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Thanks to Katering At Home, you may never cook again

We’d plan menus for days, scour markets hunting for unique ingredients, and would spend our weekends preparing and delighting in the meals we’d create. For us, the joy of a dinner party wasn’t just in the time spent with our nearest and dearest, but was a way to indulge in and celebrate what was undoubtedly (before kids, of course) life’s greatest pleasure – food.

These days, suffice it to say, there are not a whole lot of dinner parties taking place in the Hahn household. I do still spend the majority of my weekend in the kitchen, but the only resemblance of a party is the food strewn throughout the house come bedtime, and my uncanny ability to knock back a Pinot in the time you can say, “This soup is too wet!”

So, like most parents, starved for time and full of children, we thought we had parked our dinner party dreams for the foreseeable future. That is, until we received a delivery from Katering At Home upon the arrival of our third son, and I promptly announced to my husband, “Sorry honey. This food is too good just for us. We need to host a dinner party.” Cue: invitations over with a 2-week old baby, some of the best compliments ever received (I may have refrained from admitting that I was not the cook behind these meals) and one very, very happy mother (that’s me).

I become famously sick over the thought of tuna bake, but even a delivery of this cheesy fishy concoction has been enough to bring tears to this sleep deprived mother’s eyes. So when I received a month’s worth of meals (a delivery every week for four weeks) from Katering At Home, I essentially rolled over and went to heaven.

This is food delivery, but not in the way I’ve known it. There is not a bland frozen curry in sight, nor a sad quinoa bowl to be found. Rather, this is food that – as I have proven – you’d be proud to show off. The fact that Katering At Home made everyday dinners feel like a hatted experience, despite how many bodily fluids were on my T-shirt? Even better.

 

Throughout the weeks when we indulged in their meals, we were treated to the likes of peking duck pancakes, zucchini and halloumi fritters with zoodle salad and green goddess dressing, and slow roasted lamb shoulder with a sweet potato and sage gratin. To top it off, deliveries of homemade pizza scrolls and berry scones were thrown in to make lunchboxes a breeze, as well as ricotta pancakes for weekend treats with zero effort required.

Everything from Katering At Home is homemade and designed to be cooked with minimal preparation. That means no chopping and no measuring – just simple heating (mainly on the stove or in the oven, which is ideal for any fellow microwave-shunners) and enjoying.

While the weekly fresh menu is undoubtedly irresistible, the frozen family favourites also proved themselves to be invaluable – particularly in the two-week-period when my newborn decided that 8pm – 4am was the ideal time to party. Child-friendly favourites like moussaka, panko chicken nuggets and lasagne have sat beside ultimate adult favourites including spinach and ricotta dumplings and South African Duban curry.

A delicious, blur of an era when the first month of our baby’s life was marked by the anticipation and enjoyment of our nightly meal.

The best part? The era didn’t need to end. With meals for two averaging at between $25 and $30, Katering At Home is not only markedly cheaper than UberEats, but it also put my own weekly grocery bill to shame. Which means that I will be gifting a Katering At Home delivery to myself (and every new parent I encounter) on the regular.

Visit Katering At Home for their weekly menu and to order for delivery throughout Sydney

By Amy Malpass Hahn August  4, 2019 The Grace Tales 

 

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.

Flowers are lovely, but they can’t feed you.

We have many regulars at Katering at Home whom we speak to weekly. We love to delight them with menu items we know they’ll enjoy and it’s our pleasure to tailor their delivery specifically to their needs. From busy families and hardworking couples to those who simply loathe cooking, we take pride in making sure everyone is well fed and feels looked after.

We humans often show our love and support by feeding others. How often have you dispensed a reassuring embrace with the phrase: ‘have you eaten?’. Or fretted over a loved one’s less than ideal eating habits? No doubt you’ve offered a sweet treat as a pick-me-up when a good friend dropped their bundle in front of you. It’s in our nature to nurture with the one thing we know will not only sustain us, but which also has the power to bring happiness, even if it’s momentary.


