I never need an excuse to throw a party. In fact, it seems I often go in search of reasons to throw a party. Wedding anniversary? Check. Announcing baby’s gender? Check. Stumbled upon really amazing produce that must be shared with fellow food lovers? Check. Have a Thanksgiving/Christmas Food Magazine photo shoot so why not just share all that great food? Check! Check! Check!
The only thing that seems to be consistent as far as my party throwing shenanigans are concerned is the element of spontaneity that runs through the majority of my informal get-togethers.
Thanksgiving and Christmas meals are so often packed with back-breaking and time-consuming meals that most persons in their right mind will pass on hosting, preferring to merely attend someone else’s dinner party and at most, bring along a dish made at home or at least a bottle of wine or some other graceful gift for the kind (or crazy) hostess.
I do love a formal party but I am such a stickler for detail,that I can go a little overboard in my planning. Since I actually have a day job and a pretty full life, I rather limit formal parties to at most once or twice per year. On every other occasion, I find that relaxed and casual entertainment suits me best for several reasons. Less fluff, more budget-friendly and less work. Now, who could argue with that?
But we are about to break out of the mould. That’ s right! That’s what we do best over here at Chef and Steward… we find the boxes that people confine to and we smash the shiznit out of them. So here goes.
What about a… wait for it…practical yet impressive Thanksgiving or Christmas meal? You know one that working people can actually throw together seemingly effortlessly and Martha Steward types would actually be proud of.
Here is a simple but exceptionally delectable menu for an informal gathering among friends as we celebrate the tail end of the entertaining season and make plans to escape whatever dreadful weather extremes you may be facing in your locale.
Today we start with the fish, which is perfect for the fish-eating pescatarian who inevitable makes his or her way to your meaty holiday table.
Jamaican Roast Fish en Pappillote
There is something about a little main course surprise that makes dinner a most spectacular event. After sipping on cocktails and mocktails, nibbling on nuts and chatting and laughing for some time, you and your guest would have worked up an appetite. This dish will certainly not disappoint!
The beauty is that is can be prepped ahead of time and shoved into the oven 30 minutes before you plan to sit an eat. I do not know about you but I am really big on menus that allow me to actually enjoy my party as supposed to being tucked away in a hot kitchen the whole time.
Bake it in an oven-friendly dish or tray that can go from oven to table. You do not want to mess about with cooked fish too much or it can fall apart and that would ruin the surprise. The scent of the paper being unravelled at the table is heavenly. There will be enough for 2 or more to share as someone else will invariably want a piece!
1 large Red Snapper weighing 1-1.5 kg
1 small onion
1 stalk green onion
100g thinly sliced okra
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
3 cloves garlic, diced
habanero peppers to taste
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Rinse and pat fish dry with a clean washcloth
Season fish with 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper and 1 teaspoon allspice
Cut the butter in half and put half on top of the fish
Mix the rest of the ingredients together with the remaining butter and stuff fish.
Place fish in the middle of a double layer of parchment paper and roll up edges to seal.
Bake in oven at 160C for about 20 minutes.
This recipe was originally commissioned and shot for Gourmet magazine. Are you on Instagram or Pinterest? Follow us there too @ChefandSteward !