As I mentioned in my newsletter – I love to entertain.
Last weekend I had some girlfriends over for a pre-Christmas dinner and I wanted to make it extra special so I had a go at pairing the wines with the meal. It does make a great difference ,though I know little about wine and had to reach out for advice at this point.
I like to spend the day preparing for my guests. I picked up some greenery from Trader Joes to create a festive centerpiece around a couple of antique silver candlesticks and included some dried grasses and dried hydrangea which I had recently spray-painted gold for a little sparkle.
In my opinion, you can never have too many candles and varying heights creates more depth so I added a bunch of glass votives.
Napkins were rolled and wrapped in Rosemary which smells so good when your guest sits down at the table. Wine glasses for each course plus water glasses complete the IG-worthy look. LOL
Cocktails and Appetizer
We kicked off the evening with this year’s holiday cocktail and the blood orange is a must. I had prepared a cheese board which included: 2 – 3 cheeses, soft and hard. ( Always take the cheese out of the fridge a couple of hours before kick-off so that it is room temperature.) dried figs, some type of nuts, thinly sliced apple, fresh thyme and rosemary for decoration, and crackers.
I chose a pomegranate salad with an apple cider dressing that was fresh, light and seasonal plus a recipe that I could prep before my guests arrived and assemble in minutes. I decided to use arugula instead of spinach and did not include the feta cheese. For this dish, you could serve a chardonnay or Champagne.
This lamb stew is easy to cook and very well received! Serve with crusty bread and a French Syrah.
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- olive oil
- 1 knob of unsalted butter
- 1 3/4 lb lamb cubes
- plain flour
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoon curry powder
- Salt and pepper
- 28 oz can tomato purée
- 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
- ½ a bottle of red wine
- 285 ml organic beef or vegetable stock
- 3 sweet potatoes
- 1/3 cup of raisins
- 1 lemon
- a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 clove of garlic
- Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
- Peel and roughly chop the onion and mince the garlic.
- Heat a little oil and the butter in a casserole pan on medium heat, add the onion, fry for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with ginger garlic, rosemary, and curry powder. Sautés then add the sweet potatoes, the chopped tomato plus purée, wine, and stock, then gently stir them together. Season generously with black pepper and just a little sea salt.
- Bring to the boil, place a lid on top, then place in the oven until the meat is tender – sometimes this takes 2 hours, sometimes 4 – it depends on what cut of meat you’re using and how fresh it is. The only way to test is to mash up a piece of meat and if it falls apart easily it’s ready.
- Once cooked, turn the oven down to about 110°C/225°F/gas ¼ and just hold it there until you’re ready to eat.
- The best way to serve this is by ladling big spoonfuls into bowls, accompanied by a glass of wine and some really fresh, warmed bread.
- Finely grate the lemon zest, pick and finely chop the rosemary and peel and finely chop the garlic, then mix together and sprinkle over the stew before serving. Just the smallest amount will make a world of difference – as soon as it hits the hot stew it will release an amazing fragrance.
Take the party to the living room, serve some champagne or continue with the red. My girlfriends brought some delicious desserts which we devoured. I would suggest something light after the stew. Maybe some different chocolates to nibble on.