I love catching up with my friends but between work, children and busy schedules it can be hard to find a time to meet. I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to catch up is to have people over for a casual weekday dinner. As long as I stick to a simple menu, it can be a relaxed way to entertain and a lovely respite from the constant business of the working week.
So if I have people coming over for dinner, here’s what I do. First, I put out some raw vegetable crudités, dip (guacamole or smoked salmon are favourites) and freshly roasted nuts for people to nibble on when they arrive.
Then for main course I’ll cook something simple like a lamb roast with vegetables, spaghetti Bolognese or fried rice with honey-soy roasted chicken. I like very flavourful dishes with lots of fresh herbs and spices but kids tend to favour plainer food.
For dessert I like to serve a seasonal fruit plate — rare is the kid that doesn’t like fruit and it’s always appreciated by health-conscious parents — and some kind of special treat, like these Fruit and Almond Chocolate Clusters.
The Clusters can be made earlier that day in less than 10 minutes and they’re loved by adults and kids alike. They’re versatile, too, as you can use whatever combination of diced, dried fruit, seeds and nuts you have in the house – I’ve gone for a mixture of diced, dried apricot, pawpaw, raisins and apple with roasted pepitas (sunflower seeds) and roasted and salted almonds. You can use natural (raw) almonds of course, but I prefer using roasted and salted almonds for the added contrast in texture and flavour.
These Fruit and Almond Chocolate Clusters are also ideal to take to a friend’s house or even to a picnic in a chiller bag. They’re lovely with tea and coffee, but there’s really no bad way to eat them. Enjoy!
- 200 grams milk or date chocolate
- 1 cup roasted and salted almonds
- 1 cup mixed, diced dried fruit
- Line a baking tray or two dinner plates with baking paper.
- Place chocolate in a medium bowl and melt in the microwave. I cook the chocolate for one minute on high first, and then for another 20 seconds before stirring to dissolve the partially melted chocolate. Microwave oven times do vary so adjust accordingly.
- Tip the almonds and fruit into the bowl and mix until well combined.
- Use a dessert spoon to spoon out small quantities of the mixture and shape into mounds.
- Leave on the kitchen bench to set. You can also put them in the refrigerator if you like.
- Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.