When living with a chronic condition, it can sometimes feel like we’ve disconnected from our former lives. We don’t get out as much, and we might not have friends over for a meal as often as we'd like. As a chef and someone living with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, I know how difficult that can be. That's why I developed this easy, four-course menu that can help you throw a successful dinner party for six without too much fuss. Your guests will certainly be impressed!
The Appetizer: Carrot Strudel with Mango Yogurt
For the strudel:
2 tablespoons (or more to taste) panch phoron spice blend (recipe below)
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 large carrots, peeled and grated
1 small onion thinly sliced
3 leaves of filo dough
2 tablespoons melted butter
Coarse sea salt
Mango yogurt (recipe below)
1 bag baby salad greens – arugula is nice
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add panch phoron and toast until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add oil and heat until it sizzles. Add carrots, onion, and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat in seasoned oil. Remove from heat.
Lay out one sheet of filo. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with salt. Place next layer on top and repeat. Add third layer and repeat.
Spread carrot mixture lengthwise along one edge of the dough, making sure to leave about two inches of overhang.
Wrap the overhang dough over the carrots, and roll tightly.
Brush with remaining butter, sprinkle with salt, and score with a serrated knife to make 6 portions.
Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove and cool for five minutes before slicing.
Serve, cut sides up, on small plates with a dollop of mango yogurt and a small bunch of greens.
For the panch phoron:
Mix up a double (or triple) batch to use on potatoes, veggies, and steaks! Store in an airtight container for up to one year.
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
1 ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
For the mango yogurt:
Blend ingredients until smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to four days.
1 tub (16oz) plain Greek-style yogurt
¼ cup mango chutney of your liking
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (optional)
The Main: Roasted Chicken with Vesuvio Potatoes
2 ½ pounds yellow potatoes, cut into wedged quarters
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper (or red pepper flakes)
1 teaspoon dry oregano
¼ cup olive oil
1 head of garlic, peeled and cloves sliced in half
3 lemons, divided
½ cup white wine
½ cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 whole chickens, cut into 8 pieces
¼ cup olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400° F.
In a large bowl, toss potatoes with seasoning and oil. Then toss in garlic.
Slice two lemons, and layer half in a large roasting pan. Add potatoes and top with remaining lemon slices.
Add wine and stock.
Place chicken pieces in a large bowl (do in batches if necessary). Add oil and season to taste.
Place chicken on top of potatoes. Place pan on the middle rack. Turn heat down to 350°F and roast for about an hour, or until a thermometer reads 160°F.
Remove and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
The Veg: Roasted Red-Pepper Salad
6 bell peppers (red, orange, and yellow if possible)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ small red onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Preheat a BBQ grill.
Rub peppers all over with vegetable oil. Grill until black and charred on all sides. Transfer peppers to a large plastic storage bag and seal to steam for 30 minutes.
Scrape all the black skin from the peppers and slice into large strips.
Lay out on a platter, sprinkle with onion slices and drizzle with vinegar and oil. Season to taste with salt.
The Dessert: Hazelnut Shortbreads with Gin Lemon Curd
For the lemon curd:
⅔ cup lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
4 large eggs
2 egg yolk
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and chilled
2 tablespoons Gin
Pinch table salt
Heat lemon juice in small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
Whisk eggs and yolks in medium nonreactive bowl; gradually whisk in sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon juice into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until mixture registers 170°F and is thick enough to cling to the spoon, about three minutes.
Remove pan from heat and stir in cold butter one or two pieces at a time, until nearly melted, then add the next pieces until all are incorporated; stir in gin and salt.
- Strain the lemon curd through a fine-mesh strainer into small nonreactive bowl. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface to prevent a skin forming and refrigerate for up to three days.
For the shortbreads:
¾ cup and 4 teaspoon butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
Unsweetened whipped cream, optional
Preheat oven to 320°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar together with a mixer until light and fluffy, scraping down once or twice. Sift in flour and bring together on low speed. Do not over mix.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Roll the dough to about ¾-inch thick. Spread hazelnuts evenly over the dough and lightly press in with the back of a baking sheet.
Cut into shapes using a cutter and transfer cookies onto lined baking tray.
Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Bake for 15 minutes until golden.
Serve with a large dollop of gin lemon curd and a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, if desired.