Travel & Life Digest

A Lavender, Rose and Pomegranate-scented Summer Dinner Menu

Earl Grey Gin cocktail

The Menu:
Earl Grey & Lavender Gin cocktail
Sweet Pepper charred salad
Pork steaks with Pomegranate Molasses glaze
Smashed Potatoes
Rose-scented Meringue

This menu is all about the prep work - get it all done a couple of hours earlier and just griddle everything when you are ready to eat. Unlike last minute frying or blending, which is stressful and unsociable, in this case cooking takes place around the griddle (or BBQ, if you are lucky). People are always happy to stand around and absorb the sizzling sounds and smells, chatting and even helping out. Hence, there is no urgency  to get all the food on the table at the same time - the sweet pepper salad is best eaten warm but nor hot.  
The Prep
For the cocktail - this recipe is adapted from the Craft Gin Club.
Drop an Earl Grey teabag in 120ml of gin. Keep in an air-tight bottle or container for about an hour, or until you are ready to mix your cocktail. The longer you leave the teabag in the gin, the stronger the Earl Grey flavour.
The Pork Steaks -  mix the sherry vinegar and brown sugar (or palm sugar) in a wide, deep dish. 
Wash and towel-dry the steaks. Dip both stake sides in the vinegar-brown sugar marinade and place the steaks back in the marinade. Salt and pepper generously.
Pick the fresh oregano leaves off the stalks and sprinkle over the steaks. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until you are ready to griddle.
The Peppers & Tomatoes - chop the tops off the peppers and slice down the middle. Discard the white fleshy bit that holds the seeds together. Wash and drain. Keep aside. 
Wash the tomatoes and chop down the middle. Keep aside.
The Smashed Potatoes - boil the new potatoes. Keep aside and smash later - even better ask your most stressed-looking guest to do it for you, they'll enjoy it! Full recipe here.  
Rose-scented meringue - well, you don't prep it, you make it upfront, because it needs to stay in the over for at least 2 hours to cool down once it's cooked.  All you'll have to do before serving is to drizzle the cream cheese sauce and decorate with chopped strawberries.
Recipe here.  

Pomegranate molasses glazed Pork Steaks
Sherry vinegar, brown sugar and fresh oregano marinade

Show time - aka when your guests arrive:

The Earl Grey Gin Cocktail - 4 glasses

Vigorously shake in a cocktail shaker:
120ml Earl-grey infused Gin
50ml simple syrup
5ml Monin Lavender syrup
40ml lemon juice - which is more or less two lemons, I like the zing so even if it's a bit more than 40 ml, that works.
2 egg whites

Add a handful of ice and shake again. Strain the cocktail out to four martini glasses.
Make sure to allow equal amounts of froth for all!

The Sweet Pepper Charred Salad - for 4 people

14 sweet peppers - of you are using the bigger ones, use 8-10.
4 tomatoes
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar reduction
Salt & Pepper

Fire up both burners under your griddle, on medium heat. Once the griddle is hot, place the half pepper and tomato slices, skin-side down, on the griddle. Cook for 5 minutes and turn over.
You might want to pat down any pepper pieces that are not too flat, to ensure that the whole pepper gets some heat. Cook on this side for another 5-7 minutes.

Place the peppers and tomatoes on a serving plate, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Crumble the feta over the top and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction.

The Pomegranate-glazed Pork Steaks

4 Pork Steaks - usually shoulder cut
1/2 cup Sherry vinegar
2tbsp Brown sugar or 1tbsp Palm Sugar
1 bunch of fresh Oregano springs
4tbsp Pomegranate Molasses 
Salt & Pepper

You need your griddle on medium to high heat.
Place the marinated pork steaks on the griddle and cook on one side for 7-8 minutes. You'll see some caramelisation on the edges - good!
Flip over the other side and cook for another 7-8 minutes. Spoon the marinade over the stakes, as they cook, to keep moist. Make sure you cook the top side again, if you've spooned over any of the marinade - it contains uncooked juices that need to be cooked off. 

Place on a serving dish and drizzle generously with the pomegranate molasses and the remaining fresh oregano. You could cut each steak in long strips and serve like that, it's more elegant. I like piling them high so that all juices drizzle down.

Sweet pepper salad with balsamic reduction and feta
Griddle, griddle, griddle - make that caramelisation happen

Pile them - juicy, delicious pork steaks with colourful pomegranate molasses and fresh oregano
Rose-scented meringue

Get the look...

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