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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.

Lifestyle

From snacks to sides: your stress-free Christmas entertaining guide

17th December, 2020
Image: Eatable

With Christmas just around the corner, our thoughts are quickly turning to the day itself and what we’ll be serving up to our nearest and dearest. While a feast is a delightful prospect, actually getting there is another story. For many of us, it can be a stressful experience trying to decide what to serve, with the daunting prospect of having to decide everything from nibblies to desserts and every morsel in between.

But as with most things, it always helps to have a little expertise on hand to help make it a little easier (and decidedly less scary). Which is where Liz Elton and Lisa Featherby, co-founders of food and entertaining site, Eatable come to the rescue. Both are alumni from Australia’s leading food, wine and travel bible, Gourmet Traveller (creative director and food director, respectively) so it’s no understatement to say they live and breathe all that goes into throwing a successful soiree.

Here, Liz and Lisa share their tips for everything from their go-to Christmas dessert to what drinks you need to have on hand and the must-haves on every table. (And stayed tuned later this week for their top tips on how to dress a festive table that will seriously impress.)

What are the must-haves for a successful Christmas spread?

Lisa: Condiments! We’ll be talking about the best condiments right up to the last minute on Eatable before Christmas. As long as you’ve ordered your protein—ham, turkey, seafood or whatever you’ve chosen, you can jazz it up with lots of side condiments for people to pick and choose their own adventure. 

Liz: I can’t go past a charcuterie platter. If lunch or dinner is delayed for whatever reason, it will tide everyone over until the main meal is ready. If everything else goes wrong, you can’t lose by keeping everyone’s glasses topped up with a chilled sparkling or Champagne.

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 aded with a stack of water glasses to the side can also be a nice touch.

What are your favourite go-to dishes at Christmas?

Lisa: Trifle always features in some form for me, as I’m a big fan of summer fruit. Make a jelly, top with a flavoured cream or custard and lots of fruit. Buy a pannetore or pandoro and rip that into pieces into a bowl before scooping in the trifle. The yeasty flavour and spice of pannetore is one of my favourite Christmas flavours.

I love seafood, too. I’m usually keen to see some kind of seafood element over Christmas, and often served cured trout and oysters.

Classic roast pork and crackling is great and I love that with a light shaved fennel salad, or duck fat roasted potatoes if we want to be indulgent. 

What are your recommendations for great drinks to serve on Christmas Day?

Lisa: Bubbles are obviously key to get started, and Alexander Kirkwood, who is the head sommelier at Aria, has given Eatable his top picks for sparkling wines that he’s tasted this year.

I’d choose a brut (dry) style to start, or even a good pét-nat (short for pétillant naturel), as these can be quite interesting. Have a good mix of interesting and classic wines ready to go with the main feast, too. Make sure you know the wine weight so you can stagger them out correctly, starting with aromatic whites, then moving into a more textural white like a chardonnay or Chablis, and then if you choose to serve red, try chilling it first if it’s a hot day. 

With dessert, Moscato di Asti is always a winner – or you can come back to the sparkling, which is perfect with pavlova or trifle to finish – a demi-sec for a little more sweetness, or a saignée or rosé for something pretty. A new trend we’re seeing is low-alcohol wines, so if you want to include some of these, the alcohol volume doesn’t have to be high. 

Apart from that, there are a huge amount of great vermouths out there, so a Christmas Spritz could be a nice celebratory drink to start with – you can make these non-alcoholic, too – I love a classic Americano with Campari, Maidenii sweet vermouth and soda, but you could serve vermouth and soda and include some festive aromatics, like a fresh bay leaf or a slice of orange peel. Make sure you have plenty of ice, too, stock up well beforehand so you don’t run out halfway through the day.

Liz: My family doesn’t drink alcohol, so I always make a big jug of non-alcoholic punch. I add fresh wedges of stone-fruit such as peach and basil or mint to a fresh juice and soda water, mixed with a non-alcoholic spirit and lots of ice. Seedlip do some refreshing, non-alcoholic spirits that you can make great non-alcoholic cocktails with as well. I have just discovered NON – a gorgeous non-alcoholic drink that is perfect for summer and special occasions. P&V in [Sydney’s] Newtown have a great selection of non-alcoholic spirits and shrubs.

