Minimise supper party stress with a make-ahead hot starter. Philippa Davis' prawn, sherry and garlic gratins with pistachio crust can be made up to two days in advance

Avoid a supper party meltdown with a handy, make-ahead starter that leaves you free to entertain. Philippa Davis’ prawn, sherry and garlic gratins with pistachio crust are super served in individual ramekins. Or make in a larger dish and instruct everyone to dive in. Best served with Melba toast or a crisped-up baguette.

For a light but lively starter, perfect for a spring supper party, serve roast cauliflower steaks with mozzarella. Cauliflowers are at their very best, and this packs a flavourful punch.


I am a big fan of hot starters that can be prepped ahead and simply popped into the oven when needed. You can make this recipe in ramekins or a larger dish for people to share. I like to serve them with Melba toast or crisped-up baguette.

Makes 6

  • 600ml cream
  • 6 tsp grainy mustard
  • 6 dsp sherry
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 dsp chopped chives
  • 600g peeled prawns
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 lemons
  • 120g breadcrumbs
  • 240g grated manchego cheese
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 120g chopped pistachios
  • Melba toast to serve

Note: to make Melba toast, toast bread slices, cut them through the middle so half thickness; slice into triangles, lay raw side up and bake in an oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for a couple of minutes or until they have crisped up.

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

In a bowl, whisk together the cream, mustard, sherry, cayenne and chives. Season with salt and pepper then stir in the prawns and garlic. Grate in the zest of both lemons and add the juice of one.

Divide into six ramekins.

In a new bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, manchego cheese, garlic and pistachios. Sprinkle the mix on top of the ramekins.

They are now ready to cook or can be covered and kept in the fridge for up to two days. When you are ready to bake, place on a tray and cook for 20 minutes.