Effortless entertaining with Clodagh McKenna

If you’re having friends over for a relaxed supper, try these delicious winter dishes

Setting the scene for supper at Clodagh McKenna's London home. Photographs: Dora Kazmierak

Setting the scene for supper at Clodagh McKenna's London home. Photographs: Dora Kazmierak

 

She lives life at 100 miles an hour, and has projects on the go in the US and Canada as well as the UK, but when she is at home in her London studio, there is nothing Clodagh McKenna likes more than to have friends over for supper.

Her entertaining style is elegant and effortless, with the priorities being that her guests are relaxed, comfortable and well-fed. Here is a typical menu of autumn/winter favourites she would cook and share with friends. 

Marie-Claire Digby

French onion soup with cheese croutons
French onion soup with cheese croutons

FRENCH ONION SOUP WITH CHEESY CROUTONS

Serves 4

Ingredients

100g butter

8 white onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1tsp brown sugar

1tsp dried oregano, fresh thyme or rosemary

900ml good-quality beef broth

For the cheese croutons

4 slices of sourdough bread

80g Gruyère cheese, grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, turn down the heat to low and stir in the onions. Cover and leave to cook for 10 minutes, until soft.

Next stir in the brown sugar and garlic and let the onions brown uncovered and slightly caramelise, stirring every few minutes until they become a deep golden colour. Stir in a teaspoon of the dried oregano, fresh thyme or rosemary. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour in the beef broth and allow to cook for a further 30 minutes.

To make the cheesy croutons, sprinkle the Gruyère cheese on top of the slices of sourdough bread and pop under a grill to melt.

Serve the onion soup in heated bowls and place the cheesy croutons on top.

Spiced lamb chops with caponata
Spiced lamb chops with caponata

SPICED LAMB CUTLETS WITH CAPONATA

Serves 4

Ingredients

2tbsps olive oil

4 whole cloves garlic, sliced

1tbsp fennel seeds, crushed

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Juice of 1 lemon

8 lamb cutlets

For the caponata

4tbsp olive oil

2 aubergines, diced

2 shallots, diced

3 large plum tomatoes

2 sticks of celery, diced

10g capers

20 black pitted olives

50g raisins

1tbsp tomato purée

2tsp dried oregano

1tbsp white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

To make the caponata, pour three tablespoons of oil into a large heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish, place over a medium heat and add the aubergines. Cook for a 15 minutes until they are soft. Add in the remaining tablespoon of oil, followed by the shallots and cook for a further five minutes.

Then stir in the tomatoes and cook slowly, so they break down and turn to a soft mush. Next, stir in the capers, raisins, olives, celery, dried oregano, vinegar and tomato purée. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cover with a lid. Cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft. Stir gently so it doesn’t break up too much.

While the caponata is cooking, make the marinade for the lamb cutlets. In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, fennel seeds, garlic and lemon juice, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then place the lamb cutlets in the bowl and rub the mixture into the meat. Set aside for 30 minutes to marinate.

Place a griddle or frying pan over a medium/high heat. Cook the lamb cutlets on each side for four minutes.

Once the lamb cutlets and caponata are both cooked, serve on warmed plates.

Chocolate and cherry mousses
Chocolate and cherry mousses

CHOCOLATE AND BLACK CHERRY MOUSSE

Serves 6

Ingredients

250g dark chocolate

100ml single cream

6 egg whites

60g caster sugar

1tbsp cocoa powder

150g black cherries in syrup or glacé cherries, chopped

To serve:

6 black cherries in syrup, whole

1tbsp cocoa powder

Method

Melt the chocolate by breaking it into a bowl suspended over a

saucepan of simmering water. Stir often to make sure that no lumps

form, then in take it off the heat.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and once you have reached

soft peaks, fold in the caster sugar, and continue to whisk again

until you have stiff peaks.

Fold the egg whites and sugar into the melted chocolate and

cream in stages so as not to over mix as it will make the mousse

too thick and dense. When you’re combining the ingredients, you

want to make a figure 8 in the bowl using your spatula, keeping the

mixture light and fluffy.

Lastly, fold in one tablespoon of cocoa powder followed by 150g of

the chopped black cherries. Then divide the chocolate mousse mixture into

individual glasses and place in a fridge for at least one hour or until

they are set.

Before you serve, sieve one tablespoon of cocoa

powder over the top of the mousses and place a cherry on top of

each mousse.

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