Date Archives December 2013

Party Food Roundup: The Sweets

CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE!!!! And with christmas being just two days away, I’m presenting my last roundup: the sweets. Everyone needs a little bit of sugar to keep them going, and here are my favourite sweet recipes for last minute desserts.

1. Lychee and Lemon Sorbet

It’s hot and time for fruity sorbets. First up on the list, this Lychee and Lemon Sorbet: made entirely out of fruit juice, this sweet treat is incredibly refreshing to end the meal with.

2. Easy Lemon Tiramisu

Tiramisu – which means ‘pick me up’ – is a favourite at any party, and this lemon version a summery adaptation of a rich italian dessert. Find the recipe here.

3. Pineapple, Lime and Chilli Sorbet

I love the mixture of savoury and sweet, and the addition of chilli to this frozen treat is just perfect for the spice lovers, like me! Find the recipe for Pineapple, Lime and Chilli Sorbet here.

4. Jelly Slice

What to do when you’re told not to bring a thing? Jelly slice, of course!

5. Pomegranate Iced Tea

I remember going Christmas parties, and there’s always someone who always forgets the drinks. Well, you can always bring an iced tea to your next party! Recipe here.

6. Blood Orange Sorbet

I know I’ve put up a lot of sorbet recipes, but it is summer, and I’m using the excuse that I’ve bought an ice cream machine for me as an early Christmas present. Here’s a refreshingly tart recipe for a blood orange sorbet, made just with some juice and sugar!! Also works if you want to use pomegranate juice instead of blood orange.

Party Food Roundup: The Sides

So we’ve covered mains, and canapés, and sometimes the poor sides get, well, sidelined. There’s always the usual pasta salad and potato salads, but here’s my take, on some of the sides I’ll be making for Christmas.

1. Heston Blumenthal’s Mac and Cheese

All the comfort of mac and cheese, but with the poshness of truffle oil and a white wine cheese sauce. Comforting and impressive at the same time! Recipe here.

2. Tuna, beans and Beetroot Salad

A salad you can make entirely from pantry ingredients, which would free up some space in your over-packed fridge. Practical, and tasty!

3. Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Maybe the most maligned vegetable ever, mostly because many people just boil them to death. Get the recipe for hearty brussel sprouts here!

4. Spicy Cambodian Mushroom Dip

For a spicy Cambodian kick to your meal, try this mushroom dip as a condiment. Great with crudités, or with your barbecued steaks.

5. Peach, Mango and Crispy Prosciutto Salad

A pure celebration of summer, this salad can lighten a rich Christmas lunch. Especially in an Australian summer. Recipe here!

Pomegranate Iced Tea

Like an ominous feeling creeping up the back of your neck, I can just feel the stale heat of summer creeping in through the end of the spring breezes. And because I’m an absolute wuss about the heat, I’ve got a recipe for a rosy pink fruity iced tea that will chase the sticky heat away.
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Party Food Roundup: The Canapes


As we move ever closer to Christmas, the number of parties and social situations seem to just go through the roof. Sometimes it just involves you turning up, and sometimes you might have to bring a little somethin’ somethin’. If you’re in the mood to bring a whole main, I did a roundup here that you might be interested in. Otherwise, how about canapés for little bite sized treats that can be dead easy, but are sure to impress at your next party.

1. Fig and Prosciutto Parcels


If you’re a child of the 80s (and prior), you’re sure to have heard of Devils on Horseback (that involves prunes and bacon). Since that flavour explosion proved to us that dried fruit and cured meat are a dynamo flavour combo, why not try this variation with dried figs?

2. Mini Quiche


More food from the 80s party! Mini quiches were all the rage, and it’s not hard to see why. With a buttery pastry shell and soft luscious filling, you can have many variations of quiche prepared wayyy in advance, leaving you free to enjoy your own party on the day. Just pop it into the oven to reheat and out comes magic delicious canapés.

3. Sea Urchin Butter on Oysters


With Christmas happening in the heat of an Australian summer, it’s no wonder that seafood is a huge favourite for parties. If you want to add another level of flavour to your oysters, why not try this sea urchin butter that you can just melt over the top, adding another layer of luxury.

4. Peach and Crispy Prosciutto Crackers


For a refreshing and simple canapé that you can ‘just throw together’, these peach and crispy prosciutto crackers pair the refreshing fruit of summer, with the wafer thin crispy prosciutto. It’s like bacon, but more sophistimicated.

5. Brazilian Cheesebread

Cheese, in bread! I don’t need to say anymore.

6. Sea Urchin Chawanmushi


If you want to throw something a bit more fancy, then try these teeny weeny chawanmushi. These Japanese steamed egg custards don’t need to have sea urchin in them, and can be totally vegetarian if you want (and if they eat eggs). Only downside is that you’ll need to have/rent little cups that you can steam the custards in. But well worth the effort.

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Christmas is around the corner, and although Australia isn’t exactly the land of white Christmases, some things still remain the same – a big family feast, homes decorated with so many twinkling lights you can see them from space, and some holiday baking fun with the kids.

It’s very hard to turn away brightly iced gingerbread that are perfect for that instant sugar high.
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What I ate: Prosciutto and Dried Fig Canapes


After making my Peach and Crispy Prosciutto canapés for a party, I learnt a few lessons:

1. Prosciutto is my favourite cured meat for that sweet/salty combo
2. Don’t buy so much prosciutto!

I had wayyyyyy too much prosciutto left over because I over estimated how much to buy, and now I’ve gotta use them up. The answer? This version of Devils on Horseback.