At Katering at Home, you’ll often hear us say we’re here to help. But it’s not simply a line; it’s one of the true joys of our business. We offer our clients a uniquely bespoke service in helping them express their love and give support to those who they care for deeply with a box of meals and a hand-written note.

Over the years we’ve put together and delivered hundreds of care packages, sent by our clients to people who need a little extra hand. Sadly, it’s often the case that these packages are given to those in unenviable circumstances for whom meal planning is considerably low on the list of priorities.


At other times, our gifted deliveries celebrate the wonderful chaos of a newborn baby and the ensuing lack of time to cook, dress, and shower. And some people prefer to gift a credit for meals alongside a bunch of flowers, be it for a birthday or just because. There are also a handful of lovely clients who organise the weekly meals on behalf of their treasured but ageing parents.

Obviously, working with food as the Katering at Home team does, we are natural born feeders. But each and every one of us understands the healing power of a beautifully prepared, wholesome meal. From our mum’s Bolognese to a bowl of a friend’s restorative chicken soup offered alongside a shoulder to cry on, we’ve all experienced food’s power to soothe an aching heart and stitch together a torn soul.

To be able to help our customers offer such grounding, life-altering comfort is an honour for our team. So should you need to send delicious provisions to nurture or celebrate, give us a call. We are here to help you, help yours.

A cool change

Last week, Kate and the team thoroughly enjoyed styling and catering the launch of a stunning new Meriton development in Dee Why called Lighthouse. With the event being held on the Northern Beaches and with the building echoing a cool Hamptons-esque vibe, we decided to make good use of beautiful fresh seafood and lovely late-summer produce. But it won’t be long before our menus begin to take on a more autumnal tone.

We’re slowly but surely sliding into the cooler months. The memory of summer is slipping a little further away with every day that dips below 30-degrees. Green leaves are quietly turning to rusty-brown and stone fruit and berries are dwindling in our shopping baskets.

Our thoughts are turning to restorative soups, sour pickled plums, robust pulses and slowly braised meats. But, if you know what to look for, summer has left a few little gifts in her wake.

You might be surprised to learn that mushrooms are beautiful at this time of year, especially king brown and field mushrooms. In fact, we’re so excited about these spongy, pudgy little earth-dwellers that we’re creating a mushroom bar for an upcoming event. There’ll be mushroom gnocchi, shiitake dumplings, mushrooms stuffed with quinoa, and a fantastic truffle mushroom cappuccino.

And while peaches and nectarines are winding down, late-summer, early-autumn plums are sweet and plump. There are few things more delightful than a perfectly ripe plum. Most people seem to miss the season entirely, grabbing them too early when they’re still tart, giving this crimson gem a bad wrap. But if you catch them now while their skin is deep purple and they’re ever so soft to the touch, you’ll find yourself with a full-blown plum addiction.

Which is exactly what we’ve developed here at Katering HQ. We’ve had to come up with a way to devour as many plums as possible before they disappear, so we created this gorgeous plum and apple crumble that makes use of the last plums and crisp, new season Granny Smith apples. In the interest of enabling your new addiction, we’ve shared the recipe, below.

Enjoy!

Plum, apple and almond crumble

8 large plums, halved, stoned, and chopped into large chunks
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
80g brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
The finely grated zest of one orange
Crumble
180g plain flour
Pinch of salt
140g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
60g rolled oats
75g Demerara sugar
30g sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 200C. Place the chopped plum, apple, sugar, cinnamon, orange zest and 100ml water in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and cook gently for 5 minutes or until apples are softened. Transfer to a shallow, medium ovenproof serving dish and set aside.

To make the crumble, place the flour and salt in a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the oats, Demerara sugar and almonds. Scatter the crumble over the fruit in large chunks. Bake for 30 minutes or until crumble is golden. Serve with fresh vanilla ice-cream or cream.

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.