Make the most of Australia’s beautiful summer fruits when it comes to dessert
Image: Eatable
What are some great entrees/mains/desserts to serve that are easy but delicious?

Lisa: I just love a glazed ham. There’s nothing to it as the work has already been done for you—all you have to do is find the right glaze to finish it. I’m a big fan of pineapple, brown sugar, golden rum and spices. We love curing a side of trout as it’s very easy to do and can be prepped a few days in advance and served cold, which is great for a hot Christmas day. A simple sauce like a classic mignonette for a platter of oysters over lots of ice is so easy to do. And if you want something that requires no time at all, a store-bought pannetore or pandoro can be turned into a stunning dessert just by adding a dollop of ice cream and some peaches roasted with some brown sugar and red wine.

What are your suggestions for guests to snack on when they arrive?

Lisa: A bowl of spiced nuts is always nice. You can buy raw nuts and roast them with some spices and salt. I love to make a pate around Christmas, and this can be done a couple of days ahead and served straight from the terrine mould. Or for something quite easy, you can make a smoked trout pate—simply buy some smoked trout and flake it, then whip it up with some creme fraiche as a quick and easy dip served with crackers. 

Lifestyle

How to get your kids to eat more vegetables

20th September, 2020

Finding ways to get kids to eat vegetables is a constant challenge for most parents. I know it’s something that we have to deal with in our household on a daily basis, and finding new and creative ways to make vegetables appealing can become an impossible task at times.

This is why I’ve enlisted the help of paediatric nutritionist and founder of Wholesome Child Mandy Sacher, who has previously shared her great insights on kids nutrition on the blog. Here she shares her tips on how to deal with a child who isn’t really big on vegetables, and how to make it a process that’s less stressful and more fun.

Create a “rainbow” plate

“Many children I see are repetitive vegetable eaters—meaning that they eat the same limited range each and every week. Whilst all vegetables are beneficial, the ultimate goal is to eat a diverse range of colours and groups to get the maximum benefit. We all eat with our eyes first, so it makes sense to engage your child visually when encouraging them to eat more variety. Encourage your little one to create their own rainbow plate, it’ll engage their imagination and will lead to a nibble or two!”

Include one new veggie a week—and lead by example

“There’s often a strong connection between children who eat the same vegetables each week and parents who do the same. Through parents expanding their own repertoire, children will have an opportunity to see and taste a variety—and watch their parents enjoying the broader range, too!  Try salad veggies, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and brussels sprouts, and starchy vegetables like pumpkin or sweet potato.”

Don’t forget beans and legumes

“Beans and legumes are our most nutritious plant foods. Rich in proteins, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, fibre, minerals and phytochemicals. Hummus, lentil soup, bean stews and chickpea falafels are a fantastic way to introduce legumes to your child. Try kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas and lentils. For canned varieties, look for BPA-free cans wherever possible and rinse well beforehand to reduce sodium levels.”

Include sea vegetables

“Due to its high calcium content, seaweed strengthens bones and teeth. It’s also high in iron, has antimicrobial properties and is a good source of essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre which helps prevent constipation.

Nori, rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C as well as iodine also contains protein. Use it for sushi, shred it over salad or create veggie-filled seaweed wraps filled with julienned carrots, cucumber, shredded chicken (or protein of choice) and avocado. If your child likes the seaweed snack packs that are commonly found in supermarkets, seek out varieties that are free from additives such as MSG or added sugar.”

Remember to use fresh herbs and spices 

“Basil is packed with essential oils which are known to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Use in tomato-based pasta sauces, sprinkle on pizza and mix into rissoles. 

Mint soothes upset tummies and improves digestion. Chill mint tea with a dash of raw honey or add fresh mint leaves and orange slices to water and serve in place of juice. 

Oregano is often used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and urinary tract disorders.  Add to chicken, lamb or beef dishes. 

Parsley is rich in many vital vitamins and keeps the immune system strong, tones the bones and heals the nervous system.  It also helps to flush excess fluid from the body and support kidney function.  Add to smoothies, chicken soup and pasta sauces.

