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.

Hot Chocolate Cake – a Quick, yummy, easy dessert

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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:

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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:

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1 Tbsp oil

1 Tbsp water

Stir well and wipe down the sides of the cup.

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Microwave on HIGH for one minute.

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Dust with icing sugar.

Serve with a scoop of ice-cream or cream!

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(Looks good on a saucer!)

Optional:

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!

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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!!

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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!).

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Catering at home for a large group Brunch

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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.

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

Keep it simple:

Bircher muesli

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Baked porridge

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Pancakes

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

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Fruit compote

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Fruit salad

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Breakfast muffins

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Fruit toast with cinnamon and honey ricotta cheese

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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.

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

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Juice

Good tea and great coffee!

Creative coffee celebrations at work

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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.

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

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

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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).

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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:

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Mixed dips & bread

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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)

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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

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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…

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

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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.