2012 : THE 'LEAP' YEAR OF LOVE
(Photo : Jackie Cameron)
"Enjoy spoiling your loved ones with fabulous fare and cheeky cocktails."
It's a leap year so this month's combinations have been specifically chosen to represent love.
Chilled bubbly and good company are the perfect match for any romantic occasion.
I am a sucker for a good cocktail and having enjoyed the recent privilege of eating at both Luke Dale Roberts' Cape restaurants - Test Kitchen and Pot Luck Club - my appreciation for all things cocktail has been awakened. Kill the usual boring options and think out of the box. As much thought can go into a cocktail as into a main course - and both can either make or break a warm autumn evening. Think herbs - sweet and savoury - from lemon grass, lemon verbena and freshly picked basil to pineapple sage. Always seek out the unusual when it comes to the alcohol and the mixes. Loads of crushed ice and elegant glasses make all the difference. Encouraging guests to make their own cocktails is a fun-filled and festive way to get a party started.
I suggest light meals - after all the effects of Christmas probably linger! Glorious evenings deserve to be partnered with a fresh salad comprising crisp, bright-green, blanched asparagus spears, smoked salmon ribbons, hand-picked rocket and creamy parmesan. Sprinkle with roasted pine nuts to enhance the earthiness of the combination and offset with a squeeze of lemon juice. This makes a light, textural experience for an interesting lunch, or starter on a dinner menu.
Red is the colour of love so sundried tomato bread is a must. Topped with lots of Maldon salt and rosemary it can be a meal in itself. Serve out of the oven with lashings of homemade butter.
I seldom prepare a main meal at home because I prefer eating a selection of starter-like salads hence my columns often include many different tasty servings rather than one main dish. This leads me to one of my favourite main-dish selections: Balsamic-cured mature beef fillet with hand-whisked mayonnaise, bright green avocados, fresh herbs and char-grilled red peppers. I suggest a serving of hot, hand-sliced chips to soak up any leftover mayonnaise and/or balsamic vinegar. Too good to waste!
Red-wine-poached pear hearts classically served with honey, walnuts and gorgonzola crème, is unique, and successfully marries sweet-and-savoury flavours. It prepares one's palate for the dessert.
Fresh berries may be considered a humble dessert but served in a large bowl with your favourite ice cream and broken chunky nougat bits will change perceptions. The chilled creaminess, tartness and sweet gooeyness will take you back a few years - or more. It crosses the generation divide.
Almond-pate brisee, filled with the smoothest-of-smooth vanilla crème patisserie and topped with fresh figs takes basic French techniques and serves them up to play havoc with your taste buds!
A rich choc-chip biscuit base filled with a rich Belgium chocolate ganache and topped with banana slices to cut through the decadence promises to satisfy the most ardent chocoholic.
Enjoy spoiling your loved ones with fabulous fare and cheeky cocktails.
Take these recipes and try them.