Michelle’s TOP 10 entertaining tips
1 In these “flexitarian” times, I always include a vegetarian main. You can try caramelised onion quiches, spinach and feta roulades, and stuffed eggplants, or go for the Eggplant Steaks with Pistachio & Mint Quinoa Salad (p65).
2 An easy way to get your food to work together is to focus on a particular theme or cuisine. It creates balance and also allows you to have fun with the styling, if you wish.
3 When hosting, I try to look for make-ahead dishes, as all I want to be doing on the day is adding last-minute touches. Desserts, in particular, are good to make beforehand. My go-tos are cheesecakes, mousse cakes and ice-cream cakes.
4 You can use the menu planner on taste.com.au with the shopping list and even send it straight to coles.com.au. Best of all, you no longer have to register or log in at taste to do it.
5 One of the most common mistakes people make when entertaining is being too organised – even to the point of dressing salads hours ahead. Instead, make your dressing in advance and store in jars in the fridge until ready to serve.
6 If your kitchen gets hot or you have limited oven space, don’t forget your barbie. It’s a great way to keep the heat and mess outside. Foods such as roasts, chargrilled vegies and even pizza are all fantastic on the barbie.
7 Serving individual plates can be stressful for dinner parties. Why not have a course with people helping themselves? Just pick up some antipasto and cheeses and add a few homemade dips or breads, and you’re done.
8 When hosting, everything seems to happen at once. A good hack is to take out all the platters you’ll need and label them with sticky notes indicating what dish they’ll hold. That way, that helpful guest will know your plan, too.
9 Making sure your guests eat on time is critical. Set timers on your phone so you don’t get distracted. Best of all, this reduces stress so you can properly relax and mingle!
10 For sweets, try a dessert station with different ice-creams, homemade toppings and fun lollies as toppers.