High Tea at home – a great idea for a large group


If you have a cupboard of inherited, mixed not matched, china and perhaps some interesting table cloths, ( or even if you don’t) then hosting a high tea can be a great way to bring people together.


It’s relatively easy, because everything can be made ahead (much even frozen) and set out on tables before guests arrive. You can choose to serve savoury options as canapés first with a glass of bubbles, before everyone sits down for tea and sweets delicacies.

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By creating a high tea at home you have lots of flexibility with the food, drinks and seating arrangements. You can cater easily for dietary preferences and plan the event so that everyone can chat and get to know more people. Also more people  can afford to join in than when you book a $50 per person set menu, and where you only get to talk to those directly next to you.

Good ideas for savoury canapés in include cheese chorizo and corn muffins…..


….smoked salmon on cucumber or 1/2 scones…


Asian style frittata….


pinwheel sandwiches with smoked oyster, cumin, lemon juice and cream cheese dip ( ask the bakery to slice the bread length wise)


Pikelets with blue cheese/cream cheese dip and caramelised pear with date and walnuts.


It’s also easy to make these options gluten free is required.


Sweet options that can be made ahead include chocolate dipped strawberries….

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….scones with jam and cream ( less preparation if served halved with whipped cream and jam separately)..


…mini cup cakes decorated (e.g. Lemon curd centred muffins, with lemon icing and candied lemon…


…pancake swirls with cinnamon and brown sugar and cream cheese and walnuts..

…chocolate rum balls..


…meringues with chocolate…


…chocolate caramel slice…


Mini trifles in shot glasses ( available from Home Base, Woden Westfield).

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You can also accept offers of help with food preparation if you choose as things are easy to add to the table as they arrive.

Cups and saucers can be matching or miss matching. It works well with mugs and small plates too. Look out for inexpensive three tier stands at Aldi or use cardboard versions available from Home Base or Reject shops.

Trestle tables are about $34 and folding chairs about $8 each from Bunnings.

Hot Chocolate Cake – a Quick, yummy, easy dessert


The idea of a cake in a mug is not new but nevertheless, ingenious!

It’s a great almost instant dessert if you need one on the spot for friends.

It’s also beautifully portioned – no leftovers to tempt you!

And it’s very delicious, a bit like a cross between a brownie and a flourless chocolate cake.

First mix the dry ingredients in a cup well:


2 Tbsp plain flour

1 1/2 Tbsp caster sugar (or 2 Tbsp if you like it sweeter)

1 Tbsp cocoa

Then add the wet ingredients:


1 Tbsp oil

1 Tbsp water

Stir well and wipe down the sides of the cup.


Microwave on HIGH for one minute.


Dust with icing sugar.

Serve with a scoop of ice-cream or cream!


(Looks good on a saucer!)


Add a few drops of vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

Would also be good with a bit of liqueur!

and check out Not Quite Nigella’s version too!

And her 5 min cheesecake

and 5 min quiche in a mug



The Answer for the Spontaneous Celebration at Work – a cake in a box!


If you’ve ever been caught short at work without the wherewithall to quickly create a memorable event to celebrate a birthday, a welcome or a farewell, then ‘Not Quite Nigella’ has the answer.

The ingredients and ‘cake pan’ for Lorraine’s Easy Three Ingredient Pineapple Bread, can be easily stored in a 2 litre icecream container, ready to mix together in moments and cook in the ready to go cup cake cases. Too Easy!!


No washing up, just throw the icecream container in the recyling bin. Busy work mates can even grab their ‘cup cake’ and keep working.

(Dusting with icing sugar and ready to go cake stand are optional, but do make a real difference!).


Catering at home for a large group Brunch


Variety is the key to an interesting Brunch at home.

If people serve themselves and choose from a range of options, everyone can choose their own portion size and even take small serves of lots of different flavours and textures.


Many dishes as able to be made ahead, even frozen.

Keep it simple:

Bircher muesli


Baked porridge




French toast pudding (like a bread and butter pudding). Try Cinnamon Scrolls great looking recipe for Chocolate Chilli French Toast Bake)


Fruit compote


Fruit salad


Breakfast muffins


Fruit toast with cinnamon and honey ricotta cheese


Baked eggs (just heat a jar of pasta sauce with a tsp of smoked paprika and a tsp of chicken stock powder mixed, break the eggs into the hot sauce and bake in the oven until firm.


Great in individual ramekins especially with a croissant to dip into the sauce.



Good tea and great coffee!

Creative coffee celebrations at work


A quick and easy idea to make small work celebrations/farewells/welcomes more special, is to take it out of the office and down to the local cafe.

Cafes that service workplaces are often happy for you to use their tables, cutlery, crockery and napkins for your own cake or morning or afternoon tea, if you buy their drinks to go with it.


Turkish Banquet – a great idea for sharing food with friends at home


An easy, great value idea for enjoying food with friends, is to order turkish banquets.


Delivered to your door……………

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……..a little re-plating can transform this ‘take-away’ meal into something special.

(Four banquets are shown here i.e. $92 total).

While there’s is usually a minimum order of two banquets that are intended to serve two people, two banquets are more than enough for four people, even six if you add a dessert of your own.

(These four banquets, with dessert were about right for 8-12  people to share).


