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I have heard my friends say to me that having people over for dinner is daunting and I’m going to try and convince you that it isn’t. I’m in Sydney and when I’m here I love to catch up with old friends and it’s easier to have them over for dinner than to try and organise a date at a restaurant. This is especially the case if you have friends with young children.

Firstly my advise is not to cook anything new. Cook something you have made many times before and you’re confident with. It doesn’t have to be a meal that belongs in a top restaurant, people want to be able to relax and talk and that’s much easier if the host is relaxed.

I made a special roast chicken that is easy and succulent. This was served with hasselback potatoes and freshly cooked zucchini and carrots. Have you heard of hasselback potatoes before? They are so simple and so delicious. You cut the potatoes into thin slices and then roll in olive oil and salt. Place in an oven at 180 degrees celsius and watch them become crunchy and delicious. You can add rosemary or any herb or spice that you think enhances your meal.

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Another hint is to make a few special garnishes like roasted pistachios and slivered almonds. If you sprinkle these through the salad or on top of the roast chicken it will make your guests feel like it’s a special meal.

Roast Chicken marinated in Avjar

Ingredients

1 Free range chicken (a size that you think is right for your dinner party)

4 tablespoons of virgin olive oil

freshly ground salt and pepper

three cloves of garlic diced

A jar of Avjar

1/2 cup of pistachios (toasted in the oven)

1/2 cup of almonds slivers (toasted in the oven)

1 onion sliced

Grated lemon zest

Method

Heat oven to 200 degrees celcius.

Line a baking tray with alfoil to save on cleaning up later.

Unwrap your chicken and tuck the wings under the body.

Mix together the Avjar, olive oil, salt and pepper and diced garlic cloves.

Massage this into the bird, all over the skin and around the legs and wings. Make sure there is plenty of the sauce on the bird.

Place the chicken on the tray and place half the sliced onion into the chicken and sprinkle the other half on top.

Leave in the oven until the top of the chicken looks roasted and crunchy (see photo). Take out occasionally and spoon juices over the bird.

Then turn the oven to 150 degrees and keep roasting until very succulent, around an hour and a half.

Before taking to the table grate some fresh lemon zest on the top of the bird.

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