Bread & Wine.

The Whiskey Mac-Gill
1 part irish whiskey (Jamesons)
1 part green ginger wine (Stones)
Fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice (preference): 1 whole fruit = 4 serves.

Pour over a ‘cup’ of ice cubes, blend.
Serve over two slices of lemon or lime, top up with lemonade (sparkling or homemade).
Make it southern-style by adding fresh chopped mint to the blender, or muddling after.

Chicken
Legs, deboned, stuffed with pork, pistachios, plenty of italian flat-leaf parsley, plenty of thyme. Wrapped in streaky bacon, seasoned well, then poached for 20 – 25mins. Chill for 30 mins. Then pan fry til bacon crispy, slice and serve.
(Original stuffed chicken recipe from Gordon Ramsey, slightly modified).

I serve with:

wild mushroom & garlic risotto and fresh asparagus, blanched and peppered
or
spring vegetables (mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus & onion)in white wine pepper cream.

For a spicier, Oriental twist, use cashews, coriander and chillis in the stuffing, along with a little ginger. Then serve on simple asian noodles of choice with green beans, capsicum slivers and bamboo in salty sweet chilli sauce.

Lamb
Take individual lamb loin or a small roast, split through the middle and stuff with feta, plenty of basil and capers. Add a little pepper and olive oil. Tie with cotton string so that the meat closes well over the cheese. Season the outside of the lamb with olive oil, salt, pepper, just a little ground chilli powder and crushed garlic. Sear on each side (about 4 mins), seasoning each side. Then roast in the oven for approx 25mins. Always let the meat rest for a few minutes before slicing.

Serve with roasted vegetables – I chose red peppers, vine-ripened tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini and green beans.

*I think it’s really important to eat seasonally – so what’s locally available is always a good (and usually cheaper) way to go.

Roasted Vegetables
The key to success here is roasting to taste.. I like to put them in a high heat bake oven and then switch it to grill to crisp up when the texture is just right. I put the capsicum & tomatoes in at the beginning, well salted, with olive oil and pepper too. Then adding the zucchini, followed by the asparagus and green beans (which are blanched first). Just roll the additional vegetables in the oil you used for the capsicum and tomatoes, seasoning as you go. Perfecto. If you add the vegetables about the same time as the lamb – you’ll be perfect.

*I served the asparagus whole, the green beans in two-inch lengths. The capsicum in eighths, the zucchini in 1cm wide diagonal slices.

**Any variation of the following would also work well – whole field mushrooms, whole garlic cloves, eggplant slices, broccolini.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta
If you were roasting the above vegetables with garlic cloves and mushrooms – another great way to serve an easy and light summer lunch is cooking off some angelhair pasta or tagiatelli, then adding your bite-sized roasted vegetables with plenty of fresh basil, salt, pepper and garlic. Delicious.

Beer Bread
An easy and aromatic way to consume your favourite brews.
2 cups self raising flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
a drizzle of good quality olive oil
about 250ml of a good beer

Mix together until a good dough is formed – add more of whatever it needs – flour or beer, until you have a workable dough. Then form it into whatever shape loaf you prefer. You can use a tin but I prefer free form, sometimes braided etc. Bake for an hour at medium heat oven. When it’s crusty and hollow-sounding, you have a great loaf.

The consistency is a little different than normal bread – and you could make this loaf wholemeal easily. I prefer the darker ales for the aromatic content – I recently made it with a renaissance Porter ale. Delicious. Great to toast and serve with soul or another light meal.

Spanish Mushrooms & Chorizo
Inspired by one of my favourite bars, Mezze in Durham Lane, this is so simple, yet one of my favourite things on the menu. It’s perfect served with hummus on beer bread.

1 chorizo per serve (sliced diagonally, thinly)
150g mushrooms per person (button is fine, quartered)
fresh basil
fresh garlic, crushed or finely chopped

Saute off the garlic and chorizo until the chorizo is crispy. Then add the mushrooms and saute til they are crispy. Add a dash of wine (honestly, just a splash) then a dash of either sour cream or cream. The various flavours will mix together well – add the torn fresh basil and a touch of pepper to taste.

Serve as a tapa or main over toasted bread or fresh greens.

What do you think?