Dine like a rock star (+recipes)

By Amanda Laird

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For a party at home or before a night out you need some suitable sustenance to help the mood along.

Clockwise from above left: Blue cheese, beef and avocado mini burgers; pizzette; and chilli prawns with rocket lemon mayo. Photo / Babiche Martens
Clockwise from above left: Blue cheese, beef and avocado mini burgers; pizzette; and chilli prawns with rocket lemon mayo. Photo / Babiche Martens

Rock 'n' roll food means tasty, hot, kick-ass tastes that are easy to eat at parties or before heading out on the town. No subtle flavours involved here today, matching with wine is not a priority - vodka is probably more the go.

Today we are serving up chilli, anchovies, garlic and blue cheese with pizzette, prawns and burgers, but while big in flavour, the dishes can still be sophisticated. A little more Florence and the Machine than Motorhead, shall we say.

Pizzette is just a lovely name for small pizzas. The key to good pizza is a delicious thin base and a tasty topping.

The dough needs strong flour with plenty of gluten to work well with the yeast and needs to be kneaded until silky soft and smooth. Make sure you let the dough rest for long enough for it to rise, if you hurry this stage you will regret it because the dough will be tough.

The anchovy sauce is made by simmering whole garlic cloves in milk until soft then mixing with anchovies which have been gently fried in a little olive oil and butter until almost dissolved or "melted". This sauce is also known as bagna cauda and is not for the faint-hearted. Adding olives with sweet tomatoes and fresh basil leaves creates a very tasty fingerfood.

Prawns always seem a little "rock star" to me. Not an everyday food, prawns are usually enjoyed for special occasions.

Use skewers or choose lovely fresh prawns with the tails intact so you can dip them into the rocket lemon mayo, with wasabi added for an extra kick. Marinate first in wine, lemongrass, green chilli and ginger then grill - so good.

A decent burger is a classic. Struggling to eat a large burger dripping its contents over one's carefully chosen outfit pre or post- evening events, is not. Making mini burgers in dinner rolls still offers a robust party food, while enabling those eating to look a little more dignified. Choose good quality sourdough or ciabatta dinner rolls to fill with prime mince, creamy blue cheese and avocado and a dollop of relish or sauce with crunchy cos lettuce. The mince can be made and formed into patties a few days before needed, then the preparation takes no time at all. More importantly, all the more time for turning the stereo up loud.

A spread like this will set you and your guests for a great night out.

Chef's tip

When using green chillies, lemongrass, garlic and ginger, ditch the minced offerings in jars and become a purist. Make a little effort to find the fresh versions and finely chop it yourself - it always tastes infinitely better.

- NZ Herald

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