I remember the days when I used to spend two days preparing for a dinner party only to sit down to eat completely exhausted. I think I even fell asleep at the table one night when dinner seemed to drag on.
Now I'm older, wiser and not prepared, even if I had the spare time, to spend hours in the kitchen preparing elaborate five course menus. That's just one of the reasons I like Alison Taafe's book "Fun, Fast and Fabulous Food".
I met Alison at a recent dinner to showcase the new facilities at Miele's showroom at Eagle Farm. More on this soon.
Alison impressed me with her energy and passion, but also with her practical attitude towards home entertaining. Practicality shines through the whole book which details every step in the recipes, with a timetable to make sure you get it right. There's also a shopping list which, in a stroke of brilliance, is available as a download on her web site. Top marks for this!
One of my favourite recipes is Prawns Baked in Proscuitto which Alison has kindly agreed I can share with you. She's currently in Japan helping film a television show with one of Jamie Oliver's star trainees from 15 Melbourne called 'Outback Matty' (Matthew McKenzie) from the first Australian series of Jamie's Kitchen Australia.
Prawns baked in proscuitto
18 large prawns
9 slices good proscuitto
2 lemons (1 for juice, 1 cut in half for garnish)
30 ml olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh thyme (lemon thyme preferably)
small box wooden toothpicks
1 Peel the prawns and leave the bottom section and tail attached for effect. De-vein them by taking out the thin, black string that runs down the outside of the prawn. Marinade in fresh lemon juice, thyme leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper for about 15 minutes (maximum).
2 Cut each slice of proscuitto in half and wrap each prawn, leaving the tail and the other end of the prawn exposed for effect. Secure with cocktail stick.
3 Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes on 190 c or until the prawns are pink and just cooled. The proscuitto should be a little crisp.
4 To serve, pile high on a nice white plate with half a lemon and sprinkle with thyme leaves. Remove the toothpicks if the proscuitto stays put without them.
Alison's tips for this recipe are-
*Peel and de-vein the prawns up to one day in advance.
*Marinade the prawns for only 15 minutes or they will start to cook in the lemon juice.
*Roll in proscuitto in advance. Put them straight into a lightly oiled baking dish or tray. This way they are ready to throw straight in the oven when you want them.
*Alison also suggest popping them into the oven just before you want to serve them as they only take few minutes to cook.
There are plenty of fabulous recipes for everything from breakfast to a cocktail party. You can buy the book online at Alison's web site.