8 fresh strawberries + 1 strawberry to garnish
4 tsp white sugar
70ml white rum
2 Tbsp strawberry liqueur
50ml lime juice
1. Place the strawberries, sugar, rum, liqueur and lime juice into the base of a cocktail shaker and mash with the end of a clean rolling pin.
2. Place the lid onto the cocktail shaker and shake well.
3. Strain the mixture into a martini glass and garnish with half a strawberry
Grilled Oysters with Fennel and Spinach Topping
16 oysters in the shell, opened and top shell discarded
salt and pepper
1 shallot, finely chopped
100g potato, peeled and finely diced
100g bulb of fennel, finely diced
100g English spinach, torn into pieces
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges to serve
1. Check the oysters to make sure there are no bits of shattered shell on them. Arrange them, on their half shells, in four individual flameproof dishes, or on one large dish, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Propping the shells with crumpled foil will prevent them from tipping)
2. Preheat the grill to moderate. Heat the butter in a frying pan, add the shallot and cook over a gentle heat for 2 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add the diced potato and fennel and cook gently for 10 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in the spinach and cook for 1 – 2 minutes, or until the spinach has just wilted. Add the lemon juice, parsley and seasoning to taste. Spoon 1 Tbsp of the mixture over each oyster.
4. Cook the oysters under the frill for 3 minutes, or until the topping is tinged brown. Serve immediately with the lemon wedges.
Caramelised Pancetta & Fennel Salad
1 bulb fennel, halved and cut into 1 cm wedges
5 slices pancetta or bacon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 – 7 cups mixed salad greens
red wine vinaigrette (recipe below)
RED WINE VINAIGRETTE
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1.Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
2. In a medium bowl, toss together fennel, pancetta, garlic, sugar, oil, salt and pepper. Place the ingredients on the baking sheet in a single layer. Cook until the pancetta is crisp and the fennel is caramelised, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, place the salad greens, crumbled pancetta and caramelised fennel. Toss the salad with the red wine vinaigrette and serve immediately.
4. To make the red wine vinaigrette mix all the ingredients in a blender except the oil. With the blender running slowly, gradually blend in the oil. Adjust the seasoning if desired.
4 skinless chicken breast fillets, about 140g each
135g English spinach leaves
1 small red pepper, seeded and quartered
125g ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
150ml dry vermouth
150ml chicken stock
4 Tbsp crème fraiche
250g thin asparagus spears
1. Put each chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and, with a meat hammer or rolling pin, bat them out into rough squares 5 mm thick. Set aside.
2. Place the spinach in a large pan, with just the water clinging to the leaves after washing, cover and cook for 2 minutes or until wilted. Drain well, squeezing out all excess liquid, then chop finely and put into a large bowl.
3. Preheat the grill. Arrange the pepper quarters, skin side up, on the grill rack and grill for 6 minutes or until charred. Transfer to a plastic bag and seal. Leave until cool enough to touch, then peel and dice.
4. Add the pepper to the spinach together with the ricotta cheese, beaten egg, parmesan, breadcrumbs, basil and nutmeg. Season to taste. Mix well. Divide the filling among the chicken escallops, spreading it over them evenly. Roll up each one, folding in the sides to enclose the filling, and secure with wooden cocktail sticks.
5. Pout the roulades in a frying pan that will hold them comfortably and pour over the vermouth and stock. Cover tightly and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
6. Remove the roulades from the pan and keep hot. Bring the cooking liquid back to the boil and boil until reduced to 150ml. Stir in the crème fraiche and boil for a further 1 – 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
7. Meanwhile, cook the asparagus in boiling water for 2 – 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain, refresh with cold water and keep warm.
8. Remove and discard the cocktail sticks from the chicken roulades, then cut them into neat slices. Serve, garnished with the asparagus spears and with the sauce drizzled round.
Pepper Crusted Fillet Mignon
2 fillet mignons 150 – 170g each and about 4 cm thick
very coarsely ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
RED WINE SAUCE
1 cup red wine
2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small cubes
1. Season the fillets very generously on both sides with salt and especially pepper, patting it into the fillet firmly.
2. Heat the oil in a small skillet over a medium-high heat. Cook fillets until desired doneness, 3 – 5 minutes per side (depending on thickness) for medium-rare.
