This year I’m doing a starter of gin and beetroot cured salmon. It looks stunning, because the outside goes deep purple from the beetroot and the inside stays pink. I make it with the Kent Dry Gin made by Anno Distillers in Marden. One of the botanicals is Kentish samphire, which gives a slightly salty background to it.
This simple but elegant starter can also be made with other vegetables such as spinach purée or Ratatouille. It is perfect for last-minute entertaining or quick dining.
This is barely a recipe, more just a gorgeous way to serve cheese as a starter…
Lucinda Hamilton creates a starter using Venison
Lucinda Hamilton creates a fish starter sourced in Rye
“Gougères” sound so much more glamorous than “cheesy puffs” but this is essentially what they are! A deliciously light choux pastry flavoured with mature cheddar. A warm pile of these delicious bites served on a large platter is all that is needed by way of an appetiser (or even a starter, if you are really feeling the pinch) and the beauty of them is that they can be made in advance, frozen and then popped in the oven to heat through for 5 minutes as your guests arrive. Please don’t be put off by the thought of making choux pastry – these are incredibly easy.
These aren’t quite as firm as potato gnocchi, but soft, sweet and flavoursome, they make an unusual accompaniment, or can be served as a starter (with blue cheese sauce) for two.
I often make this dish with baby leeks, but it works so well with asparagus – and it’s much easier to cut! Makes a great starter.