As a general rule of thumb Australia Day is hot (although who would know with the weather at present), it requires trips to the beach, flip-flops, flaming Al impersonations and barbeques.

It works well to keep the food light and fresh so here lamb cutlets have been incorporated into a fattoush salad followed by a lamington inspired dessert. I refuse to use the word deconstructed anything when it comes to food – that is a lexicon reserved for academics – so lets just keep it as being loosely based on the humble lammo. there is chocolate, there is sponge, there is jam and there is toasted coconut and a gentle and humble nod to the foodstuff that joins a nation.

Lamb fattoush with mint and sumac yoghurt dressing

Serves 4- 6

Ingredients

¼ cup (60mls) olive

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 tsp dried mint

1 tsp dried oregano

1 lemon, finely grated and juice

16 lamb cutlets

3 rashers bacon

3 sheets brik pastry, baked in the oven until crisp, coarsely torn (use mountain bread if unavailable)

Salad

½ cup freshly podded peas

½ red onion, finely sliced

¼ cup dill, coarsely torn

¼ cup basil leaves, coarsely torn

2 cups mixed lettuce leaves

250g cherry tomatoes

Yoghurt dressing

½ cup Greek yoghurt

2 tablespoons buttermilk (or normal milk)

1 tablespoon dried mint

2 tsp sumac

Method

Combine olive oil, herbs, garlic, rind and juice in a small bowl, season to taste. Place lamb in a single layer in a non-reactive dish, pour over oil mixture, turn to coat, set aside to marinate.

For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl, stir to combine and set aside.

Combine all salad ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss to combine

Preheat a char-grill or frying pan over high heat. Remove lamb from marinade and cook, turning once, until browned and cooked to your liking (4-5 minutes each side for medium-rare). Add the bacon to the grill while the lamb is cooking. Transfer the lamb to a plate and season to taste. Cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes. Finely chop the bacon and add to the salad. Just before serving, add the lamb cutlets to the salad and toss gently to combine. Scatter over the pieces of crisp brik pastry then pour over the dressing and serve.

A Lamington of sorts

Serves 6

Ingredients

Chocolate stout cake

1 cup (250mls) stout beer

250g dark chocolate

175g butter

¾ cup caster sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cups plain flour

½ cup cocoa powder

 

Rhubarb jam

2 tablespoons rosewater

¼ cup caster sugar

1 bunch rhubarb, stalks trimmed, fibrous outer removed

 

 

Ice cream

1 litre good quality vanilla ice cream, softened

180G white marshmallows

1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes

 

 

Method

Preheat oven to 150C. Grease and line a 30 x20cm high-sided baking tray and set aside.

To make the ice cream, add the ice cream to a large mixing bowl with the toasted coconut. Add the marshmallows to a separate bowl and use a blow-torch to toast the marshmallows. Alternatively, hold the marshmallows with a pair of tongs over your stove hob to toast or grill very quickly over a bbq. Add the marshmallows to the ice cream mix, stir to combine then return to the freezer to harden.

For the stout cake, add the chocolate and butter to a metal bowl, set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Stir to combine and remove from heat to cool. Add the stout and stir. Whisk sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cook for 40 minutes or until the surface begins to crack and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Spread the rhubarb in a roasting pan, scatter with remaining ingredients and pop in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool and gently mash with a fork to a thick compote consistency. To serve, add a slice of stout cake to a serving plate, add a spoonful of rhubarb and top with a scoop of the toasted coconut and marshmallow ice cream.