The Dinner Party Starters

I love a dinner party!  Great company, delicious food, fine wines! One of my favourite parts is scouring through recipe books to create a great menu. I have piles of Donna Hay, Delicious, Vogue Entertaining and Gourmet Traveller magazines on top of my recipe book collection so it’s fun to flick through and find some little gems to cook up. 

Here are some of the gems I found to serve as starters for the dinner party we hosted last night.

Raspberry and Basil Mules
based on recipe from Donna Hay Issue 59

The 10th birthday issue of Donna Hay magazine has some fabulous celebration punches.  This one called for only 180ml of ginger beer. I increased this to 750ml as it seemed way too potent for my liking.  It indicated to the total volume should be 1.5 litres so I am suspicious that 180ml may have been a typo. Here’s the recipe with my adjustment.

125g fresh raspberries
1 cup lime juice
1 cup caster sugar
160ml vodka
750ml ginger beer
1 cup basil leaves, to serve

Place the raspberries in ice cube trays and fill with water. Freeze for four hours or until frozen. Place the lime and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook for two minutes or until thickened slightly. Allow to cool completely. Place the vodka, lime syrup, ginger beer, raspberry ice cubes and basil leaves in a 1.5 litre-capacity jug and stir to combine.

Please note, the photo above was taken this morning. The small amount left in the jug had changed from the usual ginger beer colour to hot pink due to the raspberry infusion. So…please don’t think that if you whip this up you’ll have a hot pink cocktail to present to your guests…unless of course you make it 12 hours in advance, which I wouldn’t recommend.

Rice Paper Rolls
from Donna Hay Issue 43

16 large dried rice paper rounds
1 cup Vietnamese mint leaves
1 bunch chives
100g snow pea shoots
Caramelised pork, sliced (see recipe below)
16 slices pickled cucumber (see recipe below)
Nuoc Cham sauce (see recipe below), to serve

Soften a rice paper round in warm water for 30 seconds. Place on a clean dry cloth. Top with the mint, chives, snow pea shoots, pork and cucumber. Fold over each end and roll to enclose filling. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve with dipping sauce. Makes 16.

85g caster sugar
200g pork fillet, trimmed and halved
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 green onion, sliced

Place the sugar in a saucepan over high heat and cook without stirring for 2 to 3 minutes or until caramelised. Add the pork and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden on all sides. Reduce the heat to low, add the fish sauce, garlic, oil and green onion and cook for 15 minutes or until cooked through and sauce is sticky.

2 tbsp caster subar
60ml lime juice
60ml rice vinegar
1 telegraph cucumber, thinly sliced

Place the sugar, lime juice and vinegar in a non-metallic bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the cucumber and toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

125ml fish sauce
110g caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
60ml lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 small red chillies, sliced

Place the fish sauce, sugar, water, lemon juice, garlic and chilli in a non-metallic bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Makes 1.5 cups. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Duck in Crisp Wonton Cups
from Australian Women’s Weekly

24 wonton wrappers
cooking oil spray
1 Chinese barbecued duck
1 tablespoon hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons coarsely
chopped fresh coriander
2 green onions (green shallots), chopped coarsely
2 green onions, extra, sliced thinly
NOTE: Wonton cases can be made a day ahead; store in an airtight container. The filling can be prepared several hours ahead. Assemble close to serving.
Preheat the oven to moderate (180°C/160°C fan-forced). Grease 24 mini muffin pans. Press wonton wrappers into pans to form a cup shape; spray lightly with oil. Bake in a moderate oven for about 8 minutes until browned lightly. Remove from muffin pans, cool.Remove flesh and skin from duck, slice thinly, discard fat. Place duck on an oven tray, cover with foil, heat in a moderate oven for 10 minutes.Combine duck with sauces, coriander and onions in a medium bowl; mix well.Spoon duck mixture into wonton cases, top with extra onions.