category kitchen hacks

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

Christmas cocktails

You just know it’s going to be a lovely get-together when you’re greeted by the host of the party with a delicious drink. This little entertaining trick is one of our all-time favourites and is actually quite handy when it comes to setting up the tone of a gathering. Being met with a drink – all the better if it’s alcoholic – is such a brilliant way to ease guests into relaxing and making casual chit-chat.

But we’re not hard task masters, we know come Christmas day the last thing you feel like dedicating time to is shaking cocktails, so we’ve done the mixing for you. We’ve crafted four incredibly delicious, summer-appropriate pre-made cocktails, which you can pop into your Christmas orders now. We’ve mixed up a delightfully sharp caprioska, a tres tropical pina colada, a refreshing lychee mojito, and a fun and fizzy plum and thyme prosecco smash. Of course, once we’ve turned the corner on Christmas ’tis still the season of entertaining, so these infusions will be available on regular weekly orders to perk up your summer party roster.

OK then, you have your bottle of cocktail infusion, what next? Well, because our Christmas gift to you is easiness (you’re most welcome), all you have to do is stir together the infusion with the required bottle of alcohol for each recipe, then throw some ice in a glass and decorate with the pretty garnishes we’ve supplied for you. It’s beyond simple. You could mix this all up before guests arrive and enlist a little helper to pre-garnish the glasses, so all that’s left to do is add ice and the chilled cocktail and voila! consider your party started.

We’ve thought of everything, naturally, and have included instruction cards, too (also below). You might consider setting up a drinks station complete with recipe card and a willing bar tender, then direct guests to the bar as they arrive. And for the pint-sized patrons, these kits can easily turn virgin, simply omit the alcohol and you have a tasty mocktail. Bottoms up!

Happy merrymaking to all!

Kate and the Katering at Home team

Raspberry Caprioska

Makes 15 cocktails (only make ½ for a smaller jug)

Shake the Christmas caprioska infusion bottle well and pour into a large jug. Add 1 bottle vodka, 700ml soda water and stir to combine. Fill glasses with ice, squeeze in lime wedges, a few raspberries and pomegranate seeds and top with caprioska mixture. To make this a mocktail, simply omit the vodka.

Pina colada

Makes 15 cocktails (only make ½ for a smaller jug)

Shake the pina colada infusion bottle well and pour into a large jug. Add 1 bottle rum and 600ml soda water and stir to combine. Fill glasses with ice, squeeze in lime wedges, and add a sprinkling of coconut flakes. Top with pina colada mixture and serve with a wedge of pineapple on the side of the glass, if desired. To make this a mocktail, simply omit the vodka.

Lychee mojito

Makes 15 cocktails (only make ½ for a smaller jug)

Shake the lychee mojito infusion bottle well and pour into a large jug. Add 1 bottle rum or 1 bottle vodka (depending on your preference) and stir to combine. Fill glasses with ice and a large sprig of mint, squeeze in lime wedges and top with lychee mojito mixture. Thread lychees on skewers and place in glasses to serve. To make this a mocktail, simply omit the rum or vodka.

Plum thyme prosecco smash

Makes 15 cocktails (only make ½ for a smaller jug)

Shake the plum thyme prosecco smash infusion bottle well and pour into a large jug. Add 2 bottles of proscecco and stir well to combine. Fill glasses with ice and add sliced plum and thyme sprigs to each glass. Top with plum thyme prosecco smash mixture. To make this a mocktail, simply swap the proscecco for sparkling grape juice.

Tips: All cocktails can be made one hour in advance and placed into the fridge ready for when guests arrive.

 

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

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