COUNTDOWN TO SUMMER PART 3: CHEF ANTONINA PARKER’S RECIPES FOR THE PERFECT SUMMER SOIREE
We first fell in love with Antonina Parker’s cooking whilst reading her best-selling cookbook of last Summer called Nina St Tropez. Ever since, her recipe’s have been our go-to for every event and her Instagram is a must-follow…as long as you’re not hungry!
For part three of our COUNTDOWN TO SUMMER series, we’ve asked Nina to share with us her top 5 fail safe dinner party recipes as well as her top tips for making your soiree as unforgettable as the food.
BUBI’S TIGER PRAWNS
My grandmother Bubi’s favourite place in the world was La Table du Mareyeur, a popular seafood restaurant that holds many great memories for my family. Tucked away under one of Port Grimaud’s little bridges, the welcoming owners Ewan and Caroline are without doubt the secret to its success. Bubi dined here many times. I have included this great prawn recipe in her memory and as a nod to the giant prawns that are always a favourite on the menu at La Table du Mareyeur. It’s perfect for a starter with a crunchy fresh salad.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 10g unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
- pinch dried chilli flakes, plus extra for sprinkling
- 320g raw tiger or jumbo king prawns
- 2 tbsp Calvados
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
- bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 quantity Aïoli (page 90) or good- quality Mayonnaise (optional)
- sea salt and black pepper.
Place a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the oil and butter, and once hot, add the garlic and chilli. Let the flavours infuse for a moment before adding the prawns. Shake the prawns in the pan, frying until one side is golden before turning them over. They will take 4–5 minutes in total. During the final minute of cooking, add the Calvados and sprinkle with the chopped herbs. Season well with salt and pepper, and they’re ready to eat. If using, sprinkle the Aioli or mayonnaise with chilli flakes and serve alongside.
RISOTTO BALLS WITH LEEK THYME AND FENNEL SEEDS
These are absolutely winning canapés, the best way to use up any leftover risotto. Whenever I make them they’re gobbled up in seconds. You can make the balls in advance and fry them just before eating.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 shallots, diced
- 1⁄2 Spanish onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 3 tsp fennel seeds
- 300g arborio rice
- 125ml white wine
- 500ml vegetable stock, hot
- 1 leek, finely chopped
- small bunch fresh thyme
- 150g pecorino cheese, grated
- 1 free-range medium egg, lightly beaten
- 200g plain flour
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- sea salt and black pepper
Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the shallots and onion and cook gently until so and translucent. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and cook for about 2 minutes. Pour in the rice, stirring with a wooden spoon. Make sure the rice is coated in the onions, garlic and fennel seeds, then increase the heat and add the white wine. Stir the rice for 3 minutes, letting it soak up all the alcohol.
Ladle in a few spoonfuls of vegetable stock and stir continuously for 10 minutes, then add the leek and more stock and continue to cook, stirring. Continue adding more stock every few minutes, and a er 15–20 minutes the rice should be tender, but still with a bit of bite. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves (reserve some for serving) and cheese, season with salt and pepper and add more stock if needed. Leave to cool completely.
Whisk the egg lightly with a fork and season with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a bowl and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Roll the risotto into golf-ball-sized balls and place on the tray. Dip each one in the egg, letting any excess drip off, then coat them in the flour. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat and fry the risotto balls in batches, turning regularly, until golden and evenly crisp. Serve with a sprinkling of salt, black pepper, more fresh thyme and lemon wedges to squeeze over them.
CRAB PASTA ON THE ROCKS
This party pasta dish always makes an appearance at birthdays and large dinners out here. It looks stunning on the plate and has seaside written all over it. Of course, you can buy the meat pre-prepared, but apart from cooking the pasta there’s little else to do, so it’s worth having a go at picking your own crab.
- 3 large whole live crabs or pre- cooked (or 200g brown and 200g white crab meat)
- 400g spaghetti
- 3 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 shallot, very finely diced
- 100g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 1⁄2 tsp caster sugar
- finely grated zest and juice of 4 limes
- large bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
- 60ml extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt and black pepper
If using whole live crabs, weigh each one separately and cook it in boiling water for as many minutes as their weight is in grams, divided by 10. For example, a 300g crab needs cooking for 30 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. To pick a crab, you’ll need a chopping board, two clean tea towels, a clean hammer, two bowls and a crab picker. Pull off all the legs and claws and set aside. Place one tea towel on the chopping board, one of the crab bodies on top and the other tea towel on top of the crab. Use the hammer to crack the top so you can pick out the brown crabmeat into one of the bowls, and discard the body in the second bowl. Pick any white meat that may be where the claws were pulled into the bowl with the rest of the meat. Do the same with the other bodies. Now, using the same technique of covering with the tea towel and hammering, do the same with the claws and legs, being careful not to hit them too vigorously to avoid getting too much shell mixed in with the meat. Use a crab picker to extract every last bit from inside the legs and claws. Once finished, check through the meat for any leftover shell and remember that inside each crab claw there is always a large piece of cartilage that must be discarded.
Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet. Put all the remaining ingredients, including the crab meat, in a large mixing bowl and lightly toss them together. When the pasta is cooked, scoop out a mug of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the mixing
bowl and stir well, pouring in a little of the cooking water to loosen it. Taste to check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.
