Champagne Themed
Dinner Party for 4

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Summer is coming and that usually means we want to step up our entertainment game.
Here are some menu ideas to give your dinner party maximum wow with minimum fuss.

The team at Champagne in Africa love any excuse to celebrate, but we’re also keen to do so without it becoming ‘mission impossible’.

We’ve provided you with two stylish yet simple options for each course. All you have to do is select and start playing in the kitchen. Add a few candles, flowers and pretty napkins and you’re good to go!

STARTERS

Option 1: Oysters with Champagne Mignonette

Oysters and Champagne are a classic pairing, with good reason. Certain chemicals in Champagne and oysters pair well to “spark an umami synergy… that greatly enhances the taste of the Champagne.” (Professor Ole G. Mouritsen from the Department of Food Science at UCPH.) … and the Champagne region was an ancient sea, so there’s that.

Simple and elegant!

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup rosé Champagne

2 shallots or 1 medium onion finely chopped

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

24 oysters on the half shell

Shaved ice

METHOD

Combine the rosé Champagne, shallots, vinegar, and pepper. Arrange the oysters on a bed of ice and serve with the mignonette.

For a bit of extra gasp factor, serve the oysters on dry ice.

Option 2: Charcuterie and Cheese Board

A charcuterie and cheese board is always a winner. Soft cheeses such as brie and creamy blues pair extremely well with Champagne. Pop into your local deli and stock up with delicious continental cured meats and cheeses. Add a paté and a fig or ginger jam, a loaf of crusty French bread and strawberries or grapes. This should be a feast for the eyes, as well as the tastebuds!

Arrange lovingly on a board, pop your favourite bottle of bubbles and enjoy!

MAINS:

Option 1: Grilled Salmon with garlic mash

Keep things classy, fresh and simple. Allow the Champagne to balance the fattiness of the salmon.

INGREDIENTS:

4 x salmon fillets

1,5kg potatoes

5 cloves of crushed garlic

¼ cup olive oil

Knob of butter

1 lemon

1 punnet long stem broccoli or asparagus

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley garnish

METHOD:

Peel and chop the potatoes. Boil in salted water until tender. Drain and mash with a knob of butter and the minced garlic while over a low heat, season to taste and keep warm.

Toss the broccoli or asparagus in salt and pepper, a tbsp of olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice. Chargrill or air fry until lightly charred but still crunchy.

Brush the fish with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice, season to taste. Grill for 10-15 mins or until the flesh is just cooked through. (Some people prefer a hint of translucency so rather err on the side of under than over cooking, which will dry out the fish.)

Plate onto the mash with a dribble of the cooking juices and the broccoli on the side. Garnish and serve!

Option 2: Champagne Chicken in Cream

This delicious creamy Champagne Chicken impresses and it’s so easy to make. What’s not to love about the mix of cream, mushrooms, chicken and your favourite bubbly?

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 skinless chicken breast fillets halved to allow for even cooking

400 grams sliced button mushrooms

2 teaspoons butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup Champagne

Fresh chopped Origanum, to garnish

Salt and black pepper to taste

Green side salad and garlic baby potatoes for serving

METHOD:

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Season each chicken filet with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sear chicken on both sides, for about 3-5 minutes each side (depending on thickness), until golden all over. Set aside the chicken.

Fry the mushrooms in the butter and chicken juices, with a sprinkle of origanum for a further 3-5 minutes, or until just beginning to soften. Transfer to the same plate as the chicken. Cover and keep warm.

Add the onion into the pan and cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat. Pour in the Champagne; stir well, while scraping any food bits from the bottom of the pan for added flavour. Season with salt and pepper and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add cream and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes.

Add the chicken and mushrooms into the sauce along with any cooking juices. Coat in the creamy sauce. Garnish with origanum and serve with a fresh green salad and garlic baby potatoes.

DESSERT

By the time dessert comes around, the hosts should ideally be as relaxed as the guests. It’s usually better to have something pre-prepared or quick to assemble, so that you can get back to the table and enjoy the evening.

Option 1: Champagne Strawberries with Meringue
(prepare the night before)

If you’re a baker, then by all means make your meringues, but for the baking-challenged – shop bought work too!

INGREDIENTS:

4 meringue whirls or baskets

1 punnet ripe strawberries

½ cup Champagne

Sugar to taste

1 vanilla pod

250ml whipped cream

Dark chocolate shavings (Lindt chocolate strawberry works well)

METHOD:

Hull and slice strawberries in half or quarter if they are large.

Bring vanilla and Champagne to a boil, add the sugar then simmer until the liquid is syrupy. Keep stirring to avoid burning. Allow to cool.

Pour over the strawberries, cover and refrigerate overnight. The result will be a lovely, pink syrup.

Spoon the strawberries and syrup onto the meringues. Serve with whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings.

Option 2: Strawberry & Champagne Crepes

INGREDIENTS:

8 premade pancakes (store bought is perfectly fine.)

1 punnet fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced (reserve 4-8 for garnish)

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 cup Champagne

1/4 tsp almond extract

250ml whipped cream

METHOD:

Precook or use premade pancakes (small and thin) – place in warmer

Strawberries & Champagne Sauce:

Combine all ingredients except the cream and cook on medium-high heat, bringing to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes or until syrupy.

Remove from heat and allow to cool until ready to spoon sauce over the crepes. Serve with cream and garnish with whole strawberries.

It goes without saying that the Champagne used in each dish should be served with that dish.

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