Why settle for one course? Aya Nishimura’s recipes will help make your warming winter dinner delicious from the first bite to the final sip of that post-prandial cocktail.
The hors d’oeuvre
Kushikatsu quail eggs
Inventive and alluring nibbles, these skewered, deep-fried quail eggs are cute, tasty and easy to make.
4 bamboo skewers
12 quail eggs – if in the fridge, bring them to room temperature before cooking
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsps plain white flour
1 medium egg – add a pinch of salt and then beat
30g fine breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1. Bring some water to a rolling boil in a small pan, place quail eggs gently into the water and turn down the heat to medium. Cook for 2 minutes, while stirring the water (it helps the yolks to set in the middle of the egg). As soon as your 2 minute timer goes off, drain and cool the eggs in iced water quickly (very important) and leave to cool completely.
2. Once cool, peel the eggs very carefully and gently. Doing so in a bowl of water will help to prevent the egg whites from breaking. Pat the eggs dry with kitchen paper.
3. Pour oil about 5cm deep into a pan that is large enough to lay the skewers in and heat to 160C.
4. Prepare three separate dishes or low bowls. One with flour, salt and pepper; another with beaten egg; and a final one with breadcrumbs (if you have coarse breadcrumbs, blitz slightly in a food processor). Gently coat the quail eggs in the flour, dip into the beaten egg, then coat evenly with breadcrumbs. Carefully place 3 eggs on each skewer and top-up breadcrumbs if needed so the coating is even.
5. Deep fry until golden – it takes about 2 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
6. Serve with a small bowl of tonkatsu sauce and the wedges of lemon.
Baked camembert with green olives and truffle croutons
For the truffle croutons
2 large slices of sourdough bread
40g unsalted butter, melted
Salt and pepper
2 tsps truffle oil
For the baked camembert
250g whole camembert wheel (in its wooden container)
1 garlic clove, skinned and thinly sliced
Green olives stuffed with chilli
1. Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan). Spread the butter on the slices of bread and slice into batons. Put them on a baking tray, season and drizzle over the truffle oil.
2. Remove the cheese from its packaging. If you haven’t got the cheese in its customary wooden box, put it into a heatproof ramekin that fits. Use a knife to score the rind of the cheese with a diamond pattern, then slide the garlic slices into the cuts. Bake in the oven along with the croutons for 30 minutes, flipping the croutons after 15 minutes for an even cook.
3. Remove the croutons and cheese from the oven. Arrange on a platter with a bowl of green olives. Serve hot.
Japanese-style roast beef with yuzu-soy sauce
For roast beef
1.3kg roasting joint of beef
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium-size onion, sliced horizontally into quarters
Salt and pepper
For yuzu-soy sauce
7 tbsps light soy sauce
3½ tbsps mirin
2 tbsps rice vinegar
1 tbsp yuzu juice (available in Asian supermarkets and online)
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsps agave syrup (or honey)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1. Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan). Pour olive oil over the beef and massage the crushed garlic, salt and pepper into the meat. If it is still cold from the fridge, leave it to sit at room temperature for at least an hour.
2. Heat an ovenproof pot that’s large enough to fit the whole joint. Sear and brown all the sides of the beef for 5 minutes per side. Remove the joint and place the onion slices in the pot then rest the joint on top of them. Pour 3 tbsps water into the pan and place the lid on top to keep the steam in. Put in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. While waiting, combine all the sauce ingredients.
3. Take the pot out of the oven and remove the beef. Cover beef with a sheet of foil and let it rest for 20 minutes. Remove half of the onion, chop finely in a food processor, then add it to the yuzu-soy sauce.
4. Slice the beef thinly and serve with the sauce and the rest of the trimmings. It’s also perfect for sandwiches or served over a leafy salad.
Fudgey rum-raisin chocolate cake
18cm springform cake tin
120ml dark rum
150g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa)
125g unsalted butter
150g dark soft brown sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ tsp sea salt
Beans from 1 vanilla pod (cut pod in half, lengthways, and scrape out the beans)
35g cocoa powder
30g plain flour
Whipped cream, to serve
1. Put the raisins and rum in a small bowl and soak overnight.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl (a glass one is ideal) over a simmering saucepan. Once mostly melted, remove from the pan, add the sugar and mix. Let it cool for 5 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan). Add eggs, salt and vanilla beans and beat with a whisk until mixed. Sieve cocoa powder and flour into the mixture and whisk until incorporated. Drain half of the raisins, add to the batter and mix.
4. Pour the cake mixture into the tin and bake in a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it cool completely then dust with icing sugar. Serve with whipped cream and the rest of the rum raisins. This cake can be baked a couple of days in advance.
Brussels sprouts with crispy parmesan crisps
500g brussels sprouts
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tbsps olive oil
Salt and pepper
½ lemon, zested
1. Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan). Wash and trim the bottom ½cm of the sprouts, cut in half and make a shallow incision in the stem. Toss sprouts with olive oil, crushed garlic, and salt and pepper in a baking tray and put them in the oven for 30 minutes.
2. Line another large baking tray with a baking sheet and grate the parmesan finely and evenly over it. Bake in a preheated oven for 7-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden. Let it cool completely, so it can crisp up.
3. Plate the brussels sprouts. Break the parmesan crisp roughly and sprinkle over the sprouts. Grate the lemon zest on top and serve.
The side dish
Roast potatoes with preserved lemon and Aleppo chilli flakes
1.25kg roasting potatoes, peeled and cut into half or quarters
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsps olive oil
4 cloves of garlic – break the skin but keep them whole
Extra salt and pepper
2 small preserved lemons
1 tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes
1. Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan). Pour olive oil into a large baking tray and keep it in the oven to heat up. Bring water to boil in a large pot and add salt and potatoes. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain and let steam for 10 minutes.
2. Remove the baking tray, add the potatoes and garlic and toss lightly. Season with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven until crispy and golden (45-60 minutes), then remove.
3. Halve the lemons, remove seeds and chop finely. Sprinkle the chopped lemon over the potatoes with chilli flakes and serve warm.
Pear and cardamom bellini
150g caster sugar
Vanilla pod shell that you used for the chocolate cake
8 cardamom pods, bashed with the side of a knife to release the seeds
2 pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1 bottle prosecco
1. Combine water, caster sugar, vanilla pod and cardamom in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Once the sugar has melted, add the chopped pears and gently simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the pear looks soft and translucent. Cool completely and remove the vanilla pod – keep in the fridge until needed. This stage can be done days in advance.
2. Remove the pear from the poaching liquid and purée in a food processor with 3 tbsps of the liquid.
3. Pour 2 tbsps of purée into each of the flute glasses, top with prosecco and repeat as required.
Roast beef sandwich with wasabi butter and shredded sprouts
8 slices of bread
60g butter, softened
2 tsps wasabi paste
16 thin slices of leftover roast beef
Leftover roasted sprouts, shredded
1. Lightly toast the bread. Mix the butter and wasabi in a small bowl.
2. Spread the butter on the toast, place the shredded sprouts and then the roast beef on top and spoon on some roast beef sauce. Top with another slice of toast.