Browsing Tag

christmas entertaining

Lifestyle

My chocolate raspberry/cherry pavlova recipe

30th November, 2021

What would a Christmas menu be without a delicious dessert? While I’ve shared a few of my fave recipes over the past few weeks including this baked ham, roast turkey breast and prawn, mango and avocado salad, we need to turn our attention to the most important part of the meal: dessert!

There’s nothing like a pavlova as the perfect ending to a Christmas feast! While I love the traditional version, in this recipe I’ve given it a chocolate-y twist for the ultimate sugar hit at the end of a meal. It still has the undone, rustic texture of a pav, but with the chocolate meringue based and topped with seasonal fruits like raspberries (or cherries if you want a decadent touch) it’s a modern take on this Aussie fave. Enjoy!

 

Total Time

Cooking: 1.5 hours

Cooling: 4 hours (preferably overnight)

 

Ingredients

 

Meringue base

6 egg whites

300g caster sugar

3 tbsp cocoa    sifted

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

5Og dark chocolate, finely chopped

 

Topping

500ml thickened cream

500g raspberries or cherries

100g dark chocolate, shaved

 

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven at 180c.

2. Beat egg whites till satiny peaks form – approx  5mins.

3. Beat in the sugar 1 spoonful at a time till meringue is stiff and shiny. Sift cocoa over the mixture. Add vinegar and chopped chocolate.

4. Gently fold ingredients together with a large spoon.

5. Cover baking sheet with baking paper. Dollop meringue on sheet creating a large high circle approximately 20cm wide. Smooth sides and peak the top.

6. Place in oven, turn temperature down to 150 c. Cook for 80 minutes.

7. Turn off oven and cool completely in oven*.

*best to make it the night before to allow for necessary cooling time.

8. Prior to serving, whip cream until it has thickened up enough to be able to spread. Spread over the pavlova then decorate with berries/cherries and shaved chocolate.

 

This post was produced in collaboration with Macquarie Centre

Photography: Ashleigh Larden

Lifestyle

My Rolled Turkey Breast With Cranberry Pistachio Stuffing Recipe

24th November, 2021

I’ve so been enjoying sharing all my fave Christmas recipes with all of you over the last few weeks, and this week it’s my take on an iconic dish but with a twist. Roast turkey is one of those iconic dishes that goes hand in hand with Christmas but sometimes it can be a little cumbersome trying to cook a whole bird, particularly when you’re playing host and have so many other things to prep on the day. So, why not opt for a tender, packed-full-of-flavour turkey breast instead? This recipe is so delicious, and doesn’t take that long to prepare. It’s a very festive dish and looks great on any table, plus the stuffing is almost a dish unto itself! In other words: it’s a winner. I love preparing this dish for my family to enjoy during a festive gathering and hope you enjoy it.

 

Total Cooking Time

Prep: 20 mins

Cooking: 60 mins

 

Ingredients

1kg Turkey breast with skin on (you can ask your butcher for this cut)

Olive oil for drizzling

Note: you’ll need kitchen twine to wrap the turkey breast

 

Stuffing

40g unsalted butter

2 onions, chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/4 sourdough loaf, torn into small pieces

2 tsp orange zest

1 tbs chopped sage leaves

150g dried cranberries

1/3 cup (50g) pistachio kernels, roughly chopped

1 egg, lightly beaten

 

Gravy (optional)

40g unsalted butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tbs plain flour

2 cups (500ml) chicken stock, heated

1 tbs Marsala* or brandy (optional)

2 tbs thickened cream

*Marsala is a Sicilian fortified wine available from bottle shops

 

Directions

1.Heat butter in a large frypan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for a further 1 minute or until fragrant.

2. Tip the onion mixture into a large bowl with the bread, orange zest, sage, dried cranberries and pistachios. Season well, then stir in the beaten egg.

3. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place the turkey breast, skin-side down, on a board. Spoon half the cooled stuffing down the middle of the breast, then roll up the turkey to enclose the stuffing. Tie with kitchen string at 2cm intervals to secure, then place in a large roasting pan. Drizzle the turkey with olive oil.

4. Roast for 25 minutes, then remove from oven and scatter the remaining stuffing mixture around the turkey. Return to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes or until turkey is golden brown and the juices run clear when you pierce the thickest part with a skewer. Cover loosely with foil and rest for 15 minutes

5. To prepare the gravy (if you choose to serve this dish with it), melt butter in a frypan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until golden and caramelised. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the stock and Marsala, if using. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until thickened.

6. Season, then stir in the cream and any resting juices from the meat then gently reheat before serving, adding more stock or water if it is too thick. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy and the extra stuffing.

