I don't know about you but the past few weeks have been hectic and extremely social. I am not one to complain, however, about the Christmas madness. I love the buzz and joy the season brings.
The city is alive with Christmas parties and people dressed in outrageous outfits and the Franklin Rd lights are wonderful with the crowds creating a great atmosphere.
What I am also loving is that, after the Christmas madness, most of us can enjoy a few days or weeks of holidays. Time to truly relax - be it at the bach or just pottering around at home.
It's a time when you don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen but if friends call by you want to have delicious dishes, apart from barbecued sausages, in your entertaining repertoire.
These three salads are about as simple as it gets. The recent warm weather and plenty of rain has brought on the flourishing of our summer crops, including beans and tomato plants. You can't beat local or home-grown produce.
This romesco sauce is fresh and tasty. It is fabulous with freshly picked beans or used as a dipping sauce for a crudite platter. For the best results, use good quality ingredients.
Roasting a pepper is easy. Place it in a very hot oven for 15-20 minutes until the skin is loose and looking roasted, then place it in a plastic bag. Once it has cooled, remove the skin and seeds. Add an extra chilli if you like it hot. The sauce is best eaten within three or four days.
Barbecued lamb is very popular - although it sounds like we might be paying a bit more for it this Christmas. Boneless lamb is so quick and easy to cook. Be sure to bring the meat to room temperature before cooking.
Once cooked, toss the warm lamb through the other ingredients and it is ready to serve. Chargrill a lemon or two on the barbecue when you are cooking the lamb - they will caramelise and bring out the flavour. A squeeze of lemon adds a wonderful tang.
Prawns are an undeniable treat mixed with avocado and dill. The unique textures make for a mouth-watering salad. This is a light and colourful option for summer with the freshness of lemon. Preferably use home-made mayonnaise, however, if that is stopping you from making this dish, use a quality bought one.
In my mayonnaise I use a flavourless oil: sunflower, grape seed or rice bran. Olive oil is too dominant. The biggest mistake with making mayonnaise is adding the oil too quickly, causing it to curdle - don't panic, simply add a tablespoon of boiling water to bring it back together, then continue to add the oil.
Make one batch and it will be great to have in the fridge for all occasions.
Have a fun-filled holiday of eating, drinking and enjoying the company of your loved ones.