 

 

 

Happy New Year… let’s eat

If your year hasn’t quite kicked off with as much momentum as you’d like, then may we suggest a do-over? Yep, it’s time to embrace the Chinese calendar and restart 2019 with Chinese New Year!

Celebrations to usher in the New Year kick off about now, a week before the 2019 Year of the Pig ticks over on 5 February. Which means there are plenty of opportunities to flex your chopsticks and shovel in as many dumplings as possible.

Sure, the enjoyment of dumplings isn’t confined to Chinese New Year, but any excuse to devour even more of those pillowy parcels is wholeheartedly welcomed by us.

This year, it’s all about the pig. The prosperous chubby jowled pig is not only a delicious animal, but also the twelfth sign in the Chinese zodiac. According to mythology, when the Jade Emperor was deciding the order of the zodiac, the pig overslept and arrived last, taking twelfth place.

But don’t worry, it’s not all sleep-ins and bacon, the pig is a sign of wealth in Chinese culture and those born in the year of the pig are said to be realistic, hardworking and enthusiastic. Well done, you.

Whether you’re a pig, dog or snake, Chinese New Year is loads of fun. The City of Sydney puts on a great Lunar New Year party every year, so check out some of the events and, if it’s been a while since you’ve ventured down to Chinatown, now is the best time to visit for a pork bun and a custard tart.

Chinese New Year also provides an excellent excuse for a dumpling dinner party at home with family and friends. But as New Year falls on a Tuesday just as school goes back, you may not feel so inclined to spend hours in the kitchen perfecting your dumpling folding technique. Don’t worry, though, because we have. All you need to worry about is dusting off that rice cooker.

Our nimble-fingered chefs have been busy crimping little squares of pastry filled with pork and ginger, chicken and water chestnut, Peking duck, chicken and shiitake, and tofu and spinach, as well as prepping other classic meals such as duck pancakes and Hainanese chicken.

For the full menu, click here. Whip out your bamboo steamers and get ready to celebrate!

From all of us here at Katering at Home, kung hei fat choi!

 

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

Oodles of veggie noodles

On the menu this week Katering at home has a side dish of zoodles, or rather “zucchini noodles.”  Our chefs are making a delicious zoodle salad with whipped ricotta, toasted pine nuts, garden peas, mint and zesty lemon vinaigrette. This will come as a refreshing side dish to our Turkish chicken skewers that are found on the Weekly Menu. 

Weekly Menu – Katering at Home

Spiralized vegetables have been around for a while now, because they are a fantastic way to add extra veggie into any meal. Packed with vitamins and minerals, low in carbs and starch and tons of flavour!

Inspiralized.com

Don’t feel restricted to just zucchini though, you can spiralize carrot, parsnip, cucumber, broccoli stem, cauliflower stem, beetroot, and sweet potato.

 

 

 

 

Now that you know you can use nearly any vegetable your heart or dish desires,  its time to create some delicious food!

First off, I would suggest investing in a vegetable spiralizer, you can pick one up in your grocery shopping for as little at $10 or a top of the range $150 automatic spiralizer. I have a little $10 one and it works a treat with a little bit of elbow grease.

There are plenty of ways you can cook your noodles if you aren’t up for eating them raw. Although there are many health benefits to eating your vegetables raw. Here are a few cooking methods that I have found work best:

Just pile up your noodles in a microwave safe bowl and a tablespoon of water in the base and cook in 30 sec increments tossing in between. Cook for 30 second at a time until cooked to your desired texture. I would recommend 1-2 minutes maximum of cooking.

This technique is great If you are already cooking on your stove top, just toss noodles in a table spoon of olive oil and fry for a minute or two on a high temperature.

Boil a pot of water, once your water is at a nice rolling boil drop in your noodles for one minute, strain the noodles and serve. If you like your noodles a bit drier just pat them down with paper towel before serving.

All of these methods and cooking times will depend on the type of vegetable you use. Sweet potato will take longer to cook then your Zucchini but just use your senses to judge the right consistency for your meal. I always air on the side of under-cooked as the veg will continue to cook once removed from your bowl, pan or pot due to the residual heat within the vegetable mass.

