Food writer Ruth Joseph explains how you can be kind to the planet as well as your guests when inviting them around for an ethical dinner
With green issues becoming ever more important in our lives, more of us are considering our surroundings, and the need to save the world’s resources and limit waste.
It makes sense to extend this care to entertaining. So how do you throw a green dinner party? Firstly, do not send an invitation in the post — save resources by inviting your guests in person, by email or phone, thus saving valuable resources.
Then, where to buy your food and what to serve? If you live near a farmers’ market, now is the time to pay a visit. You will be supporting local growers, and in return the foods that you buy should be fresher as they will have not travelled as many miles as the supermarket equivalent.
If that is not possible, then look for seasonal, British-grown produce, especially in the summer. Locally grownvegetables and herbs make delicious soups. Think of fresh cauliflower with a rocket pesto drizzle, or leek and watercress. An attractive milky salad starter could be podded summer broad beans, peas, slivers of local cheese, and baby potatoes cooked in their skins.
Local field mushrooms can be stuffed and filled with breadcrumbs — from left-over challah, perhaps, with mixed herbs, a little oil and salt and pepper.
Despite strict legislation, EU fisheries are still pushing cod, haddock and whiting stocks to the brink of extinction. So green party-givers should abandon their old familiar fish and look further afield. Talk to your fishmonger, or visit www.abelandcole.co.uk for more information and buy line-caught sustainable fish from fishmongers who use small boats rather than trawlers.
There are plenty of kosher fish varieties that are not in danger of extinction — pollock and coley are all just as delicious as cod and haddock.
Think farmed trout, smoked and fresh, stuffed with lemon and parsley. Or how about an old-fashioned fish pie topped with local mashed potatoes? Want a slimline evening? Organically farmed salmon that is reared far out at sea can be poached or cooked in foil parcels with slices of spring onion, pepper, slivers of chilli and ginger, and some locally grown sweetcorn or other veg.
If you are buying chicken, ask your butcher for free-range birds that have been reared in humane conditions. They will reward you with a better taste. Veggies can feast on a good home-made vegetable curry, tagine or a haimishe kugel accompanied by rice, quinoa, or couscous.
Finally, for dessert, think fair-trade. Make a mousse with fair-trade dark chocolate (see right). Serve with slices of pineapple sprinkled with a little fair-trade brown sugar and chopped local mint. Or use up your challah by making a bread-and-butter pudding — a real favourite .
Decorate the table with a few flowers picked from your garden, or buy British. Recycle all your kitchen waste. Wash your dishes with an eco-friendly washing-up liquid.
By going green, you will be helping to preserve the planet and you will also be observing the Torah’s commandments. We are told: “When God created Adam he showed him all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him: See my works, how lovely they are, how fine they are. All I have created, I created for you. Take care not to corrupt and destroy my universe, for if you destroy it, no one will come after you to put it right.” (Ecclesiastes Rabban 7).
Use fair-trade chocolate and sugar, and enjoy Ruth Joseph’s indulgent mousse with a clear conscience
-Six 150g (5 ½oz) blocks of fair trade 70 per cent dark chocolate
-225g, 8 oz meringues — can be shop-made
-450gms 1lb brown sugar — use fair-trade, unrefined muscovado if possible
-6 free-range egg whites (save yolks to use for mayonnaise or biscuits)
-2 containers of dairy-free whip for parev, or 2 times 450g whipping cream or low-fat cream substitute
-150ml, 5floz, ¼ pint of kosher brandy
-Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of hot water. Leave it to cool slightly. Crush the meringue into pieces, the size of walnuts.
-In a clean bowl, whisk the brown sugar with the egg whites until you get a stiff, golden meringue. Scoop the meringue mixture carefully into larger bowl so you don’t lose the air.
-Whisk the dairy substitute whip, cream or the cream substitute until it holds firm peaks, (you can use the same bowl from the meringue mixture) Now fold the brandy into the cream with the meringues, the cooled chocolate mixture and egg whites.
-Spoon carefully into lined moulds and freeze for at least 3 hours.
-Turn out to serve and decorate with chocolate curls or toasted nuts — as you fancy — and keep frozen until ready to serve.