Spices – as well as adding flavour, spices such as turmeric, ginger and cinnamon are packed with nutrients too. Add turmeric and ginger to chicken soup, sprinkle turmeric on cauliflower and add cinnamon to pumpkin and butternut squash.”

Create a veggie patch

“Children love planting seeds, watching them grow, and eventually harvesting what they have planted. It’s the best way to help them make the association between earth to plate, and to engage their curiosity about different varieties of vegetables. If outdoor space is limited, start off with herbs such as basil or oregano, or better yet get involved with a community garden.”

Shop for and cook vegetables together

Encourage your children to touch, smell and engage with their food.  Let them help with grocery shopping and encourage them to pick up new vegetables from the shelves and place them in the trolley themselves – this begins the engagement with the new food.

Little ones tend to be more willing to eat what they’ve helped to prepare and it’s important for them to be exposed to vegetables in their raw state and to understand how the texture and look of a vegetable changes when it’s cooked. Get them involved by asking them to peel carrots and potatoes (using kid-friendly graters), cutting lettuce with a plastic knife or adding grated vegetables to muffin batter.

It’s important for parents to be patient and to recognise that change is often slow with children.  Don’t be disappointed if they don’t eat the new vegetable or food the first time it’s offered – stay positive and freeze what’s not eaten and offer it again – persistent repetition is key here.”

What are some creative ways you’ve used to encourage your kids to eat more vegetables?

Lifestyle

Best breakfasts to start the day with according to a dietitian

27th July, 2020

Top sports dietitian and nutritionist Peta Carige knows the key to a good breakfast. Having worked with elite athletes (some of which are gold medal winning Olympians) she knows they best foods to fuel up with at the start of each day.

So, if you’re stuck in a breakfast rut, trying for a more nutritionally sound start to the day or simply want more energy, these are some of the best breakfasts to consider putting on your plate. The best bit? They’re high on the taste scale too.

Oats

“Oats made with water or milk with your favourite toppings are not only extremely comforting in winter but also extremely healthy. They are a great source of soluble fibre which is great for your bowels but also helps keep your cholesterol levels low. If  you just can’t fathom having oats without brown sugar, try having half cinnamon and half brown sugar to reduce the quantity, or top with your favourite fruit, some coconut and seeds to make it even more filling.”

Overnight oats or a homemade version of bircher muesli

“Homemade bircher is the key to this breakfast as you can control what it  is soaked in and mixed with. Uncooked oats that are soaked have the highest resistant starch levels of all of the oats which makes them the best choice to feed your gut microbiome. When you make them at home – soak them in your favourite milk or water and mix in fruit, yoghurt and nuts and seeds the next day.”

Rye toast with toppings  

“Rye bread is the best combination of fibre but is naturally lower in gluten, so it suits more people’s digestive systems really well. For toppings aim to include at least one source of healthy fat such as avocado or peanut butter and one source of protein such as ricotta or smoked salmon.”

Omelettes

“Eggs are such a great breakfast for so many reasons. Firstly, they are high in protein so it will fill you up until lunch so there will be no excuses to have a break from your work for a snack. Also, eggs are a great way to hit your five serves of vegetables a day. Add into your omelette leftover vegetables form the night before or a handful of spinach and mushrooms.

Smoothies

“These are more of a summer breakfast but now is a great time to come up with your favourite flavour combinations. If you follow some basic guidelines, they are not only filling but extremely nutritious. Include the following: 1 serve of  fruit (1/2 cup), 1 serve of vegetables (1/2 cup), a source of protein (nut butter, Greek yoghurt or handful of nuts), 1 tbsp fibre (psyllium husks, oats, LSA).

Homemade beans

“A little time consuming, but the perfect way to increase your legume intake. Mix your favourite beans with passata and add your favourite vegetables and spices. Cook on low heat until well heated and infused with flavour. Serve on toast or pour into an ovenproof dish and add an egg to have a baked shakshuka.”

