Easy entertaining

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afternoon tea-3

Since we’re not really big party people, we’ve been having small groups of friends drop by here and there instead of organising a big messy housewarming party. To keep things simple I’ve been trying to get away with the easiest possible refreshments that can still look mildly impressive (or at least I like to think so). I’m not the most disciplined cook or baker, so I’m always grateful for recipes that are robust enough to tolerate a bit of erm, interpretation and guesstimation. Here’s a few things we’ve done so far:

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Afternoon tea

One of the girls brought some amazing raspberry white chocolate mini muffins and little BBQ pork pastries, and I quickly knocked together some scones. I find my scone recipe very forgiving as long as I don’t overwork the dough, and I usually have the main ingredients (self-raising flour, sugar, salt and milk) all on hand. Some jam, cream and tea are essential accompaniments.

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Brunch

Inspired by a meal I had at a cafe some time ago, The Boy and I made puff pastry egg tarts and a simple tomato relish. Very easy to make – simply fold up the edges of some puff pastry, blind bake until the pastry is mostly cooked. Then crack on some eggs and top with whatever you fancy (we used fetta cheese, cooked sausages and bacon separately and added fresh rocket on at the end), and bake until everything is cooked. For the relish, I sautéed some garlic and onion in a saucepan, added some grape tomatoes and cooked until they started to break down. A bit of balsamic vinegar, cumin, salt, pepper and a smidge of sugar and simmering down finished it off.

This was a bit of an experiment, but I think it works well for entertaining – when making more traditional cooked breakfasts, I always have trouble keeping everything at the right temperature whilst cooking and waiting for people to arrive. And it was nice to discover how easy it is to make a basic tomato relish – I’ll be using that again sometime!

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Sunday Sesh

The weather in the weekend that just passed – midwinter – was amazing here in sunny Perth. It felt like spring, with perfect blue skies and a top of 24˚C. Perfect weather for beer and cheese out in our courtyard! I was a bit short on time for this one, so bought some cheese, heated up the remainder of a sourdough loaf and set it out with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, olives and dates. I also made my first attempt at making water crackers but between guesstimating quantities, using wholemeal flour (which I always find slightly more difficult to work with) and attempting to just flatten it with my hands instead of rolling it out properly they didn’t turn out perfectly. Props to our friend P who ate some anyway!

I haven’t really been bothering with much in the way of decor – just a white tablecloth with some brown paper as a ‘table runner’ inside, plus some nice white crockery and chopping boards (it’s ‘rustic’… and saves on dishes). I feel justified in my tiered cake stands each time I bring them out – they can make anything look fancy!

There’s still a lot of people we have to show off our new place too, so I’m going to have to come up with some new ideas. What are your go-to refreshments for easy entertaining?

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