If you have any questions you would like answered or suggestions of what you want to see on the blog next let me know via email, Instagram or Facebook.

Also, we are running a competition to win a $200 gift voucher so head over to our Instagram pages and comment on the win photo to enter.

Author Rene Hunter – Marketing

Cauliflower

A cool season favourite, cauliflower is one of the most versatile and delicious brassica Winter vegetables.  All kinds of unique cauliflower varieties are popping up in local farms and community markets and they are all so gorgeous and unique. I can’t go past the astonishing natural structure of the Romanesco cauliflower, such a stand out vegetable! Purple and green are also in season and these fun variations all cook the same, so no need to fuss with the recipe just, marvel at their incredible taste and colour!

Romesco cauliflower

Here at Katering at Home our teams main focus is as always, fresh, local, seasonal produce in all our dishes; keeping them full of flavour and at their nutritional peak and for me cauliflower ticks all the boxes. It’s high in vitamin A, C, D, B-6, B-12 and magnesium. One of the other great benefits of cauliflower and why it is so popular at the moment is that it is very low in carbs, one cup of raw cauliflower is only 5g of carbs!

So this week the team have been busy brainstorming culiflower and have created a list of unique ways you can use this humble vegetable in your home kitchen. Here are my top 7 recommendations for cauliflower;

A simple and delicious way to have a hearty warm winters soup, smooth cream and super filling.

Salad

Our chefs make the most delectable cauliflower salad! The cauliflower florets are roasted till smoky and sweet, salad is then finished with chickpeas, fresh herbs and tahini yoghurt dressing.

Cauliflower, pumpkin and chickpea salad with yoghurt dressing

Roasted whole

Have some trendy vegan friends coming over for Sunday lunch? Why not try and roast a whole cauliflower head as your ‘protein main’. Spice it up with some garlic, paprika and lemon or thyme, parmesan and lemon.

Rice it or mash it

Instead of having your traditional carb-y side dishes such as rice or mash potato, use cauliflower instead. Just whizz some raw cauliflower up in the food processor until it reaches a rice size texture. Alternatively boil and mash just the same as you would with a potato for mash.

Fritters

A great way to get some extra veg into the kid’s diets, try your hand at cauliflower ‘nuggets’. Simply boil your cauliflower until tender, let cool and roughly chop. Then add your binding ingredients in the way of flour and egg. Now time for the flavour, garlic, parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper, whatever combinations your heart desires!

Pizza

A much healthier alternative to your Friday night take away pizza. Aging like most of the above ideas whizz your cauliflower up finely in a food processor, bind with egg and parmesan and thyme. Form your mix into a pizza base and bake in to oven until lightly golden (210c). Take your pizza out and top with sauce and toppings. Cook for 5-10 more minutes and serve! Yum!

Popcorn

Finally, a super heathy and delicious movie snack. This one takes a bit more time in cooking and preparation but is totally worth the extra effort.

I hope you have enjoyed this little post about all the great thing you can do with the humble cauliflower. Keep your eyes peeled for more post coming. If you have any questions or topic ideas you would love to see leave a comment below or head on over to our Instagram page @kateringathome and send me a DM.

 

Author Rene Hunter – Marketing

Grow your own food

The prospect of creating an edible vegetable garden can be all-consuming for most people, it’s easy to get over excited. Spurred by the overwhelming urge to become a wild goddess, you find yourself up at all hours, glass of wine in hand designing your mini oasis.

You may have good intentions but for the time poor, possibly a misguided effort?

My advice? Start off small, if you have young children, get them involved, it’s not hard to get started and it doesn’t take much effort.

Even before children start school you can begin to educated them though projects that highlight the origins of their food. You will most likely find, with a hand in the growing process they might just be inclined to try something new, maybe even something green! Shock horror

If your limited with space, why not join one of the many Community garden projects or start by planting a mini herb garden. You’ll save loads of money and you will be rewarded with a generous crop in no time at all.

