Cooking For Friends This Sunny Weekend? Try These Two Cook-While-You-Chat Dishes

13 March 2014 by

<The Age>

There is nothing better than gathering a group of good friends and sitting around the table with delicious food and wine from the comfort of your own home. But nine times out of ten when we invite friends it’s for an evening not afternoon. But we say bring back the weekend lunch! Not only do you have all morning to prepare (not a mad rush after work), it’s often more relaxed, your guests will linger longer, plus this weekend it’s going to be SUNNY… who knows, you might even be able to eat out in the garden.  

That’s where Spook comes in. This small bespoke cooking company run by Emily Few-Brown the Managing Director with Spook Chef Lou Adamson, pictured below, can cater for any event big or small, formal or informal. They can be there on the day – or deliver the goods to your door before (so you can, er, hide the boxes and take all the cooking credit if you so wish). And they have lots of ideas up their sleeves on how to throw the perfect lunch party. Here they reveal their top do’s and don’ts, below>>


  • DO pick a feasible menu - choose dishes that you can prepare before and not have to worry about when your guests arrive. A Spook favourite has to be Sesame Chilli Chicken, Wild Rice with Apricots & Hazelnuts and Lemon Broccoli. Scroll down for the recipes.
  • DO Discover your nearest Saturday morning food market. Not only will you find seasonal, often local, fresh produce for your ingredients but they are also great fun.  More often than not there is often flower stall too – flowers on your table are essential.
  • DON’T leave dressing your table until last. Do it first thing or even the night before; one less job to worry about later. Keep it simple and don’t worry if you don’t have matching sets. A mix-match of plates and glasses gives the table character. Don’t forget the napkins. 
  • DO greet your guests with a drink - a glass of Prosecco goes down well at lunch time – it’s light and refreshing or even make up a jug of Bloody Mary. It’s nice to keep your guest well oiled while you are doing the finishing touches to the lunch.
  • DON'T feel you have to do a starter. Just before your guests arrive put together a charcuterie board of cold meats, olives, olive oil and focaccia, which everyone can pick at while they chat.
  • DON'T try to be perfect. Everyone is there to have a good time (not judge you, this is not Come Dine with Me) and your friends are there to enjoy your company too. 

Spook’s Chilli Sesame Chicken

(Serves 6)

  • 1.5kg free-range chicken drumsticks and thighs
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 250ml tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1.5 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp smoke paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 handful of sesame seeds
  • 3 large green chillies, sliced

Preheat the oven to 180C. Remove the skins from the chicken drumsticks and thighs and place in a roasting tray with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat, add the onion and cook until soft. Then add the garlic and cook until golden. Reduce the heat and add the tomato paste, mustard, honey, sugar, paprika, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce & balsamicvinegar. Stir together and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour evenly over the chicken and cook for 1 ¼ hours or until the chicken is nice and sticky on the outside. Garnish with the sesame seeds & green chilli.

Spook’s Wild Rice Salad with Hazelnuts and Apricots

(Serves 6)

  • 400g Basmati Wild Rice
  • 250g Hazelnuts
  • 250g Dried Apricots
  • 2 Lemons
  • Bunch Chives
  • 1 TBSP Hazelnut Oil 

Cover the rice in cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until cooked. Then leave to cool. To lightly toast the hazelnuts Step, preheat oven to 180°C. Spread the whole hazelnuts, in a single layer, evenly over a baking tray. Roast in oven for 10 minutes or until the hazelnuts are aromatic and lightly toasted and the skins have started to crack. Hazelnuts skins can taste very bitter. To remove them, place the hazelnuts in a clean tea towel and gently rub together. Set aside to cool. When cooled, roughly chop with the dried apricots. Whisk together the lemon juice and hazelnut oil and pour over the cooled rice. Add the chopped hazelnuts and apricots and toss in together with the dressing and chopped chives.

For more info on Spook Cooking click here.


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