Get the idea: A light supper
The English often use the term “supper” interchangeably with “dinner”. When we had English friends staying I often did a double take when they talked about what to have for supper — didn’t they want dinner? My idea of supper is not a full meal of protein, carbs and veges but simply something light, a bit like an entree that has elements of soul food or comfort food about it.
The word comes from the French word “souper” which just means to have supper. Supper has connotations with informality. It is for when you are with intimates and, while you would never sacrifice quality for convenience, in this situation, you don’t feel like doing too much work. Because you won’t be catering for hordes of people, a lazy supper is the time to eat choice titbits of perhaps more expensive food or something very comforting like a simple soup of pureed vegetables sprinkled with crisp baked prosciutto shards.
Good cooks look ahead so comfort food like smoked fish pie or a cheesy potato gratin can be made in advance. I have to admit “supper” for us is often poached organic eggs on toast with crisp, water and chemical free bacon and homemade oven-wedges. I also don’t mind steamed green vegetables with steamed rice, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan. If you want something a little more exotic try one of the following.
Make a prawn noodle bowl —toss big shelled raw Australian prawns in a little extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic and ginger, salt and pepper, and panfry until just cooked through. Serve in bowls on boiled drained Chinese egg noodles moistened with a little hot chicken stock, with coriander sprigs, shredded cos, sliced spring onions and with chilli sauce and soy sauce on the side for dipping.
Slice some fat and sinew-trimmed eye fillet thinly and marinate in a mix of 1 tablespoon miso, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 3 tablespoons mirin for 20 minutes. Shake off the marinade and panfry or barbecue very quickly in a little vegetable oil (about 20 seconds each side) and serve with steamed rice, peeled deseeded pumpkin chunks simmered in a mix of half soy sauce and half mirin with a splash of water until the pumpkin is tender, and boiled edamame beans.
Toss boned organic chicken thighs in finely chopped garlic, rosemary and a little extra virgin olive oil and barbecue or pan fry until done. Serve sliced with a salad of lightly boiled green beans, pitted black olives, capers, basil leaves and halved cherry tomatoes dressed with white wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Serve with a warm flatbread on the side to wrap the chicken and salad in.
Dry bake a couple of purple-skinned kumara until very tender, split in half lengthways and serve with garlicky panfried French lamb cutlets, and a simple raita of peeled, deseeded, grated, squeezed dry cucumber, chopped mint and plain unsweetened yoghurt.
Make a Vietnamese flavoured slaw with thinly sliced Savoy cabbage, grated carrot, ginger cut into thin matchsticks, Vietnamese mint, English mint and coriander. Dress with a mix of equal parts lime juice and fish sauce, well sweetened with sugar. Sprinkle the slaw with bought fried shallots and crushed roasted peanuts. Serve with some Chinese roast duck from your local restaurant (they will cut it up for you) or panfry a couple of duck breasts and serve sliced, stuffed into bought warm steam buns. Chilli sauce on the side.
Give some thinly sliced red onion a quick pickle by tossing it with cider vinegar, salt and sugar. When it has wilted and turned bright pink, add some peeled stoned avocado cut into chunks, diced tomatoes, cos lettuce leaves, coriander sprigs, a thinly sliced chilli and a little extra virgin olive oil. Serve with well-seasoned kingfish fillet, panfried or barbecued medium rare, a hot sauce like Kaitaia Fire or Huffmans Chilli sauce and crusty bread.
Buy some Italian potato gnocchi and boil until al dente, drain and toss with small cubes of fresh buffalo mozzarella, finely chopped garlic, basil leaves, halved cherry tomatoes and plenty of freshly grated parmesan.
And for dessert...
Slice rhubarb into 5cm lengths, place side by side in a shallow baking dish. Add a splash of white wine, a drizzle of maple syrup and bake at 200C for 10 minutes or until tender but not collapsing. Cool and chill. Serve the rhubarb and its syrup on a dollop of mascarpone with crushed amaretti biscuits on top.
Buy a gooey gingerbread loaf and serve slices with aged cheddar or creamy blue cheese, muscatel raisins and fresh pears.
Remember brownies? Buy or make some and serve with chocolate ice cream drizzled with the sweetest sherry you can find (Pedro Ximenez is my preferred option) and whipped cream.