3. Serve with the red wine sauce if desired.
4. To make the red wine sauce, place the wine in a small saucepan and boil until reduces to 1/4 cup, about 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cubed butter. Swirl the pan until the butter has melted and the sauce has thickened, about 1 minute. Season with coarse salt.
Prawns with Spicy Dipping Sauce
50g harissa (hot chilli sauce)
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp honey
500g cooked prawns, shell on (you can use peeled prawns if preferred)
1. Place all the ingredients, except the prawns, into a bowl and mix well, then transfer to a small dipping bowl.
2. Place the prawns on a large plate for people to peel and dip into the dipping sauce.
Apple Stuffed Pork Roast
1 pork fillet, about 500g
1/2 cup chopped, peeled tart apple
1/4 cup soft bread crumbs
1 Tbsp chopped celery
1 Tbsp chopped spring onion
1 Tbsp raisins
1 Tbsp chopped walnuts
pinch ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp unsweetened apple juice
2 tsp maizena
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Cut a lengthwise slit down the centre of the fillet to within 1.5 cm of the bottom. Open so meat lies flat. Cover with plastic wrap and flatten, with a meat hammer, to 1.5 cm thickness. Remove wrap and sprinkle meat with salt and pepper.
2. In a small bowl, combine the apple, bread crumbs, celery, onion, raisins, walnuts and nutmeg. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp apple juice and toss to coat. Spoon over the pork, leaving the edges open. Roll up Swiss roll style, starting at the long side. Tie with kitchen string and secure the ends with toothpicks.
3. Place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tsp apple juice. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Brush with remaining apple juice and bake for 20 – 25 minutes longer, or until meat juices run clear and, if you have one, a meat thermometer reads 160°. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.
4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine maizena and cinnamon. Gradually whisk in the apple juice until smooth. Bring to the boil, cook and stir for 1 – 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with the pork.
2 frozen pizza crusts or bread dough from the bakery
1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese blends
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup pizza sauce
18 slices salami
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup sliced olives
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Roll out pizza dough to desired thickness (if you are using baker’s bread dough). Flatten the dough evenly. With a kitchen scissors, cut the dough into a 25 cm heart shape. The dough trimmings can be used to make breadsticks, if desired. Bake for 8 minutes.
2. Combine the cheeses and set aside.
3. Spread the dough with the pizza sauce. Layer the salami, onion, olives and cheese mixture over the pizza sauce. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes longer, or until crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted.
Chilli Chocolate Covered Strawberries
170g dark chocolate, chopped
3 Tbsp thick cream
1 Tbsp butter
1/8 tsp ground pure chilli powder
10 large strawberries with long stems
1. In a heat-proof mixing bowl add the chocolate, cream and butter. Place over a smaller pot of boiling water. Be sure the mixing bowl does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the chilli powder and mix until fully incorporated.
2. Hold each strawberry by the long stem and dip into the chocolate, allowing the excess to drizzle back into the bowl. Place the dipped strawberries on a baking tray covered by greased paper. Once chocolate is cool, chill until fully set, about 30 minutes.
6 egg yolks
3 Tbsp sugar
500g mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups strong espresso coffee, cooled
2 tsp dark rum
24 packaged ladyfinger biscuits (boudoir)
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings to garnish
1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth. Add 1 Tbsp of espresso and mix until thoroughly combined.
2. In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso and rum. Dip each ladyfinger into espresso for only 5 seconds. Letting the ladyfingers soak for too long will cause them to fall apart. Place the soaked biscuits on the bottom of a 33 x 23 cm baking dish, breaking them in half, if necessary in order to fit the bottom.
3. Spread evenly half of the mascarpone mixture over the biscuits. Arrange another layer of soaked biscuits and top with the remaining mascarpone mixture.
4. Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.
5. Before serving, sprinkle with chocolate shavings.