BARBECUE ON THE BEACH WITH SEA BASS PARCELS
I like to prepare the fish at home by wrapping it with the fillings in kitchen foil, then pedal down to the beach with it in a picnic basket on my bike, along with a couple of bottles of chilled rosé. My friend Jean-Baptiste and his friends have usually organised a blazing barbecue on our little local beach. The fish goes straight on to the roaring grill and we make a start on the wine while it cooks. This dish is particularly good served alongside the Géant Casino Tabbouleh (see page 52).
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp unsalted butter
- 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 2 banana shallots, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 whole sea bass, cleaned and gutted
- 2 tsp honey
- 2 tbsp white wine
- small bunch flat-leaf parsley
- 1 lemon, sliced
- sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6 or light the barbecue. Cut two sheets of non-stick baking paper and two sheets of kitchen foil large enough to cover the fish. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan until hot. Add the fennel and shallots and cook for a few minutes, until softened. When they begin to brown, add the garlic and stir together for a moment, then remove from the heat. Lay out the sheets of foil with the baking paper on top (this prevents the fish from piercing the parcel). Divide the onion and fennel mixture between the two pieces of paper and place a sea bass on top of each. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the ends of each parcel on either side of the fish’s head and tail and gradually begin to tightly twist it into a sealed package, leaving a 10cm hole open at the top. Distribute the honey, white wine, lemon slices and parsley equally between each parcel before sealing the tops. Tightly fold the foil under the fish to make a tight and compact parcel. Place the foil packages on a baking tray and bake for about 45 minutes, or grill on a preheated barbecue, covered, for 30 minutes. The fish should be perfectly cooked and tender. Serve in the foil packages for guests to open at the table.
PONTOON TARTE TATIN WITH APPLES APRICOTS AND LEMON THYME
Anything with caramel in it and I’m there. Supposedly, the first tarte Tatin was made by mistake by the Tatin sisters back in Paris in the 1880s. What a wonderful mistake. The last time I made this I sat eating it at the end of our pontoon, overlooking the Giscle, trying desperately to catch the last few rays of the day. This is amazing on its own or paired with Chestnut and Honey Ice Cream (see page 241 of NINA St Tropez).
- 250g fresh or frozen puff pastry, thawed if frozen
- 5 firm apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
- 4 apricots, halved and stoned
- juice of 1⁄2 lemon
- 200g unrefined caster sugar
- 30g unsalted butter
- few sprigs fresh lemon thyme
- 30g flaked almonds
- 3 tbsp Grand Marnier liqueur (optional)
- sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and cut a circle of puff pastry to fit the shape of a 20cm ovenproof frying pan. Cover and set aside in the fridge. Put the apples and apricots in a bowl and stir in the lemon juice. Melt the sugar, butter and a pinch of salt in the ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat and cook to a golden caramel colour. Add the apple segments to the pan, arranging them in a circle and filling the apricots in the middle. The fruit should be packed tightly, so continue squeezing the fruit in until the pan is full. Sprinkle the lemon thyme leaves over the fruit, reserving a few for later, and bake for about 30 minutes.
Remove and carefully place the pastry over the top, tucking in the edges. Return the pan to the oven for a further 20 minutes, until the pastry has puffed up and cooked. Remove the pan and place a serving plate face down over the pastry. Wearing oven gloves, quickly flip the tart over so that it comes out on to the plate. The fruit should be beautifully caramelised. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and a few more thyme leaves, followed by a naughty glug of Grand Marnier, if using. Ahh, I want one!
Nina’s Fail Safe Dinner Party Tips:
- Preparing is key. Normally you can do most things the night before whether it’s peeling, chopping or a dessert and this can really help with making is stress-free.
- I think a killer dessert is very important as you want to give guests an extra special finish to the night. I always find that something gooey with dark chocolate leaves most people praising the evening. It is quite a good lifesaver if you have messed up the main.
- Cook something you have cooked before. Might be obvious but it’s never a good idea to trial something that is an experiment to 20 people.
- Go for nice, easy, cold canapés or nibbles so that you don’t need to worry about warming a starter and a main. I often do chicory leaves filled with crab, toasted fennel seeds and pine nuts or baby gem lettuce with beef and tarragon pesto or even asparagus wrapped in parma ham with sundried tomato dressing.
- I always go for white; white tablecloths, plates, candles and white flowers. Simple is my favourite and then the colours of the food can speak for themselves.
- A slow cooked lamb or something that takes a few hours to develop flavour is always an easy option and it means you can prep it in advance along with a gravy. It caters for many people and it is delicious.
- Seasoning! I find that people always forget to season food properly when guests start arriving so bear this in mind and don’t just skimp over this. It takes time and is totally worth it in the long run. I am constantly tasting my food until it hits the dinner table.
- If it’s good weather one of my favourite dinner parties is to organise a large platter of cold seafood including crab, prawns and lobster with a homemade lemon garlic mayonnaise and a crunchy side salad. This involves minimal washing up as everything goes in the bin after and it’s fancy but without having to make too much effort. A more low-cost version would be to swap the seafood for lemon roast chicken which is equally amazing served with lots of summery vegetables.
Nina Parker has written a follow-up book to last year’s best-selling Nina St Tropez, called Nina Capri. To feel transported to the Amalfi Coast with Nina’s recipes, pre-order the book here…
The post COUNTDOWN TO SUMMER PART 3: CHEF ANTONINA PARKER’S RECIPES FOR THE PERFECT SUMMER SOIREE appeared first on PAMPELONE CLOTHING.