Sawyer’s Dinner

Hey readers!

I had some friends over for dinner last week, and, even if I’m very much obsessed with food, cooking is definitely not my forte… However, we have monthly dinner with these friends, and every time they have us at their places, they always go the extra mile to cook something awesome, so I wanted to return the favour this time.

So here’s the super simple yet sophisticated dinner I prepared and I hope it can inspire you for your next dinner party if, like me, you don’t feel adventurous enough to cook something too pretentious.

Starter:

My pride of the day: Sesame Tartare of Two Salmons. Super fancy and yet so extremely easy to make!

Natter with Sawyer - Sesame Tartare of Two Salmons

Ingredients – for 4 servings:

2 fresh salmon filets
300g smoked salmon
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. chives
1/2 lemon juice
1/2 tsp. honey
Salt & pepper

Natter with Sawyer - Sesame Tartare of Two Salmons

 

Directions:

Cut the fresh salmon into dices and the smoked salmon in small bits and place in a bowl.

Add the lemon juice, honey, sesame oil, sesame seeds, chive, salt & pepper and stir.

Refrigerate a while before serving.

Natter with Sawyer - Sesame seedsThe sesame oil and seeds are just so good together with the salmon! It was a great success and, again, so easy to make! After refrigerated, you can use a round or any shape you want small recipient to give the shape you want to your tartare so it looks more sophisticated! This dish is also amazing with a cream of avocado but one of my guests and my boyfriend don’t like avocado, so I didn’t go for it this time.

Main dish:

Proportions are not my strongest asset, I always make either too much food or clearly not enough. So when I’m cooking for more than 2 people, I like to go for the “big dish” option, which usually means a bake or a gratin.

I had quite a lot of ground beef and potatoes at home already so I opted for an old grandma’s recipe of the Hachis Parmentier (which is basically the French Cottage pie).

Ingredients for a large dish – approximately 8 portions:

Natter with Sawyer - Hachis Parmentier2kg potatoes
Milk (I personally use almond milk as my stomach much prefers it and it tastes the same)
Butter
Minced beef (less than 5% fat to make it a bit healthier and still as good)
1 onion thinly sliced
Bread crumbs
Olive oil (or Fry Light)
Nutmeg
Herbs (parsley, coriander, basil)
Salt & pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Peel the potatoes and boil them until they are very soft and easy to mash. Then drain and start mashing them in a large bowl using a potato masher. Add milk and melted butter so it’s creamier and easier to mash. Add nutmeg, herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Natter with Sawyer - Mashing the potatoes for the Hachis ParmentierIn a large frying pan, cook the sliced onion in olive oil (or Fry Light) on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the minced beef, herbs, salt & pepper. Cook until the meat is browned thoroughly but be careful not to overcook it or the dish will be too dry. Turn off heat.

Spread the meat in the bottom of a lightly buttered large oven proof dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture.

Finish by sprinkling the top with breadcrumbs and add a few small bits of butter to keep the dish moist.

Bake for 20 minutes and serve with a side salad.

Natter with Sawyer - Mashed potatoes and minced beef for the Hachis ParmentierNatter with Sawyer - Mashed potatoes on the minced beef for the Hachis Parmentier

Natter with Sawyer - Hachis Parmentier, ready to put in the oven

I’m usually not too fussy with my salad dressing: I usually just mix mustard (I go for high quality wholegrained French ones like Maille), balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and mix with a fork until your arm falls off!

Yum yum! After 2 servings for nearly everyone, let’s move to the desserts!Natter with Sawyer - Ingredients for an easy vinaigrette: wholegrain mustard, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar of Modena

Desserts:

Let me explain my choice of desserts: I wanted to go for something light and fresh after a dish as heavy as the Hachis Parmentier, so I’d decided on a Panna Cotta with fresh raspberries on top, that I believed would be delicious with homemade dark chocolate bites.

But to my horror, I couldn’t find any gelatine anywhere. So here I was in the middle of Tesco, with an enormous basket packed with all my groceries for the evening’s meal, desperately searching for gelatine that obviously wasn’t there and trying to wrack my brains out for a plan B.

Now, like I said, I’m not much of a cook, and I don’t come up with amazing and original ideas just like that out of thin air! I need a loooong preparation time, armed with the Internet and Pinterest to make such a big decision as to what I’ll be baking that same evening. I was starting to panic! I briefly considered buying an already made Tesco cake, but duelled with myself not to – I really wanted to make this whole dinner from scratch by myself (aghh stupid challenges, you’re killing me!).

So I decided on a recipe I knew oh so well I couldn’t miss: Gateau de Pain Perdu, which is sort of a French Toasts Cake. Of course it’s not slightly as light as Panna Cotta, but I thought Hell, who cares! However, I decided to keep the fresh raspberries to incorporate into the cake, but you can choose to add anything you fancy really. My grandmother used to make one with chocolate chips and a caramelised bottom that you could have sold your soul for, but I thought this was definitely too naughty for this already rich dinner!

Natter with Sawyer - Raspberry Gateau de Pain PerduIngredients for a large dish – about 6-8 servings:

Dried bread (I didn’t have any obviously, but I got a fresh large baguette and it was still delicious)
3 eggs
75cl warm milk (here again I used almond milk, 2 minutes in the micro-wave)
100g brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Cinnamon
Fresh raspberries or anything you want
Butter (for the dish)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Shred bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour warm milk over it and set aside.
In another bowl, mix eggs with sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Add to bread mixture.
Spread the raspberries at the bottom of a lightly buttered large oven proof dish. Add the bread mixture.

Natter with Sawyer - Gateau de Pain Perdu preparation Natter with Sawyer - Raspberry Gateau de Pain Perdu

Bake for 45 minutes.

It tastes great with vanilla ice cream, cream or custard, but I served it with chocolate bites that I wanted to make for ages and which would have been much nicer with the Panna Cotta, but still, nobody complained and my guests ate them all up pretty quickly!

Ingredients – for approximately 15-16 chocolate bites:Natter with Sawyer - Dark Chocolate Bites

100g dark chocolate
Any kind of dried fruits, chopped nuts and seeds you want

Directions:

Lay out a piece of baking paper (I’ve put it down on plates so it was easy to move to the fridge afterwards).

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put in a bowl. Microwave for 60 seconds, stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds, and then stir again for the chocolate to be completely melted.

Use a teaspoon to make small rounds of chocolate onto the baking paper by letting the chocolate fall from the spoon – it will form a roundish shape.

Sprinkle with an assortment of fruits, nuts and seeds while the chocolate is still hot.

Refrigerate a while before serving.

There are no other words, these chocolate bites were absolutely delicious! I was really disappointed as I thought I had dried cranberries and goji berries in my cupboard, which I didn’t, and I think it would have be gorgeous in these. Nevertheless, it was still pretty awesome without, and extremely easy and quick to make! Add this to the fact that my guests were quite impressed that I made them myself! *so proud*!!

Natter with Sawyer - Dark Chocolate BitesGosh, writing this post made me so hungry! I hope it inspired you for some new easy cooking! Comments are welcome!

Thanks for reading!

Sarah

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