It can also be good to add some vegetable crudites for the dips as well to add crunch and texture. This works out at around $8 per person and leaves everyone feeling satisfied, but comfortable.
Lynham Pide Hut at the Lynham shops, Canberra offers a $23 take away/delivered banquet (minimum order 2) that includes:


Mixed dips & bread


Zucchini balls, falafel, fetta spring rolls

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Chicken skewer, sliced donor kebab meat, meatball & turkish rice, mixed green salad, Kiymali pide (Seasoned minced lamb, onion, cheese, parsley & herbs)

Baklava open 11:00am – 9:00pm Tuesday to Sunday Ph: 02 62485568

They happily deliver orders over $30 and even offer a 25% discount for holders of the Canberra Entertainment Book!
Turkish Pide and Kebabs on Urbanspoon

Tasting Dessert Plate – a great idea for sharing food with friends at home


It’s always a treat to find a dessert tasting plate on a menu because it’s an excellent opportunity to taste a range of dishes, but stay comfortable.

So why not try the same idea at home…


Dark chocolate and peanut butter brownie with peanut butter parfait, chocolate and peanut butter sand and Reese’s peanut butter cup, Mini blueberrry trifle


Orange, date and almond syrup cake with moroccan orange cinnamon cream, Pear and raspberry crumble with cinnamon ricotta cream, Mini blueberry trifle, Dark chocolate Tim Tam icecream with fruit mince pie, Baklava

Best shared between two, it’s good to combine different textures and style and to complement each dishes with matching accompaniments. The freezer is your friend to help throw this together at the last minute, rather than spend the day preparing so many separate items.

Stick with easy options and add to your freezer collection when the inspiration takes you. Restaurant menus are a great source of ideas on good ways to combine tastes and textures.

Black Rice Coconut Pudding with Caramelised Bananas





Black Rice Coconut Pudding with Caramelised Bananas

The Grains and Legumes Council says:

Black Rice is the New Black

When to use it?
Often served as a dessert, like black rice pudding, most people are unaware of how else to use the ancient grain. Its vibrant colour makes black rice the ideal accompaniment to salads, sushi recipes or a nutritious addition to any grain based dish.
How to cook it?
Black rice can be cooked in the same way as brown rice. Simply add 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water or stock over a medium heat. Bring the water or stock to the boil and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
Where to buy it?
This ancient delicacy is becoming more readily available and Black rice can now be found in supermarkets (e.g. Coles Woden).
Black rice

Great quick and easy, mix and match salad idea that wows!


Grill’d Chicken and Quinoa with Pomegrante dressing salad

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Double shot salads

The lunch menu at Double Shot, in Deakin is a fine example of how to throw together a side or main meal salad at home that will wow your guests but still leave them feeling light and ‘fine’.

It’s also a great idea for work or home when you’re eating light and pacing yourself between social dining opportunities.

It’s a no-fail formula:

1. Pick a base for your salad (any washed green leaves will work)

2. Add colour, texture, flavour
– look in the fridge freezer and cupboards for what’s on hand; or
– if you have more time and energy, get inspiration from restaurant and cafe menus that usually have interesting combinations that work well.
– ensure there is at least one intense flavour (even just a little makes a big difference, without adding too many extra kilojoules or extra sodium) e.g. bacon bits/olives/feta/antipasti mix/anchovies/chorizo/baby beets/capers/marinated vegetables/sundried tomato

3. Layer the different ingredients on top of the leaves, leaving the most interesting colours, textures and flavours for the upper layers.

4. Serve with an interesting dressing (e.g. combine lemon juice or a vinegar e.g. balsamic (e.g. 3 Tbsp) with some oil e.g. olive (e.g. 1 Tbsp), adding a little sweetener to taste e.g. brown sugar/honey e.g. 2 tsp and I like some dijon or wholegrain mustard e.g. 2 tsp as well)
(Tip: if you allow the dressing to be added to individual plates then any leftover salad will keep better until the next meal).

For a main meal salad:

Add a cooked protein food (sliced often works best), perhaps marinated/smoked/warm (e.g. warm thai beef, warm chicken, tandoori chicken, smoked salmon/trout/ham/chicken, boiled eggs, cubed or crumbed cheese, prawns or other seafood, warm marinated tofu).

Usually this layer is best near the top of the salad, but with more colourful/flavoursome and textured layers garnishing it.

From the freezer:
Frozen baby beans/ baby peas/ tender corn kernels (blanch these by pouring boiling water over them, stand for a few minutes, then drain well).
Bits and pieces collected for just this purpose e.g. fried bacon bits, roast pumpkin, olives, antipasti mix

From the fridge/deli:
Protein foods
Left over roast vegetables (e.g. pumpkin/ roast potato/ carrot/ potato/ beetroot/ eggplant/ mushrooms/ zucchini/ capsicum/roasted canned chickpeas )
Left over steamed vegetables
Salad vegetables including blanched asparagus/snow peas/ green beans/ corn kernels (blanch these by pouring boiling water over them, stand for a few minutes until tender, then drain well)

Tomatoes/ baby tomatoes/ lebanese cucumbers/ red capsicum/ red onion/ avocado/salad leaves/ shredded cabbage

Marinated vegetables (e.g. olives/ antipasti mix/ artichokes/eggplant/ sundried-tomato)
And if you have an Asian peeler it can be used for green papaya/green mango/carrot
Fruit (e.g. orange/pineapple/apple)

From the pantry:
Canned chickpeas and beans
Nuts – whole and chopped, or seeds – best toasted and sprinkled on top at the last minute
Canned vegetables (e.g. baby beets/ asparagus/ corn kernels/ champignon mushrooms)
Cooked quinoa or couscous to stir through the leaves
Dried fruit and berries
Crispy noodles


Double Shot’s kale salad