category Goals

The festive share table

Well, hello there Christmas! We knew you were coming but it’s always a bit of a surprise when December rolls around. Nonetheless, we love joining in the Christmas spirit here at Katering HQ. We’re like a team of Santa’s little helpers, but instead of lending old Saint Nic a hand, we’re here to make your festivities beautifully simple. Because, despite how much we all honestly intend to relax into the season, there is always a little bit of tension around the big day, particularly if you’re hosting.

Happily, there are plenty of little Christmas hacks that can limber up the merrymaking. As you’ll often hear us say, preparation goes a long way to relaxed entertaining. So, of course, the golden rules apply, such as to organise your menu well in advance, pre-make whatever you can (or leave that to us), and delegate tasks! Sure, you may be hosting, but that doesn’t mean you need to be cook, bar tender, and master of ceremonies all at once.

Actually one of our favourite ways to host Christmas is also one of the easiest. It’s the share table. Dispense with individual plating and fussing over portion sizes, and let everyone serve themselves. Not only does this style of entertaining look wonderfully abundant and generous, it also makes for a much more laid-back atmosphere – something that will always be appreciated when you have the entire family amassed in one room. The share table works as a relaxed sit-down affair, but you can even take it further and simply allow everyone to grab a plate and graze throughout the day. No need to set the table or worry about keeping Uncle Harry out of Nan’s earshot.

 

This long, grazing-style lunch is absolutely perfect for an Australian Christmas, especially if you’re dining outdoors. And because we love to eat like this ourselves, we’ve designed our special festive menus so they can be easily shared in this way. From a crisp-crackled roast pork loin to a show-stopping glazed ham and rustic tray-baked vegetables, everything can be sliced and arranged on a platter for guests to help themselves. In true Katering at Home style, each item on our savoury Christmas menu, Christmas seafood menu, and Christmas bakery and beverages menu are created to be hassle-free with minimal cooking, so you can actually spend the day with your loved ones, not with your oven.

We’re also big subscribers to the dessert table school of thought. Pile up a separate table with all your sugar-and-spiced goodies and let people graze until their sweet-tooths are sated. No second-helping shaming here! We have gorgeous little pudding bites, fruit mince pies, traditional pud, and a stunning trifle to help plump out the table. And why not continue the theme with a drinks station where guests can top up their own glasses, grab another beer or mix themselves a cocktail? We have four delicious cocktail (or make it mocktail) mixes that require no more than a shake, stir and splash of booze.

 

It’s all about minimal effort with maximum impact that everyone will love. And your guests will appreciate it all the more because they’ll get to share it with a relaxed version of you.

If we can flavour your festivities with a delicious shareable feast and a side order of simplicity, our job as Christmas helpers is done!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Kate and the Katering at Home team

The lost art of family dining

Family life is busy. When you’re juggling everyone’s activities plus work, dinner can become something that is slotted around other things. Work, netball practice, math tutoring. Before you know it, you haven’t had a meal together for weeks.

But dinner can be the best time to stop and connect. Setting aside the time for family dinners can make a big difference to how you feel. All it takes it a bit of planning.

You’ll have greater success at getting everyone to the table if it’s easy. Try to find a day where there are no extra-curricular activities, when you can create the space for a relaxed gathering. Needing to rush from basketball to be home in time for dinner doesn’t put anyone in a good head space!

Human beings are creatures of habit. Put regular family dinners into the calendar and keep them rolling. Eventually it will become second nature for everyone. Soon you will wonder how you managed to go weeks without getting together!

Planning meals for the week can save you a lot of time and heartache. No more last-minute trips to the shop, and one less thing to think about that day.

Katering at Home has a huge selection of Family Favourites that you can take your family through, and by choosing a meal that is ready to eat, all you have to worry about is putting the oven on in time!

While it’s inevitable that some nights everyone will be eating at different times, by getting your family’s input on their favourite meal, you can ensure they will be keen to eat dinner together.

American writer Laurie Colwin said, “The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift.”

Getting kids involved in the preparation of dinner can give them a sense of accomplishment and make them feel that they, too, are giving something back to their family.

Ask your kids to make desert, and however simple it is, make sure you show them that you appreciate their efforts.