 

This post was produced in collaboration with Macquarie Centre

Photography: Ashleigh Larden

Lifestyle

My Christmas Honey Glazed Ham Recipe

10th November, 2021

Christmas is weeks away so I’m already thinking about what I’m going to be cooking over the festive season. This year, I’m teaming up with Sydney’s Macquarie Centre to share my favourite entertaining recipes for Christmas. I have a few up my sleeve which are fan favourites whenever I make them, but they’re also really easy to make because I would definitely rather spend time with my nearest and dearest than spend ages in the kitchen cooking.

One dish I make which is a guaranteed winner with my family is honey glazed ham. It’s absolutely delicious and it’s so simple to cook! We’re kicking things off with this beauty because who can resist the sweet and savoury taste sensation of a baked ham at Christmas time. Plus it has a slightly retro vibe which makes it so very Insta-worthy too!

 

Total Cooking Time

Prep: 20 minutes

Cooking: 1.5 hours

 

Ingredients 

1 FULL leg ham

2 cups brown sugar

½ cup Dijon

500ml honey

2 onions

 

To decorate:

pineapple rings

maraschino cherries

  

Directions

1. Preheat oven at 180c.

2. To prepare the ham, strip the skin off but leave the fat. Score the skin into diamond shapes.

2. Cut onions into thick rings and place in large roasting pan. Place ham on top

3. Smear Dijon mustard over the entire surface of the ham.

4. Pack brown sugar over the top firmly. Make sure all the fat is covered. (You may find that you need a little extra sugar to over the top depending on the size of your ham).

5. Drizzle all over with honey.

6. Pour water in the baking tray to cover the bottom of the pan.

7. Put the ham in the oven and bake for 30 minutes then baste with the juices. Keep basting every 30 minutes until golden brown and the top is starting to caramelise. This will take approximately 1.5 hours.

8. Once the ham is cooked transfer to a serving platter.

9. You can serve the ham as is or for a more decorative, and slightly retro feel decorate it with baked pineapple rings and maraschino cherries. To do this, brush the pineapple rings with ham glaze and bake in the oven on baking paper until golden brown.

10. Once pineapple is nice and golden, spread out on the surface of the ham, and put cherries in the centre of each ring. Secure with toothpicks.

11. Serve honey glazed ham at room temperature. Carve and enjoy!

 

Be generous with the honey!

Prepping to get the skin toasty and caramelised.

The finished product! This is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

 

This post was produced in collaboration with Macquarie Centre

Photography: Ashleigh Larden

Lifestyle

How to set an Insta-worthy Christmas table

19th December, 2020

If you’re going to pop your Christmas table on the ‘gram, you may as well go all out and make it look amazing. However it can be hard to know where to start when faced with a blank table to dress. Liz Elton and Lisa Featherby from food and entertaining website Eatable says it’s all about thinking outside the box (they also shared their tips for a great Christmas menu earlier in the week), and knowing the simple design tricks that can elevate a table from so-so to stunning. Here they share their tips for how to set a Christmas table without blowing the budget.

What are your tips for dressing a table without spending a fortune?

Lisa: If you focus on a a beautiful centrepiece you can bring in everyday crockery and glassware to keep costs down. Covering white plates with a little garland or napkin for each person, doesn’t require you to get that crafty. It could be a simple napkin with a cherry, or bonbon on top.

You can cover any table with a tablecloth – even a fold-out table can become beautiful if covered, just by shopping at a good fabric store. Buy a large piece of the best linen you can afford, and with some Velcro hemming tape, iron up the edges and you’ll spend a fraction of the price. I recently bought some beautiful Italian pink linen off the roll for $39 a metre, which would retail as a tablecloth for well over $300.  

I love to bring in tapered candles for later to add height on the table, plus a Christmas-y element like a wire fairy light mixed in is great, or even a bowl or feature plate of summer produce in the middle of the table adds interest. 

Another idea I love is to go mismatched, so when your plates don’t match, make it a thing—choose your colour palette (this year I’m loving reds, pinks and peachy tones), then ask your friends or family to loan you all the plates and glasses they have in that colour spectrum (reds can range from dark to light) and just go crazy with it.

You’d be surprised what you can find also at places like Target and Kmart, such as paper garlands for the table. They cost next-to-nothing, then spend what you have on a big floral centrepiece in your chosen colour palette and scatter around some self-made confetti from metallic paper for a bit of festive fun. It’s always helpful to create a mood board on Pinterest, too before sourcing things, to help you track down and cost everything beforehand.

What are some trends you’re seeing when it comes to Christmas entertaining this year?

Liz: Coloured glassware is huge at the moment—I love mixing shapes and colours for a really vibrant table setting. Sculptural candles are also a big trend at the moment—slightly quirky, they are a nice change from more traditional candles. Maison Balzac and Tony Assness are my go-to for fun candles.

What are some easy things people can do when it comes to the food/drinks that makes a big impact?