Devils on Horseback is usually made with prunes and bacon, and this fig and prosciutto idea first came to me from Nigella.

I used:

  • Prosciutto (I have prosciutto up to my ears)
  • Dried Figs (I got mine from the Aldi Christmas Specials)
  • Roquefort (I had some leftover from the peach canapés)
  • Habenero Honey from Honeycomb Valley
  • Baby Mint Leaves, to garnish

The rest of it is just a matter of assembly. Simply cut a dried fig into half – or quarters – add a touch of blue cheese, or any cheese you prefer, and roll up in prosciutto. I only needed half a slice of prosciutto for mine, but it would really depend on what you prefer. And how thick your prosciutto is sliced, and so forth. Then when it’s all on a platter, I just drizzled the lovely Habenero Honey that I got from Honeycomb Valley and garnished with baby mint leaves from my garden.

If you want to make it ahead of time, this dish is great to hold as little parcels. Simply arrange them on a platter and keep them in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, leave them at room temperature for about 10 minutes – the prosciutto will thank you for it – and drizzle over the honey and scatter those mint leaves!

Simple, and delicious, if I do say so myself.

Party Food Roundup: The Mains


‘Tis the season…to get your eat on! And if you’re the cook in the house, you’re not just in charge of your own belly, you’re also in charge of feeding everyone else. So if you’re scratching your head of what to make this year, here’s a quick roundup of my favourite recipes to feed a party.

1. Twice Cooked Lamb Ribs with Basil Chimichurri

Lamb Ribs and Basil Chimmichurri

This recipe for golden brown and delicious lamb ribs takes a bit of effort, but also provides you with lamb stock for risotto, and lamb fat for your roast potatoes. It’s the recipe that keeps on giving. Oh, and did I mention that you can make this up to three days ahead as well? No stress on the day!

2. Pulled Pork Shoulder with Cabbage Slaw


Pork shoulder is the new pork leg! This cheap cut of pork is super easy to cook, and can be left to its own devices for most of the day while you sip on your wine. You can then magically pull it out when everyone is hungry, and voila! Instant lunch. Recipe here.

3. Persian Burgers


Everyone loves a good burger at a family barbecue, so why not make these Persian patties instead of your same old beef patty? Once fried, these patties can keep warm in an oven, ready to be part of the build-your-own-burger section of the table.

4. Korean Fried Chicken


A cross between part of an actual meal and finger food, chicken wings are always a winner at every party. I first learnt this at a Korean cooking class, and it’s been a crowd favourite ever since. If you’re not a chicken wing kind of person, chicken thighs cut into pieces will do too.

Simply marinate your chicken in cooking sake (rice wine), and then drain and dust in a mixture of potato starch and flour. Blanch in hot oil once (150C) till lightly brown, then lay out in a single layer on a tray. Place in the oven at 180C to finish.

For a chilli glaze, sauté 1 tbsp minced garlic with 1/2 tbsp minced ginger till fragrant. Then add 3 tbsp kochujang (korean chilli paste) and tomato sauce (if you prefer it really hot, omit the tomato sauce). Stir till combined, then add 2 tbsp of liquid glucose. Once the glaze is runny, add the crispy chicken in and stir to coat. Serve hot.

5. Slow roasted Lamb Shoulder


Australia has beautiful lamb, and it’s time to take advantage of it. If you like the idea of a whole roast and carving at the table, try this slow roasted lamb recipe. Sure it takes some time, but most of the work is done by just leaving it in the oven.

Pineapple and Guava Sorbet

With the temperatures climbing, it’s time to once again dust off the ice cream machine, and get cracking on those frozen treats that make a hot day bearable.

This time I chose to go for a tropical themed sorbet because I love how it evokes images of being in the tropics, by the beach…and also because my local green grocer had a special on guava juice. I simply mixed pineapple one part pineapple juice to two parts guava juice, and dissolved 25% by volume of sugar – the magic sorbet ratio provided for by David Lebovitz.

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Peaches, Crispy Prosciutto, Roquefort and Truffle Honey Canapes


The holiday season is drawing near, and so is the season of fantastic produce!!! This year, peaches caught my eye, and I have soft spot for peaches grilled with a touch of butter. And you know what goes well with stone fruit? The salty cured porky goodness called prosciutto.

And how better than to share that with friends than to put it on a canapé for the holidays?

This recipe is so simple I almost didn’t want to call it a recipe.

I used:

Peaches, pitted and cut into 8ths
Prosciutto, 1 slice per canapè
Rocket, to garnish
Truffle honey

To pit the peaches, just half it vertically, and twist gently to separate the two halves. It can get a bit soft when the peaches are really ripe, so it might get a touch fiddle-y. Then, carefully, use a paring knife to take the pit out. Cut each peach half into quarters, giving you 8 wedges per peach. Give it a bit of colour in a pan or under a grill with a touch of butter.

For the prosciutto, lay out flat pieces on a non-stick pan on medium heat. Some of that fat will render out, and the prosciutto will start curling slightly and get crispy. When it’s all nice and brown – it will still be slightly limp – place them on to a flat tray lined with paper towels. You can keep them warm in the oven, or even do them the day before. They stay crispy in an airtight container for up to three days.

The rest is just an assembly job. Place two wedges of peach on your cracker, one if your cracker is small, and crumble over the roquefort. Or any blue cheese you like. Top with the crispy prosciutto and arrange on a platter. Drizzle over honey and scatter over rocket for colour and some flavour.


And there you have it, canapés that are easy to assemble, and can be prepared ahead of time. What’s your favourite canapé for the party season?