Dr Kristy Goodwin is a children’s technology and development expert. She says, “As a mum (and a researcher), I firmly believe that we need to keep meal-times as a sacred time where we unplug from our devices and connect with each other (where we can, most of the time). The dinner table needs to be a sacred place, where we’re not distracted by alerts and notifications.”

Make it a rule that all devices (for adults and children) are left far away from the dinner table. If you create the boundaries your dinner table will become a space reserved for uninterrupted conversations.

At the end of the day dinner is the best time to bring your family together, after all, everyone needs to eat! With just a little bit of preparation (and a cheeky helping hand from Katering at Home) you can make sure that the whole family comes to the table for some quality time together.

The consummate entertainer

Gathering friends and family together to share a meal is one of life’s true pleasures. Often, though, the pressure of having everything just so diminishes that joy. If you’ve ever been to a party where the host has been flitting here and there in a frazzled state, you’ll know that being the host with the most is meaningless if you can’t stop and enjoy your guests. Nobody wants to feel as though they’re a burden on their host or sense any frenetic tension in the air. The point is, always, to have a good time. So, if you’re hosting this Easter, even if you’ve left the cooking to us (well played!), here are our tips for a harmonious, enjoyable event. And because sometimes a drink goes quite a way to relaxing everyone, we’ve included some easy jug recipes, too.

Step one: The guest list
When deciding who to invite for your event, it always pays to ensure your guests have something in common. But spice things up with a wild card guest or couple, who are interesting and unexpected. Sometimes you need a live wire to get ignite the energy and get people mingling. Just keep the numbers small to ensure you can circulate around to all your guests. Afterall, grace is about making time for everyone.

Step two: Be welcoming
When you go out to a nice restaurant for dinner, you look for the little details in the service that make the hospitality feel genuine. It’s the same at your own home. As host, it’s your job to create a feeling of welcome for your guests. It’s as simple as offering a drink on arrival, styling your home with fresh blooms, or hiring a heater or bringing out rugs when it’s chilly.

Step three: Get set
Guests don’t want to see their hosts folding napkins and polishing cutlery, it makes them feel uncomfortable. And, as host, you don’t want to be leaving your guests to their own devices while you buzz about setting the table. Make sure everything is in place before the first arrival. Use a mixture of textiles in unifying tones and scented candles or flowers to bring warmth to the table. Placecards are a nice touch if you have a crowd that don’t already know each other and might be nervous about choosing where to sit.

Step four: Music, please
Nothing exacerbates the awkwardness of stilted conversation like the absence of music. The right tunes help guests relax and fills in any natural silences. Just make sure to choose music that fits the mood of your party. Be prepared with a few different playlists that you can alternate throughout the night. A good trick is to have a wind-down one for when it’s time to wrap things up.

Step five: Help yourself
As host, it’s your job to set your guests up with their first drink, but they shouldn’t have to rely on you every time their glass is empty. Create a nicely styled watering station with ice buckets filled with drinks where people can top themselves up as needed. It’s a nice idea to include a few premixed cocktails in jugs as a delicious alternative to wine and beer, see our recipes below.

Step six: Command commonsense
Being a great host really is about minimising stress on yourself so you can be there for your guests. A little commonsense goes a long way in achieving this goal. For example, never try a new recipe for the party – recipe fails don’t make for a relaxed host. And make life easy on yourself by outsourcing dessert to a professional, be it a beautiful cake from your favourite bakery (or Katering at Home), or a tub of artisanal ice-cream.

And last but absolutely not least: Don’t be rude
You might think you’re just getting ahead of the clean up, but whatever you do, do not wash up while your guests are still enjoying themselves. Nothing makes people feel more like they’re being pushed out the door than a host who excuses themselves to wash dishes. If you find the stress of mounting dishes unbearable, and if you can afford it, hire the help of a young neighbour or family friend to clear tables and wash up for you.

Spiced pear and ginger cocktail
Makes: 2ltrs
180ml Grey Goose La Poirse vodka
60ml ginger liqueur
60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
300ml fresh pear juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
Ice
600ml chilled soda water
600ml dry sparkling wine
1-2 sliced pears, 6-8 cinnamon sticks, mint sprigs, to serve
Honey and cinnamon syrup
85g honey
60ml water
2 sticks cinnamon

To make the honey and cinnamon syrup, place the honey, water and cinnamon in a small saucepan over low heat and stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Remove the cinnamon sticks and set aside.

