Entertaining at home?
Follow these top tips to impress your guests both in and out of the kitchen from Chef David Allison of Stix Catering.
1. When serving canapés or nibbles, there are some thing to consider so that you don’t end up with the wrong amount of food or leaving your guests hungry.
Factor in what guests will have likely eaten that day,if it’s an early evening event they most likely won’t have had anything to eat so if there is a dinner being served, be conscious of not serving anything too filling, or if it’s not a dinner event, try to provide enough food that will take the place of dinner and is well balanced with variety, including a sweet canape.
A good rule of thumb to work to is between 8-10 pieces per person for a 2 hour cocktail event. For a longer event of 3+ hours, organise a 2nd serving of food to come out later. Items such as miniature gourmet pies and home made sausage rolls, served later no matter what the event, are always a huge hit (from chic to casual).
Need inspiration? Click through for some Stix canape recipes -
2. For events outdoors or venues with no kitchen facilities, ensure you’re preparing foods that can be easily transported and served immediately.
The trick is to put ease of consumption over ease of preparation – guests must be able to enjoy the food without relying on having running water available to wash their hands or a lot of table space to balance plates and cutlery. Finger food or fork (only) food is the most suitable for this environment. There are choices you can make with presentation that will add elegance such as whether to have crusts on or off, whether to have open or closed sandwiches. Finger sandwiches served with champagne always create an elegant occasion while sandwiches with thicker fillings and with their crusts on are suited to a more casual occasion.
Some of our favourite recipes for outdoor events here at Stix Catering include king prawn and shallot sandwiches and Thai chicken & green vegetable salad in noodle boxes.
3. Watch out for with guests’ dietary requirements, you may need to allow for guests who are vegetarian, gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant?
The key here is freshness, to always use fresh and simple ingredients and don’t be afraid to ask guests beforehand if they have any dietary conditions that you need to accommodate, it’s commonplace for people to have certain foods that they must avoid due to intolerance or allergies. Always make sure you have a vegetarian option on hand that also doesn’t use eggs or dairy such as seasonal fresh salad using key seasonal produce so that it will also be suited to vegans.
4. Make sure you consider the season and what foods will be both available and at their highest quality at the time of year.
Here in Australia we are extremely fortunate to have great produce, particularly meat and poultry and many fruits and vegetables available 12 months of the year. There are still some foods that are best in certain seasons, such as zucchini flowers, so always try to use produce that is at the height of its freshness. Spring is the time when root vegetables come back into season while summer is the best time for berries and stone fruits.
When the weather is warmer, people prefer eating lighter foods involving more salad and less starch along with white meats and seafood and I suggest you avoid creamy sauces. It is a time to move away from heavier dishes that were served during the cold winter months. Crispy skin barramundi with mild chilli mango salsa is an easy and always impressive dish to serve in spring and summer.
5. When preparing desserts, be mindful of the fact that some people may be wanting something guilt-free or waistline-friendly.
Freshness is again the key, try to incorporate fruits into desserts as their natural sugars will provide sweetness without becoming heavy as some desserts can be. You want to avoid serving anything heavy like thick cakes or chocolate that some people may being trying to avoid in their diet. Nothing beats fresh berries (raspberries and blueberries) with a home made yoghurt or kahlua mascarpone.
6. Carefully consider table decorations – you need room for all your dishes and you don’t want guests peering through elaborate decorations to see one another.
One thing to remember with table layouts is that glassware, plates and serving dishes (platters and bowls) along with your choice of linen can be decorative and in their own right. You don’t have to add extravagant and costly ornamentation which can then become clutter. Make sure what you are using is event appropriate. Creative use of linen (coloured or textured) and small pieces of foliage (flowers, ivy or berries) can add colour and create a theme.
For more info, head to www.stixcatering.com.au