Dinner parties tend to involve a procession of impressive dishes, but that doesn’t mean they all have to be heavy and filling. You just need to plan ahead. If you’re going to serve a big main course, the best starter would be a selection of light, healthy appetisers to make sure your guests still have room. Here are some ideas:
This traditional leek soup is a surefire starter, and you can serve it hot or cold. For 4 people, you need 5 leeks, 1 onion, 2 medium-sized onions, 1.5 litres of chicken stock, 200 ml single cream, salt and extra-virgin olive oil. Gently fry the vegetables in extra-virgin olive oil, add the chicken stock and cook over a low heat for 35 minutes. Blend, add the cream and salt to taste and mix well. Serve with a topping of chopped chives.
King prawn tails in fine brandy sauce
A twist on the classic prawn cocktail. Make some béchamel sauce, and when it’s smooth add some tomato concentrate and a glass of brandy. Stir well and let the alcohol evaporate. Add salt and pepper to taste and leave to cool. Serve in small glasses and place the peeled king prawn tails on top against the edge of the glass.
Salt-cod brandade is a simple, healthy filling for shortcrust tartlets, puff-pastry vol-au-vents or brik-pastry parcels. Put the desalted cod in extra-virgin olive oil with a couple of cayenne peppers and a clove of garlic. Once it’s ready, strain (keep the olive oil), break into small pieces and mix with a small boiled potato (1 potato for every 200 g of cod). Add a little milk and mix together. Then add some of the olive oil from earlier and continue to mix, slowly adding more olive oil until you get the right texture. Add a pinch of ground pepper at the end.
Mussels with creamy curry sauce
Give some simple steamed mussels an exotic flair. You can serve them in their shells with the sauce on top, without their shells on tasting spoons or in clusters in little dishes. To make the sauce, gently fry a spring onion in extra-virgin olive oil, add a glass of white wine and turn up the heat until the alcohol evaporates. Add a spoonful of curry powder and 200 ml of evaporated milk or coconut milk. Stir well and cook for a few minutes over a low heat.
Walnut and mushroom pâté
A vegetarian alternative (of sorts) to the ubiquitous foie gras, made with 1 onion, a clove of garlic, 300 g of fresh mushrooms, 150 g of walnuts, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil and then add the mushrooms. Add salt and pepper to taste. Take off the heat and blend. Add the walnuts and blend again to give a smooth, creamy mixture. Serve with small pieces of toast.