Dinner for Six

Feb 17, 2015

Like most all of my meals, this one too started with the idea of cake. And in fact, it started with the edible flowers I saw two days ago and couldn’t resist buying, these beautiful pink speckled carnations. I decided on making Julia Ziegler-Haynes’ Summer Pudding in winter, because well, I’ve been meaning to make it since forever, it’s the ultimate show-stopper and it’s delicious: fruit and yoghurt-cream sandwiched between layers of light and airy sponge cake and decorated with berries and fruit.

Dinner started with an Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad adorned with roasted cherry tomatoes and continued with a braised lamb shank and a side dish of roasted root vegetables. Cooking meat is not my favourite endeavor in the world, but this lamb shank is a breeze, it takes about five minutes to prepare it and about one and a half hours of oven time.

What I loved about making this dinner is that everything can be made ahead, which is a blessing as my evenings can get quite busy with a toddler running around. I started with the cake and when it was done, I let it rest in the fridge. In the meantime, I peeled and chopped the vegetables and put them in the roasting tray until it was time to pop them in the oven. The cherry tomatoes were roasted first and I reserved them in a bowl until I used them.

Another thing I loved about this dinner is that it’s quite balanced and it tastes as delicious as it looks. It’s safe to say everyone enjoyed the food, even the singled-out vegetarian, for whom the roasted veggies served as a side dish along oven baked feta cheese with thyme and olive oil.

Goat Cheese Salad with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

800gr/4 cups arugula, washed and dried

500 gr cherry tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

Vinaigrette made from: 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp salt and 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

400 gr soft goat cheese, cut in 1cm/1/2 in thick slices

One baguette, sliced (around 18 slices)

Preheat the oven at 180C/350F. Put cherry tomatoes on a parchment paper set on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and bake for around 1,5 hours, until soft and fragrant. Allow to cool and reserve in a bowl until ready to use. In a bowl, put the arugula and the cherry tomatoes and mix with the dressing. Place the rounds of goat cheese on the slices of baguette and put on a baking tray covered with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil and pop in the oven, under the grill for around 10 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt. Divide the arugula and tomato mix between six plates, place the slices of baguette with cheese on top and serve.

Braised Lamb Shank with Garlic & Rosemary

One lamb shank of around 1,2 kg/2,5 pounds

A few sprigs of rosemary

8-10 garlic cloves, peeled

Extra virgin olive oil

Put the lamb shank in an oven-proof dish. With the aid of a sharp paring knife, make around 10 slits in the surface of the meat. Stick a garlic clove and a sprig of rosemary in each slit, drizzle with olive oil and put in the fridge until ready to cook. Preheat the oven to 220C/440F and cook the lamb shank for around 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 180C/350F and roast for another hour, until the meat is tender. (If making the roasted vegestables as well, you can pop them in the oven at this moment.) When ready to serve, turn onto a cutting board and carve thin slices.

Roasted Root Vegetables

1 kg root vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, fennel, parsnip, washed, peeled and cut into slices, lengthwise

1 leek, cut into 4cm/2in chunks

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven at 180C/350F. Place the vegetables in a roasting tray, drizzle generously with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake for one hour, until soft. Serve immediately.

Sponge Cake w Yoghurt Cream and Fruit

For the sponge:

5 egg yolks

4 egg whites

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

150 gr/ 3/4 cup + 25gr/1 1/2 Tbsp organic unrefined granulated sugar

Zest from 1 lemon

Additional zest from 1/2 lemon

1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 20cm/9in springform pan and line with parchment paper. In a small bowl, put the flour and mix the zest in with a whisk. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with the aid of a hand mixer, beat 100gr/1/2 cup of the sugar and egg yolks until pale and thickened, about 3 minutes. Turn the speed to low and add the olive oil and lemon juice, mix until well incorporated. Add the flour and fold by hand. Empty mixture in a large bowl and clean the mixer whisk and bowl. If using a hand mixer, simply use another clean bowl. Beat the egg whites with remaining 50gr/1/4 cup of the sugar in the clean bowl until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into yolk mixture until well incorporated. Add zest from half a lemon, mix well and pour into cake pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar and bake in the oven for around 40 minutes. Cover with tin foil after the first 15 minutes if browning too quickly, mine did.

For the cream filling and fruit:

400ml/2 cups whipping cream

600gr/2,5 cups greek yoghurt

50gr/1/4 cup plus 25gr/1 1/2 Tbsp organic unrefined granulated sugar

1/2 lemon

250gr/1 cup strawberries, wahsed, hulled and halved lengthwise

150gr/2/3 cup raspberries

150gr/2/3 cup blueberries

One nectarine, sliced

Edible flowers, to decorate

While cake is baking, whip the cream, add the greek yoghurt and the sugar and mix until well incorporated. Toss the fruit with lemon and 25gr/1 1/2 Tbsp sugar. When the cake is completely cooled, slice into two layers using a serrated knife. In a punch bowl or a round ceramic dish, spoon in one third of the cream filling, sprinkle with fruit, then add the first layer of cake. Repeat until you are done, reserving plenty of fruit to decorate the top of the cake. Before serving, place the edible flowers between the fruit. Refrigerate before serving.DSC03726DSC03689DSC03771DSC03682DSC03661DSC03667DSC03782DSC03779DSC03687 DSC03699-2 DSC03736 DSC03752

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