Dig around in your recycle box and pull out some tins. Whatever you have is fine, big or small.

Wash and sand back any sharp edges. Get a nail and punch a hole in the bottom for drainage.

Fill the cans with seed raising mix and press down lightly to compact the soil. Sow seeds or seedlings such as basil, thyme, chilli, parsley, mint or any other herb you like to use regularly in the kitchen and water in well. Keep in a shaded area until they settle in then move to a partly sunny window sill or kitchen area.

Within a month you’ll be making pesto till the cows come home. If you end up with a bumper crop just cut your herbs 5 cm from the base and tie with string and hang upside down to dry. Drying herbs has the benefit of making the kitchen smell lovely and can be utilised for months to come in soups, pizza, teas and stews.

Last year my bumper spearmint crop kept the whole office busy brewing delicious tea for months. This year my basil seems the happiest so the family seem to be eating pesto with everything, pesto pasta, pesto mayonnaise, pesto butter, chilli pesto, you name it!

As my grandmother would say, there’s are certain satisfaction and reward in growing your own produce, be it a few herbs or a whole vegetable patch, gardening can certainly be soothing to the soul and a truly rewarding for the heart.

Chinese New Year celebrations

This Friday (February 16th) is Chinese New Year, variously known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New year. Chinese New Year is centuries old and is the most significant holiday in China.

The city streets fill with festivals, arts, entertainment, markets, dancing and fireworks spectacles. Chinese New Year celebrations encompass a vibrant and energetic display of colour, culture and tradition.

What better way to partake in the joy of Chinese New Year than with our divine Chinese braised pork bao buns  A soft, pillowy steamed sleeping bag of bun encasing salty and sticky braised and pork belly, pickled carrot, cucumber, shallot, coriander and sweet Hoisin. New to the weekly menu and available this week only, be sure you don’t miss out!

We also have a delightful new addition to our Family Favourites menu for this month only. Delicious chicken and vegetable dumplings. These ‘pot stickers’ are a most important Chinese New Year food as they are symbolic of both plenty and new beginnings for the coming year. As perfect snack to fill hungry teenagers, cook them straight from frozen and enjoy. Little fingers will love them too, with dinner sorted in 10 minutes you can take back some time for yourself.

If you plan on celebrating, why not take the opportunity to gather some friends and have a giggle re-creating our recipe for Super Stretchy Chinese Noodles.  A real treat to make and lots of fun.

Super stretchy chinese noodles

Noodles are one of the most important components of Chinese food culture. No matter whether ordering a hot bowl of noodles in a restaurant or purchasing freshly made noodles to cook at home, it’s one of the cheapest ways to have a fast, fulfilling and hearty feast.

Careful not to break them! Unbroken noodles represent a long life, and some say it’s even bad luck to cut them!

INGREDIENTS:

400g Plain flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

280ml water at room temperature.

METHOD:

  • Combine the four and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine
  • Slowly blend in the water with a pair of chopsticks, until the water is integrated and there is no dry flour left
  • Kneed the dough, it should be quite soft and sticky so make sure you dust your hands lightly with a little flour
  • Kneed for 10-15min further until the dough is springy and smooth
  • Dust a bowl with dry flour. Transfer the dough to that bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rest at room temperature for a least 2 hours.
  • Once rested divide the dough into 4 pieces. Dust the bench and roll each piece out to a thickness of 5mm with a dusted rolling pin
  • Cover each piece with plastic and let rest for 1 hour.

TO PULL THE NOODLES

  • Bring a medium pot to the boil
  • Take one dough sheet out to work with and slice into strips 2cm wide with a flour dusted sharp knife
  • Pick each strip up at one end and pull to form a very long noodle, drop into the water quickly and repeat with a quarter of the noodles.
  • Boil each batch for 1 min then fish out with a strainer and toss in a little splash of sesame oil
  • Work the rest of the dough in this manner
  • To serve just dip the strained noodles into boiling water to heat

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 Lamington

  • 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

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

To Pickle or Not to Pickle

So often great food goes to waste in the home kitchen and too often we at Katering are left with excess produce after a busy week.

