Crisis Christmas dinner

You don’t have to be a Cordon Bleu chef to cook up a delicious spread

If you break into a sweat every time you study complicated recipes to put together a dinner party for friends, here are some easy-to-make, unconventional and affordable suggestions – including melt-in-the-mouth brownies by star pastry chef Stelios Parliaros – which will allow you to feed eight people for a total of just 65 euros.


Toasted bread with goat’s cheese and dried figs

A delicious appetizer to whet your friends’ appetite for what’s to come.

Ingredients (serves 8)
1 largish baguette
(not wholemeal bread)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
16 dried figs
160 gr katiki goat cheese
Freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped spring onions or chives

Preheat the oven grill. Cut the bread into thin slices so that you have about 16 slices and lay them out on a baking tray. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil and freshly ground pepper and grill until golden.
Remove baking tray from oven. Place 1 dried fig, which you have opened slightly, on each slice of bread and beside it put a generous dollop of katiki sprinkled with the spring onion or chives. Serve together on a platter or individually.


Cold couscous with apple and cherry tomatoes
Ingredients (serves 8)
1 packet (400-500 gr) of couscous (cracked wheat – found in large supermarkets)
16-20 cherry tomatoes, cut into four
3 red apples (of the sweet variety)
Leaves from 1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
2 cups baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Soak the couscous in hot water until al dente, according to the instructions on the packet. Transfer to a large salad bowl, stirring frequently with a fork so it doesn’t get soggy. Peel, core and seed the apples, and dice. Place in the salad bowl with the couscous, along with the cherry tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and stir. Add the parsley and spinach and toss lightly so that you don’t damage the leaves.

First course

Fresh gnocchi with soft cheese and fine herbs

You can find fresh, vacuum-packed pasta that keeps for only a few days in most major supermarkets and specialized stores.

Ingredients (serves 8)
1 kg fresh gnocchi
4 cloves garlic, sliced finely
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
250 gr fresh myzithra cheese, crumbled
1 tsp dried ground thyme

Boil the pasta until al dente or according to the instructions on the package and drain in a sieve.
In a deep nonstick pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat and saute the garlic (make sure it does not go too brown or it will become acrid).
Add the gnocchi, a pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper and the thyme. Mix gently and serve either individually or in a large bowl. Add the myzithra just before serving so its doesn’t melt.

Main course

Rack of pork with dried apricots and prunes

A simple and impressive dish for a dinner party that can be presented and cut at the table. You will need about two chops per person, so it is best to get two racks of pork.

Ingredients (serves 8)
2 racks of pork, or 16 chops (be sure to order the meat a few days in advance from your butcher, as racks of pork are not always readily available)
24 dried apricots, seeded
24 prunes, seeded
8 medium-sized onions, peeled and chopped in half
660 ml lager beer (or two large bottles)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
1/3 tsp powdered cardamon (optional)
8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 170C on the hot-air setting.
Place the onions, dried apricots and prunes in a large bowl and add the beer. Let them soak for about 15 minutes. Drain the beer into another bowl and put both the fruit/onion mixture and beer aside. Place the meat on a large baking tray with the bones pointing upward. Douse in the beer and olive oil. Rub in the thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for approximately 2-2.5 hours, basting with the liquid every 20 minutes. About 40 minutes before the meat is done, add the onions, apricots and prunes. If you see the juices drying up, add a little bit of water.
When the meat is done, serve on a large platter and garnish with the fruit and onions. Place the liquid from the tray in a small saucepan and simmer with a little bit of water, stirring continuously, to make gravy. Pour some of the gravy over the meat and set out the rest in a bowl so guests can help themselves.


Brownies with vanilla ice cream
Ingredients (serves 8)

300 gr bitter chocolate
160 gr extra-virgin olive oil
200 gr sugar
4 eggs, preferably organic
120 gr all-purpose flour, sifted
8 balls of vanilla ice cream

Place the bitter chocolate in a glass or metal bowl over a pot of boiling water (known as a bain-marie) to melt. Remove from the heat, add the olive oil and stir well using a plastic spatula. Blend the eggs and sugar in a bowl by hand or in the blender until smooth and fluffy. Slowly add the chocolate to the mixture and blend with the spatula to get as much air as possible into the mixture. Add the flour and mix until there are no lumps. Preheat the oven to 160C. Pour the batter into an 18 cm springform pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until you see a smooth and shiny crust but the inside is still moist. Put aside and let it cool slightly. Cut into squares and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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