Quinoa bowl

“This may sound odd, but a lot of us, especially when we are trying to eat   healthy at nighttime, then struggle to include adequate wholegrains and therefore fibre in our diets. Quinoa is gluten-free, high in fibre and protein, so it makes for a filling breakfast. I cook the quinoa in advance for a couple of days then mix with Greek yoghurt, berries, and sprinkle with trail mix. It tastes like a crunchy bircher muesli and will keep you full for hours.”

Fruit toast

“I hear the disbelief when reading this, but why can’t you add this to your rotation of breakfasts? Especially while we’re at home and not eating on the run. You can top your fruit toast with either a nut butter or ricotta and some extra fruit. This feels like you’ re eating such a treat, so it’s the perfect Friday Fun Breakfast.”

What are some your fave go-to breakfasts?

Fashion

Snacking up a storm? Try these healthy snack options that are dietitian-approved

23rd May, 2020
Roasted chickpeas are a nutritious and delicious snack

If you’re finding yourself snacking a lot more than usual then you’re not alone—with more time spent at home, and closer proximity to pantries and fridges, it’s easy to find yourself grazing throughout the day. So instead of going for chips or biscuits, why not reach for some healthy options instead? Here Sydney-based dietitian Rachel Hawkins shares some of the best snack options to have the next time you get a craving for a 3pm chocolate bar hit.

Greek or natural yogurt – “A fantastic source of calcium for bone and muscle health and also a hunger-busting hit of protein.”

Hummus with veggie sticks or wholegrain crackers – “Hummus is high in protein and low GI, which helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full. Pair with veggie sticks or wholegrain crackers for a balanced snack that is high in added fibre and a host of vitamins and minerals.”

Air-popped popcorn – “A great wholegrain snack that is low in calories and a good source of fibre.”

A tasty smoothie is a winner for the whole family

Smoothies – “Homemade smoothies can serve as a great source of protein, calcium, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. It’s also a great way to add extra vegetables into your diet. For a simple smoothie try 1/2 cup mixed berries, 1 handful spinach, protein powder, 2tbsp rolled oats, 1 tbsp chia seeds, milk, ice.”

Whole piece of fruit – “Simple, but full of micronutrients and a good source of fibre.”

Wholegrain crackers topped with cottage cheese – “A great high protein, high fibre snack which will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer.”

Unsalted nuts are an easy snack option

A handful of unsalted nuts – “High in protein, healthy fats and fibre as well as micronutrients such as vitamin E and zinc which are great for skin health.”

Muesli or Nut Bar – “Many bars are high in added sugar, so be sure to check the nutrition label carefully. Aim for a bar that contains around 3- 4g fibre and 5g+ protein. I love Carmans ‘Protein’ nut bar range – most flavours contain over 10g protein and 4g fibre.” 

Edamame – “Fantastic high protein, high fibre plant based snack. 1 cup = 20g protein, 7g fibre.”

Roasted chickpeas – “Another great plant based snack that is a good source of protein and fibre.” 

Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

Stephanie Conley’s tips for easy cooking at home during isolation

4th May, 2020

With a successful career as a fashion designer, with the likes of Naomi Watts and Kim Cattrall wearing pieces from her eponymous label, Stephanie decided to follow a different path, one that would allow her to follow her passion for food. Having studied at the Le Cordon Bleu and a brief stint in catering, she decided to start her blog, The Hostess. The hugely successful site is now where Stephanie is able to share her love of food with the world. From her favourite recipes to helpful entertaining tips, Stephanie’s aim is to make cooking and hosting friends and family a fun, exciting and enjoyable experience.

With all of us now having to self-isolate, and with more time spent at home, it means we’re all getting very acquainted with our kitchens and cooking is on the cards every night. To help make getting dinner on the table nightly an easier but also tastier exercise, I turned to Stephanie to share her top tips for quick, easy cooking that will still impress.

Get organised at the start of the week

“Thinking of a new dish to cook every night for the family can be a challenge. Make no mistake that cooking and the time it takes to get a meal on the table is not a quick fix. I always say the only way to combat this is to be organised. At the beginning of each week take the time to sit down and work out your menu for the week ahead, you can be ahead in what you need to buy which will give you more time to do other things rather than continuously go to the market to pick up food.”

