If you have a chef question that you would like an answer to, no matter how trivial, please e-mail me on [email protected] and I will endeavour to help you. This week, I have a query from Bernie. She is looking for a few easy Italian recipes for a dinner party that she is planning shortly.
I find that the best Italian food is the simple stuff. In Italy antipasti is served before a main course. This is usually a large plate of meats, olives, tomatoes, and cheeses served cold with warm homemade breads.
It is a lovely start to an authentic Italian dinner party and the secret to success is that you only serve top quality ingredients. Freshly sliced Parma ham, buffalo mozzarella cheese, juicy vine baby tomatoes, and black and green olives should do the trick, along with a nice fresh pesto dip.
Use any basic yeast bread recipe and have your ‘rustic’ bread coming out of the oven as your guests arrive for that extra special effect. Cooking fresh bread fills the house with a delicious aroma and really is not that hard to do, especially when the starter takes little or no work to prepare.
A nice glass of wine will also set the mood for a lovely dinner party experience. For main course I would recommend that you serve many little dishes and let your guests help themselves. Here are a few suggestions.
Pan fried mushrooms in tomato sauce
This is nice little dish that your guests will enjoy picking at over the evening.
A punnet of baby mushrooms (halved )
1 clove of garlic (crushed )
A small bit of butter
1 shallot (finely chopped )
Some chilli flakes
A splash of wine
Crushed black peppercorns and sea salt
Chopped fresh basil leaves
1 jar of tomato passata
Simply pan fry the mushrooms with the shallot in the butter until browned, add the garlic, chilli and seasoning, a splash of wine and finally the tomato. Toss in the chopped basil before serving. Just put in a bowl with a spoon and let your guests help themselves.
Breaded medallions of pork fillet
This pork dish is another favourite of mine.
Pork fillet (trimmed of all fat )
Egg wash (egg and milk mixed together )
Slice the pork fillet quite finely and season on both sides. Coat with seasoned flour, then soak in the egg wash and finally coat with the breadcrumbs.
Pan fry the medallions in hot oil for about one minute on each side, depending on how thin they are. They can be finished in the oven, cut one in half before serving to ensure that they are fully cooked. Serve with slices of lemon.
Fillet of sole Milanese
Italians love a fish dish and this dish is a lovely one for you to try out.
Fillets of sole, skinned (plaice can also be used )
Chopped garlic in oil
Grated parmesan cheese
Finely chopped cooked prawns
Fresh basil leaves
Brush the fish with the garlic oil, season and spread with the chopped prawns and cheese. Top with a basil leaf. Roll the fish into a pinwheel and secure with a cocktail stick. Bake in a warm oven for about five minutes until the fish is moist and fully cooked. Remove the cocktail stick and serve on a bed of rocket leaves.
Keep it simple
There are thousands of different Italian dishes that you could make, but keep it simple and cook from the heart for the best results. These are a few of my favourite dishes that I have cooked and enjoyed in many Italian restaurants and are truly authentic meals.
You could also serve pastas, garlic bread, mini pizzas and a bowl of fresh salad with these dishes if you are feeling adventurous. Finish off the meal with a tiramisu. It is the most delicious of all Italian desserts and can be made in advance.
I wish you well with your dinner party Bernie, I hope that you find my Italian dinner party ideas easy to prepare and hope that you all have a great time. Contact me at [email protected] if you want any advice on any food related questions, and I will do my best to answer it.