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

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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.

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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…..

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

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Asian style frittata….

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

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

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

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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)..

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

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

…chocolate rum balls..

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…meringues with chocolate…

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…chocolate caramel slice…

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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.

Super quick and easy ‘light’ meal

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It doesn’t get much quicker and easier than this stove top variation of baked eggs.

Served with a slice of good toast it makes a great breakfast/brunch/lunch or even evening meal. Perfect for eating light.

Mix a teaspoon or paprika (preferably smoky paprika) into jar of pasta sauce. Add a tin of diced tomatoes if you like, and stir.
When this is hot, carefully break eggs into the hot sauce and let them ‘poach’ until they are just as you like them.

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Nong Kiau Riverside Resort Restaurant, Nong Kiaw, Northern Laos

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Nong Kiau Riverside Resort Restaurant is a good spot for dinner in Nong Kiaw if you’d like a nice atmosphere and alcoholic drinks (Deens and Chennai Indian restaurants have strong recommendations from others but don’t allow alcohol).

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It has a large menu that includes western and general asian dishes.The Lao menu is only short.

There’s lots of good dishes for around 40,000 kip ($5US) but the green curry is the tastiest followed by the chicken laab and then the fish laab

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Spring rolls  are also a good choice for 25,000 kip

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Sticky rice is 6500 kip
Prices are average and quite good for this lovely setting.

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Fish Marsala – so quick, easy, delicate and ‘light’

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This fish marsala is ideal for light, but delicious eating. It only has around 500kj per modest serve, takes only 4 ingredients and 15 minutes to prepare and is infallible.
The key to success is to use fresh garam marsala spice.

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Ingredients
4 serves

500gm any white fish cubed
1/2 tin light coconut milk
1 tsp chicken stock powder
1 heaped teaspoon garam marsala spice

Method

Cook the cubes of fish in a non-stick frypan until just cooked through.
Add the coconut milk mixed with the chicken stock powder.

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Simmer until reduced to a thicker sauce.
Sprinkle garam marsala, stir in well, and cook for a few more minutes.

Serve with a small serve of steamed Basmati rice and a large leafy salad.

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

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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

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Double Shot’s kale salad

 

Coffees are more like mini meals than you think!

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It’s so easy to think of milk based coffees like lattes, cappuccino and flat whites as just drinks that don’t really count towards your kilojoules.

But when you realise that even the smallest sizes have around the same kilojoules as a slice of bread, medium potato, small yogurt or a piece of fresh fruit, it becomes clear that they are really more like a mid-meal.

A small milk-based coffee even a skim one, has similar kilojoules to a small yogurt

A small milk-based coffee even a skim one, has similar kilojoules to a small yogurt

And then if you order a medium sized coffee, it’s one and a half times more and a large is double.

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A large milky coffee has the kilojoules of two pieces of fruit or two small yogurts….

So it might make you re-think about whether to add a coffee to your morning or afternoon tea snack, or to just have it instead?

Piccolo lattes can be a good alternative. They still give you the coffee, but not so much milk and far fewer kilojoules.

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