The time of year most spent around the table – and dare I say kitchen – is fast approaching. But worry not! I’ve written these recipes to help make summer entertaining all about the food, but in the most effortless oh-I-just-whipped-this-up way. It’s all in the prep, my friends. And prep we will. Picture it: Christmas day (or one of the many other days in which we entertain and eat over summer), people are arriving with their hands full of presents and nibbles and bubbles and baubles and children. Total mayhem. So why wouldn’t you choose to prep the day before? Prep is key to enjoying what is the best thing about any kind of entertaining: the company of friends and loved ones (and obviously the nibbles). These recipes use a lot of my favourite ingredients and a few of my new ones, like Little Biddy’s botanical dry gin (also a great stocking filler). Trust me when I say this is maximum of flavour, minimum of fuss to a tee. So I hope you enjoy them and make them your own.
Makes 8 cocktails
Begin this recipe 2 days ahead (trust me, it’s worth it).
300 g chopped skinless rockmelon
juice of 1 lime, plus extra slices to serve
1 cup (220 g) caster sugar
½ cup (125 ml) Little Biddy botanical dry gin, plus extra to serve
2 cups (500 ml) tonic water, plus extra to serve
mint leaves to serve
Sweet and Sour Rim
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp salt flakes
zest of 1 lime
Combine rockmelon, juice (keep the zest for the rim), sugar and gin in a large bowl and set aside overnight to macerate or until the sugar has dissolved. Add to a blender and whiz until combined and smooth. Combine with tonic water and pour into a shallow freezer-proof dish and freeze overnight.
The next day, run a fork through mixture. Rake up the crystals then transfer to a serving dish. Freeze until ready to serve. For the sweet and sour rim combine all ingredients in a shallow bowl. Use a lime slice to run around the rim of each glass to wet slightly, then dip into prepared sweet and sour mixture.
When ready to serve, spoon Rockmelon Ginñita mixture into serving glasses. Scatter with mint leaves, lime slices and pour over any extra gin and tonic water to taste.
Seared Scallops with Pickled Plum Mignonette
Serves 6 as a starter
Prep 10 mins Cooking 5 mins
12 scallops (if frozen thaw overnight on paper towel)
¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
50 g unsalted butter
Pickled Plum Mignonette
1 plum, finely chopped
1 small celery stick, finely chopped
80 ml red wine vinegar
1 small red onion, finely chopped
½ bunch chives, finely chopped
For the pickled plum mignonette combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stand for 5–10 minutes to pickle. (You can even do this the day before.)
To cook the scallops, heat the oil in a large frypan over high heat. When pan is very hot add scallops and cook, turning halfway, for 2 minutes or until golden and slightly translucent in the centre. Add the butter to the pan to melt and then spoon over scallops. Add the mignonette mixture to the pan to briefly warm through then transfer to a serving platter. Serve immediately with forks for guests to serve themselves.
Crack-Berry-Pav with Whipped White Chocolate Panacotta Cream
Serves 8 – Begin this recipe one day ahead – Prep 15 mins – Cooking 1 hour 30 minutes
1 tsp white vinegar
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1½ cups (330 g) caster sugar
3 tsp cornflour
500 ml fresh pure cream
1/3 cup raspberry jam
summer berries (we used blueberries, raspberries and strawberries) to serve
1 tbsp powdered gelatine
500 ml fresh pure cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
180 g white chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 150°C. Line a round pizza tray with baking paper. Place vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use a paper towel to wipe vinegar around and clean the bowl. Add egg whites and whisk to soft peaks. Turn off then combine sugar and cornflour. Add to bowl and whisk for 20 minutes or until sugar has dissolved and mixture is thick and glossy. Spoon into centre of the tray and spread out leaving a 10 cm gap between the meringue and the edge of the tray. Using a small palette knife, drag meringue from the bottom up into peaks. Mess it up with lots of nooks and crannies for the cream to be slotted into.
Reduce oven to 100°C. Add meringue and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until outside is crisp and dry. There will be cracking – believe it or not this is a good thing, this will be where the whipped pillows of panacotta slot in perfectly. Turn oven off and leave meringue inside to cool for at least 6 hours.
Meanwhile, to make the panacotta place gelatine and ⅓ cup cream in a bowl and stand for 5 minutes to soften. Place the remaining cream, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to the boil. Add bloomed gelatine to hot cream mixture and stir over heat until smooth and combined. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl then pour hot gelatine/cream mixture through a fine sieve over chocolate. Stand for 2 minutes then stir until smooth and combined. Cover directly with plastic wrap and chill for 3 hours or overnight to set.
The next day transfer chilled and set panacotta to the bowl of a stand mixer with 500 ml cream and whisk on high until stiff peaks form. Spoon cream over the meringue, filling the cracks. Scatter with berries and spoonfuls of jam. Serve.
Samantha Parish brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience, with over eight years of working as a freelance chef and recipe writer in Australia and New Zealand. Sam’s food ethos is MOF MOF: Maximum of flavour, minimum of fuss, producing beautiful recipes that show off how smart you can cook when you cook simply. Mofmof.space
RECIPES & STYLING Samantha Parish
Images Charlie Jackson