To make the cocktail, combine the vodka, ginger liqueur, lemon juice, pear juice, and the honey and cinnamon syrup, and vanilla extract in a large jug. Stir to combine and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, fill a large jug with ice and the chilled cocktail mixture. Top with soda water and sparkling wine and stir gently. Garnish with pear slices, cinnamon sticks, and mint to serve.

Tip: You can make the cocktail the day before and store in the fridge. Simply give the mixture a good stir before adding the ice, soda water, sparkling wine and garnishes.

Plum and mint gin fizz
Makes: 1.2 litres
Ice
360ml gin
Soda water
Plum slices, lime slices, mint sprigs, to serve
Plum puree
1kg dark red plums, cut into chunks
75g caster sugar
10g ginger, peeled and sliced
1tbsp lemon juice

To make the plum puree, place the plum, sugar, ginger, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until plums release their juices. Remove lid and cook for a further 6-8 minutes or until the plums soften and start to fall apart. Allow to plum cool slightly. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until a smooth puree forms. Set aside to cool.

To make the cocktail, place 600g of the plum puree into a large jug, fill with ice and top with gin. Stir to combine and top with soda, thinly sliced plum, lime slices and mint to serve.

Kids in the kitchen

It may sound simple, but one of the best gifts we can give our children is knowledge around food. From where food comes from to how it can nourish your body and how to prepare it, this education is truly profound.

Cooking is a life skill that will set kids up for health and happiness. It will enable them to appreciate the quality of what they eat, as well as the abundance of food they’re lucky enough to have on-hand in Australia.

Visiting farmers markets and produce regions with your family is a beautiful way to open them up to this world. Another way is to cook with them at home. You don’t need to turn them into mini MasterChef contestants – a brûlée torch in the hand of a seven-year-old probably isn’t a good idea. But following a few simple recipes together, of the type of food they enjoy to eat, is a good start to setting up these foundations.

You might even win a few battles at the dinner table if your broccoli-adverse child has tossed their most-loathed vegetable through pasta themselves. At the very least, they’ll have a greater appreciation of what’s on their plate.

It’s a good move to start their cooking repertoire off on a sweet note. We’ve created a recipe for delicious apricot muesli balls and peach fruit leather (see recipes, below) for you to make at home. What we love about these little bites is they solve both the lunchbox and the hurried breakfast-while-running-out-the-door issues. Win!

And because we’re all about making mealtimes easy and delicious here at Katering at Home, we’ve helped solve the ongoing lunchbox dilemma with our weekly menu that includes Vegemite scrolls, pizza scrolls, and our ever-popular banana loaf.

When the weekend rolls around, bundle the kids into the kitchen to prepare our pre-mixed pancakes for breakfast. They can get creative with toppings and have a go at flipping the pancakes in the pan – supervised, of course. Or let them bake our cookie dough and watch their sense of self-accomplishment rise with the cookies.

You never know, they might enjoy it all so much they give you a night or two off from cooking (one can dream). For the other nights, there’s always us!

Apricot and muesli breakfast balls

Prep time: 15 minutes

1 cup (nut-free) toasted muesli
½ cup apricots, roughly chopped
2 Medjool dates, roughly chopped
40g honey
30g butter, melted
2 tsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted and roughly chopped
2 tsp sunflower seeds, toasted and roughly chopped
½ cup desiccated coconut

Place muesli, apricots, dates, honey and melted butter in a food processer. Process for 2-3 minutes or until well combined.
Add pepitas and sunflower seeds and stir to combine.
Place coconut in a shallow dish. Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls. Roll balls in the coconut to coat.
Store balls in a sealed plastic container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Peach fruit leather straps

Prep time: 10 minutes

3 cups roughly chopped peach (about 6 peaches), skin on
1 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 80–100C (or set to the lowest temperature).
Line a baking tray with a non-stick silicon mat or baking paper.
Using a hand-held blender or a food processor, blend peaches and honey until smooth. Using a spatula, spread mixture evenly over the baking tray.
Place in the oven for 2–3 hours (or overnight if you have a very low setting), or until mixture is set and dry.
6.    Allow to cool slightly, remove mat or baking-paper and place on cutting board. While leather is still on mat, cut into strips using a pizza cutter or very sharp knife.
7.    Place leather on strips of non-stick baking paper before rolling. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

 

 

 

Christmas Gingerbread

KIDS IN THE KITCHEN

Christmas testing and production is now in full swing and Katering at Home is humming along like a well-oiled machine.

