Grilled calamari, chorizo, palm heart and chickpea salad.
Grilled calamari, chorizo, palm heart and chickpea salad. Photo: Marcel Aucar

Grilled calamari, chorizo, palm heart and chickpea salad

This is a deliciously intense little starter, perfect for a sophisticated barbecue. Although calamari can be quite delicate, when grilled, it has such a distinctive and robust flavour that it is perfect with the chorizo and smoky, tangy dressing.

extra virgin olive oil

410g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed well

150g chorizo, sliced on an angle into 1cm-thick pieces

3 small/medium calamari, cleaned, wings attached

salt flakes

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 lemon

40ml sherry vinegar

1 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton)

410g jar palm hearts, drained and cut into 1cm discs (you can cut these into different sizes and shapes to give the presentation some dimension)

1 handful picked dill

1. Add a good splash of olive oil to a large frying pan and fry the chickpeas until they are coloured and crisping up.

2. Grill the chorizo on a hot griddle pan or on the barbecue for one to 1½ minutes each side or until it is nicely coloured. Julienne the chorizo into fat matchsticks. Wipe out the griddle pan and put it back on the heat so that it is nice and hot for the calamari.

3. Split the calamari hoods so that they open out flat, pierce one edge of the calamari with a skewer and thread it through a couple of times to stop it from curling up when it cooks. Skewer the tentacles on the end. Lightly oil and season and cook for about two minutes each side in the hot griddle pan. It helps to weigh down the calamari a little to get better contact with the pan. You can do this with a heavy pan or pot. Alternately, just cook on the grill of a barbecue for about two minutes each side.

4. Shred the cooked calamari into thick strips, squeeze over the lemon and toss.

5. For the dressing, mix the sherry vinegar, 60 millilitres of olive oil and the paprika together.

6. Arrange the calamari on your plates, top with the palm hearts, chorizo, fried chickpeas and dill, spoon over the dressing and serve.

Serves 6

Drink Fino sherry or a snappy Spanish white like albarino or godello.

chicken martini

Chicken kofta on baby corn with whipped avocado

These spicy little chicken koftas are great for entertaining, even the skewer is edible. They're also quite delicious cold, just perfect for those three minutes that you'd allocated for lunch time.

CHICKEN KOFTAS

12 fresh cobs baby corn

1 large brown onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, finely grated

extra virgin olive oil

3 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton)

1 tsp chilli powder

600g chicken mince, preferably thigh

3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 large egg, lightly whisked

1 green chilli, chopped

1 handful coriander leaves, chopped

salt flakes

freshly ground black pepper

AVOCADO PUREE

2 ripe avocadoes

15ml extra virgin olive oil

1/2 a lemon, juiced

salt flakes

1. For the avocado puree, process the avocadoes, olive oil and lemon juice with about 20 millilitres of water until you have a light, smooth paste, and season.

2. Preheat your oven to 180C fan-forced or 200C conventional.

3. Blanch the baby corn for 20 seconds in boiling water, then refresh in cold water.

4. Gently fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened, add the cumin, paprika and chilli powder and cook for a further minute or until fragrant. Take off the heat and add to a large bowl. Add the chicken, breadcrumbs, egg, chilli and coriander, season and combine until evenly mixed.

5. Divide your kofta mix into 12 even portions, moisten your hands with water and shape each portion around the fat end of the corn cobs.

6. Brown the koftas in a large frying pan with a little olive oil. Transfer to a lined baking tray and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with the avocado puree.

Makes 12

Drink A young Hunter semillon

lamb martini width=

Braised lamb chump chops with potato, jalapenos and oregano

This is a pretty simple and relatively quick braise with a hint of spice, a bit of heat and a subtle tang from the vinegar. If you're not using homemade stock, be sure to use a good quality bought one. Some commercial ones are sweetened, which intensifies once reduced, and really changes the balance of the dish.

6 lamb chump chops

salt flakes

freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil

1 large brown onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

2 tbsp dried oregano

2 fresh jalapeno chillies, sliced in thick rings, seeds in

2 green capsicums, deseeded and cut into 8 pieces

3 medium Dutch cream potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm discs

2 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp paprika

80ml white wine vinegar

2 handfuls plump sultanas

500ml quality chicken stock

1. Preheat your oven to 180C fan-forced or 200C conventional.

2. Season the chops with salt and pepper. Heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-based pot over medium heat and cook the chops for a couple of minutes on each side or until brown - you may need to do this in batches. Remove the chops and set aside.

3. Add a splash more oil to the pan and cook the onions, garlic, oregano, jalapenos and green capsicum for about six minutes, stirring frequently. Add the potatoes, allspice and paprika, season and cook for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally. Return the chops to the pan with the vinegar, sultanas and stock (add a little water if needed to just cover) and bring up to the simmer, put the lid on and cook in the oven for about one hour or until the chops are tender. Remove the lid and cook for a further 15 minutes or so to reduce the liquid a little, check the seasoning and serve with good bread to mop up the juices.

Serves 4 to 6

Drink Try a soft red, like an unoaked tempranillo or grenache.