut oil, for frying

2 free-range medium eggs, lightly beaten

200g spelt flour

lemon wedges, to serve

for the polpette:

200g cooked broad beans

230g cooked cannellini beans

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 tbsp olive oil

handful of basil leaves

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

1 banana shallot, diced

finely grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon

1 tsp honey

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the chilli jam

4 red peppers (around 500g), deseeded and roughly chopped
2 red chilli (20g), deseeded and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 red onion, roughly chopped

240g unrefined caster sugar

1 tsp pectin powder

Firstly, make the sweet chilli jam: throw the peppers, chilli, garlic and red onion into a blender and pulse-blend to a rough paste. Add this mixture to a large saucepan and set over a high heat, adding in the sugar and pectin. Allow the mix to come to the boil and then reduce it to a medium heat, simmering for about 20–25 minutes and stirring every so often. When the jam has thickened and it starts to stick to the pan, remove from the heat.

Place the ingredients for the polpette in a blender or food processor and pulse-blend until the mixture just comes together. Do not overmix. Scrape the mix into a bowl.

Lay out a sheet of baking parchment and begin rolling the mixture into golf ball-size balls and place them on to the baking parchment.

Heat the coconut oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, dip 1 of the balls into the beaten egg and shake to drain any excess before carefully rolling it in the flour. Now add the ball to the pan and continue making 6 or 7 more balls to add to the pan. Fry the balls for 4–6 minutes, turning with a spatula to evenly cook, until golden. Remove the balls and drain them on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice and the chilli jam. If you have any leftover jam, spoon it into a steralised jar. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Lamb shank stew with butterbean, goat’s yoghurt and mint sauce

This is not a heavy stew and I promise the yogurt and fresh mint salsa bring so much life and zing to this beautiful one-pot-wonder. The meat fails straight off the bone through the slow cook and is delicious for a large dinner party where you can prepare this far in advance and gently warm through just before serving.

Serves 4

2 tbsp groundnut oil

4 lamb shanks

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

4 medium carrots, chopped

2 leeks, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

5 sprigs of rosemary

14 garlic cloves, diced

2 fennel bulbs, cut into wedges

250ml dry white wine

400g tinned butterbeans, rinsed and drained

600ml chicken stock

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 spring onion, finely chopped, to serve

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the yoghurt:

5 tbsp goat’s yoghurt

finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

for the mint sauce:

large bunch of mint, leaves picked

1 garlic, diced

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas mark 3.

Heat the groundnut oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Once hot, add the shanks and brown the meat on all sides, turning them with tongs. Once browned, remove them from the heat.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium–high heat. Add the onion, carrots, leeks, celery and rosemary, and cook for 5–6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and fennel, and cook for 1 minute before adding in the lamb shanks and pouring over the white wine. Add the butterbeans and enough stock to just cover the shanks. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and cover with a double layer of foil, then bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is meltingly tender and falls off the bone. Taste to check the seasoning.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauces. Combine the ingredients for the yoghurt in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and keep it in the fridge until needed.

To make the mint sauce, finely chop the mint leaves and add them to a pestle and mortar along with the diced garlic and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Pound with a pestle to form a paste, then slowly mix in the remaining extra virgin olive oil along with the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the stew immediately in bowls with the yoghurt dripped on top, a sprinkle of chopped spring onion and the refreshing mint dressing to finish. This is also great served with a light green salad and peas.

Torta Caprese

This is the cake of Capri and boy is there a reason for it! This cake is so effortless to make and it is totally insane with dollop of whipped coconut cream or creme fraiche. The only important thing to worry about is to use a good quality dark chocolate and to give it a generous dusting of icing sugar for a true Caprese feel.

Serves 10–12

200g soft unsalted butter, diced, plus extra for greasing

200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

5 free-range medium eggs, separated

100g unrefined caster sugar

80g muscovado sugar

200g ground almonds

50g almond flakes, chopped

1 tsp almond extract

1 tbsp Amaretto

unrefined icing sugar, for dusting

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4, and butter a 27cm springform cake tin and line with baking parchment.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water.

Meanwhile, in a stand mixer or using an electric handheld mixer whisk the egg whites on a fast speed to form stiff peaks – this will take about 5–6 minutes. Keeping a fast speed, slowly add the sugars, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated.

When the chocolate and butter are melted, remove the pan from the heat and use a spatula to mix in the egg yolks, 1 yolk at a time. Mix in the ground almonds, chopped almonds, almond extract and Amaretto. Now gently fold a third of the egg whites into the batter, and then combine another third and then finally the last. Be as light as possible in folding the mix so as not to lose too much air. Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared tin and give it a tap to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 35 minutes, until a skin has formed on the surface but it is still gooey in the middle. Remove and allow to cool on a cooling rack before carefully taking the cake out of the tin. Slice and plate up with a generous dusting of icing sugar, Caprese-style.

What:
Summer Entertaining with Nina Parker
— Clare
22nd June 2016