Stock your freezer

“I always have a few things in the freezer that I can easily take out and defrost. If you can make two of something and freeze the other you can have a cheat day!”

Set a time limit

“When thinking of meals to cook, choose weekly dinners that can be prepped and cooked in around 30-45 minutes. More involved recipes should be for the weekend or when you can take your time and enjoy the cooking process.”

Stephanie’s new cookbook At Home with The Hostess will be available this week

Experiment with condiments

“Focus on experimenting with salsas and sauces that can add flavour quickly and using lots of fresh herbs. Fish tacos are a great way to get the kids to eat fish, make a simplified version for them then spice yours up with a quick salsa and cabbage slaw. I always have meatballs in my freezer and the kids love them with pasta but I like to add black olives and chopped parsley to mine and have a rocket and fennel salad.”

Stock up on the basics

“Have a pantry stocked with the basics such as oils, vinegar, dried herbs, spices, nuts, grains, beans and pasta. Look to these pantry staples for inspiration. Other great ways to simplify your cooking is to gravitate to recipes that can be cooked in one pot or meals with 5 ingredients, it takes the pressure off  and they are quick and easy to pull together.” 

Have go-to weekly dinner options

“Some of my favourite weekly dinners are fish tacos with fresh salsa, meatballs in tomato sauce, beef stroganoff, roasted veggie bowl with freekeh, seared salmon nicoise and beef burgers with homemade pickles. We love to have a BBQ which is very simple but I always make great sides of salad and veg to keep it interesting. I like to focus of fresh produce and home cooked simplicity.” 

Fashion

Cook at home with the world’s best chefs

15th April, 2020

With many restaurants closed right now, that has left many of the world’s biggest names in the culinary world with a little more time to focus on cooking at home. Lucky for us, they’ve let us join along! With some of the Australia and the world’s most esteemed chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Yottam Ottolenghi and David Chang now sharing their fave recipes and even doing live demos on their Instagram accounts, there’s never been a better time to be an amateur cook. Tap into their expertise and you may walk away from self-isolation with some flashy new cooking skills, and a lot of new favourite recipes.

Christina Tosi

She’s an awarded pastry chef, the founder of Momofuku Milk bar and often called the queen of desserts so if you’ve got a sweet tooth don’t miss Christina Tosi’s baking club. She manages to create some pretty epic desserts using simple pantry staples so you’re going to be well covered for this entire quarantine period.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-7pm5HpexS/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Hamish Blake and Ben Shewry

You can bet anything with Hamish Blake is going to be wildly amusing but enter Ben Shewry, founder and head chef of Melbourne’s Attica which has frequently been named one of the best restaurants in Australia and was in the top 20 in the world and you’ve got yourself and you’ve got one of the most watchable cooking partnerships around. Together they’re teaming up to make date night meals on Instagram Live so be prepared for a great meal with plenty of laughs.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-6pqZMFKQn/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Gordon Ramsay

If you want a quick meal on the table in 10 minutes and fancy cooking you alongside Gordon Ramsay then get into #Ramsayin10. The meals he prepares are all family friendly and features easy to find ingredients so give it a go if you want dinner on the table fast.

Dan Hong

Dan Hong is the chef behind dining heavyweights such as Mr Wong, Lotus and Ms G’s and his at home cooking videos—complete with his three adorable kids making cameos—are relatable and easy to follow. He made cheeseburgers in the below video, but he’s also done rigatoni alla vodka and XO king prawn linguine.

Massimo Bottura

When else will you be able to cook along with a three-Michelin star chef and the man behind the Osteria Francescana, the restaurant named the best in the world in 2018? Massimo Bottura is doing a kitchen quarantine series which has already featured faves such as tiramisu, mac and cheese and gelato, and he’s pretty entertaining to watch too.

Matt Moran

Chef and restaurateur Matt Moran is doing warming recipes perfect for this time of year on his IGTV channel so why not take advantage of the expertise of one of Australia’s best chefs and whip yourself up a delicious, restaurant quality meal at home.

Eric Ripert

French chef Eric Ripert is the owner and head chef of Le Bernadin in New York City which holds three Michelin stars and regularly features on the list of the best restaurants in the world. Not only does he have some really useful how-to videos such as how to preserve vegetables but there are plenty of tasty meals including ratatouille, crepes and a roasted leg of lamb that is sure to impress.

