Autumn Food: Dinner Parties
Halloween, Fireworks Night or Thanksgiving – autumn celebrations provide us with the perfect excuses for dinner parties. Here are recipes and ideas for serving up seasonal dinner party food at a sensational autumn bash.
What’s in Season?There are so many wonderful things in season right now. Autumn is a time for roasted chestnuts, classic Sunday roasts accompanied by parsnips and cabbage, creamy pumpkin soup, melting cheese and cranberry chutney. The options for delectable dinner party food are endless – here are some of our favourite recipes.
Squash and Pumpkins. These glowing gourds can be enjoyed in so many ways. One classic dish is pumpkin soup – perhaps flavoured with sage and garlic, and finished with cream. If you have vegetarians attending your dinner party, you should consider squash as their main course. Scoop out the cavities and roast the squash halves until the flesh is tender. Then fill with (almost-cooked) rice, cranberries and pecans, top generously with goat’s cheese, and return to the oven.
Chestnuts. Ask around – there could be a sweet chestnut tree in your area, if you’re very lucky! Sweet chestnuts are traditionally roasted in large pans with holes in the bottom, then eaten from their shells in paper bags. But you can also slit, boil and shell the nuts, giving you the opportunity to try cooking with chestnuts. They work well in a beef stew or cassoulet, providing a note of sweetness to the rich base.
Chestnuts are also a key ingredient in the classic dessert, Mont Blanc – a chic pile of chestnut puree, whipped cream and meringue served in bowls or cocktail glasses.
Cranberries. When they arrive in late autumn, cranberries provide a welcome sharpness to winter dishes. Make them into a sharp chutney and use it to make golden hors d’oeuvres for your dinner party guests: roll out some pre-prepared puff pastry and cut small discs. Place ½ tsp of cranberry chutney in the centre of each one and brush the edges with egg. Bake for 15 minutes; the outer rim of pastry will rise up and create a lip for the filling.
Now add slices of goat’s cheese to each one, and return the pastries to the oven until golden and hot. Serve warm.
Leeks. If you’re not devouring leek and potato soup, you could try a more sophisticated side dish: bake young leeks (washed but whole) in a little cream and finish with parmesan. Or, for a vegetarian main course, soften leek slices in butter before adding them to a tart case and covering with a creamy, mustardy egg custard, then baking until set and golden.
Raspberries. Autumn raspberries are very popular on allotments, although you probably won’t see them sold in most shops. Grow your own instead! They are easy to maintain, provided you can net them against birds. Autumn raspberries can be used to make a wonderful flavoured schnapps.
Wash and dry 225g berries, then put them into a sterilised warm jar. In a saucepan, prepare a sugar syrup by gently heating 1/2 cup of sugar with 300ml water, and swirling the pan until the sugar has dissolved. Cool, then stir in 350ml gin. Pour over the raspberries, seal the jar, and keep for 6 weeks before drinking.
Serve very cold in small shot glasses as an after-dinner drink.