late autumn dinner partyCreated for us by Lindsay Radcliffe from Linday’s Feast (lindsaysfeast.com)

As the nights draw in and the days get colder, it’s the perfect time to invite some friends over for a cosy and relaxing home-cooked meal. There’s nothing worse than spending hours slaving over the stove while my guests have all the fun. I’m something of a lazy host, and prefer to choose simple, make ahead recipes, so that I can spend more time enjoying the party. Here’s my go-to menu for lazy autumnal entertaining.

Easy Roast Chicken (serves 4)

easy roast chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 x Whole free range chicken
  • 1 x lemon
  • halved a bunch of thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

Remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 190°C.Place the chicken in a large roasting tray. Put the lemon and garlic into the cavity, followed by the bunch of thyme. Drizzle the chicken all over with olive oil, rubbing it into the skin and making sure it reaches all the corners. Season generously with salt and pepper.

You will need to cook the chicken for 20 minutes per pound, and an extra 15 minutes for luck. If at any point during cooking it looks like the skin is getting a little too burnt, cover the chicken loosely with tin foil and continue cooking.

The chicken is ready when the juices run clear between the leg and the body. Lately I’ve taken to using a thermometer, just to be sure. It should be over 72°C. Cover the chicken with foil and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes before serving. Reserve the drippings for gravy.

 

Honey Roasted Vegetables(serves 4)

carrots and parsnips

Ingredients:

  • 4 parsnips quartered lengthways and cored
  • 10 baby carrots
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 or 3 sprigs of thyme
  • Freshly ground salt and black pepper
  • Blackberries and a few sprigs of thyme to serve.

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place the parsnips and carrots on a roasting tray. Drizzle over the olive oil, honey and cider vinegar, and toss to coat. Season with freshly ground salt and black pepper and roast for 40 minutes, tossing again halfway through cooking.Remove from the oven, scatter over the blackberries and fresh thyme sprigs.

 

Dauphinois Potatoes (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 4 large Maris Piper potatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Skinned 300ml double cream
  • 1 knob of salted butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

Method:

Drop two cloves of garlic, chopped in half, into your pot of cream and leave overnight, or for as long as possible. This step is by no means essential if you don’t have time.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Chop the third clove of garlic in half and rub it around your heatproof dish, followed by a generous layer of butter.
Peel and grate the potatoes, and rinse through a sieve under cold water to get rid of the starch. Leave to drain fully.

Put all of the grated potato into your greased dish, grind plenty of fresh black pepper on the top, sprinkle over the nutmeg and then pour the cream (less the chopped garlic) evenly over the potato.Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Serve straight away.

Pear Frangipane Tart (Enough for a 25cm round tart tin)

Ingredients:

For the pastry

  • 450g plain/strong white flour
  • 140g icing sugar
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • chilled and cubed
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the frangipane

  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 70g self-raising flour
  • 2 drops almond essense (optional)
  • 2-3 large pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • Apricot glaze (optional)

Method:

To make the pastry (ready-made short crust pastry is also fine for this recipe) rub the flour, icing sugar and butter together in large bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs (You could also do this in a food processor). Add the beaten egg, along with 1 tbsp cold water. Mix together with a table knife. Bring the dough together and knead lightly to create a ball. Wrap in Clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry thinly on a cool, lightly floured surface and line the tart tin, pressing the pastry into the sides. Evenly prick the pastry base a few times with a fork, then place in the fridge or freezer for a further 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to bake your shell, preheat the oven to 190C/375C/Gas mark 5. Blind bake the shell for 15 minutes, remove the baking beans and parchment, reduce the heat to 160C and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cook on a wire wrack until required.

To make the frangipane, beat the egg lightly in a jug, place the jug in a basin of hot water to warm the egg through. In a food processor, whizz the butter until creamy, then add the sugar and whizz until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the almonds and whizz until combined. Pour in the warmed egg in a slow, steady stream. Pulse in the flour and the almond essence, if using. It should have formed a paste; it doesn’t matter if the almonds are slightly gritty.

Spread the frangipane over the base of the pastry shell. Fan the pear slices over the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the frangipane is cooked through.
I like to brush my tart with a little apricot glaze, but this is optional and a dusting of icing sugar will suffice.

 

 

Lindsday used our Blush Pink Winter Bouquet from our scented flower collection to dress the table. For more baking ideas take a look at our Strawberry & Elderflower layer cake recipe and Spiced Rosewater Christmas Biscuits.