David Chang

Momofuku founder David Chang is a chef, author and TV presenter and his culinary dispatches from his New York City apartment are one way to learn how to utilise whatever you may have in your pantry or fridge. He regularly offers substitutes for ingredients even prepares food using a microwave.

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Far from being authentic, sort of a hybrid of aglio e olio of Naples & the Shanghai classic…scallion oil noodles. Actually, the only thing really Italian about it that I used thin spaghetti noodles and I added garlic. Think of it as the OG mazeman. I love aglio e olio too!! But scallion noodles has a special place in my heart. The best version of scallion oil noodles I had was made with rendered pork fat at Gary’s local spot in Shanghai. I’m not sure which region uses dried shrimp, but I’ve not had that version in China but only in America. I love how so much of Shanghainese food is sweet and salty. way more sweet to me than anyplace else. this doesn’t take many ingredients to make but I also didn’t have every ingredient so I improvised and it came out great. I don’t make this that often because it can get kinda messy with oil splattering and it will change the smell of your apartment into burnt alliums for a solid week but it’s so worth it. If you get the balance right I think the one of the best dishes anywhere. I rarely have dried shrimp on hand but I almost always have a bag of frozen shrimp. I’m pretty positive no one has made it with frozen shrimp that was microwaved then blitzed in a magic bullet then braised. all hail the magic bullet. By end of the month I will have expended all of my kitchen hacks. This is a good day to use up all your saved bacon fat reserves. Great dish for quarantine Oh and for the pasta snobs I made it with barilla and it tasted fucking amazing Just like my nonna used to make. Buon Apitito!!!

A post shared by Dave Chang (@davidchang) on

Jason Atherton

English Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton is doing an at home cooking series with classics such as rhubarb and apple crumble to Eton Mess and burgers. The best bit is you’ll have plenty of new recipes up your sleeve post-quarantine.

Dominique Ansel

French pastry chef and the inventor of the piece of heaven that is the cronut, let Dominique Ansel show you how to whip up a mean dessert including truffles and crepes.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-kVcKiHt6Z/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Yotam Ottolenghi

Tasty, comforting dishes are what Ottolenghi does best and he’s now doing a quarantine series that features his recipes along with other chefs. All the dishes shared are tasty and hearty and the kind of dishes we all need right now.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-2A88fH5sJ/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Lifestyle

Luke Mangan’s top 10 tips to impress at your next dinner party

23rd April, 2018

With restaurants in Australia, Japan and Singapore and fresh from a $1.5 million renovation of his restaurant the Glass Brasserie in the Hilton in Sydney, Luke Mangan knows the key to a good dining experience. However if unlike the chef and restaurateur you don’t have a team of chefs helping you cook up a storm at home, never fear because Luke has shared his top 10 tips for a successful dinner party. After all if anyone would know how to feed a room full of people with ease it’s a man who is at the helm of restaurants that serve hundreds of diners in a single evening! The next time you’re having people at yours, be sure to keep these tips top of mind for a memorable, stress-free and best of all, enjoyable event.

1. Keep it seasonal

Always plan your menu and try to make it seasonal. There is nothing better than cooking with fresh seasonal produce – it’s also much more cost effective.

2. Simplicity is key

Try not to be too tricky with your menu, cook dishes you know and are comfortable with so you can spend as much time with your guests rather than being stuck in the kitchen, while everyone else is enjoying themselves.

3. Don’t be afraid to delegate

One tip to avoid last minute stress is to delegate. Don’t feel like you have to do everything just because you are hosting. Your friends won’t like to arrive empty handed anyway, so let them be part of the preparation. And don’t be afraid to assign people certain things, that way you wont end up with five plates of the same salad.

Need some table inspo? Take inspiration from the setting at Luke’s restaurant, glass brasserie

4. Create a welcoming vibe

Creating the right ambience is the easiest way to relax people. Candles are a must and soft lighting creates a warm and cosy environment, especially when entertaining in winter. Always have music playing but not too loud; it creates a lovely ambience in house.