What better way to reduce food waste than to pickle, preserve, jam and jar. It’s creative, fun and delicious. There is certainly no reason why you can’t try it at home. Be careful though, it can be addictive!

You can purchase a few select and super delicious pickles from Katering at Home , we produce an ever changing selection of pickles based on the season; our most popular being the Pickled Beetroot and Baby Onions but if you want to have a little fun in the kitchen why not spend this weekend getting pickled.

Pickling is a cheap, easy and nutritious way of preserving the best of the winter vegetables. It’s also great for your gut too, packing in the Probiotics. Pickling is a form of fermentation, when vegetables and fruits are fermented, healthy bacteria help to break down the hard-to-digest cellulose in foods, as well as some of the natural sugar.

That is the question. With all of their health benefits, it seems like pickles can definitely be beneficial when eaten in moderation.

Pickling your own vegetables and fruits can help you preserve the produce in your home fridge, as well as bring new flavours to your food. So what are you waiting for? Grab a jar and get pickling! It’s easy to do.

Below I have included a recipe for crispy quick refrigerator pickles and a good for the gut, fermented pickle….. So keep your old jam jars and give some new life to those sad forgotten vegetables at the bottom of your crisper.

Quick crispy pickles

Preparation time: 30min

INGREDIENTS:
6 cups raw vegetables (beetroot, baby carrots, radish, turnips or whatever takes your fancy really)
1 tbsp. coriander seed
1tsp mustard seed
6-10 cloves garlic thinly sliced
few sprigs fresh dill or thyme
pinch celery seeds
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup white wine vinegar
2 cup water
2 tbsp. table salt
5tbsp sugar

METHOD:
Prepare the vegetables by washing them and patting dry with paper towel, slice or quarter.
Bring the water, vinegar, salt and sugar to the boil in a medium size pot. Let sit for a half hour to cool slightly.
Divide the spices evenly between the jars.
Layer the vegetables into the jars with the fresh herbs and garlic slices.
Pour the hot liquid into the sterile jars, making sure to submerge all the vegetables.
Cover with a lid and let cool on the bench.
Store in the fridge – keeps for up to a month

Home Made Fermented Pickles

Preparation time: 30min

INGREDIENTS:
6-7 very fresh pickling cucumbers
2 garlic cloves, peeled
6 bird’s eye chilli peppers, fresh or dried
3-4 sprigs fresh dill
2 tbsp dill seeds
1 tbsp pickling spice (available from Herbies Spices)
3 cups boiled water, at room temperature
1½ tbsp Himalayan or unrefined salt
1 large, very clean glass jar (Mason type or hinged-top jar)

METHOD:
Slice the ends from the cucumbers and cut them in half if desired. You can also leave them whole if you prefer.
Stuff the cucumbers so they fit snuggly in the jar and add fresh dill, chilli, dill seeds and pickling spice.
Mix salt and water in a large measuring cup, stirring until the salt is completely dissolved. Pour over the cucumbers until they are completely submerged. Make sure to leave at least 2 cm of head space to allow the brine to bubble up during fermentation without exploding the jars on you.
Alternatively, if you wanted to draw more flavour out of your spices, you could also do this is by heating the dill seeds, pickling spice, salt and water over medium heat until it comes to a simmer then let this brine come back to room temperature before adding it to the jar.
Once the cucumbers are completely covered with the brine, place a small non-reactive object such as a small dipping bowl, shot glass or plastic lid over them to make sure they remain entirely submerged then close the lid leaving a little open to allow gas to escape.
Leave your pickles to ferment on the bench for 7 to 10 days. Open the jars every day to allow gas to escape.
After 7 to 10 days, transfer your pickles to the refrigerator, they will keep for 3-4 weeks.
If you like your pickles to be a little more on the vinegary side, you can add a little bit of vinegar to the jar once the fermentation process is complete. Let your pickles macerate for a couple more days before eating them.

