The cricket is on telly 24/7, evenings are long and relaxing, work is in a post-Christmas/New Year comedown and everything is feeling leisurely. January is the best time to get your friends together for a meal.
Hosting dinner in summer should be easy, care free and laidback. Or at least it should appear to be! Brendan, our store manager, loves to entertain, and enjoys offering his guests something different. The normal summer dining fanfare in Australia is of course the humble barbecue: sausages, chops and steak. This is not case at Casa de Brendan! Take some of Brendan’s tips for easy entertaining and you will be surprised how simple these recipes are and how impressed your guests will be!
Brendan’s first tip is to keep it simple and streamline you menu. Entertaining in summer often means a spread of various meats, with all different cooking times, someone (usually one of the hosts) cemented to the ground in front of the bbq, tirelessly rotating sausages, turning skewers and attempting to time steaks for their horde of hungry guests. It is great to offer a variety of meat when entertaining but Brendan suggests choosing only one or two. A really easy option is to choose one piece of meat that can begin the cooking process prior to guests arriving, such as our Texan Pulled Pork, you can enjoy a glass of wine and chat with your guests as the pork is finishing off in the oven. It will be ready before you know it and you haven’t broken a sweat!
For a real crowd-pleaser, Brendan says it’s hard to go past a marinated butterflied leg of lamb or a Cajun butterflied chicken or two. They are perfectly ready for you to put on the bbq with zero prep time. Another option and for a bit of a wow factor, you could go for a beef brisket which have been hugely popular over the summer. If you have specific flavours in mind, you can spice up your brisket at home, or let us do all the work and we can create something for you.
Brendan says the secret to success is the element of surprise. Make your guests feel special by choosing something you know they haven’t had before and show confidence with the cooking times (we will be sure to advise you in store), your guests will marvel at your culinary talent!
It’s important to pair you meat with sides that compliment and highlight the flavours at the table. Brendan’s menus below use simple and effective sides to showcase the meat, and bring the meal together. An absolute must-try is Brendan’s flatbread recipe, it is really simple and makes a wonderful addition to the meal, especially when you tell everyone they are homemade!
Watching Rick Stein last week on his current show Venice to Istanbul, Brendan came across this wonderful salad using pomegranate molasses, pearl barley and fresh herbs that can be pair with many barbecued meat dishes. We particularly love this salad as it has less than 10 ingredients in it, which is quite remarkable by today’s standards of gourmet salads! Please find the recipe further down the page.
Brendan’s final piece of advice is to relax, enjoy and leave the clean up for the next day.
Turkish skewers, carrot yoghurt, flat breads and pearl barley salad
Turkish skewers 5 mins each side on a med-hot bbq grill.
60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
2 tbsp cumin seeds, coarsely crushed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
780 g (3 cups) thick Greek-style natural yoghurt
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrot and cumin stir for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and stir for another 2-3 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Transfer the carrot mixture to a bowl and while still warm, stir in the yoghurt. Season to taste, then refrigerate the dip until ready to serve.
250 g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
250 g yoghurt
½ teaspoon baking powder
In a bowl, mix together the flour, yoghurt, baking powder and a good pinch of salt. When it starts coming together, flour your hands and knead the dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll out into circles about 2mm thick. Use kitchen paper to rub the bbq grill with olive oil. Add the flatbreads and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, until golden on both sides.
Pearl Barley Salad
· 200g/7oz freekeh, pearled spelt or pearled barley
1. Put the freekeh and 1 litre/1¾ pint water in a pan together with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until just tender. Drain and allow to cool.
2. When cool, mix together the freekeh with the spring onions, pomegranate seeds and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the pomegranate molasses with a pinch of salt, and dress the salad with it, mixing gently. Serve topped with pistachios.
Love using pomegranate in your cooking? You're also doing something great for your body. Check out this article by Jenn Miller, where she reveals the pomegranate's greatest benefits: https://www.jenreviews.com/pomegranate/
Chimichurri flat iron steak, Texan pulled pork, corn tortillas, salsa and grilled corn.
Flat iron: Grill on med-hot bbq 2-3 mins each side and rest on a plate with loose alfoil.
Texan Pulled Pork: Sear off in a hot pan. Place in a covered dish with 500ml chicken stock for 4hours on 140C.
2 roma (plum) tomatoes
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 habanero or jelapeno chillies
handful of coriander leaves
Place the tomatoes, onion and chillies on a charcoal grill and cook for about 10 minutes until slightly blackened, turning over to ensure each side is cooked. Remove from the grill and pound in a mortar and pestle until the salsa is a chunky texture. Stir through the coriander leaves.