Lisa: I’d suggest investing in a big wine bucket that can hold a few bottles at a time, particularly bottles of Champagne. Have a tray of glasses to the side and let people help themselves. This makes drinks easy to pour, but also can become a bit of a feature in itself. A jug of iced water that has some fruit or mint leaves added with a stack of water glasses to the side can also be a nice touch.

What are some entertaining trends you feel are a little bit done, and what can people do instead?

Liz: Rosemary can be beautiful on a Christmas table setting, however I have seen it a lot. I prefer sprigs of an Australian native such as Eucalyptus to make the table look a little more modern.

There is a tendency to make everything very neutral and tonal, however colour is making a big comeback—pops of bright colour are so fun and impactful—and so fitting for our hot climate. Dinosaur Designs do colour so beautifully – and bright paper napkins are an easy and cost-effective way to add a pop of colour without investing in expensive new pieces.

Piles of Christmas baubles on a table are an easy solution to make a table look festive, however perhaps a little old-fashioned. Instead, try a mix of vases in different sizes filled with florals, greenery and natives – play with colour and scale for maximum impact.

Fashion

Christmas entertaining tips with Stephanie Conley

13th December, 2020
Stephanie Conley is the founder of the hugely successful lifestyle blog, The Hostess

With Christmas just around the corner it’s not uncommon for stress levels to start skyrocketing, particularly if you’re the one playing host to family and friends. So to help make it easier, I’ve enlisted the help of Stephanie Conley—a former fashion designer turned founder of the successful lifestyle blog, The Hostess, Le Cordon Bleu alumni and Electrolux ambassador to share her top tips for making hosting any gathering over the festive season a breeze.

It can be an overwhelming task hosting family and friends during the festive season. What are some things you suggest people do to help make it easier?

Being organised is key to a successful and enjoyable day. Perhaps you could delegate desserts to other family members so you can concentrate on the main meal, it will take a lot of pressure off.

What are the key trends you’re seeing when it comes to entertaining that people may want to keep in mind for any gatherings over Christmas?

Creating a large grazing table is a great way to entertain and feed a large amount of people. Plating individual meals is very time consuming and often stressful if you have 20 plates to do. Get creative and dress your table with beautiful fresh blooms, use wooden boards and crates to sit platters on, as well as Christmas decorations, fresh fruit and nuts.

What would be on your ideal Christmas menu? 

Seafood is my go-to dish at Christmas, so a classic prawn cocktail, grilled scampi, an abundance of fresh salads and a citrus honey glazed ham. For dessert I always make pavlova and homemade rum and raisin ice cream.  

What’s something you think people should spend less time on when it comes to entertaining? 

Food – it doesn’t have to be 3 Michelin star! Rustic, casual and simple cooking is the best way to cook at home and entertain. The most important thing is to have fresh local produce, use good extra virgin olive oil and cook with love.

A well dressed table should be a focus for any host

What’s something you think people should spend more time on when it comes to entertaining? 

The table is where the focus is, so some effort is needed in the presentation of your table. Invest in some lovely linen napkins and a table cloth or runner. Buy some small table vases perfect for small arrangements that don’t take over your table or block the view of your guests. Update your salt and pepper shakers and flatware. All these little touches create ambience and once you have them you can keep adding and creating different looks for your table.

What are some shortcuts people can take to help put an event together easier?

There are a lot of items you can buy ready made and then just spend time on their presentation. For example an easy Christmas starter would be a fresh seafood platter of prawns, oysters, assorted sashimi and make or buy a dipping sauce. Arrange it all on a large platter with wedges of lemon and toss some watercress over the top with some crusty sourdough.

Glaze a ham and serve with assorted mustards and chutneys. Roast some root vegetables drizzled with maple syrup and rosemary then make a green salad with walnuts, cranberries and crumbled fetta cheese.

And for desert vanilla bean ice cream with fresh mango and crumbled ginger nut cookies on top.

This is a very simple and fuss free menu that everyone can do and would enjoy and it could be done the day of.

What are your key tips when it comes to decorating an event? 

Flowers are always a key item as they just brighten a room.

Beautiful blooms are key to making any event look amazing

What are your tips for styling a table that’s sure to impress?

A centrepiece of low fresh blooms, candles and an element of layering, whether that is using placemats or using a table cloth or runner to create some depth.

What are some things a host can do to ensure that when they’re hosting an event, they’re not spending all their time in the kitchen? 

A secret helper, someone to pour drinks, stack the dishwasher and clear the plates – find a helping hand who wants to do a few hours work so you can enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Also, having large appliances, like the Electrolux RealLife XXL Fully Integrated Dishwasher, is great so you can wash more at one time.  

What are three must-haves for any host? 

1. A well-stocked bar

2. Good food

3. A great playlist-music is essential

Want more tips from Stephanie? Check out her new podcast, in conversation with her husband Oskar Buhre where they discuss Christmas traditions, entertaining and staying organised.