Home entertaining made easy

Feeling the credit crunch nipping at your wallet? Let the Journal and Jacques Scott give you some great pointers to entertaining on a budget, so even if you are strapped for cash you don’t have to skimp on providing your guests with some tip top nosh with well priced wines to match. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull reports.

When you are entertaining on a budget the ubiquitous burger on the barbie beckons even more brightly, yet well priced food and wine need not be boring and tasteless. With a little bit of care, attention and preparation you can wow your guests with delicious home-made delights that will get your gathering going with a swing. The Journal has teamed up with Jacques Scott to bring you a no frills BBQ menu that will still leave change in your wallet and your guests wanting more.

The venue, The lovely Savannah home of Paul and Sue McLaughlin

The menu, created by Jacques Scott’s retail wine professional, Lee RoylCucumber, cherry tomato, avocado and Kalamata olive salad with honey Dijon vinaigrette

Cajun shrimp & chicken kabobs with mango salsa

Homemade beef patties (burgers) served with blue cheese compound butter, sautéed mushrooms and onions accompanied by Jamaican style rice and peas

Profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce and chocolate covered strawberries

Best home made burgers

Beef: I normally try and buy a mix of ground beef, ideally 30- 50 per cent of the total required should be a really lean beef such as ground sirloin and then the remainder with a more fatty grind such as chuck or round. This prevents the burgers from drying out on the grill and don’t forget the golden rule with meats: Fat equals flavour! Most supermarkets will display the type of beef and the percentage of fat therein. 

McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning: Essentially made up of coarse salt and black pepper (which will do just fine also) but they throw in some other beef friendly stuff like garlic, red pepper and paprika

Finely minced onion

Fresh eggs for binding

Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce (accept no other, there is only one Worcestershire Sauce and it’s Lea & Perrins!)

Heinz 57 steak sauce

Tabasco or hot sauce (optional)


Break up ground beef into a steel or glass mixing bowl making sure both types of beef are mixed together thoroughly. Mix in onion. Add seasonings and sauces to your taste. Add eggs one at a time until mixture becomes easy to mould into balls in your hand without breaking up. Aim to make meat balls a little smaller than a tennis ball. Place on greased cookie sheet or other flat surface and pat into round shape with your hand.

Break up ground beef into a steel or glass mixing bowl making sure both types of beef are mixed together thoroughly. Mix in onion. Add seasonings and sauces to your taste. Add eggs one at a time until mixture becomes easy to mould into balls in your hand without breaking up. Aim to make meat balls a little smaller than a tennis ball. Place on greased cookie sheet or other flat surface and pat into round shape with your hand.

Refrigerate overnight so burgers will firm up and the seasonings really absorb into the meat. Crank up BBQ and grill away!

Blue cheese compound butter

1 stick or cup of unsalted butter

1 ½ cups of your favourite blue cheese (Gorgonzola, Stilton, Cambazola, etc, etc)

Leave at room temperature until both are soft and cheese crumbles easily. Combine both into mixing bowl and mix together with a hand held mixer or a fork if you are poor like me.

Tear off piece of cling film and place dollop of mixture near the start of the film. Gently place the start of film over mixture and using your hands roll the film with the mixture inside into a rough sausage shape. Once completely rolled, take ends of cling film and twist both ends until the film tightens around the mixture making a truly round sausage shape. Place in freezer for long term storage and for more immediate use place in fridge until mixture sets. Slice off wheel of butter when required and place on top of your favourite steaks or burgers.

Sassy Mango Salsa

Bunch green onions or scallions diced (white part only)

Large ripe tomato with seeds removed and diced

English cucumber peeled and diced

Ripe mango with skin removed and diced (this is a job in itself)

Jalapeno pepper deseeded and finely diced (leave seeds for added heat)

Bunch Cilantro (leaves only) finely chopped (approx ½ cup)

Fresh lime juice

Dash Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight before use. Ideal with seafood dishes with spice such as Cajun shrimp kebabs!