Each morning I step into a bustling hive of activity, music blaring, chefs chopping, computers tapping away….

For many, like myself that work and have worked for Katering, this place is like a second home. Children are very much part of many of our lives and therefore become a solid fixture in much of our working lives. They often test our recipes (and our patience) and provide endless inspiration and ideas.

As part of our Bakery and Christmas range we wanted to provide a bake-at-home hands on product, sort of a family affair really. Something to keep kids entertained during the holiday period and something fun parents or grandparents could be part of and so the Gingerbread kit was born. Our mixture is nut-free, contains no food colours, preservatives or additives. They are available online from next week and have been sold through our Christmas markets.

GINGERBREAD KIT

These kits make a superb gift if your popping to a friends house for festive celebrations or just crack one open and bake at home with the kids. I make them each year with my kids and pop them out for Santa clause on Christmas eve with beer (and carrots for the reindeers of course!)

If you have purchased the kit you’ll need the following few fresh ingredients to get the ball rolling.

INGREDIENTS

  1. 50g unsalted butter (room temp)
  2. 95g golden syrup
  3. 45ml cold water

METHOD

Mix the butter and golden syrup for a few minutes by hand until glossy and well combined.

Tip in the contents of your Gingerbread jar, get little hands dirty and mix until the mixture forms a breadcrumb like consistency.

Make a small well in the centre and pour in cold water. I’ve used soda water as that’s what I found in the fridge, either is fine.

Now it’s time to bring the mix together, tip onto the bench and mix till just combined and the mixture forms a soft ball in your hands.

Wrap in plastic and rest for 30 minutes in the fridge to firm up.

When you’re ready to start rolling just throw a little flour onto the bench and roll the pastry out slowly to around 5 mm thick.

Cut out your gingerbread shapes and lay onto a tray lined with baking paper. You can scrunch up the off cuts of pastry and re-roll them a few times over. You should end up with about 10 large gingerbread men in the end.

Bake in a pre-heated 160c oven for around 15min. or until just coloured then rest until cool on a wire rack.

From there it’s totally up to you. Dust with a little icing sugar and enjoy with a cuppa or get creative with fondant, sprinkles and food colour and bring your little men to life.

We finished ours with a little white icing and a few sprinkles I rescued from the back of the pantry.

The dough will keep in the fridge for a week or freeze for 3 months.

Author: Katherine Hunt

 

 

 

Meals in the home kitchen, tips and tricks

Now I know it’s a little ironic for a food home delivery service to be telling you how to cook! But my plan is to impart a few tips and tricks that will make creating and assembling your Katering at Home meals just that little bit easier, quicker and so much more rewarding!

Safe defrosting is the most vital thing you can do with any of our Katering at home frozen meals. One of the safest ways to do so is in the fridge overnight/day. This is what we recommend on all our labels, however, this does require pre-planning and some of us just don’t know what we want to eat the following night for dinner. Typically for all katering at Home curries, soups and sauces our packaging will defrost in a sink of cold water for a few hours. The last option is the microwave, but this can be uneven and semi cook the food making it tough and rubbery.

One of my biggest bug bares in the kitchen is waiting for a pot of water to boil! Arhh I’m so impatient! Then I was told by a chef about this nifty trick. Pop an inch of water into your pot and get it going full heat, then boil your kettle and add that boiled water to your pot and viola, boiling water in under 3 minutes! When we have fresh pappardelle pasta on the menu I always have the sauce hot and ready to go and no pasta cooked. I always end up over cooking the sauce, this trick will save your sauce, time and emotional strain!

It’s important to make sure your oven tray or roasting pan is tailored to its contents. The ideal oven tray or pan is heavy enough not to warp but not so heavy that it can be dropped when it’s full and hot. Here are some things to consider.

Depth can affect roasting time. Too deep a tray prevents the oven’s hot air from circulating beneath the product, too shallow could let those precious juices slosh out.

