Party paupers

Twenty quid cuisine by Silvena Rowe

All dishes serve four

Seared scallop served on beetroot and horseradish purée

For this starter, it is worth making an effort to get king scallops or large hand-dived scallops, which you have to order. They are substantial and meaty and the best-quality scallops you can get.

2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
4 medium beetroots, washed
4 small cauliflower florets
2 tsp horseradish cream
4 king scallops, shelled
100ml double cream
Handful of frisée salad leaves
Butter and olive oil
Salt and pepper

Place the beetroot in a pan of boiling water and cook until soft. Cool and peel off the skins. Place the beetroot in a food processor and puree. Now place the cauliflower in a saucepan of boiling water and cook until soft. Drain and puree in a food processor.

In a heavy pan, sweat the shallots and add the beetroot and cauliflower, cooking slowly on medium heat until all is thickened. Add the cream and simmer for five minutes. Finally, add the horseradish cream and liquidise and season. Keep warm.

In a very heavy skillet, heat a drop of oil until smoking hot and sear the scallops until browned - about two minutes each side.

To serve, spoon a small dollop of the beetroot puree on each serving plate and top with a scallop and a few salad leaves.

Cost: £8.20

Lamb- and quince-stuffed cabbage leaves

I have slightly amended a traditional recipe by adding quince, a wonderful, quintessentially English fruit. They have a lovely perfume and are in season now. Adding them to savoury dishes creates delicious sweet and sour flavours.

1 Savoy cabbage
350g minced lamb
100g long-grain rice
Parsley, chopped finely
1 small onion, chopped finely
Salt and pepper
1 large quince
50ml lemon juice
1 tbsp honey

Preheat the oven to 160C. Cut out the cabbage's core with a sharp knife, then place the cabbage in a large saucepan filled with hot water and simmer until leaves are soft - about 12 minutes. Drain and remove carefully.

Mix together lamb, parsley, rice and onion and season well.

Spread each leaf on work surface and place on it a spoonful of the meat mixture. Fold over the top and roll up, tucking in both sides like a small parcel. Use toothpicks to secure during cooking. Place the stuffed cabbage leaves in a single layer, seam down, in a wide, deep tray.

Peel, core and cut the quince into slices1cm thick. Place on top of the cabbage parcels. Add lemon juice and honey and cover well with foil. Place in the oven and cook for about 1 hour. Serve immediately.

Cost: £5.30

Baked quinces in quince and cinnamon syrup

As quinces are cooked with sugar they change colour and texture. They transform from pale yellow into brownish-red. In this recipe the quinces are cooked in quince syrup for an even more intense flavour.

6 quinces
Juice of 2 lemons
4 cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
300ml water
200g sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds removed

Peel four of the quinces and cut them into quarters. Remove the cores and place the fruit in a large heavy pan with a cover, arranged in a single layer. Pour the lemon juice over to prevent discoloration.

Meanwhile, use the remaining two quinces to make the syrup. Peel, core and chop them coarsely, then place in a large pan with 100g of the sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Add enough water to cover. Bring to boil and simmer for about an hour or until the quinces are very soft and dark red and liquid has turned syrupy. Strain syrup and discard the pulp.

Pour the syrup over the four quince quarters prepared earlier, adding the cloves, cinnamon and remaining sugar. Make sure quinces are covered by the syrup and place a piece of baking paper on top to keep the fruit submerged. Place in an oven preheated to 120C, covered, and cook for an hour or more until the quinces are soft to touch and red in colour.

To serve, place quince quarters with some syrup on a dessert plate and accompany with mascarpone.

Cost: £5.40

Ten quid tipples by Malcolm Gluck

An acquaintance examined me quizzically from head to toe recently and remarked, "How do you stay so slim on all that food that chef of yours keeps feeding you?"

I was forced to admit that Silvena does not try out her culinary ideas on me, for she has a husband - a very large husband - and several greedy children who can serve that purpose. Most of the time, I said, all I get is an email. Not much protein or carbohydrate there, I said.

And so, dear reader, do not imagine that I have scoffed scallops with beetroot and horseradish purée. I am forced to use my imagination, to sift the ingredients, to make an educated guess as to the perfect wine.

In a perfect world, I would really serve some old German spatlese riesling or an Alsatian tokay pinot gris with the dish, but how I can I possibly afford it? I must opt instead for Tesco's Simply Riesling 2002 (14.5 points, £2.99) with its glorious screw cap. It is a German wine and has the necessary richness combined with citrus qualities to handle the tricky ingredients. Another excellent bet is Aldi's Domaine Bouscau Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne 2001 (15.5 points, £2.99) with its delicious pineapple, pear and citrus fruit.

With the lamb-stuffed cabbage leaves we need to move on to a red wine and, again, we venture into Aldi for its own-label non-vintage Chilean cabernet sauvignon (16 points, £2.99). It has chocolate-undertoned berries with a touch of grilled nut and racy tannins. Two bottles should see the four of you nicely through to the pud and those baked quinces with cinnamon syrup.

With £8.97 spent we do not, as is usual, have a lot left to splash out on a dessert wine - but what the hell. I unreservedly recommend, as I have once before, Aldi's Fletchers Cream Sherry (16 points, £3.29). Its honeyed fruit shows toffee and creme brulee and will help the quinces down beautifully.

&#183 Any questions? Malcolm Gluck can be contacted at

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