5. Check guests’ food requirements

To save yourself the embarrassment, check any dietaries or dislikes ahead of time. Nothing worse than having guests not being able to eat your food – that’s what they’re there for right?

6. Intimate is best

Don’t feel like you need to invite everyone! Keep numbers intimate and minimal – nothing worse than signing yourself up for cooking for a group of 30 guests!

7. Make dessert ahead of time

Choose a dessert you can make ahead of time and keep in the fridge or freezer. By the time you get to dessert the last thing you feel like doing is getting back in the kitchen to finish off the last course!

8. Serve communal meals

I love to serve my dishes “family style”. By placing everything in the middle of the table your guests can help themselves to as little or as much as they like; it is a nice interaction at the table and creates conversation.

9. Keep it relaxed

Most importantly, keep it relaxed and fun; if you’re relaxed then your guests will be relaxed too.

10. Don’t forget the drinks!

And if all else fails, there’s always wine!

 

Date with Kate, Lifestyle

Date with Kate: Jamie Oliver

14th May, 2017

Lunch with Jamie Oliver. Pic: Fairfax Media.

Jamie Oliver is a celebrity chef, cookbook author and owner of the Jamie’s restaurant empire. His rise to fame began with his television show The Naked Chef and was followed by a cookbook that became a bestseller. He has strongly advocated healthy eating and cutting out junk food and in 2003 was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Oliver, 41, chatted to me about why he is back in Australia, his biggest hurdle and what excites him most about his food empire.

What are you visiting Australia for? 

I’ve basically come over to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on buying back my Australian business, which was a franchise and they went into receivership. There was nothing wrong with the JI [Jamie’s Italian] business but it got dragged down with the mother ship and it’s never happened to me before so it’s a bit of new one for me. But the good news is that we bought it back and I’m now 100 per cent owner of my [Australian JI] restaurants, instead of a partner of my restaurants.

What was your first reaction when you first heard Keystone was going into receivership? 

I was like OK, why? The business is really good, we are really busy, we get low grumbles, they are all profitable, so why? And then you just realise that you are part of a bigger picture and you can’t control it.

Was the plan to always buy Jamie’s Italian back?

Definitely for me, I’ve just never done it before and it’s not necessarily straightforward – other people wanted to buy it as well and that was challenging.

What are going to be the biggest changes to Jamie’s Italian restaurants? 

There is now no difference to the UK and Aussie business and that’s a first, because internationally we always go with a partner because they have local knowledge and always we learn from them as well. The Aussie operators that used to own this business were brilliant but we are where we are and I think we are in an ever better place than we were before.

What can we expect on the new menu? 

The JI menu is comfort food – we make pasta every day, we make our bread every day, we have got a long list of super-food salads, grills, steaks, pizza, antipasti. It’s not designed to be complicated or show off; it’s fun, dynamic comfort food for sure. But we try to be good value for money and be all over the welfare – farm visits and all of that stuff. They are busy, buzzy restaurants.

Do you have a favourite dish?

That’s a toughie, it’s like asking which one of your kids is your favourite! … I also like the menu to be predictable. Being predictable is almost underrated, everyone is always trying to be super f—ing cutting edge!

What motivates you to keep improving your culinary skills?

It’s a constant journey. I’ve just been in Puglia – I’ve been cooking with nonnas for the past 12 months on and off … it’s not about the recipe, it’s about the heart and the soul and what it means.

You have television shows, books, restaurants, the cookery schools and the endless merchandise. What excites you the most in the “Jamie” empire?

Back home at the ranch, it’s just a very creative, exciting thing to do … I cook every day, I’m writing most days, even designing a fry pan; it’s utterly exciting because it’s all to do with giving you a more [enjoyable] cooking experience. Everything that I do is energised by the ability to solve a solution, so I don’t see any difference between writing recipes, [creating] product … Ultimately, everything is about raising the bar. And for me, the concept of getting “non cooks” to have a go, it gets me really excited.

You’ve had a huge impact on British health food reformation. What are you most proud of? 