The ideal depth for a roast is approximately 5–8cm as this will give you good air circulation. For roasting products such as fish, croquettes, pizza or small cut’s of meat a shallow oven tray is essential.

 

The quickest way to drain your confidence is with an over-cooked or charred dinner  — often a result of a hot or temperamental oven. With Christmas steadily  approaching it’s time to make sure your oven working efficiently.

If you suspect your oven has hot spots or bakes inconsistently we suggests buying an oven thermometer to measure the degrees on different shelves or sides of the oven. Position the thermometer in the center of the oven so it’s visible through the window, and heat the oven to 180°c. When you have four readings,calculate their average by adding and then dividing them by four.

If the average is between 160°c and 190°c, the oven is calibrated. If it’s outside that range, the oven needs adjustment. In this case, consult the owner’s manual. Calibrating some ovens is as simple as turning a screw, but for others, you may have to call a professional to do the job.

Everyone favourite emergency ‘can’t be bothered’ cooking appliance. From microwave popcorn, steamed vegetables to reheating a delicious soup or main delivered to you by Katering at Home, the humble microwave does it all!

Most of our products will have a range of heating instructions on the label with how to heat and best serve. Most homes have one and  I love the way this butler’s pantry is organised with easy access to the microwave, especially for the littlest of family members to help out with the cooking.

A good set of mixing bowls are essential in any home kitchen, in my opinion the bigger and deeper the better. When tossing up one of our weekly salads a big bowl allows you to toss the dressing and extras around enough to get a little bit of coating on everything. Not to mention when trying your hand at some baking, it is always good to have two or three bowls for wet and dry ingredients. Best to keep baking simple clean and organised. How gorgeous are these bowls with the little spout! I think I may need a new set of gorgeous mixing bowls…

All of our dishes come to you seasoned by our professional chefs, we tend to go light on the seasoning with children in mind but If you are anything like the great Nigella Lawson seasoning is always essential. She carries extra salt pepper and mustard in her handbag at all times! A dash of salt, or drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil to any dish can really help make the flavours sing. One of my favourite go-to’s is a squeeze of lemon, I add it to everything and I just love the tangy feeling paired with the warm savoury, Yum!

This is something my mother taught me and now it is just habit. Washing up as you go will save you so much time and hassle at the end of a meal. If you can fill a big sink with water you can just drop things in as you cook.  And be sure to enlist a small person or child to help.

Don’t forget Katering at Home orders close at 8pm on Thursday night! Don’t be late or you will miss out!

If  you ever have rumblings in the kitchen and you need some professional Katering at Home advise we are always here to help, just call our hotline on 0475 303 080

Author Rene Hunter – Marketing

Bringing some style to the table

My mother made sure that we set the dinner table correctly for dinner every night in our house. It was a skill I have come to appreciate as an adult but also a ritual I enjoyed as a child. Surprisingly my brother and I didn’t mind this daily chore!

I have the pleasure of working directly across from our Senior Event and Wedding coordinator, oh and the owner of Katering Kate white! She has helped me create this blog that only scratches the surface of dinner settings and meal sharing, you will hear her thoughts, tips and tricks throughout this piece.

The basic formal dinner table place setting is below, it is a tad more formal then your usual week night dinner, but it is a skill every entertainer should embrace.

When dining as a guest it is important use your utensils from outside in finishing with dessert at the top. The same goes for plates.  Start at the top and work your way down. Especially when sharing a meal and multiple courses using one plate at a time will save your dear host that extra plate to wash up between courses or at the end of a long night.


Candles and flowers are always a great addition to any dinner party table, our Katering events team use flowers and candles wherever they can to create a mood and intimacy for guests. When sharing meals with friends and family it is important to decorate but also to use your space wisely. You will have large platters of food being passed around and they are going to need a place to sit once everyone has had a taste.

I suggest that when you set the table have items that are easily removed when service starts. So, flowers in small vases and centre pieces that can be put on the side board while the guest marvel and devour the delicious meal you have presented. I would  encourage you to keep candles on the table, taking them away might leave a light gap in the middle of the room just shuffle them around on the table to have ambient light and no burnt hands reaching over!

Here are a few photos of some beautifully styled tables before and during food service

Now the table is set it’s all about the food and how you present it. Protein or main element of the meal should be presented centre stage of the table. Although if you have a large table to feed it is good to split this onto two plates so that each end of the table will get to try and enjoy the full experience paltered up beautifully as well as not missing out on the choice selection.

