Monday, 30 July 2012

Entertaining at home: Decadent Chicken & Mushroom Filos

One of the few vivid memories I recall from my early childhood is the extravagent dinner parties my parents would throw.

I remember being bustled reluctantly off to bed on those nights, drifting off to sleep with the smell of a delicious dinner in the air before waking in the night to the cheery sounds of muffled laughter and clinking glasses.

Dad would always leave a small platter of party food for my sister and me to enjoy with the Sunday morning cartoons. It was always such a treat to have carrot sticks, dip and apple strudel for breakfast! I realise now that my father’s generosity was more likely a cunning ploy to buy a sleep-in... it worked.

In my life B.C., I enjoyed hosting dinner parties. I guess there’s something about the soft lighting, background music, fancy bubbly, hors d'Ĺ“uvres and domestic-goddess satisfaction that still evokes those happy childhood memories. Best of all, it was only a flight of stairs separating me from bed once the wine was polished off!

Friday night's feast

These days, dinner parties are as fun as ever and an extremely practical way for us to catch up with friends without having to worry about finding a babysitter. Having people over for dinner needn’t be stressful – you can do anything from takeaways to a 10-course banquet – it’s totally up to you!

Are there any dinner party recipes that have served you well over the years? I'm always up for trying something new!

We had friends over on Friday, and I decided to cook something special. Special, but quick and easy so I could also relax and enjoy their company. This dish has been a favourite for many years; I hope you enjoy it too.
RECIPE: Decadent Chicken & Mushroom Filos

Preparation time: 20 mins of chopping and cooking to do in advance (such as the night before or on the day when your little one is having a nap), then 10 mins to wrap the filos before they go in the oven (perfect to do with a glass of wine in hand)
Cooking time: 20 mins in the oven

500g chicken breast, sliced into 2cm thick strips
150g frozen spinach
1 onion, chopped
8 med mushrooms, chopped
1 tbs plain flour
1 tsp butter
1 tsp chicken stock powder
200ml cream
1 cup grated cheese
Sesame seeds
Cooking oil spray
Filo pastry (you can find this in the dairy aisle of most supermarkets)

1. Melt butter in a frypan on med-high heat, add chicken, onion and mushrooms and saute lightly for approximately 5 mins
2. Add the flour and mix well
3. Add the spinach, cream and chicken stock and mix well
4. Heat until sauce thickens, then remove from heat and mix in grated cheese and cracked pepper
** Do steps 1-4 in advance so the mixture is allowed to cool completely, then when you're almost ready for dinner:
5. Preheat fan-forced oven to 180C
6. Layer 3 pieces of filo pastry on a cutting board (spray each layer lightly with cooking oil), and use a sharp kitchen knife to cut the filo layers in half (length ways)
7. Spoon 2 tbs of the mixture onto the end of each filo strip, and wrap into a triangular parcel
8. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used
9. Place the filo parcels onto a greased oven tray, spray them lightly with cooking oil and sprinkle sesame seeds on top
10. Bake in oven for 15-20 mins (until golden)

This recipe makes about 12 parcels, ideal for 4 people. I like to serve them with a crisp glass of chardonnay and salad on the side - a green garden salad and a beetroot salad (whole baby beetroot, goats cheese, baby spinach leaf and walnuts) are ideal and very easy to prepare.

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