Spinach Squares, Slow roasted pork belly with fennel and Honey-roasted fig and almond tart

I recently had five friends of supper.  Here's the table setting.  I love the combination of lime green and purple. The napkins are from my favourite shop, The Cloth Shop  and are made by them from off-cuts of the Swedish linen they sell. 

Here are some of the recipes for the supper:

APPETISER

Spinach Squares

I served two appetisers with the champagne - smoked salmon blinis and this recipe below. It is full of nutrients and very tasty, especially with the chilli dipping sauce and a squeeze of lime. And best of all, it takes very little time to make and can be made in advance as it's eaten cold.

It contains Gram Flour which is made of chickpeas and can be found in most supermarkets or any Indian store.

  • 300-400g fresh spinach
  • 3/4 cup Gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 1 teaspoon
  •  baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons
  •  plain yoghurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped tinned tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1-2 gloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 egg
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Heat oven to 150C degrees. Wash and trim the spinach, drain well and finely chop.
  2. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients in order listed. Combine well with a wooden spoon or better still, with your hands.
  4. Oil a shallow baking dish about 30cm x 20cm. Press mixture into dish (it should be about 2cm thick).
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden.
  6. Cool then cut into squares about 5cm square.
  7. Serve with a chilli dipping sauce (I used fresh red chillies with salt, sugar and lime juice) and wedges of lime.

The squares can be shallow-fried in oil if you prefer a crispy texture.

MAIN COURSE

Gordon Ramsay's Slow-roasted pork belly with fennel

This serves 4 so I doubled the recipe and most of the meat was eaten! The flavours are absolutely divine with the fennel and star anise. I served it as Gordon recommends with Dauphinoise potatoes (such an indulgence!). I also served some green vegetables.

  • 1kg pork belly
  • Sea salt and black pepper.1 fennel bulb, trimmed and roughly sliced
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods, bashed
  • 4 star anise.
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • Olive oil
  • 325ml white wine
  • 500–750ml chicken stock (depending on the size of your pan)
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Score the pork belly skin diagonally in a diamond pattern at 1½ cm intervals. Season generously with salt and pepper, rubbing it well into the skin.

Put the fennel, bay leaves, garlic, cardamom, star anise and half the fennel seeds into a hot roasting tray on the hob with a little oil and heat for about 2 minutes until aromatic. Push to the side of the tray, then add the pork, skin side down, and cook for at least 5 minutes until turning golden brown. Turn the pork over, season the skin again with salt and sprinkle with the remaining fennel seeds.

Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits from the bottom (be careful not to get the skin of the pork wet). Bring to the boil, then pour in enough stock to come up to the layer of fat just below the skin and allow to boil again.

Transfer the tray to the preheated oven and cook for 2½ hours.

Transfer the meat to a warm plate and set aside to rest. Meanwhile, spoon off any excess fat in the roasting tray or drag a slice of bread along the surface of the cooking juices to absorb it.

Heat the tray on the hob, adding the mustard. Mix in with a whisk, then taste and adjust the flavours as necessary. Remove the star anise and cardamom pods and pour the sauce into a jug. Serve the rested pork with the sauce alongside.

DESSERT 

Honey roasted fig and almond tart

This tart is stunning and was a huge hit with the guests. I roasted more figs than I needed and served them on the side.

  • 500g pack shortcrust pastry at room temperature, thawed if frozen
  • 8 ripe figs, stalks trimmed finely grated zest and juice of one large juicy orange
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 200g softened butter
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 200g packet ground almonds
  • 2 medium egg yolks

Preheat the oven to fan 180C/ conventional 200C/gas 6. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a shallow loose-bottomed 25cm flan tin (watch our video to see how to do this. Make sure the pastry comes above the rim – it may shrink in baking and the filling could spill. Chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the figs in half lengthways and sit them cut side up on a roasting tray. Mix the orange juice and honey in a bowl, pour over the figs and roast for 10-12 minutes until just soft. Drain off any juice into a saucepan and reserve.

Prick the base of the chilled pastry case all over with a fork, then line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to fan 130C/conventional 150C/ gas 2. Leave the pastry case to cool slightly before filling.

Cream butter and sugar in a food processor or with an electric beater until smooth and pale. Tip in the ground almonds and zest and whizz briefly to combine. Add egg yolks and 1 tbsp of the reserved fig juice and whizz again until smooth. Spread evenly over the pastry case.

Gently press the figs cut side up into the almond mixture. Bake for 11⁄4 hours or until it’s golden all over (don’t worry if the centre still seems soft – a little gooeyness is good). Leave in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove sides and transfer on its base to a wire rack to cool.

Before serving, take the tart off its base and transfer to a flat platter or board. If you have juice left from roasting the figs, bring it to the boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes until sticky and syrupy. Brush this over the figs and serve as soon as possible, while the syrup is still glossy on the figs (it will start to seep through into the filling if you leave it too long.