The supporting choir or back up dancers are your side dishes and all the bits and pieces that make your dinner a complete and interesting meal, these can be piled high into bowls or delicately scattered around on smaller sized plates that are easier to manage.

 

When laying out all the food to share it is a good idea to keep it along the middle of the table not just for ease of passing but everyone’s eyes will be focused on the food and the abundance of food. This creates an atmosphere of a grand feast and who doesn’t love a long feast with family and friends!

Now that you are inspired to host your next dinner party, and maybe slightly stressed at all the work involved in such undertaking. Why not let Katering at Home help you out? We can handle it all! From the hero roast chicken, to the crunchy salad and saucy side dishes it can all be ordered via Katering at Homes Weekly Wenu and Family Favourite menu. We even have dessert covered with a classic apple pie or pull apart cinnamon rolls. All you need to do is set the table and invite the guests. Simple!

Or maybe you are so inspired that you want to host a large diner party and it’s still a bit too much even with Katering at Home’s help! Give us a call on 9319 2700 and our event team will happily assist in bringing your ideas to life, they will even set the table!

Don’t forget Katering at Home orders close at 8pm on Thursday night! Don’t be late or you will miss out!

 

Author Rene Hunter – Marketing

Tips to stay motivated in 2018

It’s back to the grind for many of us this month. No doubt we have all dabbled with a few thoughts involving fitness, heath and relaxation for the new year.  Unfortunately with work expectations, children or social life, too quickly these new year’s resolutions can fall by the wayside.  To keep you inspired I’ve compiled a few tips to keep motivation on track for 2018.

Keep it simple 

Keeping meals simple, fresh, seasonal and easy is always the best way to work in the kitchen. For most home cooks, simplicity is the best advice I can give. Keep cooking simple during the week then invest your time creating that culinary masterpiece on the weekend when you can relax and enjoy the process.

It can be a real chore to get meals on the table during the week, at Katering at Home we endeavour to bridge the gap with a selection of healthy, filling and delicious meals to get you through the better part of the mid-week rush. Back yourself up with a few Pantry items to jazz up your salads and pop some Family Favourites in the freezer so you’re never left in the lurch.

Everything in moderation 

Here at Katering we believe in moderation, we don’t pretend to be anything we are not. We don’t focus on foods for fitness or fancy diets. What we do it well, is to design, test and cook fresh, quality meals with honesty. Food full of flavour, full of colour and texture, meals packed with grains, legumes, colourful fruits and vegetables, ethically raised meats and market seafood so that you can stop worrying and start enjoying a selection of great food. Heaven knows there’s enough to worry about already!

    

Get active

You don’t have to run a marathon to be fit, fitness starts by getting active. Even just brisk walk each day for 20 minutes can get your heart rate up and boost metabolism. An active body improves brain power and concentration, making you feel better and can start you on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

Take time out

When you relax, you give yourself permission to let go of worries for a while. Relaxation gives your mind and body time to recover from the stresses of everyday life.

Try to fit things into your day that help you unwind. It’s different for everyone. For you, it might be listening to music, going for a walk, tea with friends, yoga, a few laps at the local pool. Find something that you enjoy and make a conscious effort to do that relaxing thing every day. In a busy work day, even 10 minutes of downtime can help you manage stress better and feel better inside and out.

Treat yourself

Lastly, why not treat yourself now and then? A relaxing massage, a new book to read, whatever makes you happy really. There are many healthy desserts you can easily make at home for a special treat that won’t add to the pocket or waistline. You are more likely to stick to your goals if you cut yourself a little slack now and then.

Peaches are not only delicious but incredibly nutritious. Give my Peach, Watermelon and Vodka Granita a whirl this weekend and treat yourself.  Full of antioxidants, vitamin A & C, potassium, low in saturated fat and high in dietary fibre. I can’t say much for the vodka but hey, one has to live a little, right?

IINGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups diced poached peaches
  • 4 cups of watermelon
  • ¼ bunch mint chopped roughly
  • 1 lime – zest and juice
  • ¾ cup Vodka

POACHING LIQUID

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean

METHOD:

  • Wash the peaches and place small cuts in the top and bottom, this will help to release the skin when the they poach.
  • Place the water, sugar and the scraped vanilla bean into the pot and bring to the boil.
  • Place the peaches into a pot with just simmering sugar syrup.
  • Cover with some baking paper and an upside-down plate and allow to simmer very gently until the peaches are just soft.
  • Once soft, peel the skin off, cool, blend and strain the flesh of the peaches with the mint and watermelon.
  • strain this mixture through a very fine sieve.
  • Stir in the vodka and lime juice then pour into a flat tray in the freezer.
  • Stir gently after a few hours then leave overnight.
  • To scrape the granita, use a kitchen cloth to hold the frozen container and scrape with a folk to create pretty little ice crystals. Serve in a frozen glass with a sprig of mint
  • For a child friendly version omit the vodka and add 1 cup of the poaching liquid to your base mixture.
  • Once  the granita has been scraped add a little Greek yoghurt and some crunchy flaked almonds when you serve.

The humble lamington

If you plan on celebrating the Australia Day long weekend festivities with the inclusion of a few baked treats (and so you should because any excuse will do really) then it’s time to dig out the Mixmaster, and your best frilly apron this weekend.

We are all pretty proud of our Aussie desserts – Pavlova, Anzac bikkies, fairy bread and of course, the classic lamington sponge, possibly one of our most favourite iconic treats.

Like many my age, I have been blessed with fond childhood memories of the delicious, coconut and chocolatey treat that is the lamington cake. My family, with two young boys in tow, were avid participants in the local Scouts club. Every other weekend quickly became a regular social and community affair. Each year around Australia Day all the mothers and volunteers would gather round with their colourful aprons on, producing hundreds and hundreds of lamingtons to be sold at the local Scout fete for charity.

I was young but had already developed an insatiable drive and enthusiasm to get my hands dirty in the kitchen and what better way than having the opportunity to dip them into the gooey, sticky mess that is the humble lamington. Often, I’d be found hiding under the table while ladies busied themselves chatting, gobbling down any of the defunct, fluffy sweet morsels with sheer delight.

I have memories of community and togetherness…..  for me and many others, the humble lamington is truly embedded into my Australian heritage.

Subsequently, 20 years later, most of which time was spent in the kitchen as a professional pastry chef, I’ve not had the opportunity to make many of these little gems. Yet they are certainly imprinted in my reflective childhood memories with the likes of rock-cakes, (strange things that they were) lemonade scones and pikelets, which seem to be making a solid revival in my house these days with two children under five.

I am sure you’ve noticed lately the lamington is a little bit on-trend, with tricked up shredded organic coconut, soft as a cloud gluten-free sponge, Swiss chocolate sauce and numerous fillings ranging from popcorn custard to Pina Colada, pandan and peppermint.

As we celebrate Australia Day this week, I feel it only fitting we go back to our roots and start with a beautiful, fluffy and simple lamington; made the old fashioned way, perfect with an afternoon cuppa.

Use this base recipe as a guide, keep them simple or jazz them up any way you like. Personally  I’m a fan of the jam and cream filled variety but each to their own really. No matter how you have them, these little treats are a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 25g soft butter
  • 80ml boiling water
  • 270g desiccated coconut
  • 750g icing sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 20g soft butter
  • 180ml milk
  • Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan-forced). Grease and flour a 20cm x 30cm pan, line the base with baking paper.
  • Beat the eggs in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, beat for about 8 minutes or until the mixture is thick. The mixture should form thick ribbons when the beaters are lifted.
  • Meanwhile sift the flour and cornflour together three times. Combine the butter and boiling water in a small heatproof bowl.
  • Transfer the egg mixture into a large bowl. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture; using a whisk or a large metal spoon, gently fold, then fold in the butter mixture.
  • Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the sponge springs back when touched lightly in the centre and comes away from the pan. Turn onto a cake rack to cool.
  • Cut the cake into 20 even pieces.
  • Meanwhile, sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a large heatproof bowl; add the butter and milk; stir over a medium saucepan of simmering water until icing is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Pace the coconut into a bowl.
  • Dip each piece of cake into the icing with a fork and turn to coat then drain. Toss into coconut and gently pat to coat
  • Leave to set on a wire rack.

Author: Katherine Hunt

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