I think having a general contribution … just changing the conversation, changing the tone, just moving things on a bit, is what I’m most proud of. But if it was a single thing, probably the school dinner campaign in the UK. We were feeding them s–t 190 days of the year and there were no standards, so to be central to the government creating those standards in the first place is amazing.

What’s been the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome?

So many! I think just resistance to change, humans just f—ing hate change, they really do. I’m not that bright; if you look at what I’ve done in the last 20 years, none of it is clever, it’s all just really basic – don’t feed kids s–t everyday! It’s not revolutionary, it’s really f—ing basic! … It always amazes me how basic my challenges are.

You married your childhood sweetheart, Juliette Norton, in 2002. How did you know she was the one? 

I just did; I’ve been with her since I was 18 and I remember the first time I ever met her, I absolutely fell in love with her and I think she has been on the whole journey with me from The Naked Chef on. She has been a pillar of strength for me. I couldn’t haven’t have done what I’ve done without her and she has always kept home and the kids down, which allows me to be more dynamic outside … She is a very private person, she is not outgoing, she’s not in the public eye like I jump around. We don’t talk about work when I go home, never. You would know more about my work life than she does. So we just keep it normal and simple. And it seems to work.

How do you juggle it all?

I have every weekend off, we have our holidays down and that’s a good start, and then I have a handful of girls who look after my time really brilliantly, and then we get amongst it. It’s a busy family now – five kids!

What else will get up to while you are in Sydney?

Squeeze in some lovely breakfasts. There are an amazing amount of people from my area who live in Sydney; we normally get them all together on my annual visit.

BITE SIZE

WE WENT TO Jamie’s Italian, Pitt Street, Sydney CBD

WE ATE “Classic Meat Plank” fennel salami, artisan mortadella, prosciutto and Angus bresaola, with mini buffalo mozzarella, pecorino and chilli jam, pickles, olives and purple slaw

WE DRANK Vermentino, Margaret River

JAMIE WORE Private White jacket, Tiger jeans, Adidas sneakers

KATE WORE a Karen Walker dress.

 

Lifestyle

The staples of Italian cooking according to 10 William St’s head chef

18th January, 2017

I love Italian food. In fact, I love it so much it was the type of cuisine I served at my wedding. This is why I decided to chat to Enrico Tomelleri, the head chef at 10 William St, a cosy wine bar and restaurant in Sydney’s Paddington that serves up some tasty Italian fare. Here we chat about his philosophy to cooking, what ingredients he always has on hand and the one mistake people make when it comes to Italian cooking…

What was your aim when you took over as head chef at 10 William St?
The main aim has been accepting the challenge and having the chance to deliver food that I like to our customers. After a few years at 10 William St I got to know what they want and what they like.

Why do you think 10 William St has been so well received?
10 William St has been so well received because it is a fun little bar that serves good wine and honest food. You can spend a night there every week without getting over it. This simple formula is the reason why we have the chance to work with a lot of regular customers.

What has inspired the menu at 10 William St?
The menu is constantly changing and we get inspired by what is in season and what our suppliers are recommending at the time. Having a solid base of Italian food is a good start.  I like to collaborate with the rest of the team trying to find a fun and interesting way to create a dish by twisting some of the classic recipes that we know. That helps to keep us motivated.

The cosy interiors of 10 William St

What’s the key to great Italian cooking?
It could sound obvious but the key is to follow the seasonality of the ingredients. It is also a good ethic to follow and the right way to respect and to deal with your food and with your customers.

What are some common mistakes people make when it comes to cooking Italian cuisine?
The spelling of “Bolognese” sauce!

What’s your philosophy when it comes to cooking?
I try to use [the least amount of] ingredients as possible trying to exalt the main one. Also, at the moment, I focus on the sustainability of them.

10 William St head chef Enrico Tomelleri

What’s your favourite Italian dish to cook?
I like to cook any kind of risotto.

What’s one Italian dish you love to eat?
I guess a good pizza is probably unbeatable

What’s one dining trend you think has been done to death?
Burger perhaps… but there is always room for a good one.

For those who love cooking Italian food, what are some ingredients you must always have on hand at home?
Garlic, anchovies and a bottle of good olive oil (maybe some fish sauce..)