An elegant summer supper, hot off the coals. From the dishes to the drinks and even the table setting, Clodagh McKenna shows you how.
I absolutely love the flavours of chimichurri – it adds a massive burst of freshness, heat and saltiness to the beef. You can use the chimichurri with chicken, meaty fish, lamb or pork or over halloumi and, if you like, swap the chicory for sliced radicchio.
The first time I had these was at a wedding in Tuscany, under a line of olive trees. They were sensational! I add a crumble of amaretti biscuits on top as a finishing touch.
Are you dinner-party ready?
The drink, the dip, the décor… Quick, easy ways to impress
Sparkling rhubarb cocktail
This is such a pretty-looking drink and one I love to serve before suppers or at a party with a nibble or two. Make the syrup the day before and decant into a stylish glass jug, alongside a bottle of chilled sparkling wine on a tray with glasses.
750g rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
150g caster sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
chilled sparkling wine, to top up
To make the rhubarb syrup, place the rhubarb, caster sugar, orange zest and juice in a saucepan and add a splash of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes until the rhubarb is very soft. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve into a jug, pressing the rhubarb to extract all the juice, then leave to cool. Pour a little of the rhubarb syrup into each glass and top up with chilled sparkling wine.
I created this pretty setting with a soft, blush-pink linen cloth, blue and white Danish or Portuguese-style crockery and cutlery tucked with a napkin and tied with a velvet ribbon. Single stems of peonies or tulips in jars or bottles run along the centre, with sprigs of meadow flowers in between and candles or tea lights for romance. Soft blue table linen is also gorgeous in the summer, with flowers in shades of pink and white.
Tuscan white bean and rosemary dip
A great handy dip recipe to have up your sleeve as it takes 5 minutes to make. Drain and rinse 1 x 400g can cannellini beans. Place in a blender with 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves, 1 peeled and crushed garlic clove, the juice of 1 lemon and 1 tsp cayenne pepper. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and whiz until smooth. I like to add a sprinkle of chopped toasted almonds on top, a good drizzle of olive oil, and extra rosemary. Serve with vegetable crudités or breadsticks.
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