Perfect Pastry

Everyone loves a delicious melt in the mouth homemade pie or tart.  Whether a classic zesty lemon meringue or a decedent rich chocolate tart, sweet shortcrust pastry is one of the simplest and quickest pastries to make. Shortcrust pastry (or pate sucree) is one of my favourites and works well with any sweet filling. It can be made ahead of time, frozen in blocks or lined and ready for baking, so why is everyone scared off and why so many fails in the kitchen?

There is certainly a stigma around pastry making possibly brought about by the recent MasterChef revolution and of course due in part to the fact that we no longer bake at home due to busy chaotic lives, work commitments and lack of knowledge. These skills are not passed down through the generations like they used to be. We are doing ourselves a real disservice by choosing convenience over homemade in more ways than one and our children really are missing out.  So forget MasterChef, you really don’t have to be a top chef to produce a good pastry at home and believe me, the satisfaction you will get from your finished creation will be well worth the effort.  Just purchase the ingredients in your weekly shop and set aside an hour one weekend to give pastry making a go. So long as you follow some simple, practical steps every time and you plan ahead it’s really as easy as pie. (Pardon the pun).  Be sure to follow these four practical rules for successful pastry making every time:

1. Why is flour type important?
 If you want that classic delicate crust and crumby texture you need to use flour low in gluten. The general bulk of the problems we encounter with pastry preparation are solely because we overwork the pastry, therefore working the proteins strands through pressure and manipulation.  To keep it simple, the best type of flour for the job is plain old white flour from the supermarket. In the commercial kitchen we call this ‘all-purpose flour’ if you can find ‘cake flour’ even better but it’s not essential.

2. Temperature
The one thing I must stress and repeat over and over again is to keep everything COLD. It’s a great idea to keep the flour in the fridge.  Cold kitchens, cold work surfaces and cold equipment. Start your pastry first thing in the morning before the day warms up for best results.

3. Rest the pastry
Always rest your dough for at least 30minutes after making it. This again helps the pastry to relax and remain short and crumbly. You will find the less you do to it the better it will be. I like to rest the pastry for another 30min after lining my tart base and before baking. A good 30min in the fridge or freezer will work wonders.

4. Tread softly
We must treat our dough with care, be quick, be gentle and take care. Don’t overwork it, or warm it too much with your bands. Just be light and nimble fingered. Don’t stress out. Let the dough relax and relax and enjoy the process.

Simple shortcrust pastry

INGREDIENTS:
250g Plain Flour
75g Pure Icing Sugar
125g Unsalted Butter
1 Whole egg
1/4tsp. Vanilla essence

METHOD:
Have a 20cm round tart tin ready to line, keep it chilled in the fridge if you prefer.
Weigh up all the dry ingredients, place into a bowl in the fridge.
Cut the butter into small dice (all the same size works best) and keep in the fridge.
Rub the butter into the flour with the tips of your fingers until crumbly (don’t worry If a few small butter lumps remain in the mixture.)
Using a folk stir in the egg and vanilla just until the pastry comes together.
Pat into a small round flat disk, do not work the dough at all, and just bring it together gentry.
Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30min or overnight.
Roll out the pastry between two pieces of baking powder till 5mm thick. If the pastry becomes a little soft you can always place it in the fridge for 10min at this stage.
Line the 20cm round tart tin, using flour to lightly push it into the corners and trim off any excess with a sharp knife.
At this point if you have the time, rest the lined tart once more. If you don’t want to make your tart today just wrap and keep it in the freezer for up to a month.
To Bake, preheat your oven to 160c
Place baking paper into the tin and pour in rice or beans.
Par bake for 30min or until light and golden.
Now you are ready to make, fill and bake your favourite tart!

At this stage, if the bottom of your tart is still a little undercooked just take out the beans and bake for a further 10min.

If you have a few cracks then make slurry with some leftover pastry and water and patch up and cracks or holes.

 

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