The adage "We eat first with our eyes" has never been truer than it is today.
Naomi Crisante, award-winning recipe writer, food stylist, educator, and TV chef, understands how to present a meal that looks and tastes delicious. Her new cookbook Tasteful - Flavoursome food to share with style at your table features 100 inspiring life-tested recipes designed to develop confidence in the kitchen and make memorable moments at the table.
This is so much more than a chicken salad, particularly if you cook and carve the chicken and serve the warm slices on top of the fresh salad mix. Add an extra shake of sumac for a little more tang.
1. Season chicken with one tablespoon salt and one tablespoon sumac and allow to come to room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, combine lime juice, oil, honey, one teaspoon salt, cranberries and apple together and allow to stand.
3. Chargrill chicken for five to 10 minutes on each side until cooked through and rest for five minutes (if chicken fillets are very large, roast in oven for 10 minutes to complete cooking).
4. Toss lettuce, rocket, mint, cucumber, spring onions and half the almonds together with the apple mixture.
5. Slice the chicken and layer chicken and salad into a serving bowl. Serve garnished with remaining almonds, extra mint leaves and a sprinkling of sumac for garnish.
Variation: The salad is a great accompaniment for store-bought roast chicken.
Tip: To get honey out of the jar easily, heat a metal spoon over a flame before using and the honey will just slip off.
Styling: Layer instead of tossing salads for a more composed look.
Drink match: chardonnay or cloudy apple cider.
A plate of pasta is surely the most comforting of dishes. Using homestyle Italian pork sausages to make the sauce absolutely packs it with flavour in a very short amount of time. The good slug of red wine helps a bit too. Buon Appetito!
1. Heat one tablespoon oil in a large saucepan and saute onion and garlic until softened. Add sausages and cook, stirring until well-browned. Add wine and passata and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until reduced and thickened.
2. Stir in two tablespoons oil and spinach and season to taste, stirring until spinach wilts.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and toss through sauce.
4. Serve sprinkled with cheese.
Variation: Fresh basil leaves or rocket can be used in place of spinach.
Tips: Make double the ragu and freeze for pasta emergencies.
Styling: Shave parmesan with a vegetable peeler.
Drink match: sangiovese, shiraz or Italian pilsner.
A Roman favourite, saltimbocca literally means "jump-in-the-mouth" in Italian, these tasty morsels of veal certainly live up to their name. Perfect with a glass of pinot grigio.
1. Batten out veal escalopes between plastic wrap to 0.5cm thickness. Cut into pieces similar in size to prosciutto slices. Lay each piece on a slice of prosciutto, season and place two sage leaves in the centre. Fold in sides to enclose, making a parcel. Batten again lightly to seal. Coat in flour and pressing with your hand to flatten slightly.
2. Heat butter and two tablespoons oil in a large frypan. Add the veal and brown for three to four minutes on each side over high heat until golden brown and cooked but still pink in the centre. Remove and keep warm. Wipe out pan.
3. Heat one tablespoon oil and sauté garlic until softened, deglaze with wine, add capers and simmer until reduced and syrupy. Turn off heat and stir in extra butter to form a sauce.
4. Serve over veal. Garnish with parsley leaves and pepper.
Variation: Thin slices of pounded chicken fillet can be used in place of veal. Be sure to cook the chicken all the way through.
Tip: Use a rolling pin or the flat side of a meat mallet to batten out the veal.
Styling: Serve on a bed of steamed green beans and cherry tomatoes with calyxes. Add some fried sage leaves for extra garnish.
Drink match: pinot grigio or Italian pilsner
Combining spring lamb with spring vegetables just seems to make sense at this time of year and my favourite way is to slow roast it to fall apart tenderness with a French ratatouille-inspired blend of eggplant, capsicum and tomatoes. The resulting pan juices are so delectable, you will want some crusty bread to serve with it.
1. Place eggplant in a large roasting tray, sprinkle with salt and stand for 10 minutes. Mix in onion, garlic, capsicum, tomatoes and half the spices.
2. Coat lamb in remaining spices and place in the centre of the vegetables and season. Drizzle lamb and vegetables with olive oil.
3. Wrap tray completely in two layers of foil. Slow roast at 140C for five hours. Remove lamb and allow to rest wrapped in foil.
4. Simmer the vegetables in the pan until reduced slightly. Season and stir in half the parsley leaves. Spoon the ratatouille onto a platter and serve topped with the lamb. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.
Variation: Use chicken marylands in place of lamb, and only cook for three hours.
Tips: Boneless leg of lamb roast is available in most supermarkets or ask your butcher to tunnel bone it for you, rather than butterfly it.
Styling: A deep-rimmed platter is essential to hold in those pan juices. Garnish with little parsley leaves and freshly ground black pepper before serving.
Drink match: shiraz or hazy IPA.
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