Dessert heaven: Profiteroles and strawberries dipped in chocolate

Around 20 strawberries.  Half pack of Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chips.  Melt chocolate in the microwave. Dip strawberries in the melted chocolate and place in the fridge until the chocolate is set. Makes enough batter for around 20 profiteroles

10 fl oz water

3 oz butter

½ teaspoon salt

10 oz plain flour

5 standard eggs

Half a pack of Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chips

1 pint heavy cream


To make choux pastry: heat the water, butter and salt in a large saucepan. When the butter has melted remove from the heat and beat in the flour. Add the eggs one at a time (beating fast otherwise you’ll get scrambled eggs) until the mix is thick and glossy. When the mixture has cooled a bit snip the corner off of a large freezer bag, creating a quick and easy piping bag and place the mix inside. Pipe circles on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350F and cook for a further 15 to 20 mins until golden brown. Make a slit in the side of each bun when they are cool enough to handle (but not cold) and carefully scoop any dough with a small spoon. Leave to cool. Whip up the cream ‘til it’s thick and use just over half of the cream to fill each bun (again, you can use a freezer bag with the corner snipped off to pipe the cream into the buns). Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave gently. Be careful not to overheat. Dip washed and dried strawberries in the chocolate then leave to cool in the fridge. Mix the remaining melted chocolate with the remaining cream to make a lovely hot chocolate sauce to slather over the profiteroles.

The wines

2007 SA Prüm Essence Riesling, $16.95

S.A Prüm is a family-owned wine estate situated by the Mosel River, in Germany, directly in the middle of Germany’s world-renowned Mosel-Saar-Ruwer growing region.

Grapes for the Essence are hand harvested in mid-October and undergo a gentle crush. The juice is fermented for four weeks in stainless steel tanks then bottled to preserve its fresh, youthful character.

Jacques Scott’s wine manager Ross Phillips says, “Made from 100 per cent Riesling, Prüm’s Essence has lots of lovely peach and melon flavours which are accented by a hint of mineral.”

Lee furthers, “The Essence Riesling also has a slight spritz to the wine and a refreshing hint of sweetness.”

Nice to drink as an aperitif, the Prüm’s sweetness blended well with the sweetness in the fruity mango salsa and cooled the Cajun spice of the kebabs.

2007 Winery of Good Hope Chenin Blanc $10.95

South Africa’s Winery of Good Hope reflects a diverse range of styles that embodies exciting micro-climates from previously ignored locations across the Cape that has been a particular focus of the winery.

Picked from mainly old bush vines in the Stellenbosch region, the Chenin Blanc grapes are handpicked and cold fermented in stainless steel, creating a clean and fresh wine, with lime candy, green plum and floral notes, followed by a light-bodied finish.

Lee says, “This light, fresh wine was a great match with the kebabs also. It had enough body to stand up to the heat of the Cajun spices but not too much that it would add heat to the spice from the food.” 

2007 Montes Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere $12.95

Montes is a leading, award-winning winemaker in Chile, initially formed by a unique partnership between Aurelio Montes and Douglas Murray, both winemakers having had long term experience in the wine industry. Two more original partners joined the business in due course, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, strengthening the expertise of the company and finally creating Viña Montes.

Made from Colchagua Valley 85 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 15 per cent Carmenere, this wine has been aged for six months in new and used American oak and is, according to Lee, “medium-weight, with a nice mix of mint, sage, currant, coffee and tobacco notes, backed by a rounded, easygoing finish.”

This was one of two great matches to the homemade burgers, the tannins in the wine being softened by the flavourful fat in the ground beef.

2007 Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel $24.95

Seghesio Family Vineyards began in the late 19th Century when Italian immigrant Edoardo Seghesio headed from his home country to Sonoma County in California, eventually creating his own winery that is much acclaimed today. Known as the “boss” grape of Sonoma County even in those early days (it thrived in California’s hot sun), Zinfandel continues its dominance today.

This particular wine scored 93 points with the Wine Spectator. Ross describes it as, “A seductive and vigorous Zinfandel offers smoky black cherry and blueberry aromas that lead to youthful wild berry, sage and cracked pepper flavours, with a lingering finish and zesty tannins.”

Jacques Scott’s retail manager Paul McLaughlin notes the peppery and ripe fruit flavours in this Zin mingled well with the blue cheese butter and sautéed mushrooms on top of the burgers. Zinfandel is also a great choice for BBQ spare ribs.

2007 Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto D’Acqui $24.95

In 1979, John and Harry Mariani, family proprietors of Banfi Vintners, acquired a mid-18th century winery, known as Bruzzone, revitalised it and renamed the facility Vigne Regali. “Rosa Regale” Brachetto d’Acqui D.O.C.G., is created there from the La Rosa single vineyard.

Lee explains, “Rosa Regale is a unique red sparkling wine. Aromatic with a hint of rose petals and raspberries, Rosa Regale is delightfully vivacious and festive.”

Pairing this wine with strawberries dipped in chocolate was a marriage made in heaven, the sweetness of the strawberries singing in tandem with the fruity wine, while the bitter sweet hit of chocolate rounded out the taste sensation to perfection.