A warm and inviting three-course meal best shared with friends.

Now is the time to light a fire and invite friends round for a dinner party. There is always much more opportunity to create a relaxed yet intimate mood during the colder months. A little soft lighting, a few candles, good music and you are away.

The food I have chosen is not heavy but tasty and perfect for this time of year. Late autumn brings a desire to create dishes that are comforting but still have fresh flavours and textures involved.

The entree is a warm salad made with red cabbage which has been sliced and wilted in walnut oil. Goat cheese, chives, granny smith apples and lightly toasted walnut pieces are added. Finish with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. Vibrant flavours and interesting textures make this salad so good but it is a warm salad and tastes best when served so. You can choose the type of goat cheese you prefer - creamy soft is good but also a crumbly feta works well.

For the main course, crumbed veal cooked in a little butter and olive oil until crispy is scrumptious. Serve with a few fried capers and lemon for punch and rosemary for extra flavour. Whipping up boiled kumara until creamy and smooth makes a fine side for this uncomplicated dish. In my experience, all plates are wiped clean.


Dessert is time for a classic. Lemon delicious pudding is aptly named. Creamy tart lemon custard tucked underneath a light baked sponge topping. Served with cream - it is a treasure. Lemons are starting to ripen on trees if you are lucky enough to have one but, also, in produce stores the quality is getting better and the prices are coming down right now.

Chef's tip

Try to find New Zealand walnuts for the red cabbage salad. The flavour and freshness is far superior. They are available at gourmet food stores, produce stores and some Indian suppliers.

Veal can be substituted with chicken breast which would need to be sliced lengthwise and placed between waxed paper before beating with a mallet, or you could use beef schnitzel.